Saturday, April 30, 2016

[Ornithology • 2016] Reproductive Biology of the Sapayoa Sapayoa aenigma, the “Old World suboscine” of the New World

A Sapayoa Sapayoa aenigma emerges from its nest in the Panamanian rainforest.  

photos: J.M. Hite
  DOI: 10.1642/AUK-16-5.1 

The Sapayoa (Sapayoa aenigma), a low-density resident of Chocó rainforests from Panama to Ecuador, has long perplexed ornithologists. It was originally described as a manakin (Pipridae), but molecular work has revealed its closest living relatives to be Old World suboscines (Eurylaimides) and supported its placement in the monotypic family of Sapayoidae. Despite such phylogenetic intrigue, little is known about the Sapayoa's general life history or reproductive biology; only one nest has been described. We present information on 2 actively attended and 13 inactive Sapayoa nests in Darién National Park, Panama. We provide the first detailed description of individual effort at an active nest, family group dynamics during the nesting period, the plumage of immature birds, and the range of vocalizations produced. We also present the first documentation of cooperative breeding and compile several recent nesting observations, extending the published Sapayoa breeding period by several months. Furthermore, we describe unusual behaviors among provisioning birds, including mounting between individuals of the same sex and mounting of a female by immature male helpers during chick provisioning. The receiving individual gave a conspicuous solicitation display before each mounting. Finally, we highlight elements of the Sapayoa's natural history that echo its Old World relatives and contrast with members of the New World Tyranni. For example, the Sapayoa resembles the eurylaimid broadbills—and differs starkly from the manakins—in diet, nest structure, breeding system, and mode of parental care.

Keywords: cooperative breeding, helpers, mounting, Old World suboscines, Sapayoa aenigma, Sapayoidae

Sapayoa aenigma, Nusagandi, Panama 
photo: Jan Axel 

Sarah A. Dzielski, Benjamin M. Van Doren, Jack P. Hruska, and Justin M. Hite. 2016. Reproductive Biology of the Sapayoa (Sapayoa aenigma), the “Old World suboscine” of the New World [Biología reproductiva de Sapayoa aenigma, el “suboscín del Viejo Mundo” que habita el Nuevo Mundo]. The Auk. 133(3); 347-363. DOI: 10.1642/AUK-16-5.1

Field Study Helps Confirm The Sapayoa Is Like No Other Bird In The New World
An Old World bird in a New World rainforest via @physorg_com

The Sapayoa, a rainforest bird from Central and South America, is an evolutionary enigma—genetic analysis shows that its closest relatives are bird species living across the ocean in Asia and Africa. Now, new research in The Auk: Ornithological Advances demonstrates for the first time that its natural history links it to its evolutionary relatives thousands of miles away.

How the Sapayoa ended up so far from other members of its lineage remains a mystery, and little is known about its reproductive biology or social behavior. However, new field work in Panama by Sarah Dzielski and Benjamin Van Doren of Cornell University and their colleagues reveals that Sapayoas consistently build nests that hang over the water along ravine-bottom streams. One of the active nests they observed was attended by a family group comprised of an adult male and female and two immature males, all four of which brought food to the two chicks. The researchers were surprised by the social behavior they observed, which included mounting between individuals of the same sex, possibly to establish dominance and maintain social cohesion.
These are the first extended observations of Sapayoa breeding behavior, and they provide hints at how this unusual bird is connected with its roots. Many of the Sapayoa's Old World relatives are cooperative breeders, getting help from family groups, and the pear-shaped hanging nest also is consistent with Old World "suboscines," the group of birds to which Sapayoas belong.
Dzielski, Van Doren, and their colleagues Jack Hruska and Justin Hite searched for Sapayoa nests as part of an expedition to Panama's Darién National Park in summer 2014, observing the family group at their focal nest for more than 70 hours over ten days. "Nest searching was always an adventure," says Dzielski. "We found countless abandoned nests, and while checking inside for eggs or evidence that the nest was active, we found all sorts of surprises. In a few instances, a large grasshopper the size of a mouse hopped out from under the flap and scared the daylights out of us!"
"The Sapayoa is so different from other passerine birds that it is currently placed in its own family, Sapayoidae, but relatively little is known about its natural history," adds Van Doren. "This gap in scientific knowledge was the reason we traveled to eastern Panama to learn about this enigmatic species. We hoped that more information about the Sapayoa's natural history would cast its surprising evolutionary relationships in a new and clearer light."
"The Sapayoa has long been a mystery bird. When my colleagues and I identified it as the only Old World suboscine in the New World in 2003, it only became more mysterious," says Jon Fjeldså of the University of Copenhagen, who led the research team that first identified the Sapayoa's unusual origins. "How did it arrive in South America? Why does it resemble a manakin? And does it still behave like an Old World suboscine? I am excited to learn that it indeed does!"

Sapayoa aenigma, un ave residente en bajas densidades en los bosques húmedos del Chocó desde Panamá hasta Ecuador, ha confundido a los ornitólogos por bastante tiempo. Aunque la especie originalmente fue descrita como un saltarín (Pipridae), estudios moleculares recientes revelaron que sus parientes más cercanos son los suboscinos del viejo mundo (Eurylaimides) y sustentan su ubicación en la familia monotípica Sapayoidae. A pesar de esta intriga filogenética se sabe muy poco sobre la historia de vida o la biología reproductiva de Sapayoa; sólo se ha descrito un nido. En este trabajo presentamos información de 2 nidos activos y 13 nidos inactivos de Sapayoa encontrados en el Parque Nacional Darién, Panamá. Presentamos la primera descripción detallada del esfuerzo individual en un nido activo, la dinámica del grupo familiar durante el periodo de anidación, el plumaje de las aves inmaduras y el repertorio de vocalizaciones. También presentamos la primera evidencia de cría cooperativa y recopilamos varias observaciones recientes de anidación que extienden el periodo reproductivo conocido de Sapayoa en varios meses. Además describimos comportamientos inusuales entre las aves que proveen alimento a sus crías, incluyendo la monta entre individuos del mismo sexo y entre un individuo joven y una hembra adulta durante la alimentación de los polluelos. El individuo que recibía la monta ejecutaba antes un despliegue para solicitarla. Finalmente, resaltamos elementos de la historia natural de Sapayoa que se asemejan a las de sus parientes del Viejo Mundo y contrastan con las de miembros de Tyranni en el Nuevo Mundo. Por ejemplo, Sapayoa se asemeja a los Eurylaimidae (y difiere drásticamente de los Pipridae) en dieta, estructura de los nidos, sistema reproductivo y modo de cuidado parental.

Palabras clave: ayudantes del nido, cría cooperativa, monta, Sapayoa aenigma, Sapayoidae, suboscines del viejo mundo

[Paleontology • 2016] Sarmientosaurus musacchioi • A Basal Lithostrotian Titanosaur (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) with a Complete Skull: Implications for the Evolution and Paleobiology of Titanosauria

Sarmientosaurus musacchioi
Martínez, Lamanna, Novas, Ridgely, Casal, Martínez, Vita & Witmer, 2016
 Life reconstruction of two individuals of the new titanosaurian dinosaur species Sarmientosaurus musacchioi in their ~95 million-year-old habitat in southern Chubut Province, central Patagonia, Argentina, with a digital rendering of the skull in the same position as the head of the foreground individual.

life reconstruction & skull by Mark A. Klingler, Carnegie Museum of Natural History and WitmerLab, Ohio University   DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151661


We describe Sarmientosaurus musacchioi gen. et sp. nov., a titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian—Turonian) Lower Member of the Bajo Barreal Formation of southern Chubut Province in central Patagonia, Argentina. The holotypic and only known specimen consists of an articulated, virtually complete skull and part of the cranial and middle cervical series. Sarmientosaurus exhibits the following distinctive features that we interpret as autapomorphies: (1) maximum diameter of orbit nearly 40% rostrocaudal length of cranium; (2) complex maxilla—lacrimal articulation, in which the lacrimal clasps the ascending ramus of the maxilla; (3) medial edge of caudal sector of maxillary ascending ramus bordering bony nasal aperture with low but distinct ridge; (4) ‘tongue-like’ ventral process of quadratojugal that overlaps quadrate caudally; (5) separate foramina for all three branches of the trigeminal nerve; (6) absence of median venous canal connecting infundibular region to ventral part of brainstem; (7) subvertical premaxillary, procumbent maxillary, and recumbent dentary teeth; (8) cervical vertebrae with ‘strut-like’ centroprezygapophyseal laminae; (9) extremely elongate and slender ossified tendon positioned ventrolateral to cervical vertebrae and ribs. The cranial endocast of Sarmientosaurus preserves some of the most complete information obtained to date regarding the brain and sensory systems of sauropods. Phylogenetic analysis recovers the new taxon as a basal member of Lithostrotia, as the most plesiomorphic titanosaurian to be preserved with a complete skull. Sarmientosaurus provides a wealth of new cranial evidence that reaffirms the close relationship of titanosaurs to Brachiosauridae. Moreover, the presence of the relatively derived lithostrotian Tapuiasaurus in Aptian deposits indicates that the new Patagonian genus represents a ‘ghost lineage’ with a comparatively plesiomorphic craniodental form, the evolutionary history of which is missing for at least 13 million years of the Cretaceous. The skull anatomy of Sarmientosaurus suggests that multiple titanosaurian species with dissimilar cranial structures coexisted in the early Late Cretaceous of southern South America. Furthermore, the new taxon possesses a number of distinctive morphologies—such as the ossified cervical tendon, extremely pneumatized cervical vertebrae, and a habitually downward-facing snout—that have rarely, if ever, been documented in other titanosaurs, thus broadening our understanding of the anatomical diversity of this remarkable sauropod clade. The latter two features were convergently acquired by at least one penecontemporaneous diplodocoid, and may represent mutual specializations for consuming low-growing vegetation.

Systematic Paleontology

Saurischia Seeley 1887 
Sauropodomorpha Huene 1932 

Sauropoda Marsh 1878 
Titanosauriformes Salgado, Coria, and Calvo 1997 

Titanosauria Bonaparte and Coria 1993 
Lithostrotia Upchurch, Barrett, and Dodson 2004 

Sarmientosaurus gen. nov.

Sarmientosaurus musacchioi sp. nov.

Sarmientosaurus head posture, brain & eye: Digital renderings of the skull and reconstructed brain endocast and eye of the new titanosaurian dinosaur species Sarmientosaurus musacchioi.
At left is the skull rendered semi-transparent in left side view, showing the relative size and position of the brain endocast (in blue, pink, yellow, and red) and the inferred habitual head posture. At center is the isolated brain endocast in left side view, and at right is a left/front view of the skull showing the reconstructed eyeball and its associated musculature. Scale bar equals five centimeters.
Credit: WitmerLab, Ohio University.  

Holotype. MDT-PV 2, an originally articulated cranial and cervical skeleton consisting of the nearly complete skull, the partial axis associated with its rib from the right side and articulated with the cranial part of the third cervical vertebra, a fragment of the fifth cervical vertebra, the nearly complete sixth cervical vertebra and its right rib, the partial seventh cervical vertebra, and a section of ossified cervical tendon.

Diagnosis.  Basal lithostrotian titanosaurian sauropod diagnosed by the following autapomorphies: (1) maximum (rostroventral—caudodorsal) diameter of orbit nearly 40% rostrocaudal length of cranium (as measured from tip of snout to occipital condyle); (2) complex maxilla—lacrimal articulation, with ascending ramus of maxilla embedded in and bordered laterally and medially by lacrimal dorsal process; (3) medial edge of caudal sector of maxillary ascending ramus bordering bony nasal aperture with low but well-defined ridge; (4) ‘tongue-like’ ventral process of quadratojugal that overlaps quadrate caudally; (5) separate foramina for all three branches of the trigeminal nerve; (6) absence of median venous canal connecting infundibular region to ventral part of brainstem; (7) premaxillary teeth subvertical, maxillary teeth procumbent, and dentary teeth recumbent; (8) middle cervical vertebrae with ‘strut-like’ (as opposed to ‘sheet-like’) centroprezygapophyseal laminae; (9) extremely elongate and slender ossified tendon extending along cervical series ventrolateral to vertebrae and ribs.

Etymology. Sarmiento, for the Patagonian town and the administrative department in which it is located, the latter of which has yielded numerous Cretaceous dinosaur fossils; saurus, Greek, ‘lizard.’ The specific name honors the late Dr. Eduardo Musacchio, a model scientist and educator at the Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco in Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina.

Locality and horizon. Estancia Laguna Palacios (44°54'11.6'' S, 69°22'56.7'' W), Sierra Nevada Anticline, Golfo San Jorge Basin, south-central Chubut Province, central Patagonia, Argentina (Fig 1). Uppermost section of the Lower Member of the Upper Cretaceous Bajo Barreal Formation, Chubut Group. The specimen was found in situ in a tuffaceous sandstone that is regarded as Cenomanian—Turonian in age.

Fig 33. Comparison of titanosauriform sauropod dinosaur skulls in right lateral view.
(A) Giraffatitan brancai (redrawn and modified from Wilson and Sereno [103]). (B) Abydosaurus mcintoshi (redrawn and modified from Chure et al. [98]). (C) Sarmientosaurus musacchioi gen. et sp. nov. (D) Nemegtosaurus mongoliensis (redrawn and modified from Wilson [11]). (E) Rapetosaurus krausei (redrawn from Curry Rogers and Forster [13]). (F) Tapuiasaurus macedoi (redrawn from Zaher et al. [14]). Not to scale.

Sarmientosaurus musacchioi is the first titanosaurian sauropod from southern South America for which an articulated, virtually complete adult skull has been discovered. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that the new taxon is an archaic member of the titanosaurian subclade Lithostrotia, occupying a position more derived than Malawisaurus but more basal than taxa frequently regarded as nemegtosaurids (Nemegtosaurus, Rapetosaurus, and Tapuiasaurus) and saltasaurid titanosaurs such as Alamosaurus, Neuquensaurus, and Saltasaurus. As such, Sarmientosaurus is the most basal known titanosaur to be represented by a well-preserved skull. The new taxon exhibits a previously-undocumented cranial form that consists of an amalgam of plesiomorphic titanosauriform features such as a comparatively broad snout with a large narial fossa and a deep mandibular adductor chamber with more derived morphologies such as an elongate rostral process of the prefrontal (Figs 33 and 34). These characters offer novel cranial support for the phylogenetic hypothesis that titanosaurians are closely related to Brachiosauridae and other titanosauriforms—a hypothesis that, although now well-established, had previously been based primarily on evidence from the postcranial skeleton. Furthermore, the occurrence of the more derived lithostrotian Tapuiasaurus in the Aptian of Brazil raises the possibility that the new Patagonian taxon represents a titanosaurian ‘ghost lineage,’ the evolutionary history of which remains undocumented for almost all of the mid-Cretaceous.

Rubén D. F. Martínez , Matthew C. Lamanna, Fernando E. Novas, Ryan C. Ridgely, Gabriel A. Casal, Javier E. Martínez, Javier R. Vita and Lawrence M. Witmer. 2016. A Basal Lithostrotian Titanosaur (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) with a Complete Skull: Implications for the Evolution and Paleobiology of Titanosauria.  PLoS ONE. 11(4): e0151661. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151661

Newly discovered titanosaurian dinosaur from Argentina, Sarmientosaurus via @physorg_com
Intact skull sheds light on Sarmientosaurus | The London Free Press

[Primatology • 2016] Phylogeny and Divergence Times of Lemurs inferred with Recent and Ancient Fossils in the Tree


Paleontological and neontological systematics seek to answer evolutionary questions with different datasets. Phylogenies inferred for combined extant and extinct taxa provide novel insights into the evolutionary history of life. Primates have an extensive, diverse fossil record and molecular data for living and extinct taxa are rapidly becoming available. We used two models to infer the phylogeny and divergence times for living and fossil primates, the tip-dating (TD) and fossilized birth-death process (FBD). We collected new morphological data, especially on the living and extinct endemic lemurs of Madagascar. We combined the morphological data with published DNA sequences to infer near-complete (88% of lemurs) time-calibrated phylogenies. The results suggest that primates originated around the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, slightly earlier than indicated by the fossil record and later than previously inferred from molecular data alone. We infer novel relationships among extinct lemurs, and strong support for relationships that were previously unresolved. Dates inferred with TD were significantly older than those inferred with FBD, most likely related to an assumption of a uniform branching process in the TD compared to a birth-death process assumed in the FBD. This is the first study to combine morphological and DNA sequence data from extinct and extant primates to infer evolutionary relationships and divergence times, and our results shed new light on the tempo of lemur evolution and the efficacy of combined phylogenetic analyses.

Key words: total evidence; primatology; Bayesian phylogenetics; calibration; chronogram

James P. Herrera and Liliana M. Dávalos. 2016. Phylogeny and Divergence Times of Lemurs inferred with Recent and Ancient Fossils in the Tree. Syst Biol. (2016). DOI:  10.1093/sysbio/syw035
An exhaustive lemur family tree sheds new light on these threatened primates via @HuffPostScience

[Botany • 2014] สายน้ำค้าง | The Genus Rhynchoglossum Blume (Gesneriaceae) in Thailand

สายน้ำหยด | Rhynchoglossum mirabilis Patthar. 


The genus Rhynchoglossum Blume in Thailand is revised. Three species are recognised, R. obliquum Blume, R. mirabilis Patthar. and R. saccatum Patthar., the latter two newly described here and endemic to Thailand. A key to the species and illustrations are provided.

Keywords: Taxonomy; Rhynchoglossum; new species; Thailand

Nannapat Pattharahirantricin. 2014. The Genus Rhynchoglossum Blume (Gesneriaceae) in Thailand.
Thai Forest Bulletin (Botany). 42: 24–34.

[Botany • 2016] Miliusa malnadense • A New Species of Miliusa (Annonaceae) from the Western Ghats of Karnataka, India

Miliusa malnadense

Within Magnoliales, Annonaceae is the most species-rich family (Chatrou et al. 2012). Miliusa Leschenault ex De Candolle (1832: 213) is placed in tribe Miliusae, subfamily Malmeoideae, according to the recent infrafamilial classification (Chatrou et al. 2012). Chaowasku et al. (2014) provided insights into the evolutionary relationships of tribe Miliusae, and Chaowasku & Keßler (2013) reconstructed the phylogeny of Miliusa with four well-supported clades. Miliusa is distributed across the Austro-Malesian region with most species exhibiting a restricted distribution to certain areas (Mols & Kessler 2003). Species known from India exhibit a high degree of endemism (Kundu 2006).


FIGURE 2. Miliusa malnadense.
. Twig showing new foliage and bud. B. Leaf. C. Monocarps. D. Lateral section of mature flower. E. Mature flower.
Photographs by Navendu Page.

Miliusa malnadense Page & Nerlekar, sp. nov., 
This species can be distinguished by the presence of pubescent young branches, coppery red young leaves, inner petals glabrous outside, apices and margins densely puberulous inside and purple coloured, carpels elongated, curved and pubescent throughout its length, ovoid-oblong stigma and globose monocarps 

Etymology:— The specific epithet ‘‘malnadense’’ refers to the Kartanaka part of the Western Ghats from Shimoga to Kodagu which is the currently known distribution range of this species.

Distribution and associated species :— Miliusa malnadense is so far known only from the Kudremukh national park in the Western Ghats mountain range which is one of the global biodiversity hotspots (Myers et al. 2000). Miliusa malnadenseis  probably  restricted  to  forests  at  elevations  above  1000  m  in  the  Shola-Grassland  ecosystem  that  harbor  significant proportion of endemic taxa (Robin & Nandini 2012). Associated species observed in the type locality were species of the genus Ochlandra Thwaites, Lasianthus Jack, Cinnamomum Schaeffer, Myristica dactyloides Gaertner, Euonymus indicus B.Heyne ex Wall. and Schefflera micrantha (C.B.Clarke) Gamble.

Conservation status:— Data Deficient.

 Navendu Page and Ashish Nerlekar. 2016. A New Species of Miliusa (Annonaceae) from the Western Ghats of Karnataka, India. Phytotaxa. 245(1):79-83 .  DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.245.1.10

New species of evergreen tree for India  

[Botany • 2016] Sciaphila yakushimensis • A New Mycoheterotrophic Plant (Triuridaceae) from Yakushima Island, Japan

Sciaphila yakushimensis
Suetsugu, Tsukaya & H. Ohashi 

A new species of Sciaphila (Triuridaceae), Sciaphila yakushimensis Suetsugu, Tsukaya & H. Ohashi, is described and illustrated from Yakushima Island, Kagoshima Pref., Japan. The new species is similar to S. nana, but it is clearly distinguishable by the blackish purple aerial parts, the clavate style with dense papillae, and the filaments not longer than the anthers. A key to the Japanese Sciaphila based on total flower characteristics and another based primarily on stylar characteristics are provided for convenience of easy identification of these rare mycoheterotrophic plants.

Key words: Distribution, Japan, mycoheterotrophic plants, new species, Sciaphila, Triuridaceae, Yakushima Island.

Kenji Suetsugu, Hirokazu Tsukaya and Hiroyoshi Ohashi. 2016. Sciaphila yakushimensis (Triuridaceae), A New Mycoheterotrophic Plant from Yakushima Island, Japan. Journal of Japanese Botany [J. Jpn. Bot.]91(1): 1–6  
New plant species discovered on Yakushima via @physorg_com

Friday, April 29, 2016

[Botany • 2016] A Revision of Rhapis (Arecaceae)

Rhapis kebangensis Henderson sp. nov.
Phong Nga-Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh, VIETNAM

A revision of the Asian palm genus Rhapis is given based on study of 167 herbarium specimens of wild origin from A, AAU, BH, BK, BKF, GH, HN, HNU, HPNP, IBSC, K, KUN, L, MO, NY, P, SYS, US and application of the Phylogenetic Species Concept to a database comprising 13 qualitative and 16 quantitative variables. Eleven species are recognized, including two new ones. Two species are divided into subspecies.

Keywords: dioecy, Palmae, Vietnam, China

Rhapis is the name given to small, clustering, fan-leaved, dioecious palms that can form large colonies by rhizomes in the understory of tropical and subtropical Asian forests, often on limestone soils. The species are distributed from southern China through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia, with an outlying population in western Sumatra. The first revision of the genus was that of Beccari (1931), where five species were recognized. Bailey (1939) recognized nine species, and in the most recent revision, Hastings (2003) recognized eight species. 


Rhapis Linnaeus f. in Aiton (1789)

1. Rhapis evansii Henderson sp. nov.
Type:— LAOS. Vientiane: Vangvieng district, Ban Nathong, Tham Poukham, 250–350 m,
1 August 1999, T. Evans 56 (holotype K!, barcode K000462531). (Fig. 1)

2. Rhapis excelsa (Thunberg) Henry in Rehder (1930: 153).
Chamaerops excelsa Thunberg (1784: 130).
Trachycarpus excelsus (Thunberg) Wendland in Gay (1861: 429).
Lectotype (designated by Hastings 2003):— JAPAN. No locality, no date, C. Thunberg sheet number 24386 (lectotype UPS n.v., UPS image!)

3. Rhapis gracilis Burret (1930: 883).
Lectotype (here designated):— CHINA. Prov. Kwangtung: Win Foo, 180 m, 3 October 1928, S. Sin 5338 (lectotype IBSC!) (the holotype at B was destroyed)

4. Rhapis humilis Blume (1836: 54).
Lectotype (designated here):— JAPAN. No locality, no date, C. Thunberg sheet number 24385 (lectotype UPS n.v., UPS image!)

5. Rhapis kebangensis Henderson sp. nov.
Type:—VIETNAM. Quang Binh: Ba Trach district, Phong Nga-Ke Bang National Park.
20 October 2015, A. Henderson & Nguyen Quoc Dung 4048 (holotype FIPI!, isotype NY!). (Fig. 3)

6. Rhapis laosensis Beccari (1910: 225).
Lectotype (designated by Hastings 2003):—LAOS. Saraburi, no date, C. Thorel 3154 (lectotype P!, isolectotype FI!)

6a. Rhapis laosensis subsp. laosensis 
6b. Rhapis laosensis subsp. macrantha (Gagnepain) Henderson comb. & stat. nov.
 Basionym: Rhapis macrantha Gagnepain (1937: 160). 
Type:—VIETNAM. Nord-Annam, Province de Nghe-An (Vinh), Réserve forestière de Co Ba (Ke-Nhe), 15 May 1914, F. Fleury 32535 (holotype P!)

7. Rhapis micrantha Beccari (1910: 220). 
Lectotype (designated by Hastings 2003):—VIETNAM. Dong Ban mountains, Kien Khe 19 April 1884, H.-F. Bon 2345 (lectotype P!, isolectotype FI!)

8. Rhapis puhuongensis Trudgen, Tran Thi Phuong Anh & Henderson (2008: 182). 
Type:—VIETNAM. Nghe An: Quy Hop district, Pu Huong Nature Reserve, behind Reserve office, 300 m, 19°20’N, 105°10’E, 18 March 2007, X. P. Vu, V. D. Nguyen, H. Q. Bui, C. T. Nguyen R. de Kok, T. Utteridge, A. Moore, M. Briggs, M. Trudgen, V. C. Nguyen & D. D. Tran HNK 1748 (holotype HN n.v., isotypes AAU!, K!, NY!, P!)

9. Rhapis robusta Burret (1937: 587).
Lectotype (here designated):— CHINA. Kwangsi: Lungchow, 7 July 1935, S. Ko 55429 (lectotype IBSC!)(the holotype at B was destroyed)

10. Rhapis subtilis Beccari (1910: 227). 
Type:— LAOS. Lakon, 1866–1868, C. Thorel 3099 (holotype P!, isotype FI!)
10a. Rhapis subtilis subsp. subtilis 
10b. Rhapis subtilis subsp. siamensis Henderson comb. & stat. nov. 
Basionym: Rhapis siamensis Hodel (1997: 19). 
Type:—THAILAND. Phatthalung: 13 km N of Phatthalung and 5 km E of main road along side road to coast, 25 April 1997, D. Hodel & P. Vatcharakorn 1652 (holotype BK n.v., isotypes BH!, MO!)

 11. Rhapis vidalii Averyanov, Nguyen Tien Hiep & Phan Ke Loc (2006: 12). 
Type:—VIETNAM. Hoa Binh: Mai Chau district, Van Mai municipality, highway 7, 15 km post, between 20°35’N, 105°02’E and 20°34’N, 105°02’E, 300–350 m, 12 December 2002, D. Harder, N. T. Hiep, L. Averyanov, DKH 8123 (holotype HN n.v., isotype LE n.v.)

Andrew HENDERSON. 2016. A Revision of Rhapis (Arecaceae). Phytotaxa. 258(2): 137–152. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.258.2.3

[Herpetology • 2016] Systematics of Small Gehyra (Squamata: Gekkonidae) of the southern Kimberley, Western Australia: Redescription of G. kimberleyi Börner & Schüttler, 1983 and Description of A New Restricted Range Species

Gehyra kimberleyi 
Börner & Schüttler, 1983  


Ongoing fieldwork and molecular research continues to reveal that the monsoonal tropics of northern Australia contain more vertebrate species than currently recognised. Here we focus on two morphologically distinctive, yet unrecognised forms in the genus Gehyra from the southern Kimberley region and surrounding deserts. We base our descriptions on a combination of unpublished genetic data and a morphological examination of voucher specimens. We recognise and redescribe G. kimberleyi, a species with a broad distribution extending over most of the south-west Kimberley, across the Great Sandy Desert and into the far northern Pilbara. This species has been previously assigned to G. pilbara owing to its frequent occurrence on termite mounds and short snout, but can be distinguished from G. pilbara and other regionally sympatric Gehyra by its moderate body size, moderate number of pre-cloacal pores in males (12–17) and aspects of dorsal colouration. We also describe Gehyra girloorloo sp. nov., a small rock-dwelling species with a short snout, low number of pre-cloacal pores in males (8–11) and pinkish-grey dorsal colouration with alternating series of indistinct pale spots and irregular transversely-aligned dark blotches. The new species appears to be restricted to a relatively small region of exposed limestone karst in the south-west Kimberley and is entirely circumscribed by morphologically similar congeners.

Keywords: Australian Monsoonal Tropics, biodiversity, endemism, gecko, limestone, lizard, short range endemic, Reptilia

Paul M. Oliver, Gayleen Bourke, Renae C. Pratt, Paul Doughty and Craig Moritz. 2016. Systematics of Small Gehyra (Squamata: Gekkonidae) of the southern Kimberley, Western Australia: Redescription of G. kimberleyi Börner & Schüttler, 1983 and Description of A New Restricted Range Species. Zootaxa. 4107(1); DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4107.1.2

[Ornithology • 2016] The Phylogenetic Position of the World's Smallest Passerine, the Pygmy Bushtit Psaltria exilis

Pygmy Bushtit Psaltria exilis 
James Eaton / BirdTour Asia |  

The Pygmy Bushtit is confined to the montane forests of Java. It is the world's smallest passerine and morphologically resembles a small, drab long-tailed tit or bushtit (Aegithalidae). In its behaviour the Pygmy Bushtit show similarities with the members of the Aegithalidae, but owing to its small size and isolated geographical distribution relative to the other members of the Aegithalidae, it has always been placed in a monotypic genus within the family. The affinities of the Pygmy Bushtit have never been tested in a phylogenetic context and the species has to date not been included in any molecular studies. In this study we use sequence data from four different genetic markers to place it in the passerine phylogenetic tree. Our results confirm the inclusion of the Pygmy Bushtit in the Aegithalidae, but rather than being an isolated lineage, our results strongly suggest that it is nested in the Aegithalos clade, and most closely related to the Black-throated Bushtit A. concinnus. The range of the Black-throated Bushtit extends south into subtropical Indochina, with an isolated subspecies occurring in southern Vietnam. The Black-throated Bushtit contains several morphologically and genetically distinct lineages, which could represent distinct species, but the phylogenetic relationships within this complex are poorly resolved and partly in conflict with current taxonomic treatment based on morphology.

Keywords: Aves; Passeriformes; Aegithalidae; Phylogeny; Biogeography

Ulf S. Johansson, Per G.P. Ericson, Jon Fjeldså and Martin Irestedt. 2016. The Phylogenetic Position of the World's Smallest Passerine, the Pygmy Bushtit Psaltria exilis. Ibis. DOI:  10.1111/ibi.12377

Thursday, April 28, 2016

[Herpetology • 2016] Frogs at the Summits: Phylogeny of the Andean Frogs of the Genus Telmatobius (Anura, Telmatobiidae) based on Phenotypic Characters

A phylogenetic hypothesis for the frogs of the genus Telmatobius that includes a comprehensive sample of the morphological and geographical variation is lacking. Obtaining such a hypothesis constitutes the main focus of this contribution. A phylogenetic matrix was generated based on 97 phenotypic characters and 56 terminals. A parsimony analysis of this matrix was performed with TNT. Telmatobius is found to be monophyletic and well supported by 11 synapomorphies. Although the consensus tree shows several polytomies, four main groups have been recovered. The well-supported T. verrucosus Group includes forest and sub-paramo species from Bolivia and Peru, and is the sister group of the remaining species. The T. bolivianus Group includes forest and inter-Andean valley species from Argentina and Bolivia but it is poorly supported. Two supported high-altitude groups have been recovered, the T. macrostomus Group from the Central Andes of Peru, and the T. marmoratus Group from the Altiplano- Puna Plateau of Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Chile and its adjacent Pacific and Northern slopes. The synapomorphies proposed for Telmatobius are discussed as well as the evolution of some of these synapomorphies and other characters within the genus.

Telmatobius is a monophyletic genus that has evolved in relation to water ecosystems of the Andes and its precursor mountain ranges. The species groups recovered in the present phylogenetic hypothesis are congruent with previous hypotheses (Aguilar and Valencia, 2009; De la Riva et al., 2010). The taxonomic distribution of some osteological characters shows that the states resembling an immature morphological configuration are more common among species of the T. marmoratus and T. macrostomus Groups. This suggests that heterochronies in osteological development could explain part of the interspecific variation in the morphology of the skeleton. The species belonging to those two groups live at higher altitudes and are in general more aquatic than there maining species living at lower altitudes. Further-more, the occurrence of morphological characters associated with inertial suction feeding in the species of the T. marmoratus Group suggests that suction would have evolved in this highland aquatic group. It is noteworthy that this mode of underwater prey capture has no precedents in Neobatrachia, the group containing 96% of frogs and toads. The present analysis is the most comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of Telmatobius to date and a total evidence analysis is the immediate next step

 Sebastián Barrionuevo. 2016. Frogs at the Summits: Phylogeny of the Andean Frogs of the Genus Telmatobius (Anura, Telmatobiidae) based on Phenotypic Characters.  Cladistics.  DOI:  10.1111/cla.12158

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

[Entomology • 2016] Nigrimacula gen. nov. Comments on the Status of Xiphidiopsis quadrinotata Bey-Bienko, 1971 and related species with One New Genus and Species (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Meconematinae) from South China

Nigrimacula xizangensis 
Jiao & Shi, 2013


Based on the collections of the Museum of Hebei University, the paper comments Xiphidiopsis quadrinotata Bey-Bienko, 1971 status and reinstates Xizicus (Axizicus) xizangensis Jiao & Shi, 2013 as a valid species. Meanwhile, Alloteratura (Meconemopsis) Karny, 1924 is redefined and one new genus of Meconematinae, Nigrimacula Shi, Bian & Zhou gen. nov., mainly distributed in South China, is erected. The new genus includes three previously known species: Xiphidiopsis quadrinotata Bey-Bienko, 1971, Xizicus (Axizicus) xizangensis Jiao & Shi, 2013 and Meconemopsis paraquadrinotata Wang, Liu & Li, 2015 and one new species, Nigrimacula binotata Shi, Bian & Zhou sp. nov. The male of Xiphidiopsis quadrinotata Bey-Bienko, 1971 and female of Xizicus (Axizicus) xizangensis Jiao & Shi, 2013 are described for the first time. A key to the species based on the morphology and a distribution map are included.

Keywords: Meconematinae, Xiphidiopsis quadrinotata and related species, Alloteratura (Meconemopsis), new genus, new species, China, Orthoptera

Fuming Shi, Xun Bian and  Zhijun Zhou. 2016. Comments on the Status of Xiphidiopsis quadrinotata Bey-Bienko, 1971 and related species with One New Genus and Species (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Meconematinae). Zootaxa. 4105(4); DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4105.4.4

[Ichthyology • 2016] Chaetostoma joropo • Description of A New Species of the Genus Chaetostoma (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from the Orinoco River Drainage with Comments on Chaetostoma milesi Fowler, 1941

Chaetostoma joropo Ballen, Urbano-Bonilla & Maldonado-Ocampo, 2016 


Chaetostoma joropo n. sp. is described from the piedmont of the Orinoco River drainage in Colombia. The new species has been long confused with Chaetostoma milesi, a species with similar overall morphology and color pattern that is restricted to the Magdalena-Cauca River Basin. We diagnose the new species on the basis of morphology as well as a precise description of the color pattern. Chaetostoma joropo n. sp. is also easily distinguished from Cformosae the most similar species and other species inhabiting the Orinoco River drainage in Colombia. Data on ontogenetic variation and sexual dimorphism are provided, as well as natural history notes and remarks on the usage of the name Chaetostoma milesi for specimens from both the Orinoco and Magdalena-Cauca drainages. A discussion on the usage of the name Chaetostoma platyrhynchus is also provided given its current instability in the literature.

Keywords: Ancistrini, taxonomy, Hemiancistrus platyrhynchus, Andes, northern South America, Pisces

Gustavo A. Ballen, Alexander Urbano-Bonilla and Javier Maldonado-Ocampo. 2016. Description of A New Species of the Genus Chaetostoma from the Orinoco River Drainage with Comments on Chaetostoma milesi Fowler, 1941 (Siluriformes: Loricariidae). Zootaxa. 4105(2);  DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4105.2.6

[Invertebrate • 2016] Hantu gen. nov. • A New Genus of Ground and Litter-Dwelling Pholcine Spiders (Araneae, Pholcidae) from Sarawak


Two small, ground and litter-dwelling pholcid species from northern Borneo are described as representatives of a new genus, Hantu gen. nov.: H. kapit gen. et sp. nov. and H. niah gen. et sp. nov. Previous cladistic analyses suggested a closer relationship with the genera Savarna Huber, 2005 and Khorata Huber, 2005 (mainland Southeast Asia) than with the geographically closer genus Aetana Huber, 2005 (Borneo and Philippines to Fiji). Since the two species do not share any of the synapomorphies of Khorata and Savarna while having several synapomorphies on their own (ventral apophysis on male palpal coxa; male palpal trochanter apophysis with small teeth or scales; spines on male femora 1; high density of vertical hairs on male femora; presence of scape on epigynum), they are here proposed as representing a new genus.

Keywords. Borneo, Sarawak, endemism, taxonomy, Pholcidae. 

Class Arachnida Cuvier, 1812
Order Araneae Clerck, 1757
Family Pholcidae C.L. Koch, 1851

Hantu gen. nov.

Type species: Hantu kapit gen. et sp. nov.

Diagnosis: Small, six-eyed, dark, ground and litter-dwelling pholcids with dark (usually black) sternum, with thoracic furrow extending over entire length of carapace, and without epiandrous spigots. Distinguished from putatively closest known relatives (Khorata, Savarna) by ventral apophysis on male palpal coxa (arrows in Figs 9, 19, 27), by scales or teeth on male palpal trochanter (Fig. 16), by spines on male femora 1 (~10–25 in single ventral row), by short vertical hairs in high density on male femora (in two dorsal rows), and by scape on female external genitalia (Figs 40–45); from Savarna also by presence of distal cheliceral apophyses (Figs 11, 28) and by male palpal trochanter apophysis not fused to femur (Figs 9, 27); from Khorata also by absence of sclerotized ledges laterally on male chelicerae (Figs 11, 28) and by absence of retrolateral process on male palpal femur (Figs 9, 27).

Etymology: Named for the Hantu Rimba, deep-forest ghosts in traditional Malaysian mythology. Gender masculine.


Pholcid spiders are widely known for their long-legged representatives, some of which are synanthropic, but a large number of species in a range of genera are actually relatively short-legged ground and litterdwellers. About half of all currently recognized genera either include or consist entirely of such shortlegged species (e.g., Huber 2005a, 2005b, 2011, 2013, 2015; Huber et al. 2005). This suggests multiple convergent shifts among microhabitats; in fact, molecular data support the notion that such shifts have occurred repeatedly in various directions (Huber et al. 2010; Dimitrov et al. 2013; see also Huber & Dimitrov 2014).

Ground and litter-dwelling pholcids share a similar habitus to a degree that allows reasonable predictions even for museum specimens without microhabitat information. They are small (body size ~1–3 mm), relatively short legged (leg 1 length < 30 mm), rather dark (brown), and have a globular or oval abdomen. This combination seems to be extremely rare in pholcids living in other microhabitats. The only apparent exception known to me are West and Central African representatives of the genus Anansus Huber, 2007 that were collected by canopy fogging (Huber 2007).

In Southeast Asia, at least seven pholcid genera other than Hantu gen. nov. include ground and litterdwelling representatives: Aetana Huber, 2005; Belisana Thorell, 1898; Holocneminus Berland, 1942; Pholcus Walckenaer, 1805; Savarna Huber, 2005; Spermophora Hentz, 1841; and Wugigarra Huber, 2001.

Bernhard A. Huber. 2016. A New Genus of Ground and Litter-Dwelling Pholcine Spiders from Sarawak (Araneae, Pholcidae). European Journal of Taxonomy. 186: 1–15. DOI: 10.5852/ejt.2016.186