Friday, January 30, 2015

[Ornithology • 2015] Strix hadorami | Desert Tawny Owl • Multiple Lines of Evidence confirm that Hume’s Owl Strix butleri (A. O. Hume, 1878) is Two Species, with Description of An Unnamed Species (Aves: Non-Passeriformes: Strigidae)

Strix sp. in the Judean desert of Israel, probably the Desert Tawny Owl (Strix hadorami).
photo: Thomas Krumenacker |

Genetic and morphological analyses revealed that the type specimen of Hume’s Owl Strix butleri, the geographical provenance of which is open to doubt, differs significantly from all other specimens previously ascribed to this species. Despite the absence of vocal data definitively linked to the same population as the type specimen, we consider that two species-level taxa are involved, principally because the degree of molecular differentiation is close to that seen in other taxa of Strix traditionally recognised as species. Partially complicating this otherwise straightforward issue is the recent description of “Omani Owl S. omanensis” from northern Oman based solely on photographs and sound-recordings. We consider that there is clear evidence of at least some morphological congruence between the butleri type and the phenotype described as “omanensis”. As a result, we review the relative likelihood of three potential hypotheses: that “omanensis” is a synonym of butleri; that “omanensis” is a subspecies of butleri; or that “omanensis” and butleri both represent species taxa. Until such time as specimen material of “omanensis” becomes available for genetic and comparative morphological analyses, we recommend that this name be considered as a synonym of butleri, especially bearing in mind the possibility (not previously considered in detail) that the type of butleri could have originated in Arabia, specifically from Oman. We describe other populations heretofore ascribed to S. butleri as a new species.

Keywords: taxonomy, mitochondrial DNA, Strix butleriStrix omanensis

 Guy M Kirwan, Manuel Schweizer and José Luis Copete. 2015. Multiple Lines of Evidence confirm that Hume’s Owl Strix butleri (A. O. Hume, 1878) is Two Species, with Description of An Unnamed Species (Aves: Non-Passeriformes: Strigidae).
Zootaxa. 3904(1): 28–50. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3904.1.2

Desert Tawny Owl Strix hadorami: New Species of Bird Discovered
A group of ornithologists led by Dr Manuel Schweizer from the Natural History Museum of Bern in Switzerland
has described a new cryptic species of owl that inhabits the desert areas of Israel, Egypt,
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Yemen.

[Crustacea • 2015] Australatya obscura • A New Filter-feeding Shrimp (Decapoda, Atyidae) from Taiwan and the Philippines

Australatya obscura  Han & Klotz, 2015

Filter-feeding shrimp with distinctive live colorations were collected from small streams draining to the east coast of Taiwan and from Panay Island, Philippines. Morphological examination revealed that these specimens belong to the genus Australatya, Chace, 1983. In this paper the species is proposed as new to science and described in detail as Australatya obscura, new species. Beside the striking banded live coloration, the new species could be differentiated from Australatya striolata (McCulloch & McNeill, 1923) by a smaller body size, the length of the rostrum, the shape of the pterygostomial margin of the carapace, a row of plumose setae on the outer margin of pereiopods 3-5 and biunguiculated dactyli of the fifth pereiopod. The separation of the genus Australatya from Atyopsis Chace, 1983 and Atyoida Randall, 1840 is confirmed and a revised diagnosis for Australatya is given.

C. C. Han and W. Klotz. 2015. Australatya obscura sp. nov., A New Filter-feeding Shrimp (Decapoda, Atyidae) from Taiwan and the Philippines. Crustaceana. 88(1); 66 – 81. DOI: 10.1163/15685403-00003395

[Paleontology • 2015] Qijianglong guokr • A New Sauropod Dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of China and the Diversity, Distribution, and Relationships of Mamenchisaurids

Qijianglong guokr
Xing, Miyashita, Zhang, Li, Ye, Sekiya, Wang & Currie, 2015
Sauropod from Qijiang, Chongqing, China by CheungChungTat on @DeviantArt  DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2014.889701 

Qijianglong guokr, gen. et sp. nov., represents a mamenchisaurid eusauropod from the Late Jurassic of southern China. The holotype consists of an incomplete skull, partly articulated axial skeleton, and fragmentary appendicular skeleton. A well-preserved braincase and skull roof provide rare insights into the poorly known neurocranial anatomy of mamenchisaurids and reveal a unique combination of characters such as an accessory tuber at the base of planar basipterygoid process and parietal excluding frontal from the anterior margin of the supratemporal fenestra. The cervical vertebrae have a distinct finger-like process extending from the postzygapophyseal process beside a zygapophyseal contact. Qijianglong is the first mamenchisaurid from the Late Jurassic of China that is definitively distinct from Mamenchisaurus, indicating greater morphological and taxonomic diversity of the poorly represented Late Jurassic mamenchisaurids. The occurrence of Qijianglong is consistent with a scenario in which mamenchisaurids formed an endemic sauropod fauna in the Late Jurassic of Asia. Phylogenetically, Qijianglong represents a relatively plesiomorphic mamenchisaurid lineage. The mamenchisaurids form an ancient clade of basal eusauropod dinosaurs that likely appeared in the Early Jurassic. A cladistic analysis highlights the interrelationships of mamenchisaurids and suggests guidelines for mamenchisaurid taxonomic revision. It may be desirable to restrict generic names to the type species in order to avoid confusion.

Life restoration of Qijianglong
CheungChungTat on @DeviantArt

Systematic Palaeontology

SAURISCHIA Seeley, 1887

SAUROPODA Marsh, 1878
EUSAUROPODA Upchurch, 1995

MAMENCHISAURIDAE Young and Chao, 1972
Qijianglong, gen. nov.

Type and Only Known Species: Qijianglong guokr, sp. nov.

Etymology: Qijiang, after Qijiang District where the type specimen was collected and is accessioned; ‘long,’ dragon in Chinese. guokr (gu-OH-ke-r), named in honor of Guokr (science social network; ‘nutshell’ in Chinese) for their support of paleontology in Qijiang.

Lida Xing, Tetsuto Miyashita, Jianping Zhang, Daqing Li, Yong Ye, Toru Sekiya, Fengping Wang and Philip J. Currie. 2015. A New Sauropod Dinosaur from the Late Jurassic of China and the Diversity, Distribution, and Relationships of Mamenchisaurids.  Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2014.889701  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

[Paleontology • 2015] The Oldest Known Snakes from the Middle Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous provide insights on Snake Evolution

Ancient snakes: (top left) Portugalophis lignites (Upper Jurassic) in a gingko tree, from coal swamp deposits at Guimarota, Portugal;  (top right) Diablophis gilmorei (Upper Jurassic), hiding in a ceratosaur skull, from the Morrison Formation in Fruita, Colorado; (bottom) Parviraptor estesi (Upper Jurassic/Lower Cretaceous) swimming in freshwater lake with snails and algae, from the Purbeck Limestone in Swanage, England.
Illustrations: Julius Csotonyi |  DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6996

The previous oldest known fossil snakes date from ~100 million year old sediments (Upper Cretaceous) and are both morphologically and phylogenetically diverse, indicating that snakes underwent a much earlier origin and adaptive radiation. We report here on snake fossils that extend the record backwards in time by an additional ~70 million years (Middle Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous). These ancient snakes share features with fossil and modern snakes (for example, recurved teeth with labial and lingual carinae, long toothed suborbital ramus of maxillae) and with lizards (for example, pronounced subdental shelf/gutter). The paleobiogeography of these early snakes is diverse and complex, suggesting that snakes had undergone habitat differentiation and geographic radiation by the mid-Jurassic. Phylogenetic analysis of squamates recovers these early snakes in a basal polytomy with other fossil and modern snakes, where Najash rionegrina is sister to this clade. Ingroup analysis finds them in a basal position to all other snakes including Najash.

 Michael W. Caldwell, Randall L. Nydam,  Alessandro Palci and Sebastián Apesteguía. 2015. The Oldest Known Snakes from the Middle Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous provide insights on Snake Evolution. Nature Communications. 6. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6996.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

[Paleontology • 2014] Nundasuchus songeaensis • A New Archosaur from the Manda Beds (Anisian, Middle Triassic) of southern Tanzania and its Implications for Character State Optimizations at Archosauria and Pseudosuchia

Nundasuchus songeaensis
Nesbitt, Sidor, Angielczyk, Smith & Tsuji, 2014

FIGURE 2. Skeleton of Nundasuchus songeaensis, gen. et sp. nov. (NMT RB48),
illustrating the elements recovered.
A, right dentary in medial view; B, right pterygoid in ventral view; C, mid-cervical vertebrae in lateral view; D, mid-dorsal vertebrae in lateral view; E, articulated paramedian osteoderms in dorsal view; F, sacrum in ventral view; G, right femur in anterolateral view; H, left fibula in lateral view; I, left astragalus in anterior view; J, left calcaneum in proximal view; K, left first metatarsal in dorsal view; L, left pubis in lateral view; M, left humerus in posterior view. Scale bars equal 1 cm for individual elements and 50 cm for entire skeleton.

The presence of early pseudosuchians and avemetatarsalians in Anisian beds of Africa demonstrates that the archosaur radiation was well underway by the beginning of the Middle Triassic. The rapid radiation produced a variety of forms, but many of the unique, well-diagnosed Late Triassic clades (e.g., Aetosauria, Ornithosuchidae) lack diagnosable members from the Middle Triassic. Here, we introduce a new Middle Triassic archosaur, Nundasuchus songeaensis, gen. et sp. nov., with an unusual mix of apomorphic character states found within Pseudosuchia and just outside Archosauria. The holotype consists of partial skeleton, including representative postcranial elements and parts of the skull. We added Nundasuchus songeaensis, gen. et sp. nov., into the two most comprehensive early archosaur phylogenetic data sets available, and in both analyses the new taxon falls within Pseudosuchia. However, a number of plesiomorphic archosaurian character states (e.g., posterolaterally directed tuber of the calcaneum) optimize as local autapomorphies of the new taxon within Pseudosuchia in our analyses. Therefore, we tested alternative hypotheses of relationships for the new taxon by utilizing constraint trees. The analyses resulted in little change in the relationships and structure of other Triassic archosaur clades, but changed optimizations of certain character states and character support at the base of Pseudosuchia and Archosauria. Our analyses suggest that the complex evolution of character-state changes at the base of Archosauria is inhibiting our understanding of the relationships of early Pseudosuchia and, in turn, Archosauria.


ARCHOSAURIFORMES Gauthier, Kluge, and Rowe, 1988a
ARCHOSAURIA Cope, 1869, sensu Gauthier and Padian, 1985
Etymology: Nunda’ predator (Swahili); ‘soukhos’ crocodile (Greek); the species name recognizes the nearby provincial capital of Songea.

Sterling J. Nesbitt, Christian A. Sidor, Kenneth D. Angielczyk, Roger M. H. Smith and Linda A. Tsuji. 2014. A New Archosaur from the Manda Beds (Anisian, Middle Triassic) of southern Tanzania and its Implications for Character State Optimizations at Archosauria and Pseudosuchia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 34(6); 1357-1382. DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2014.859622

In new discovery, paleontologist names a carnivorous reptile that preceded dinosaurs via @physorg_com
Meet Nundasuchus: Carnivore hunted prey with its 'steak knife' teeth via @MailOnline

[Mammalogy / Evolution • 2015] Oldest Known Euarchontan Tarsals and Affinities of Paleocene Purgatorius to Primates

Fossil ankles show that Purgatorius, an early primate, lived in trees.
illustration: Patrick Lynch/Yale University

Earliest Paleocene Purgatorius often is regarded as the geologically oldest primate, but it has been known only from fossilized dentitions since it was first described half a century ago. The dentition of Purgatorius is more primitive than those of all known living and fossil primates, leading some researchers to suggest that it lies near the ancestry of all other primates; however, others have questioned its affinities to primates or even to placental mammals. Here we report the first (to our knowledge) nondental remains (tarsal bones) attributed to Purgatorius from the same earliest Paleocene deposits that have yielded numerous fossil dentitions of this poorly known mammal. Three independent phylogenetic analyses that incorporate new data from these fossils support primate affinities of Purgatorius among euarchontan mammals (primates, treeshrews, and colugos). Astragali and calcanei attributed to Purgatorius indicate a mobile ankle typical of arboreal euarchontan mammals generally and of Paleocene and Eocene plesiadapiforms specifically and provide the earliest fossil evidence of arboreality in primates and other euarchontan mammals. Postcranial specializations for arboreality in the earliest primates likely played a key role in the evolutionary success of this mammalian radiation in the Paleocene.

Keywords: Euarchonta, Primates, Paleocene, paleontology, evolution

Stephen Gregory Benson Chester, Jonathan I. Bloch, Doug M. Boyer, William A. Clemens. 2015. Oldest Known Euarchontan Tarsals and Affinities of Paleocene Purgatorius to Primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1421707112 

Earth's earliest primates have taken a step up in the world, now that researchers have gotten a good look at their ankles. A new study has found that Purgatorius, a small mammal that lived on a diet of fruit and insects, was a tree dweller. Paleontologists made the discovery by analyzing 65-million-year-old ankle bones collected from sites in northeastern Montana.

Fossil ankles indicate Earth's earliest primates lived in trees

[Ornithology • 2015] Dispersal and Speciation in Purple Swamphens (Rallidae: Porphyrio)

Location (top) and genetic relationship between different swamphen populations. The genetic relationships were found using two types of DNA: mitochondrial (bottom left) and nuclear (bottom right). Circles with multiple colours show interbreeding between populations.

Dispersal, when accompanied by reduced gene flow and natural selection, influences speciation rates among groups of organisms. We used molecular phylogenetics, divergence time estimates, and population genetics to reconstruct the mode, pattern, and tempo of diversification within the wide-ranging purple swamphens (genus Porphyrio), with emphasis on the “supertramp” P. porphyrio. Our results suggest that the Porphyrio clade arose during the Middle Miocene in Africa, with a single colonization in the Americas and several other colonizations in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific around 10 mya. We found that the widespread P. porphyrio is not monophyletic. Indeed, several subspecies and subspecies groups may represent species-level lineages. The P. p. melanotus lineage probably reached Australasia during the Pleistocene (600 kya), although some islands were colonized only in the past few hundred years. New Zealand, and some other islands, had previously been colonized (∼2.5 mya) by flying Porphyrio that evolved into flightless endemic species. Early and recent lineages are now sympatric. Widespread occupation of oceanic islands implies high dispersal and colonization rates, but gene flow probably occurs episodically and follows varying routes at different times. This pattern of colonization enables populations to differentiate and, ultimately, speciate.

Keywords: biogeography, dispersal, phylogeny, speciation


Juan C. Garcia-R. and Steve A. Trewick. 2015. Dispersal and Speciation in Purple Swamphens (Rallidae: Porphyrio) [Dispersión y especiación en las gallinas de agua (Rallidae: Porphyrio)]
The Auk. 132(1):140-155. DOI: 10.1642/AUK-14-114.1

New research finds Takahe have African cousins via @physorg_com

[Herpetology / Invasive Alien • 2015] Tupinambis merianae as Nest Predators of Crocodilians and Turtles in Florida, USA

Fig. 1 Tupanmbis merianae leaving an American alligator Alligator mississippiensis nest on 11 August 2013 with an alligator egg in its mouth

Tupinambis merianae, is a large, omnivorous tegu lizard native to South America. Two populations of tegus are established in the state of Florida, USA, but impacts to native species are poorly documented. During summer 2013, we placed automated cameras overlooking one American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) nest, which also contained a clutch of Florida red-bellied cooter (Pseudemys nelsoni) eggs, and one American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) nest at a site in southeastern Florida where tegus are established. We documented tegu activity and predation on alligator and turtle eggs at the alligator nest, and tegu activity at the crocodile nest. Our finding that one of the first two crocodilian nests to be monitored was depredated by tegus suggests that tegus should be further evaluated as a threat to nesting reptiles in Florida.

Keywords: Tupinambis merianae, Alligator mississippiensis, Pseudemys nelsoni, Crocodylus acutus, Invasive species, Nest predation

Frank J. Mazzotti, Michelle McEachern, Mike Rochford, Robert N. Reed, Jennifer Ketterlin Eckles, Joy Vinci, Jake Edwards, Joseph Wasilewski. 2015.
Tupinambis merianae as Nest Predators of Crocodilians and Turtles in Florida, USA.
Biological Invasions. 17(1); 47-50; DOI: 10.1007/s10530-014-0730-1

Invasive lizards could threaten Florida's nesting reptiles

[Ichthyology • 2015] Dario huli • A New Species of badid (Teleostei: Percomorpha: Badidae) from Karnataka, southern India

Dario huli Britz & Ali, 2015

Dario huli, new species, is described from a small tributary stream of the Tunga River in southern Karnataka, India. It can be distinguished from all its congeners except D. urops by the presence of a conspicuous black caudal-fin blotch and by anterior dorsal-fin lappets in males not being produced beyond fin spines. It is readily distinguished from Dario urops by the absence of the horizontal suborbital stripe (vs. presence), the presence of a series of up to eight black bars on the body (vs. 2–3 black bars restricted to caudal peduncle), 25 scales in a lateral row (vs. 28), 3–5 tubed lateral-line scales (vs. tubed lateral-line scales completely absent), 13+13=26 vertebrae (vs. 14+14–15=28-29), and the presence of teeth on hypobranchial 3 (vs. absence of teeth).

Keywords: taxonomy, freshwater fishes, Western Ghats–Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot

Ralf Britz and Anvar Ali. 2015. Dario huli, A New Species of badid from Karnataka, southern India (Teleostei: Percomorpha: Badidae). Zootaxa. 3911(1): 139–144 

Monday, January 19, 2015

[Paleontology • 2014] Post-natal Parental Care in A Cretaceous Diapsid from northeastern China

adult Philydrosaurus surrounded by juveniles
Illustration: Zhao Chuang
DOI: 10.1007/s12303-014-0047-1

Post-natal parental care seems to have evolved numerous times in vertebrates. Among extant amniotes, it is present in crocodilians, birds, and mammals. However, evidence of this behavior is extremely rare in the fossil record and is only reported for two types of dinosaurs, and a varanopid ‘pelycosaur’. Here we report new evidence for post-natal parental care in Philydrosaurus, a choristodere, from the Yixian Formation of western Liaoning Province, China. We review the fossil record of reproduction in choristoderes, and this represents the oldest record of post-natal parental care in diapsids to our knowledge.

Keywords: parental care, choristodera, diapsid, Cretaceous

Fig. 1. Photograph (a) and line drawings (b) of Philydrosaurus (JPM-10-088).
 1: adult; 2‒7: juveniles (see text for diagnosis).
Abbreviations: dr – dorsal rib; f – femur; fi – fibula; h – humerus; nk – neck; sk – skull; ti – tibia. Grey areas were exposed during its preparation, demonstrating that all skeletons are from a single horizon. Scale bar = 5 cm.

The living scene of the adult Philydrosaurus and its babies (JPM-10-088)
Illustration: Zhao Chuang

Junchang Lü, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, D. Charles Deeming and Yongqing Liu. 2014. Post-natal Parental Care in A Cretaceous Diapsid from northeastern China.
Geosciences Journal. DOI: 10.1007/s12303-014-0047-1

[Ichthyology • 2014] The First Record of Trigonostigma somphongsi (Meinken, 1958) | ปลาซิวสมพงษ์, A Critically Endangered Species, in its Natural Habitat of central Thailand

Habitat of Trigonostigma somphongsi in a deepwater rice field, in the flood plains of Nakhon Nayok River, Bangpakong Basin, Nakhon Nayok Province, central Thailand. Trigonostigma somphongsi were found in a mixed school with many other small cyprinids, was often led by Rasbora borapetensis (the strongest swimmer), then followed by Amblypharyngodon chulabhornae with Boraras urophthalmoides (smallest species) and Tsomphongsi at the tail of the school
Petsut, et al. 2014. Biodiversity-Journal

A population of a critically endangered Trigonostigma somphongsi (Meinken, 1958) has been discovered in a deepwater rice field, floodplain of Bangpakong Basin, Nakhon Nayok Province, central Thailand. The population was the first record of this species in its natural habitat since its description by Meinken in 1958. The species appeared to be a seasonal horizontal migration species, since it migrates to breed in the floodplain during the rainy season between July and November and migrates back into the main channel during the dry season.

KEY WORDS: Trigonostigma somphongsi; Cyprinidae; Bangpakong; Thailand.

Somphongs's rasbora | Trigonostigma sompongsi 
 Population: Unknown (declining) || Population size: Unknown
Range: Mae Khlong basin, Thailand
Primary threats: Habitat loss and degradation from farmland conversion and urbanization
Action required: Wetland restoration
photo: N. Panitvong

Nidsaraporn Petsut, Nonn Panitvong, Sitthi Kulabtong, Jirawaeth Petsut & Chirachai Nonpayon. 2014. The First Record of Trigonostigma somphongsi (Meinken, 1958), A Critically Endangered Species, in its Natural Habitat of Thailand.
Biodiversity Journal. 5(4): 471-474.

Baillie J.E.M. and Butcher E.R., 2012. Priceless or Worthless ?: The World’s Most Threatened Species. Zoological Society of London, 112 pp.

Teetering on the edge: the world's 100 most endangered species (photos) via @mongabay
 The World's 100 Most Threatened Species via @HuffPostGreen

[Herpetology • 2015] The Sri Lankan Torrent Toads (Bufonidae: Adenominae: Adenomus): Species Boundaries assessed using Multiple Criteria

Adenomus is monophyletic and that it comprises only two species: A. kelaartii and A. kandianus, with A. dasi being a junior synonym of the latter


The bufonid genus Adenomus, an endemic of the montane and lowland rainforests of central and south-western Sri Lanka, has been considered to comprise of three species, viz. A. kelaartii, A. dasi and A. kandianus, the last of which has been recently highlighted as " the world's rarest toad " . We conducted a survey across the known range of Adenomus and used multiple criteria to delineate species boundaries within the genus. These include: a molecular phylogeny based on a 16S ribosomal RNA gene fragment; an examination of the external morphology of adults and larvae, and the skeletal morphol-ogy of adults; a bioacoustic analysis; and ecological niche modelling. We show that Adenomus is monophyletic and that it comprises only two species: A. kelaartii and A. kandianus, with A. dasi being a junior synonym of the latter. For the two valid species of Adenomus, we provide detailed osteological descriptions; clarify the distribution patterns; and provide genetic data to facilitate their scientific conservation management.

Keywords: Adenomus dasi new synonym, barcoding, bioacoustics, integrative taxonomy, niche modeling, osteology, sucker disc, tadpole

 Madhava Meegaskumbura, Gayani Senevirathne, Nayana Wijayathilaka, Beneeta Jayawardena, Champika Bandara, Kelum Manamendra-Arachchi and Rohan Pethiyagoda. 2015. The Sri Lankan Torrent Toads (Bufonidae: Adenominae: Adenomus): Species Boundaries assessed using Multiple Criteria. Zootaxa. 3911(2):245-261. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3911.2.6

Friday, January 16, 2015

[Herpetology • 2015] Cyrtodactylus ranongensis | ตุ๊กกายระนอง | Ranong Bent-toed Gecko • A New Lowland Forest Bent-toed Gecko (Squamata: Gekkonidae: Cyrtodactylus) from Ranong Province, peninsular Thailand

Cyrtodactylus ranongensis Sumontha, Pauwels, Panitvong, Kunya & Grismer, 2015
ตุ๊กกายระนอง | Ranong Bent-toed Gecko


We describe a new lowland forest-dwelling Cyrtodactylus from Suk Samran District, Ranong Province, southern peninsular Thailand, having a blotched dorsal pattern, a continuous series of poreless enlarged femoral and precloacal scales, 18–20 regularly arranged dorsal tubercle rows, no precloacal groove, no transversely enlarged subcaudal plates and a maximal known snout-vent length of 59.6 mm. Cyrtodactylus ranongensis sp. nov. seems closely related to C. quadrivirgatus, but is readily distinguished from it by having 35–40 ventral scale rows, a reddish iris, heavy dorsal mottling, and lacking longitudinal dark-brown elements in its dorsal pattern.

Keywords: Thai-Malay Peninsula, Ranong, Cyrtodactylus ranongensis sp. nov.

Sumontha, Montri, Olivier S. G. Pauwels, Nonn Panitvong, Kirati Kunya & L. L. Grismer. 2015. A New Lowland Forest Bent-toed Gecko (Squamata: Gekkonidae: Cyrtodactylus)
 from Ranong Province, peninsular Thailand.
Zootaxa. 3911(1): 106–118. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3911.1.6

[Herpetology • 2015] Cyrtodactylus inthanon | ตุ๊กกายดอยอินทนนท์ | Doi Inthanon Bent-toed Gecko • A New Forest-dwelling Bent-toed Gecko (Squamata: Gekkonidae: Cyrtodactylus) from Doi Inthanon, Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand

Cyrtodactylus inthanon  Kunya, Sumontha, Panitvong, Dongkumfu, Sirisamphan & Pauwels, 2015
ตุ๊กกายดอยอินทนนท์ | Doi Inthanon Bent-toed Gecko

DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3905.4.9 | photo: N. Panitvong []

 We describe a new forest-dwelling Cyrtodactylus from Doi Inthanon, Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand. Cyrtodactylus inthanon sp. nov. is characterized by a maximum known SVL of 87.3 mm; 18 to 20 longitudinal rows of dorsal tubercles; a continuous series of 34 to 37 enlarged femoro-precloacal scales, including four to six pitted (female) or porebearing (male) scales on each femur separated by a diastema from five pitted (females) or pore-bearing (male) precloacal scales; no precloacal groove or depression; transversely enlarged subcaudal scales; and three to five irregular beige dorsal bands between limb insertions. The discovery of a new reptile endemic to Doi Inthanon reinforces the high importance of this mountain in terms of biodiversity conservation.

Keywords: Cyrtodactylus inthanon sp. nov., taxonomy, new species, Doi Inthanon National Park

Distribution and natural history. The species is known only from Doi Inthanon, from 700 to 1010 m a.s.l., where it is common. We encountered it while it was active at night on trees and large rocks along streams. It moved slowly when disturbed by torch light and bit when handled. It was found at direct proximity to the reptiles Acanthosaura lepidogaster (Cuvier) (Agamidae), Gekko gecko (Linnaeus), Hemidactylus frenatus Duméril & Bibron and H. platyurus (Schneider), Hemiphyllodactylus chiangmaiensis Grismer, Wood & Cota (Gekkonidae), Ahaetulla prasina (Boie) (Colubridae), Amphiesma khasiense (Boulenger) (Natricidae) and Trimeresurus popeiorum Smith (Viperidae), and the amphibians Ansonia inthanon Matsui, Nabhitabhata & Panha (Bufonidae), Leptolalax pelodytoides (Boulenger), Megophrys major Boulenger and M. minor Stejneger (Megophryidae), Amolops marmoratus (Blyth), Hylarana nigrovittata (Blyth) and Odorrana livida (Blyth) (Ranidae). Captive specimens ate meal worms and crickets and seemed to quickly dehydrate with decreasing hygrometry. The new species’ known range entirely falls within Doi Inthanon National Park.

Etymology. The specific epithet inthanon refers to the type locality. It is a noun in apposition, invariable. We suggest the following common names: ตุ๊กกายดอยอินทนนท์ 'Took-kai Doi Inthanon' (Thai), Doi Inthanon bent-toed gecko (English), Cyrtodactyle du Doï Inthanon (French), Doi Inthanon Bogenfingergecko (German), Doiinthanonkromvingergekko (Dutch).

Kirati Kunya, Montri Sumontha, Nonn Panitvong, Wuttipong Dongkumfu, Thana Sirisamphan and Olivier S. G. Pauwels. 2015. A New Forest-dwelling Bent-toed Gecko (Squamata: Gekkonidae: Cyrtodactylus) from Doi Inthanon, Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand. Zootaxa. 3905(4):573-584. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3905.4.9

Thursday, January 15, 2015

[Herpetology • 2014] Integrative Taxonomy and Phylogeny-based Species Delimitation of Philippine Water Monitor Lizards (Varanus salvator Complex) with Descriptions of Two New Cryptic Species; Varanus dalubhasa & V. bangonorum

Varanus dalubhasa and V. bangonorum
Welton, Travers, Siler & Brown, 2014


We describe two new species of morphologically cryptic monitor lizards (genus Varanus) from the Philippine Archipelago: Varanus dalubhasa sp. nov. and V. bangonorum sp. nov. These two distinct evolutionary lineages are members of the V. salvator species complex, and historically have been considered conspecific with the widespread, northern Philippine V. marmoratus. However, the new species each share closer phylogenetic affinities with V. nuchalis (and potentially V. palawanensis), than either does to one another or to V. marmoratus. Divergent from other recognized species within the V. salvator Complex of water monitors by as much as 3.5% pairwise genetic distance, these lineages are also distinguished by unique gular coloration, metrics of body size and scalation, their non-monophyly with “true” V. marmoratus, and insular allopatric distributions, suggesting biogeographically distinct and unique evolutionary histories. We compare the new species with the most geographically proximate and phenotypically relevant lineages.  Although we show that these new taxa are nearly indistinguishable morphologically from V. marmoratus, both species can be readily distinguished from their closest relatives (each’s respective sister taxon, V. palawanensis and V. nuchalis) by traditional morphological characters.  Our findings underscore the high herpetological diversity and biogeographical complexity of vertebrates in the Philippines, and further emphasize the need for detailed study of species-level diversity, mechanisms of reproductive isolation, gene flow, and biologically relevant boundaries between taxa within the V. salvator Complex.

Keywords: biogeography, cryptic diversity, Southeast Asia, Varanidae, within-island speciation

Welton, Luke J., Scott L. Travers, Cameron D. Siler & Rafe M. Brown. 2014. Integrative Taxonomy and Phylogeny-based Species Delimitation of Philippine Water Monitor Lizards (Varanus salvator Complex) with Descriptions of Two New Cryptic Species.
Zootaxa. 3881(3); 201–227. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3881.3.1
Undercover researchers expose new species of lizard for sale on Philippine black market via @physorg_com

[Herpetology • 2015] Contributions to the Herpetofauna of the Albertine Rift: Two New Species of Chameleon (Sauria: Chamaeleonidae) from An isolated Montane Forest, south eastern Democratic Republic of Congo; Rhampholeon hattinghi & Kinyongia mulyai

Rhampholeon hattinghi sp. nov. and Kinyongia mulyai sp. nov.


Two new species of chameleons from the genera Rhampholeon and Kinyongia are described from an isolated montane forest remnant situated toward the southern end of the Albertine Rift bordering Lake Tanganyika. The closest known localities of species from these genera are 200km and 400km to the north respectively, separated by large intervening tracts of lowland savannah and Brachystegia (Miombo) woodland - habitats not normally inhabited by species of these genera. Rhampholeon hattinghi sp. nov. and Kinyongia mulyai sp. nov. bear superficial resemblances to previously described species (Rh. boulengeri Steindachner and K. adolfifriderici  (Sternfeld)). Rhampholeon hattinghi sp. nov. has a relatively smooth supra-orbital ridge, deep axillary but absent inguinal mite pockets, prominent white spots on the base of the tail and a uniquely derived hemipenal morphology with billowing parasulcal evaginations. Like K. adolfifriderici, Kinyongia mulyai sp. nov. is devoid of a rostral appendage but differs in having a longer and narrower head, a higher upper labial scale count and by the absence of a dorsal crest in the male. To place these new chameleons within the context of their respective genera, Bayesian and maximum likelihood phylogenetic analyses were carried out utilising two mitochondrial (ND2 and 16S) and one nuclear marker (RAG1).  Both chameleons were found to have morphological features that distinguish them from other congeners. Based on phylogenetic analysis they are clearly separate evolutionary lineages and are described as new species.

Keywords: Albertine Rift, Democratic Republic of Congo, Katanga, Afromontane, Biodiversity, Chamaeleonidae, East Africa, new species, reptiles, RhampholeonKinyongia

Tilbury, Colin R. & Krystal A. Tolley. 2015. Contributions to the Herpetofauna of the Albertine Rift: Two New Species of Chameleon (Sauria: Chamaeleonidae) from An isolated Montane Forest, south eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Zootaxa. 3905(3): 345–364. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3905.3.2 

[Paleontology • 2015] Dearcmhara shawcrossi • Ichthyosaurs from the Jurassic of Skye, Scotland

Dearcmhara shawcrossi
 Illustration: Todd Marshall

Fossils of Mesozoic vertebrates are rare in Scotland, particularly specimens of marine reptiles such as plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs. We describe a suite of ichthyosaur fossils from the Early to Middle Jurassic of Skye, which to our knowledge are the first ichthyosaurs from Scotland to be described and figured in detail. These fossils span approximately 30 million years, from the Sinemurian to the Bathonian, and indicate that ichthyosaurs were a major component of Scottish marine faunas during this time. The specimens include isolated teeth that could represent the most northerly known occurrences of the widespread Sinemurian species Ichthyosaurus communis, a characteristic component of the famous Lyme Regis faunas of England, suggesting that such faunas were also present in Scotland during the Early Jurassic. An associated humerus and vertebrae from Toarcian–Bajocian-aged deposits are named as a new genus and species of basal neoichthyosaurian, Dearcmhara shawcrossi. The taxonomic affinities of this taxon, which comes from a critical but poorly sampled interval in the fossil record, suggest that non-ophthalmosaurid neoichthyosaurians dominated European assemblages around the Early–Middle Jurassic boundary, and were later replaced by ophthalmosaurids, whose radiation likely took place outside Europe. Many of these specimens were collected by amateurs and donated to museum collections, a co-operative relationship essential to the preservation of Scotland’s fossil heritage.

Dearcmhara shawcrossi gen. et sp. nov. 
Etymology. Dearcmhara, Scottish Gaelic for ‘marine lizard’; shawcrossi, in honour of Brian Shawcross, who collected the specimens and magnanimously donated them to a museum collection instead of retaining them in private hands. In English phonology Dearcmhara is pronounced as ‘jark vara’ (IPA for Scottish English Phonology: d͡ʒɐrk vɐrɐ). Note that in other English phonologies the open vowel (i.e. ‘a’) can be pronounced differently, and the alveolar trill (‘rolled r’) is the alveolar approximant (ɹ).

Stephen L. Brusatte, Mark T. Young, Thomas J. Challands, Neil D. L. Clark, Valentin Fischer, Nicholas C. Fraser, Jeff J. Liston, Colin C. J. MacFadyen, Dugald A. Ross, Stig Walsh and Mark Wilkinson. 2015. Ichthyosaurs from the Jurassic of Skye, Scotland. Scottish Journal of Geology.
First published online January 11, 2015, doi: 10.1144/sjg2014-018

 Ancient Scottish Sea Reptile Not 'Nessie,' But Just As Cute @nprnews