Thursday, March 31, 2016

[Herpetology • 2016] Unearthing the Fossorial Tadpoles of the Indian Dancing Frog Family Micrixalidae, Micrixalus herrei

Fig 1. Habitat preference and characteristic features of various life history stages of Micrixalus herrei.
 (A) Adult male (SDBDU 2012.2452, SVL 17.40 mm), found on the surface of emergent wet rocks along the stream; (B) metamorphosed larva, near shallow water, closer to the stream bank (stage 44, SVL 17.20 mm); (C) stream margin habitat of metamorphs (stages 43–44); (D) anguilliform bodied tadpoles on the gravel bed (stages 30–35), after being exposed from depths of about 30 cm; (E) egg clutch (N = 20) buried under sand in shallow water; (F) fossorial tadpoles after being exposed, at stages 26 (1), 28 (2), and 29 (3), having eel-like, dorsoventrally flattened bodies, dorsal eyes, and well-developed muscular tails with reduced fins; (G) lateral profile of a tadpole, observed amongst exposed gravel (stage 27).

Tadpoles of the monotypic Indian dancing frog family Micrixalidae have remained obscure for over 125 years. Here we report the discovery of the elusive tadpoles of Micrixalus herrei from the sand beds of a forested stream in southern Western Ghats, and confirm their identity through DNA barcoding. These actively burrowing tadpoles lead an entirely fossorial life from eggs to late metamorphic stages. We describe their internal and external morphological characters while highlighting the following features: eel-like appearance, extensively muscularized body and tail, reduced tail fins, skin-covered eyes, delayed development of eye pigmentation in early pre-metamorphic stages (Gosner stages 25–29), prominent tubular sinistral spiracle, large transverse processes on vertebrae II and III, ankylosed ribs on transverse processes of vertebra II, notochord terminating before the atlantal cotyle-occipital condyle junction, absence of keratodonts, serrated well-formed jaw sheaths, and extensive calcified endolymphatic sacs reaching sacrum posteriorly. The tadpole gut contains mostly fine sediments and sand. We discuss the eel-like morphology and feeding habits of M. herrei in the context of convergence with other well-known fossorial tadpoles. This discovery builds the knowledge base for further comparative analyses and conservation of Micrixalus, an ancient and endemic lineage of Indian frogs.


This description of the external morphology, osteology and ecological adaptations, of Micrixalus herrei provides the first confirmed report of a tadpole from the ancient anuran family, Micrixalidae. The present study also bridges a significant gap by documenting the life history of at least one representative species from each of the world’s 54 anuran families, which facilitates comparative studies across many disciplines, including development, evolution, and ecology.

There is a single report of Micrixalus tadpoles by Smith[14] based on “two poorly preserved specimens said to belong to M. opisthorhodus” (currently M. phyllophilus). According to the basic description provided by Smith[14], these tadpoles bear a single row of keratodonts, which subsequently were considered “characteristic” of micrixalid tadpoles without further investigation[15–17]. This observation is contrary to our finding that M. herrei tadpoles, along with three other micrixalid species (currently being studied in detail), lack keratodonts (tooth rows). Given that many features of the tadpoles described by Smith are synapomorphies with larvae of many other groups, we presume that this description is erroneous. Furthermore, Smith does not mention the fossorial habitat of the two tadpoles, which is their most conspicuous feature. Unfortunately, Smith’s description could not be validated due to the loss of his specimens. We have failed to recover them from any potential museum collections (Natural History Museum, London and Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata).

The unusual morphological characters of Micrixalus herrei show convergence with the fossorial forms that are currently known globally. Here we discuss some of the unique features and morphological adaptations of Micrixalus herrei tadpoles that correlate with a fossorial habit.

Gayani Senevirathne, Sonali Garg, Ryan Kerney, Madhava Meegaskumbura and S. D. Biju. 2016. Unearthing the Fossorial Tadpoles of the Indian Dancing Frog Family Micrixalidae. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151781

Indian dancing frog's secretive tadpoles unearthed from sand beds via @EurekAlertAAAS

[Botany • 2016] Porpax verrucosa • A New Species (Orchidaceae) from the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia

Porpax verrucosa Schuit.

A new species of Porpax (Orchidaceae - Epidendroideae - Podochileae) from the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia is described and illustrated. It is similar to P. elwesii but differs in the much broader and longer, obovate petals that are covered with numerous, glassy, enlarged cells, giving a verrucose appearance.

Key Words: Cardamom Mountains, Mekong Region, taxonomy

Porpax verrucosa Schuit., sp. nov. 

Type: Cambodia, Koh Kong Province, Thma Bang Distr., foothills of Cardamom Mts, 23 Nov. 2013, also flowered in cultivation at Kew, 27 Nov. 2014, Kew cult. 2013-1679 (leg. A. Schuiteman, C. Ryan & M. Nut) (holotype K, spirit mat.; isotype Forestry Administration Herbarium, Phnom Penh, Cambodia).

RECOGNITION. Similar to Porpax elwesii (Fig. 3) in the non-reticulate veins of the sheath that covers the pseudobulb, glabrous flowers, and in the inflorescence arising from the apex of the mature, leafless pseudobulb. P. verrucosa differs in the broadly obovate petals about as long as the sepals (vs narrowly oblong petals much shorter than the sepals); petals and to a lesser extent the sepals adorned with very large, glassy, swollen cells, giving the appearance of warts (lacking in P. elwesii); sepals at apex shortly apiculate (vs sepals long-apiculate).

DISTRIBUTION. Only known from the type locality in Cambodia.

HABITAT AND ECOLOGY. Epiphyte on mossy, dead tree trunk in disturbed evergreen hill forest on a ridge crest. Elevation 430 m.
PHENOLOGY. Flowers in November.

ETYMOLOGY. From the Latin verrucosus, warty, referring to the large, swollen cells on the petals and sepals.

CONSERVATION ASSESSMENT. Porpax verrucosa is only known from about a score of specimens found in a single locality on a single tree trunk. Potentially suitable habitat is still widespread in the Cardamom Mountains and since the distribution of this easily overlooked species is unknown at present, its conservation status should be classified as Data Deficient (DD), following the IUCN Red Listing criteria (IUCN 2012).

NOTES. This is the first known species of Porpax that is endemic to Indochina. The centre of diversity of the genus lies more to the west, in Thailand, Burma and India.

André Schuiteman. 2016. Porpax verrucosa (Orchidaceae), A New Species from Cambodia. 
Kew Bulletin. 71:4. DOI:  10.1007/s12225-016-9615-z

[Ichthyology • 2016] Arothron multilineatus • A New Pufferfish, (Tetraodontiformes: Tetraodontidae), from the Indo-West Pacific

Many-lined Pufferfish | Arothron multilineatus
Matsuura, 2016

A new pufferfish, Arothron multilineatus, is described on the basis of four specimens collected from southern Japan. It is distinguished from the other 13 species of Arothron by having many longitudinal white lines on the dark greenish-brown head and body. Underwater photographs of this new pufferfish have revealed that it is widely distributed in the tropical regions of the Indo-West Pacific including the Red Sea. A key to the species of Arothron is provided.

Keywords: Tetraodontidae, New species, Arothron, Taxonomy, Distribution

Arothron multilineatus sp. nov.
 (English name: Many-lined Pufferfish; New Japanese name: Tasuji-fugu)

Distribution. Arothron multilineatus has been observed by SCUBA divers at depths from 10 m to 25 m on the sandy bottom along the south coast of Amami-oshima Island of the Ryukyu Islands. Judging from collection localities of the type specimens and underwater photographs taken in the Ryukyu Islands (Kimiaki Ito), Mozambique (Angela Lund) and the Red Sea (Richard Field), and a literature record from the Philippines (Schroeder 1980), Arothron multilineatus is widely distributed in the tropical Indo-West Pacific.

Etymology. The specific name, multilineatus, refers to many white lines on the head and body.

Keiichi Matsuura. 2016. A New Pufferfish, Arothron multilineatus (Actinopterygii: Tetraodontiformes: Tetraodontidae), from the Indo-West Pacific. Ichthyological Research.  DOI: 10.1007/s10228-016-0517-8

[Herpetology • 2015] Limnonectes longchuanensis • Taxonomic Revision of the Chinese Limnonectes (Anura, Dicroglossidae) with the Description of A New Species from China and Myanmar

Limnonectes longchuanensis
Suwannapoom, Yuan, Chen, Hou, Zhao, Wang, Nguyen, Nguyen, Murphy, Sullivan, McLeod & Che, 2016
 DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4093.2.2


Phylogenetic reconstructions derived from DNA sequence data play a central role in documenting the number of species in a complex. Such analyses are pointing to the existence of many cryptic species, especially in poorly understood groups such as the genus Limnonectes, and the L. kuhlii species complex in particular. To understand the Limnonectes frogs of China, we reconstruct the major matrilineal genealogy of Limnonectes from China and Southeast Asia based on 12S rRNA, tRNAVal and 16S rRNA gene sequences. Based on new data we recognize five species of Limnonectes in China including L. bannaensis, L. fujianensis, L. fragilis, L. taylori (new record), and a new species from southern China and Myanmar. Phylogenetically, the new species is more closely related to the clade comprising L. taylori, L. megastomias, L. isanensis, L. nguyenorum, and L. jarujini from Thailand than to other Chinese species. This study supports previous findings of sympatric members of a species complex that are not each other’s closest relatives.

Keywords: Amphibia, Indochina, Limnonectes longchuanensis sp. nov., Phylogenetics, Sympatric distribution, Yunnan

Chatmongkon Suwannapoom, Z-Y Yuan, J-M Chen, M. Hou, H-P Zhao, L-J Wang, Truong Son Nguyen, Truong Q. Nguyen, Robert W. Murphy, J. Sullivan, David S. McLeod and  J. Che. 2016. Taxonomic Revision of the Chinese Limnonectes (Anura, Dicroglossidae) with the Description of A New Species from China and Myanmar. Zootaxa.  4093(2) DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4093.2.2

[Ichthyology • 2016] Channa pardalis • A New Species of Snakehead (Teleostei: Channidae) from Meghalaya, northeastern India

a, Channa pardalis Knight, 2016;
b, Channa stewartii (Playfair, 1867); d, C. melanostigma Geetakumari & Vishwanath, 2011

 Channa pardalis, a new species of snakehead, is described from Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, northeastern India. This species can be distinguished from its congeners by a unique colour pattern consisting of numerous large black spots on the post-orbital region of the head, opercle and body; a broad white and black margin to the dorsal, anal and caudal fins; 36–37 dorsal fin rays; 24–25 anal fin rays; 44–45 pored scales on the body and two scales on the caudal fin base; 4½ scales above lateral line and 6½ scales below lateral line; 45 vertebrae and the palatine with two rows of teeth: outer row with numerous minute teeth and inner row with short, stout inward curved teeth.

Keywords: Channa melanostigma, Channa sterwartii, eastern Himalaya, northeastern India, taxonomy.

Image 2. Channa pardalis: A, paratype, ZSI/SRC F 8954, 139.3mm SL, showing live colouration, West Khasi Hills, Meghalaya.
C. stewartii: MKC 100, Cachar, Assam, B, 109.2mm SL, showing live colouration, C, 128.6mm SL, showing colouration in preservative.
 C. melanostigma: MKC 012, Tinsukia, Assam, D, 118.1mm SL showing live colouration, E, 122.9mm SL, showing colouration in preservative.

Channa pardalis sp. nov.
(Image 1, 2A)
Holotype: BNHS FWF 181, 127.5mm SL; streams in Nongstoin (25.520N & 91.270E; ~1,400m), West Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, India, coll. A. Rao, December 2012.
Paratypes: BNHS FWF 182, 141.1mm SL; ZSI/SRC F 8954, 139.3mm SL, Collection information same as holotype.
Additional material: MKC 429, 102.1mm SL; MKC 437, 114.2mm SL, both the specimens were cleared and stained for osteology. Collection information same as holotype.
Diagnosis: Channa pardalis sp. nov. is diagnosed from all other species of Channa in having a unique colour pattern consisting of numerous large black spots on the post-orbital region of the head, opercle and body; a broad white and black margin to the dorsal fin, anal fin and caudal fin; 36–37 dorsal fin rays; 24–25 anal fin rays; 44–45 pored scales on the body and two scales on the caudal fin base; 4½ scales above lateral line and 6½ scales below lateral line; 45 vertebrae and the palatine with two rows of teeth: outer row with numerous minute teeth and inner row with short, stout inward curved teeth.

Etymology: The specific epithet ‘pardalis’ is a Latin adjective meaning ‘Leopard’ referring to the conspicuous spots the species has, similar to a leopard.
Distribution: Channa pardalis sp. nov. is currently known only from the Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, northeastern India.
Note: Channa pardalis sp. nov. is known in the ornamental fish trade as Channa sp. Meghalaya leopard.

J.D. Marcus Knight. 2016. Channa pardalis, A New Species of Snakehead (Teleostei: Channidae) from Meghalaya, northeastern India. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 8(3): 8583–8589

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

[Paleontology • 2016] Viavenator exxoni • A New Brachyrostran with Hypertrophied Axial Structures reveals An Unexpected Radiation of Latest Cretaceous Abelisaurids

Viavenator exxoni 
Filippi, Méndez, Juárez Valieri & Garrido, 2016 

A well preserved skeleton of a new abelisaurid is reported here. The holotype of Viavenator exxoni was found in the outcrops of the Bajo de la Carpa Formation (Santonian, Upper Cretaceous), northwestern Patagonia, Argentina. This new taxon belongs to the South American clade of abelisaurids, the brachyrostrans. The current phylogenetic analysis places it as the basalmost member of a new clade of derived brachyrostrans, named Furileusauria, characterized by distinctive cranial, axial and appendicular anatomical features. The Santonian age of Viavenator allows filling the stratigraphic gap exhibited between the basal brachyrostrans of Cenomanian–Turonian age, and the derived forms from the Campanian-Maastrichtian. The evolution of abelisaurids during the Late Cretaceous, faunal replacements, and the adaptive radiation that occurred during that period of time in South America are discussed.

Keywords: Abelisauridae; Brachyrostra; Furileusaira; Bajo de la Carpa; Upper Cretaceous; Neuquén Basin

Systematic paleontology

Theropoda Marsh, 1881
Ceratosauria Marsh, 1884

Abelisauridae Bonaparte & Novas, 1985
Brachyrostra Canale et al., 2009

Furileusauria clade nov.

Derivation of name. From Mapudungun language ‘Furileu’ stiff back, and Greek language ‘sauria’ lizard, in reference to the extreme level of stiffness in their axial skeletons.

Definition. The most inclusive clade containing to Carnotaurus sastrei but not Ilokelesia aguadagrandensis, Skorpiovenator bustingoryi or Majungasaurus crenatissimus.

Diagnosis. Furileusauria differs from all other brachyrostrans and other abelisaurids in the (1) presence of a tip in the middle area of the posterior surface of the ventral process of the postorbital, (2) presence of a knob followed by a deep notch in the postorbital-squamosal contact, (3) absence of fenestra between the frontal, postorbital and lacrimal, (4) anterior projection of the distal end of cervical epiphophyses, (5) posterior margin of the postzygapophyses at level with the intervertebral articulation in dorsal vertebrae, (6) crescent-shaped morphology of the distal tip of the transverse processes in anterior and middle caudal vertebrae, (7) transverse processes of anterior caudal vertebrae distally expanded and only anteriorly projected, (8) convex external margin of the transverse processes in the anterior caudals, (9) and cnemial crest of the tibia with a downturned process.

Included species. Viavenator exxoni, Carnotaurus sastrei, Abelisaurus comahuensis, Aucasaurus garridoi, Quilmesaurus curriei, Pycnonemosaurus nevesi.

Viavenator exxoni gen. et sp. nov.

Derivation of name. From latin ‘Via’ road, and ‘venator’ hunter, meaning the hunter of the road, ‘exxoni’ is in recognition of Exxonmobil's commitment to the preservation of paleontological heritage of the La Invernada area, Rincón de los Sauces, Neuquén, Patagonia Argentina.

Holotype. MAU-Pv-LI-530. 

Type locality. La Invernada area ( Fig. 1), located 50 km southwest from the Rincón de los Sauces city, Neuquén province, Patagonia, Argentina.

Stratigraphic horizon. Bajo de la Carpa Formation, Río Colorado Subgroup, Neuquén Group of the Neuquén basin. Santonian, Upper Cretaceous. The continental deposits of this lithostratigraphic unit have provided scant evidence relative to theropod dinosaurs. Small-sized forms include the noasaurid Velocisaurus unicus and the alvarezsaurids Alvarezsaurus calvoi and Achillesaurus manazonnei ( Bonaparte, 1991a and Martinelli and Vera, 2007). Mid and big sized theropods include a tetanuran possibly related to Carcharodontosauridae or Megaraptora (Porfiri et al., 2008) and indeterminate abelisaurid materials previously referred as Carnotaurines ( Ezcurra and Méndez, 2009 and Porfiri and Calvo, 2006), some of these found in the La Invernada area (see below).

Concluding remarks

In the present paper, we describe a new abelisaurid theropod from the Santonian of Patagonia, Argentina. The new form is here named Viavenator exxoni gen. et sp. nov., and possesses, among other characteristics, hypertrophied structures in the presacral axial skeleton.

Based in our phylogenetic analysis, Viavenator is found as a transitional brachyrostran, as the oldest member of a late radiation clade of the South American forms, named Furileusauria, and includes all the currently known abelisaurid taxa of this continent found in Santonian to Maastrichtian strata. The assemblages are found in a more complex biogeographic scenario with a division among European and Indo-Malagasy majungasaurines , with possible basal brachyrostrans in India and Madagascar.

Here we interpret that the furileusarians are supporting evidence of a late radiation of brachyrostran abelisaurids that fit with a faunal replacement that happened during the Turonian in South America, and is concordant with other dinosaur clades as the carcharodontosaurians, rebbachisaurids and derived lithostrotians.

Filippi, LS, Méndez, AH, Juárez Valieri, R. & Garrido, AC. 2016. A New Brachyrostran with Hypertrophied Axial Structures reveals An Unexpected Radiation of Latest Cretaceous Abelisaurids. Creataceous Research. 61:209-219.   DOI:  10.1016/j.cretres.2015.12.018

El MAU ya tiene su primer dinosaurio terópodo
Ya se encuentra publicado en versión online, en la revista Cretaceous Research, el trabajo sobre este dinosaurio carnívoro, un nuevo abelisaurio, que proviene de La Invernada de rocas de la Formación Bajo de la Carpa. La excelente preservación y la significativa información que aportó el ejemplar resultaron relevantes para avanzar en el conocimiento de este grupo de terópodos, los abelisaurios. Viavenator ("cazador del camino") exxoni gen. et sp. nov. es el primero dado a conocer de una serie de ejemplares que han sido recuperados en la zona de La Invernada gracias al enorme apoyo de la empresa Exxonmobil. 
Desde la Dirección del MAU se espera a futuro, poder llevar a delante una presentación formal del nuevo dinosaurio.

Museo Argentino Urquiza MAU - Oficial

[Ichthyology • 2010] Neotrygon ningalooensis • A New Maskray (Myliobatoidei, Dasyatidae) from Australia

Ningaloo Maskray |  Neotrygon ningalooensis
 Last, White & Puckridge, 2010

A new maskray, Neotrygon ningalooensis n. sp., is described from material collected near Coral Bay in the Ningaloo Marine Park, off the central coast of Western Australia, where its distribution appears to be restricted and patchy. However, other recently accessed material, collected further south (Shark Bay, Western Australia) and east (Gove, Northern Territory), suggest that this species is more widespread. Like other members of the genus Neotrygon, it lives primarily on sandy substrates but often hides partly concealed beneath small coral bommies during the day. Its eyes are relatively more protrusible than its congeners enabling it to bury deeply in soft sediments with its eyes still exposed. The type specimens were speared in shallow water near the shore in close association with two congeners, N. leylandi and N. kuhlii, from which it differs in colour and morphology. Neotrygon ningalooensis and N. ley­landi both have an ornate dorsal coloration but lack the vivid blue spots typical of N. kuhlii. Molecular analysis has confirmed that the three sympatric species at Ningaloo are specifically distinct.

Peter R. Last, William T. White and Melody Puckridge. 2010. Neotrygon ningalooensis n. sp. (Myliobatoidei, Dasyatidae), A New Maskray from Australia.  aqua: International Journal of Ichthyology. 16(2): 37–50.

[Mammalogy • 2016] Synemporion keana • A Second Endemic Land Mammal for the Hawaiian Islands: A New Genus and Species of Fossil Bat (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae)

FIGURE 10. Skeleton of Synemporion keana in situ on the floor near the lower end of Māhiehie Cave.
Ziegler, Howarth & Simmons, 2016

Located over 3800 km from the nearest continent, the Hawaiian Islands have previously been thought to support only one endemic land mammal, the extant Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus), a taxon that apparently initially dispersed from mainland North America between 10,000 and 7000 years ago. Some uncertainty exists regarding the status of this taxon (i.e., whether or not populations representing more recent invasions of L. cinereus from North America are exchanging genes with the older lineage, and whether or not semotus represents a distinct species), but all researchers agree that hoary bats are the only endemic land mammals extant in the islands today. However, fossil evidence indicates that the Hawaiian Islands once supported another quite different endemic bat species that is now extinct. Skeletal remains of a new genus and species of vespertilionid bat are herein described from various Late Pleistocene and Holocene/Recent deposits on the five largest Hawaiian Islands. The new taxon is diagnosed by a mosaic of features including dental formula, molar morphology, skull shape, and metacarpal formula. This new taxon, which is smaller than Hawaiian hoary bat, was apparently present in the Hawaiian Islands by 320,000 years b.p. and survived until at least 1100 years ago and possibly much later. Accordingly, two species of bats coexisted on the Hawaiian Islands for several thousand years. As with numerous extinct endemic bird species, the extinction of the new bat taxon described here may have resulted either directly or indirectly from human colonization of the islands and the invasive nonnative species that came with human explorers and settlers.

 Family Vespertilionidae Gray, 1821

Synemporion keana, gen. and sp. nov.
Lava-tube Bat

Type Locality: Hawaiian Islands, Maui Island, ‘Ulupalakua Ranch, Māhiehie Cave, 500 m, 20.63°N; 156.39°W (WGS 84 datum).

Geographic and Geologic Range: Hawaiian Islands, at least the five largest islands, from ca. Middle Pleistocene to Late Holocene (but apparently not into post-1778 historic period), with details as follows. Kaua‘i: infill of sinkhole of Late Pleistocene lithified calcareous dune deposits, and in Early Holocene eolian surface calcareous sand-dune deposits; O‘ahu: in Middle Pleistocene pond deposits of volcanic tuff-cone crater, as well as in later-Pleistoceneto-Holocene composite soil deposits (primarily sedimentary) within limestone sinkholes in emergent Late Pleistocene coral-algal reefs; Moloka‘i: in presumably Polynesian or early postcontact alluvial sediment on floor of a dynamically active piping cave; Maui: on exposed floor, embedded in mineralized crusts on walls and in alluvial sediments of Late Pleistocene or Holocene lava tubes; Hawai‘i: on exposed floor or in alluvial deposits of Late Pleistocene and Holocene lava tubes; approximate locations of these sites are shown in figure 1, and detailed information on all sites is provided in appendix 4.

FIGURE 10. Skeleton of Synemporion keana in situ on the floor near the lower end of Māhiehie Cave.

FIGURE 2. Lateral views of the skull and left dentary of A, the holotype of Synemporion keana (BPBM 159269) compared with B, Lasiurus cinereus semotus (BPBM 184506). Note the difference in the rostral profile between the two species, including the more robust lower jaw dentition in Lasiurus compared with Synemporion.

Etymology: The genus name Synemporion root from Greek common noun synemporos, “fellow traveler or companion,” with addition of the suffix -ion to form a neuter diminutive, in allusion to the new bat’s former co-occupation of the tectonically mobile Hawaiian Islands with the larger Lasiurus cinereus semotus. The specific name is a noun in apposition, formed from Hawaiian: the demonstrative ke, plus ana, “cave” or “lava tube,” referring to the subterranean provenience of the holotype and a majority of the paratypes.

Alan C. Ziegler, Francis G. Howarth and Nancy B. Simmons. 2016. A Second Endemic Land Mammal for the Hawaiian Islands: A New Genus and Species of Fossil Bat (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae).  American Museum Novitates.

Discovery of extinct bat doubles diversity of native Hawaiian land mammals via @amnh @EurekAlertAAAS

[Herpetology • 2016] The Eurasian Invasion: Phylogenomic Data reveal Multiple Southeast Asian Origins for Indian Dragon Lizards

A map showing the distribution of Draconinae and the four biogeographic area (differently-colored borders) used in ancestral range reconstructions.
 Credit: University of Kansas


The Indian Tectonic Plate split from Gondwanaland approximately 120 MYA and set the Indian subcontinent on a ~ 100 million year collision course with Eurasia. Many phylogenetic studies have demonstrated the Indian subcontinent brought with it an array of endemic faunas that evolved in situ during its journey, suggesting this isolated subcontinent served as a source of biodiversity subsequent to its collision with Eurasia. However, recent molecular studies suggest that Eurasia may have served as the faunal source for some of India’s biodiversity, colonizing the subcontinent through land bridges between India and Eurasia during the early to middle Eocene (~35–40 MYA). In this study we investigate whether the Draconinae subfamily of the lizard family Agamidae is of Eurasian or Indian origin, using a multi locus Sanger dataset and a novel dataset of 4536 ultraconserved nuclear element loci.

Results from our phylogenetic and biogeographic analyses revealed support for two independent colonizations of India from Eurasian ancestors during the early to late Eocene prior to the subcontinent’s hard collision with Eurasia.

These results are consistent with other faunal groups and new geologic models that suggest ephemeral Eocene land bridges may have allowed for dispersal and exchange of floras and faunas between India and Eurasia during the Eocene.

Keywords: Agamidae, Draconinae, Eocene, Eurasia, India, Faunal exchanges, Landbridges

Fig. 3 a Time-calibrated Bayesian analysis of ND2 and RAG-1 data, with black dots denoting nodes with posterior probabilities above 0.95, followed by the estimated divergence time for each node in MYA. Pink circles identify nodes where topology was constrained based on Likelihood and species tree analyses of UCE data (Fig. 2B). Brown circles indicate the four species groups. Biogeographic distributions of contemporary samples follow area coding depicted in Fig. 1, with probability of areas at ancestral nodes from our Bayesian analysis in RevBayes. Inferred dispersal events into India are labeled D#1 and D#2, resulting in Indian or Indian/Sri Lankan Salea, Sitana, and Otocryptis. b Hypothesized position of the ISC and an early Eocene land bridge allowing for the first inferred dispersal event (D#1 in a) from Eurasia into India, 50–55 MYA. c. Hypothesized position of the ISC and a middle-late Eocene land bridge allowing for the second first inferred dispersal event (D#2 in a) from Eurasia into India between 35–50 MYA (paleomaps modified from Klaus et al. [2010])

The use of additional taxa, sequence-capture data, and newer geological models—all data not available to previous studies on Draconinae—resulted in novel and well-resolved relationships, leading to new biogeographic insights in this unique subfamily of lizards. Using these biogeographic insights and a broad comparison with previous biogeographic literature, we propose the Eocene Exchange Hypothesis, and the simple but well supported assumption that land bridges may have facilitated a broad-scale pattern of faunal exchange between the ISC and areas of Eurasia before its collision with Asia during the Eocene. We expect that with additional sampling of Indian and mainland Asian species, some factors that may have biased our biogeographic interpretations within the Draconinae to (i.e., Indian extinction events), can be evaluated. In addition, sampling of additional draconine species will allow us to test more fine-scaled hypotheses concerning dispersal and diversification within this group. Our phylogenomic analysis add to a growing body of knowledge addressing the effects of the ISC’s collision on biogeography and offers new ideas to be tested by future studies.

Jesse L. Grismer, James A. Schulte II, Alana Alexander, Philipp Wagner, Scott L. Travers, Matt D. Buehler, Luke J. Welton and Rafe M. Brown. 2016. The Eurasian Invasion: Phylogenomic Data reveal Multiple Southeast Asian Origins for Indian Dragon Lizards. BMC Evolutionary Biology. DOI:   10.1186/s12862-016-0611-6

Land bridges linking ancient India and Eurasia were 'freeways' for biodiversity exchange via @physorg_com

[Mammalogy • 2012] Discovery of The Yellow-Bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah in Thailand

Figure 1. Yellow-bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah, Doi Phahompok National Park, 31 December 2000 (specimen THNHM-M-183). Photograph taken by W. Chutipong.
Figure 4. Yellow-bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah, Taksin Maharaj National Park, 13 January 2010. Photograph taken by N. Kunthawong.

The first records of Yellow-bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah [เพียงพอนท้องเหลือง / เพียงพอนสีน้ำตาล] from Thailand are from sites in the country’s north that are ecologically similar to where the species has been recorded in the neighbouring countries Lao PDR and Myanmar. The first record came from Doi Phahompok National Park, Chiang Mai Province. The dead animal, later deposited at the Thailand Natural History Museum, was misidentified as Least Weasel Mustela nivalis (never otherwise claimed for Thailand) and has been included under that name in some publications on mammals of Thailand. Two road-killed Yellow-bellied Weasels (one preserved) and one sighting come from Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai Province. A live-captured weasel and several sightings, all by day, were documented in Taksin Maharaj National Park, Tak Province. One sighting record from Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kanchanaburi Province, is south of the other records presented here. Most records came from hill evergreen forest and/or disturbed habitats at elevations above 1,400 m asl, but the Thung Yai sighting was in dry evergreen forest at 770 m asl. The scarcity of Thai records of Yellow-bellied Weasel does not necessarily indicate a genuine national rarity; it may simply have been overlooked by conventional survey methods. Least Weasel should be deleted from the list of mammals of Thailand.

Keywords: extension of known range, hill evergreen forest, Least Weasel, Mustela kathiah, Mustela nivalis, Thailand, Yellow-bellied Weasel

Suthee Supparatvikorn, Kaset Sutasha, Thana Sirisumpun, Naret Kunthawong, Wanlop Chutipong and J. W. Duckworth. 2012. Discovery of The Yellow-Bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah in Thailand. NAT. HIST. BULL. SIAM. SOC. 58: 19–30, 2012

Sunday, March 27, 2016

[Herpetology • 2016] Malayemys isan | เต่านาอีสาน | Isan Snail-eating Turtle • A New Snail-eating Turtle of the Genus Malayemys Lindholm, 1931 (Geoemydidae) from Thailand and Laos

เต่านาอีสาน |  Malayemys isan  
Sumontha, Brophy, Kunya, Wiboonatthapol & Pauwels, 2016 |  TAPROBANICA8(1)

We describe a snail-eating turtle, Malayemys isan sp. nov., from the Mekong River Basin in northeastern Thailand (Nong Bua Lamphu, Nong Khai and Udon Thani provinces) and the adjacent Vientiane area in Laos. The new species is readily distinguishable from M. subtrijuga by its two (vs. six to nine) nasal stripes, and from both M. subtrijuga and M. macrocephala by its thin, often discontinuous, infraorbital stripe that never reaches the loreal seam. This geographically-restricted new species is sold in several food markets throughout the species' distribution and is in urgent need of conservation measures.

Keywords: Aquatic ecosystems, biodiversity, herpetofauna, Mekong, snail-eating turtle

เต่านาอีสาน |  Malayemys isan  
Sumontha, Brophy, Kunya, Wiboonatthapol & Pauwels, 2016

Diagnosis: The new species is a medium-sized Malayemys species reaching a maximum carapace length of at least 152 mm in males and 206 mm in females, characterized by the consistent combination of (1) only two nasal stripes, (2) a thin, often discontinuous, infraorbital stripe that never reaches the loreal seam, (3) an uninterrupted supraorbital stripe, and (4) the absence of stripes or light spots between the infra- and supraorbital stripes.

การจำแนกชนิด: มีขีดสีขาวที่จมูก 2 ขีด แต่ละเส้นมักไม่ชนริมฝีปาก เส้นสีขาวที่ผ่านแนวใต้ตาโค้งขึ้นเล็กน้อยถึงระดับหลังจมูก ไม่ชนเส้นขาวที่ผ่านขอบบนของหัว ไม่มีเส้น/ขีดสีขาวระหว่างเส้นสีขาวที่ผ่านเหนือตาและใต้ตาในส่วนที่อยู่หลังตา ส่วนท้ายของกระหม่อมเป็นเส้นโค้งไปทางท้ายทอยชัดเจนและไม่เป็นมุมป้านยื่นไป สีท้องโดยรวมมีพื้นที่สีดำเข้มมากกว่าเต่านาชนิดอื่นๆ โดยเฉพาะเต่านาวัยเด็ก

Etymology: Isan”  is a Thai word designating the northeastern region of Thailand, where the type locality of the new species lies. It is here used as a noun in apposition, invariable.
We suggest the following common names: เต่านาอีสาน, Tao na Isan (Thai), Isan Snail-eating Turtle (English), Isan-Schneckenfresser (German), and Malayémyde d’Isan (French).

Distribution and natural history: The species is nocturnal, aquatic and lives in shallow, stagnant or slow-moving freshwater bodies. The type series was collected in the Lampaniang River, which is part of the Nam Phong River system. The river has its source near Ban Na Klang and runs N-NE along Regional Roads 2097-2098-2020 towards Tha Bo District in Nong Khai Province where it flows into the Mekong marking the boundary between Thailand and Laos. The Malayemys macrocephala-morphotype from northeastern Thailand, mentioned without further details by Claude & Naksri (2014), is probably referrable to Malayemys isan sp. nov. We also refer the individual illustrated by Stuart & Platt (2004: 135: fig. 18), from Vientiane Municipality, Laos and identified by them as a M. subtrijuga, to the new taxon based on its lateral head color pattern showing a thin infraorbital stripe ending below the loreal seam. Kubota et al. (2015: 23) illustrated (under the name M. subtrijuga) a group of Malayemys isan sp. nov. on sale among snails in Thong Khan Kham market in Vientiane. Tha Bo is about 15 airline km south of Vientiane, and about 65 airline km from the type locality of Malayemys isan sp. nov. One can expect that the new species occurs in the entire river between Na Klang and Tha Bo districts. Typical Malayemys macrocephala and M. subtrijuga were also found on sale in the food markets of the Vientiane area by Suzuki et al. (2015). These authors suggested two possibilities for the occurrence of M. macrocephala in Vientiane markets: that individuals were imported from Thailand or Malaysia, or that the species occurs in Laos. In any case, the individual Suzuki et al. (2015) illustrated in their figure 2C is indeed a M. macrocephala, showing four nasal stripes and an infraorbital stripe reaching the loreal seam. There is a possibility that the live individual illustrated by Stuart & Platt (2004) was an escapee from a market. However, it was caught in the wild while crossing a road near a culvert in May 1999 (i.e. a typical habitat for Malayemys) and, zoogeographically speaking, Vientiane is immediately adjacent to the distributional area of Malayemys isan sp. nov. in Thailand. In addition to the series from Ban Na Klang, we observed individuals in ditches in Nong Bua Lamphu, Muang District, Nong Bua Lamphu Province and in Udon Thani, Muang District, Udon Thani Province. In Nong Bua Lamphu, the turtles were found in a muddy field flooded with shallow, transparent water, in strict syntopy with the freshwater snakes Homalopsis nigroventralis Deuve, 1970 and Hypsiscopus plumbeus (Boie, 1827) (Homalopsidae) (see Figs. 4, 8, 9A). The broad and flat triturating surface of the upper jaw is an indication that, similar to the other members of this genus, the new species is a specialized snail-eater. In fact, some individuals we kept in captivity readily consumed the indigenous freshwater snail Filopaludina martensi (Frauenfeld, 1864) (Gastropoda: Viviparidae) and exotic freshwater snails of the genus Pomacea Perry, 1810 (Gastropoda: Ampullariidae). This new turtle species is sold in large numbers in the food markets of Ban Na Klang, Nong Bua Lamphu and Udon Thani (MS, pers. obs.; Figs. 9, 10).

.Montri Sumontha, Timothy R. Brophy, Kirati Kunya, Suthep Wiboonatthapol and Olivier S. G. Pauwels. 2016.  A New Snail-eating Turtle of the Genus Malayemys Lindholm, 1931 (Geoemydidae) from Thailand and Laos.  TAPROBANICA8(1); 1–9. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

[Ichthyology • 2016] Taxonomic Status of Maskrays of the Neotrygon kuhlii species complex (Myliobatoidei: Dasyatidae) with the Description of Three New species from the Indo-West Pacific

(blue) Neotrygon kuhlii (Müller & Henle, 1841) 
(yellow) Neotrygon orientale(green) N. caeruleopunctata & (red) N. australiae
Last, White & Séret, 2016  


The bluespotted maskray, Neotrygon kuhlii (Müller & Henle, 1841), once thought to be widely distributed in the Indo-West Pacific, consists of a complex of several species and the type series consists of multiple species; its nomenclature is discussed. A lectotype and paralectotype are designated and the species rediagnosed based on the types and a fresh specimen from Honiara (Solomon Islands), near to the collection locality of the lectotype (Vanikoro, Solomon Islands). Molecular and morphological data provide confirmatory evidence that this maskray is distinct from some other regional forms. Three members of the complex from the Western Pacific identified in earlier studies are confirmed to be new species; Neotrygon australiae sp. nov. (Australia, New Guinea and eastern Indonesia), N. caeruleopunctata sp. nov. (Indian Ocean), and N. orientale sp. nov. (North-West Pacific). These species differ from each other and N. kuhlii in their adult size, anterior angle of the disc, number and distribution of blue spots on the dorsal disc, and other more subtle morphometric and meristic characters. Another largely plain-coloured Neotrygon, also currently misidentified as N. kuhlii, is sympatric with N. orientale sp. nov. in the South China Sea and off Taiwan. Neotrygon varidens (Garman) is resurrected as the valid name for this ray. A key is provided to species of the genus.

Keywords: Pisces, Dasyatidae; Neotrygon australiae; Neotrygon caeruleopunctataNeotrygon kuhliiNeotrygon orientale; N. varidens; bluespotted maskray; new species; species complex; Indo-West Pacific

Peter R. Last, William T. White and Bernard Séret. 2016. Taxonomic Status of Maskrays of the Neotrygon kuhlii species complex (Myliobatoidei: Dasyatidae) with the Description of Three New species from the Indo-West Pacific. Zootaxa. 4083(4); 533-561.  DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4083.4.5 @WillWhiteSharks

[Botany • 2016] Euphorbia gokakensis sp. nov. (Euphorbiaceae) from Sandstone Formations in Karnataka, India

Euphorbia gokakensis 

in Malpure, Chandore & Yadav, 2016. 

Euphorbia gokakensis, a new succulent species of Euphorbiaceae, is described from the Belgaum district of Karnataka, India. The new species belongs to Euphorbia subgen. Euphorbia, and closely resembles Euphorbia caducifolia Haines. However, it is distinguished by its characteristic dwarf habit forming a compact cushion that hardly exceeds 50 cm in height.

N. V. Malpure, A. N. Chandore and S. R. Yadav. 2016. Euphorbia gokakensis sp. nov. (Euphorbiaceae) from Sandstone Formations in Karnataka, India. Nordic Journal of Botany. DOI: 10.1111/njb.00997