Monday, July 31, 2017

[Ornithology • 2017] Pyrrhula crassa • A New Extinct Species of Large Bullfinch (Aves: Fringillidae: Pyrrhula) from Graciosa Island (Azores, North Atlantic Ocean)

 [upper] Pyrrhula crassa  Rando, Pieper, Olson, Pereira & Alcover, 2017 
[lower] P. pyrrhula & P. murina. 

 possible aspect in life illustration: Pau Oliver. 


A new species of extinct bullfinch, Pyrrhula crassa n. sp., is described from bones found in Furna do Calcinhas, a small cave situated at Caldeira, a volcano located in the southeastern portion of the Graciosa Island (Azores archipelago, North Atlantic Ocean). It is the first extinct passerine bird to be described from this archipelago. Both skull and post-cranial bones are larger in the new species than in its relatives, the Eurasian Bullfinch (P. pyrrhula) and the Azores Bullfinch or “Priolo” from São Miguel Island (P. murina), the new species being the largest known in this genus. The morphology of its humerus and the estimated wing length and surface area seem to indicate a flying ability similar to that of the extant P. murina. The possible sources of colonization of the genus into Azores, causes and chronology of extinction of the new species are discussed

Keywords: Aves, Fringillidae, Pyrrhula

FIGURE 5. A: Skull and mandible, lateral view. From top to bottom: Pyrrhula pyrrhula, LARC 2328; P. murina, SPEA 120; Pyrrhula crassa n. sp., based on premaxilla MCMa 2006.016 and mandible MCMa 2002.016. The missing parts have been added using the equivalent parts of P. murina. Scale = 1 cm.
B: From top to bottom: aspect of extant P. pyrrhulaP. murina; and possible aspect in life of Pyrrhula crassa n. sp. (colours are speculative). Art by Pau Oliver.

Systematic paleontology
Order Passeriformes Linnaeus, 1758
Family Fringillidae (Vigors, 1825)
Subfamily Carduelinae Vigors, 1825

Tribe Pyrrhulini
Genus Pyrrhula Brisson, 1760

Pyrrhula crassa n. sp.

 Etymology. From Latin, crassa, thick, referring to the large size of the species and particularly to its notably heavy bill. 
Vernacular names proposed: Greater Azores Bullfinch (English) – Priolo maior dos Açores (Portuguese).

 J. C. Rando, H. Pieper, Storrs L. Olson, F. Pereira and J. A. Alcover. 2017. A New Extinct Species of Large Bullfinch (Aves: Fringillidae: Pyrrhula) from Graciosa Island (Azores, North Atlantic Ocean). Zootaxa. 4282(3); 567–583.  DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4282.3.9

Resumo Uma nova espécie extinta de Pyrrhula, P. crassa n. sp., é descrita a partir de ossos encontrados em a Furna do Calcinhas, uma pequena caverna situada na Caldeira, vulcão localizado no sudoeste da ilha Graciosa (Arquipélago dos Açores, Atlântico Norte). É a primeira ave Passeriforme extinta descrita neste arquipélago. Tanto o crânio e os ossos do seu esqueleto pós-craniano são maiores que os dos seus parentes, o dom-fafe Pyrrhula pyrrhula e o priolo Pyrrhula murina. A nova espécie é a maior do gênero. A morfologia do úmero e o tamanho estimado das suas asas indica uma capacidade para o voo semelhante a o priolo. As possíveis fontes de colonização dos Açores por Pyrrhula e as causas e cronologia da extin- ção da espécie nova são discutidas.

A new bird which humans drove to extinction discovered in Azores   @physorg_com
New species of Pyrrhula described for Graciosa Island

[Paleontology • 2017] Corythoraptor jacobsi • High Diversity of the Ganzhou Oviraptorid Fauna Increased by A New “Cassowary-like” Crested Species

Corythoraptor jacobsi
Lü, Li, Kundrát, Lee, Sun, Kobayashi, Shen, Teng & Liu, 2017

A new oviraptorid dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Ganzhou, bringing oviraptrotid diversity of this region to seven taxa, is described. It is characterized by a distinct cassowary-like crest on the skull, no pleurocoels on the centra from the second through fourth cervical vertebrae, a neck twice as long as the dorsal vertebral column and slightly longer than the forelimb (including the manus). Phylogenetic analysis recovers the new oviraptorid taxonCorythoraptor jacobsi, as closely related to Huanansaurus from Ganzhou. Osteochronology suggests that the type specimen of Corythoraptor had not reached stationary growth stage but died while decreasing growth rates. The histology implies that it would correspond to an immature individual approximately eight years old. We hypothesize, based on the inner structure compared to that in modern cassowaries, that the prominent casque of Corythoraptor was a multifunction-structure utilized in display, communication and probably expression of the fitness during mating seasons.

Figure 1: The holotype of Corythoraptor jacobsi gen. et sp. nov. (JPM-2015-001). (a) Photograph. (b) Outline drawings. (c) Close up of the skull and lower jaw, showing the pneumatic cassowary-like crest (Only skull and lower jaw elements are labeled). (d) Skeletal reconstruction (missing parts are in grey).

 Abbreviations: aof, antorbital fenestra; cav. caudal vertebrae; cr. cervical ribs; cv. cervical vertebrae; dv. dorsal vertebrae; fe, femur; fi. fibula; h, humerus; il, ilium; is, ischium; l, lacrimal; lj, lower jaw; ltf, lower temporal fenestra; m, maxilla; n, nasal; nar, narial opening; o, orbit; oc, occipital condyle; p, parietal; pm, premaxilla; po, postorbital; ps, pes; psc, pneumatic skull crest; pu. pubis; q, quadrate; ra, radius; sk, skull; sq, squamosal; stf, super temporal fenestra; ti, tibia; ul, ulna. Scale bar = 8 cm in (c) and 100 cm in (d).

Systematic palaeontology

Oviraptorosauria Barsbold, 1976.
Oviraptoridae Barsbold, 1976.

Corythoraptor jacobsi gen. et sp. nov.

Etymology: The generic name Corythoraptor refers to a raptor bearing a “cassowary-like crest” on its head, and the specific name is in honor of Professor Louis L. Jacobs, who has contributed to dinosaur research and has given excellent mentoring to three authors (JLü, YL and YK) when they were Ph.D. students at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA.

Type locality and horizon: A site in the vicinity of the Ganzhou Railway Station (GPS coordinates are provided on request from the first author), Ganzhou City; Campanian-Maastrichtian; Nanxiong Formation (Upper Cretaceous).

 Diagnosis: An oviraptorosaurian dinosaur with the following unique combination of characters: ratio of the length of the tomial margin of the premaxilla to the premaxilla height (ventral to the external naris) is 1.0–1.4; inclination of the anteroventral margin of the premaxilla relative to the horizontally positioned ventral margin of the jugal posterodorsal; antorbital fossa bordered anteriorly by the maxilla; narial opening much longer than width; infratemporal fenestra dorsoventrally elongate, narrow anteroposteriorly; the supranarial process of the premaxilla bears two processes: a short posterodorsally extending process, forming the anterodorsal margin of the external nasal opening, and a long process, forming most of the anterodorsal process of the premaxilla; distinct cassowary-like helmet on the skull; long axis of the external narial opening parallel to the dorsal margin of antorbital fenestra; straight anterodorsal margin of dentary in lateral view; a deep fossa, sometimes with associated pneumatopore on lateral surface of dentary; no pleurocoels on the centra from the second through fourth cervical vertebrae; the length of the neck twice as long as the dorsal vertebral column, and slightly longer than the entire forelimb length (including the manus); less pronounced deltopectoral crest of humerus, forming an arc rather than being quadrangular; ratio of the length of the manus to the length of the humerus plus the radius between 0.50 and 0.65; the ungual of digit III less curved than other unguals; lesser trochanter (cranial trochanter) completely fused with the greater trochanter and distal ends of shafts of metatarsal II straight and metatarsal IV laterally deflected. 

Corythoraptor jacobsi gen. et sp. nov. is assigned to oviraptorid dinosaurs based on the following characters: proximal caudals with pneumatized centra; ischium with its posterior profile concave3; premaxilla pneumatized; the subantorbital portion of the maxilla inset medially; the palate extending below the cheek margin; the external naris overlapping most of the antorbital fossa rostrodorsally; the bones of the skull roof pneumatized; the pubic shaft concave cranially, the mandibular symphysis tightly sutured; the shortened preorbital region, and the toothless jaws.


Figure 2: The cranial casque of Corythoraptor jacobsi and recent cassowaries. (a–c) the crested skull of Corythoraptor and head appearance restorations. (d) a close-up (see dotted rectangle in a and b) of eroded bony shell in the posterolateral casque of Corythoraptor. (e) the crested skull of the recent cassowary (Casuarius uniappendiculatus; Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Germany: MfN-ZMB 93274). (f) a keratinous helmet over the skull of the recent cassowary (unnumbered specimen of Casuarius casuarius from the osteological collections of ZOO Protivín, Czech Republic). (g,h) coronal cuts through the cassowary skull – (g) Casuarius casuarius MfN-ZMB 36820, (h) Casuarius casuarius: MfN-ZMB 36885 (see dotted lines in f); note transition in strut-like trabecular arrangement. (i) close-up to contact between keratinous and skeletal components of the casque in recent cassowary, unnumbered specimen of Casuarius sp. from the osteological collections of Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, USA.

Abbreviations: cq, casque; cr, cranium; exs, external surface; kesh, keratinous sheath; or, orbit; tr, trabeculae.

Figure 5: The living scene of Corythoraptor jacobsi gen. et sp. nov.
Drawn by Zhao Chuang


Junchang Lü, Guoqing Li, Martin Kundrát, Yuong-Nam Lee, Zhenyuan Sun, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, Caizhi Shen, Fangfang Teng and Hanfeng Liu. 2017. High Diversity of the Ganzhou Oviraptorid Fauna Increased by A New “Cassowary-like” Crested Species.
  Scientific Reports. 7, Article number: 6393. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-05016-6

Introducing Corythoraptor jacobsi. via @ferwen

[Paleontology • 2017] The Earliest Record of Asian Eusuchia from the Lower Cretaceous Khok Kruat Formation of northeastern Thailand

Fig. 2. Remains of the Ban Saphan Hin crocodyliform from the Khok Kruat Formation,
Ban Saphan Hin, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand.
A, B, C, Photographs and interpretive drawings of the caudal end of left lower jaw, NRRU4001-33, in lateral (A), dorsal (B), and medial (C) views; D, E, F, Photographs of the fragmentary rostral symphyseal of the right mandible, NRRU4001-29, in medial (D), dorsal (E), and lateral (F) views with the interpretive drawing of dorsal view; G, H, I, J, Photographs of the fragmentary right mandible, NRRU4001-35, in medial (G), dorsal (H), and lateral (I) views with the interpretive drawing of dorsal view and the close up of tooth crown attached to NRRU4001-35 (J); K, L, Photographs of the left postorbital and the anterior end of left squamosal, NRRU4001-36, in the lateral view with the interpretive drawing (K) and the dorsal view (L); M, Photograph of the dorsal view of the osteoderm NRRU4001-19, the white dotted line shows its middle ridge. In interpretive drawings, outlines and sutures were drawn by lines thicker than lines for ridges, shelves and pits and repaired areas were shown by horizontal stripes.

 Scale bars of J, K and L equal 1 cm, all other scale bars equal 5 cm. Abbreviations: ae, anterior edge; an, angular; ar, articular; c, concavity that receives a maxillary tooth; de, dentary; dpa, descending process of articular; fio, foramina for the passage of the nervus intermandibularis oralis; gf, glenoid fossa; lf?, possible lingual foramen; po, postorbital; pof, postorbital foramen; rap, retroarticular process; sa, surangular; sp, splenial; sq, squamosal; tc, isolated tooth crown. 

We describe remains of a new crocodyliform found from the Lower Cretaceous (Aptian) Khok Kruat Formation, northeastern Thailand. Remains consist of two caudal ends of mandibles, two rostral symphyseal parts of right rami of mandibles, a dorsal part of postorbital, a cranial end of squamosal and one osteoderm. Phylogenetic analyses supported inclusion of this crocodyliform into the Eusuchia as it shares several morphological characters with other eusuchians, such as a dorsocaudally oriented retroarticular process, smooth lateral surface of the caudoventral region of mandible, and a craniocaudally oriented ridge on the dorsal surface of retroarticular process. The shape of symphyseal region showed this crocodyliform had a longirostrine snout shape, which is uncommon in early eusuchians. Finding of this crocodyliform draws back the oldest record of Asian eusuchians, which was Tadzhikosuchus, approximately 30 million years and it is the only Mesozoic eusuchian found in East and Southeast Asia.

Keywords: Khok Kruat Formation; Aptian; Eusuchia; Thailand; Asia

Systematic paleontology
MESOEUCROCODYLIA Whetstone and Whybrow, 1983
NEOSUCHIA Clark, 1986
EUSUCHIA Huxley, 1875
gen et sp. indet.

 Morphological comparison and phylogenetic analysis showed the Ban Saphan Hin crocodyliform is a member of Eusuchia. But due to its fragmentary nature its phylogenetic position within Eusuchia is currently uncertain. The Ban Saphan Hin crocodyliform indicates longirostrine snout shape evolved during the early stage of eusuchian, which is probably independent from that of gavialoids. Moreover it draws back the oldest record of Asian eusuchians from the Santonian, Tadzhikosuchus found from Tadzhikistan, to the Aptian, approximately 30 million years ( Storrs and Efimov, 2000), and it is the only Mesozoic eusuchian found in East and Southeast Asia. This situation reflects the patchy fossil record of Mesozoic crocodyliform in these areas. The Late Cretaceous crocodyliforms of East Asia were reported only from Mongolia (Storrs and Efimov, 2000; Turner, 2015). Further sampling effort is required to reveal the complex evolutionary history of Asian Mesozoic neosuchians.

Tai Kubo, Masateru Shibata, Wilailuck Naksri, Pratueng Jintasakul and Yoichi Azuma. 2017. The Earliest Record of Asian Eusuchia from the Lower Cretaceous Khok Kruat Formation of northeastern Thailand. Cretaceous Research. In Press. DOI: 10.1016/j.cretres.2017.05.021

[PaleoOrnithology • 2017] Ancient DNA and Morphometric Analysis Reveal Extinction and Replacement of New Zealand's Unique Black Swans, Cygnus sumnerensis

The skeleton of the poūwa, Cygnus sumnerensis (Forbes, 1890) 

Rawlence, Kardamaki, Easton, et al. 2017.
 Ancient DNA and Morphometric Analysis Reveal Extinction and Replacement of New Zealand's Unique Black Swans.  Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  DOI:  10.1098/rspb.2017.0876 

Prehistoric human impacts on megafaunal populations have dramatically reshaped ecosystems worldwide. However, the effects of human exploitation on smaller species, such as anatids (ducks, geese, and swans) are less clear. In this study we apply ancient DNA and osteological approaches to reassess the history of Australasia's iconic black swans (Cygnus atratus) including the palaeo-behaviour of prehistoric populations. Our study shows that at the time of human colonization, New Zealand housed a genetically, morphologically, and potentially ecologically distinct swan lineage (Cygnus sumnerensis, Poūwa), divergent from modern (Australian) C. atratus. Morphological analyses indicate C. sumnerensis exhibited classic signs of the ‘island rule’ effect, being larger, and likely flight-reduced compared to C. atratus. Our research reveals sudden extinction and replacement events within this anatid species complex, coinciding with recent human colonization of New Zealand. This research highlights the role of anthropogenic processes in rapidly reshaping island ecosystems and raises new questions for avian conservation, ecosystem re-wilding, and de-extinction.

KEYWORDS:  ancient-DNA, Australia, black swan, Chatham Islands, Cygnus atratus, Cygnus sumnerensis, Q1 extinction, island rule, New Zealand, Poūwa, recolonization

The skeleton of the extinct poūwa.
Jean-Claude Stahl / Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa 
The mounted bones of an extinct poūwa.
Photo: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Nicolas J. Rawlence, Afroditi Kardamaki, Luke J. Easton, Alan J. D. Tennyson, R. Paul Scofield and Jonathan M. Waters. 2017. Ancient DNA and Morphometric Analysis Reveal Extinction and Replacement of New Zealand's Unique Black Swans.
 Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  DOI:  10.1098/rspb.2017.0876


[Botany • 2017] A Monograph of the Brazilian Endemic Genus Lavoisiera (Melastomataceae: Microlicieae)

FIGURE 1. Images of Lavoisiera species. DE. L. arachnoidea (unvouchered image). F. L. belinelloi (Almeda et al. 8532). GL. bradeana (Almeda et al. 9718). H. L. canastrensis (Almeda et al. 7878). IL. caryophyllea (Almeda et al. 9172). JKL. chamaepitys (Almeda et al. 8500). LL. confertiflora (Almeda et al. 9725).
 Image credits: F–L. Frank Almeda; D–E. Karina Fidanza.


A systematic monograph is presented for Lavoisiera, a Brazilian endemic genus of 41 species that is centered in the campo rupestre ecoregion in the Brazilian Planalto south of the Amazon basin, mostly west of the Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Rainforest), and east of the Pantanal. The stronghold for species diversity is the state of Minas Gerais with 36 species, 30 of which are endemic there. This study represents the first comprehensive monograph of the genus based on field work across its distributional range, complemented by examination of over 3620 specimens from 35 herbaria. An evaluation of taxonomic characters used in the long-standing sectional classification of the genus has led to its abandonment because it is based on artificial characters and does not provide a sound working hypothesis of infrageneric relationships. Eight new species are described: Lavoisiera arachnoidea, L. belinelloi, L. canastrensis, L. daviesiana, L. minima, L. rundeliana, L. setosa, and L. vestita; lectotypifications are provided for L. caryophyllea, L. chamaepitys, L. glandulifera, L. pulchella, and L. senae; and 44 epithets are relegated to synonymy. An identification key, full synonymy, descriptions, habitat and phenological information, distribution maps, diagnostic illustrations, images of representative species in the field, and geospatial conservation assessments are provided for all species based on IUCN criteria. SEM images of seed morphology are presented for nearly half of the species along with camera lucida drawings of meiotic chromosome figures for selected species, and an index to numbered collections examined.

Keywords: campo rupestre, Cerrado biome, conservation, endemism, Myrtales, neotropics, Eudicots

Lavoisiera macrocarpa Naudin (1844)

Lavoisiera macrocarpa (Almeda et al. 9173).
Images:  Frank Almeda.

FIGURE 1. Images of Lavoisiera species. DE. L. arachnoidea (unvouchered image). F. L. belinelloi (Almeda et al. 8532). G. L. bradeana (Almeda et al. 9718). H. L. canastrensis (Almeda et al. 7878). I. L. caryophyllea (Almeda et al. 9172). JK. L. chamaepitys (Almeda et al. 8500). L. L. confertiflora (Almeda et al. 9725). Image credits: F–L. Frank Almeda; D–E. Karina Fidanza.

Angela B. Martins and Frank Almeda. 2017. A Monograph of the Brazilian Endemic Genus Lavoisiera (Melastomataceae: Microlicieae).
 Phytotaxa.  315(1); 1–194. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.315.1.1

Sunday, July 30, 2017

[Herpetology • 2017] Pristimantis bounides, P. humboldti & P. puipui • Three New Species of Pristimantis (Anura, Craugastoridae) from upper Montane Forests and High Andean Grasslands of the Pui Pui Protected Forest in central Peru

 Pristimantis puipui
Pristimantis bounides  &  P. humboldti 
 Lehr, von May, Moravec & Cusi, 2017 


We describe three new species of Pristimantis from the upper montane forests and high Andean grasslands of the Pui Pui Protected Forest and its close surroundings (Región Junín, central Peru) and compare them morphologically and genetically with other taxonomically and biogeographically relevant species of Pristimantis. All three new species have the skin on dorsum shagreen with scattered tubercles, discontinuous dorsolateral folds, tuberculate flanks, and the skin on venter areolate. Pristimantis bounides sp. nov. is known from two localities outside the Pui Pui Protected Forest in upper montane forests between 3350 and 3463 m a.s.l. and is characterized by a snout–vent length of 18.2–21.0 mm in males (n = 3), and 21.6–24.4 mm in females (n = 4), by having a tympanum, males with vocal slits, and discs of digits slightly expanded with circumferential grooves. In life, dorsal and lateral ground coloration is pale grayish brown, orange brown, yellowish brown or reddish brown with dark grayish-brown marmorations, and a pale gray, pale greenish gray or creamish white venter with or without dark gray mottling. Pristimantis humboldti sp. nov. is known from one locality inside the Pui Pui Protected Forest, in upper montane forest at 3318 m a.s.l., and is characterized by a snout–vent length of 17.2–20.6 mm in males (n = 3), and 19.7–25.7 mm in females (n = 6), by having a tympanum, males with vocal slits, and discs of digits expanded with circumferential grooves. In life, dorsal and lateral ground coloration is orange brown with brownish-olive blotches, orange brown with grayish-brown blotches and flecks, reddish brown with grayish-brown blotches or grayish brown with orange brown blotches; throat, chest, belly, anterior and ventral surfaces of thighs, tibia, and axilla are dark gray and pale gray mottled with white and pale gray spots of different sizes and density. Pristimantis puipui sp. nov. is known from one locality inside the Pui Pui Protected Forest, in the puna at 3890 m a.s.l., and is characterized by a snout–vent length of 16.1–17.1 mm in males (n = 3), and 20.6–22.4 mm in females (n = 4), by lacking a tympanum, lacking males with vocal slits, and tips of digits narrow without circumferential grooves. In life, dorsal and lateral ground coloration is pale orange brown, reddish brown or grayish brown with or without grayish-brown mottling, and the venter is pale cream and pale gray mottled. A molecular phylogenetic analysis based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences inferred that the three new species belong to the Pristimantis danae species Group distributed in the montane forests and high Andean grasslands of central Peru, including P. albertus, P. aniptopalmatusP. ornatus, and P. stictogaster. With the three new species, 133 species of Pristimantis are currently known from Peru, eight of which inhabit the puna.

Keywords: Amphibia, Andes, cloud forest, puna, frogs, DNA barcoding, molecular phylogeny, Pristimantis bounides sp. nov., Pristimantis humboldti sp. nov., Pristimantis puipui sp. nov.

The Hill Dweller Rubber Frog, Pristimantis bounides, is known from two sites at elevations of 10,991 feet and 11,362 feet. The species name “bounides” is derived from the Greek noun “bounos,” which means “dweller of the hills” and refers to the habitat of the mountain forests where this frog was found. It is an area of mixed vegetation including large layers of mosses, small bushes, trees, and Peruvian feather grass.
Image: Rudolf von May

The Humboldt’s Rubber Frog, Pristimantis humboldti, is known from a single site at 10,886 feet. The species name is the patronym of the German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), who traveled and studied the New World between 1799 and 1804.
 Image: Rudolf von May 

The Pui Pui Rubber Frog, Pristimantis puipui, is known from a single site near Laguna Sinchón, which marks the approximate center of the Pui Pui Protected Forest, at an elevation of 12,762 feet above sea level. The species name is derived from the Quechua words “pui pui,” meaning “eyes of water,” a reference to the many lakes of the Pui Pui Protected Forest.
 Image: Jiri Moravec 

 Edgar Lehr, Rudolf Von May, Jiří Moravec and Juan Carlos Cusi. 2017. Three New Species of Pristimantis (Amphibia, Anura, Craugastoridae) from upper Montane Forests and High Andean Grasslands of the Pui Pui Protected Forest in central Peru.
 Zootaxa.  4299(3); 301–336.  DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4299.3.1

[PaleoIchthyology • 2016] Eekaulostomus cuevasae • An Ancient Armored Trumpetfish (Aulostomoidea) from Danian (Paleocene) Marine Deposits of Belisario Domínguez, Chiapas, southeastern Mexico

Eekaulostomus cuevasae 
Cantalice & Alvarado-Ortega,  2016

Eekaulostomus cuevasae gen. and sp. nov. is described and identified here as a new member of the superfamily Aulostomoidea. The single specimen known of this species is part of a newly fossil assemblage collected in the marine sediments belonging to the early Paleocene Tenejapa-Lacandón geological unit, exploited in the Belisario Domínguez quarry, near Palenque town, State of Chiapas, southeastern Mexico. E. cuevasae represents the oldest aulostomoid as far known and the first fossil species of this superfamily collected in America. E. cuevasae differs from other aulostomoids in the presence of two spines preceding the soft rays of both dorsal and anal fins; the star-like scales covering the entire body and part of the snout; as well as the relative large number of principal rays in the caudal fin. The recognition of E. cuevasae as the stem group of Aulostomoidea increases the temporal and geographic distribution of this superfamily up to Danian and within the Caribbean region, when a large part of Chiapas was under the sea after the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction event. This finding also provides evidences suggesting the membership of Aulostomoidea within the order Gasterosteiformes, in which the scutes covering the trunk and the robust spines in unpaired fins are recurrent features.

  Keywords: new species; Aulostomoidea; fossil; Paleocene; Chiapas; Mexico

Figure 2: Holotype. IGM 4716, almost complete specimen exposing the right lateral side of the body.  

Systematic Paleontology
Superfamily AULOSTOMOIDEA sensu Greenwood et al., 1966
Family EEKAULOSTOMIDAE fam. nov.
Genus EEKAULOSTOMUS gen. nov.
Type species. Eekaulostomus cuevasae sp. nov.,  

Derivation of name. The genus name includes the Mayan word “Eek” (= star), the Greek word "aulos" (= αὐλός, that is the name of an ancient flute), and the Latin word "stoma" (= mouth). The name refers to a "fish with a star-like scutes and flute-shaped mouth."
Eekaulostomus cuevasae sp. nov.
Derivation of name. The specific epithet of this fish honors our colleague, Martha Cuevas García, whose dedication and newly passion for the fossils led us to find the only specimen of Eekaulostomus cuevasae.

Occurrence. Paleocene (Danian, ≈ 63Ma) marine strata of the Tenejapa-Lacandón geological unit. Belisario Domínguez quarry, Salto de Agua Municipality, State of Chiapas, southeastern Mexico (Alvarado-Ortega et al., 2015).

Diagnosis. Aulostomoidea fish with rigid star-like scutes covering the whole trunk and part of the snout; pelvic fin placed anteriorly, just behind the postcleithrum; two spines in front of the soft rays of dorsal and anal fins; eight soft rays in both anal and dorsal fins; caudal fin formula iv+I+7—5+I+iii.
Fossils referring to the superfamily Aulostomoidea had been collected more than 200 years ago in Eocene and younger marine deposits along Europe. Although the extant aulostomoids form part of large modern cladistics essays, some are based on morphological evidences and others on molecular data; unfortunately, the fossil aulostomoids have never been phylogenetically studied. This situation has prevented the generation of a robust classification of the aulostomoids, and at the same time, has fueled the differences and contradictions between the phylogenetic hypotheses already published. It is so, that it is desirable to make these European fossils part of future cladistic studies; however, first we have to fulfill the task of re-describing them accurately using modern and homogeneous criteria. Only up to the present day, the distribution of fossil aulostomoids was restricted to Europe. Although this fact has not interested paleontologists outside of Europe to further collaborate in studies concerning the diversity evolution of aulostomoids; the goal of this paper is to provide the first tangible evidence that in the past, this fish group was also an inhabitant of the American seas.

From now on, we must take more seriously the paleontological surveys on late Cretaceous and early Paleocene sites with marine sediments present throughout the tropical region of America. As present study shows, fossils may exist that allow us to delve into the details of the evolution of the fishes on both sides of Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction event. Sadly, during the joint INAH-UNAM project, from which this article was drawn, no other fossil aulostomoid was recovered; however, the collection effort applied in Belisario Domínguez (where Eekaulostomus cuevasae gen. and sp. nov. came) as well as in its coeval and neighbor quarry, División del Norte, both with Danian marine sediments, really is far from reaching saturation.

The re-examination of the relationships of the Aulostomoidea executed here, using datasets previously generated by other authors and including Eekaulostomus cuevasae gen. and sp. nov., might not be the best way to achieve the desired understanding on the evolutionary processes of these fishes; however, this exercise significantly contributes to this goal. On the one side, the undeniable position of this new species as a primitive aulostomoid member, together with its deep morphological differences with other extinct and living taxa formally, or putatively, included in such superfamily, trace possible trends in morphological changes experienced by these fishes since the Paleocene to the present. This essay also widens the geographical scenario where the evolution of these fishes took place, extending from Europe to the tropical region of America.

  Cantalice, Kleyton Magno and Alvarado-Ortega, Jesús. 2016. Eekaulostomus cuevasae gen. and sp. nov., An Ancient Armored Trumpetfish (Aulostomoidea) from Danian (Paleocene) Marine Deposits of Belisario Domínguez, Chiapas, southeastern Mexico. Palaeontologia Electronica. 19.3.53A: 1-24

[Botany • 2017] Zingiber alba • A New Species and A New Record, Scaphoclamys perakensis, of Zingiberaceae from Sumatra, Indonesia

 Zingiber alba Nurainas


 Zingiber alba is a new species from West Sumatra. Scaphoclamys perakensis is newly recorded species from the Eastern part of Sumatra. Detailed descriptions and photographs are given for each species. 

KEY WORDS: Scaphoclamys perakensis, Zingiberaceae, Zingiber alba, Sumatra.

Fig. 1.  Zingiber alba Nurainas.
  A: The plant habit. B: Part of the pseudostem showing the lower part of leaves and ligules. C: Inflorescence. D: Fruits. E: Seeds. F: Top part of inflorescence. G: A flower. H: Dissection of flower (from left): bract, calyx, corolla lobes, floral tube with stamen attach, ovary with epigenous gland style and stigma. I: detail of stamen and ovary with epigenous gland.
Scale bar: D = 2 cm; E = 1 cm; H = 2 cm; I = 2 cm. Photographed by Nurainas.

Zingiber alba Nurainas, sp. nov 

Type: INDONESIA, Sumatra, Simanau, Solok, West Sumatra, altitude 1200 m, 21 June 2016, Nurainas 3272 (holotype ANDA, isotype BO, TAI).

 Zingiber alba differs from Zingiber acuminatum var. acutibractetatum Valeton in its apex of ligules rounded, elongated of spike, arrangement of bract at top of spike is rose-like, bract bright white, ovate with subapicalmucronate, bracteole small, white and yellow flower

Distribution: throughout West Sumatra province and Batang Gadis National Park, North Sumatra. 

Ecology: Zingiber alba grows on sandy soils along the margins of mixed evergreen forests, edges of small rivers at 500-1200 meter elevation. Etymology: the epithet specific refers to color of bract. 

Phenology: Zingiber alba was observed in flower when it was collected in February 2006 and May 2016 and fruit when it was collected in October 2014. 

Vernacular name: Penggalan (Minangkabau language).

Scaphoclamys perakensis Holtt., 
Scaphochlamys perakensis Holttum, Gard. Bull. Singapore. 13 (1950) 97., nom. nov. 

Distribution: Perak and Sumatra (Riau). 
Ecology: Scapholamys perakensis grows on the forest floor at limestone area.

Nurainas Nurainas and Dayar Arbain. 2017. A New Species and A New Record of Zingiberaceae from Sumatra, Indonesia. 
  Taiwania. 62(3); 294-298.   DOI:   10.6165/tai.2017.62.294

[Ichthyology • 2017] Pseudotanganikallabes prognatha • A New Diminutive Genus and Species of Catfish (Siluriformes: Clariidae) from Lake Tanganyika

Pseudotanganikallabes prognatha Wright, 2017

  DOI: 10.1111/jfb.13374 


The examination of material representing one of Lake Tanganyika's six previously recognized endemic catfish lineages, has revealed the presence of an additional genus of clariid, described here as Pseudotanganikallabes new genus. This genus is represented by a single species, Pseudotanganikallabes prognatha sp. nov., which is distinguished from all other clariids by its lack of an infraorbital series, the presence of multiple osseous connections between the swim bladder capsules and elements of the neurocranium, the absence of an ethmoid notch, the presence of a very large, egg-shaped occipital fontanelle and the extension of the lower lip beyond the margin of the upper jaw. A combination of additional external and molecular characters serves to further distinguish this taxon from all currently recognized clariid species. Phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial (cytb) and nuclear (18S-ITS1-5.8S-ITS2-28S) sequence data supports the creation of a new genus for this species, as it appears to represent an independent, monophyletic lineage within the family Clariidae.

Key words: Africa; catfish; Clariidae; Lake Tanganyika; rift lake; taxonomy.

Fig. 4. (a) Dorsal, (b) lateral and (c) ventral views of the holotype of Pseudotanganikallabes prognatha (SAIAB-80226). Scale bar = 1 cm. 

Type species: Pseudotanganikallabes prognatha new genus and species.
Content: Pseudotanganikallabes prognatha sp. nov.; monotypic

Etymology: From the Greek pseudo (𝜓𝜀𝜐𝛿ή𝜍), meaning lying or false and the genus Tanganikallabes, in reference to the superficial resemblance between these two genera. Gender: feminine.

Geographical distribution: All known specimens referred to Pseudotanganikallabes were collected on the southeast, Zambian coast of Lake Tanganyika.


Etymology: The specific epithet is derived from the prefix pro, in this case meaning anterior to and the Greek gnathos (𝛾ν΄𝛼𝜃o𝜍), meaning jaw, in reference to the distinctive protrusion of the lower jaw of this species. Gender: feminine.

Distribution: Currently known from localities along the southeastern coast of Lake Tanganyika: .... East of Mpulungu.

J. J. Wright. 2017. A New Diminutive Genus and Species of Catfish from Lake Tanganyika (Siluriformes: Clariidae).  Journal of Fish Biology. DOI: 10.1111/jfb.13374

Saturday, July 29, 2017

[Paleontology • 2017] Reappraisal of Austrosaurus mckillopi Longman, 1933 from the Allaru Mudstone of Queensland, Australia’s First Named Cretaceous Sauropod Dinosaur

Reconstruction of the possible sequence of events that led to the preservation of the carcass of the sauropod Austrosaurus mckillopi in the Eromanga Sea.
Austrosaurus as a living animal on land; (B) freshly deceased Austrosaurus prior to bloating; (C) bloated Austrosaurus carcass washed out to sea, where it was possibly scavenged by marine reptiles like Kronosaurus; (D) the partially defleshed but still effectively intact thoracic portion of the Austrosaurus carcass is picked at by sharks as it sinks to the seafloor; (E) the thoracic portion of the Austrosaurus carcass is buried along with several ammonites (Beudanticeras) and bivalves (Inoceramus), which were possibly drawn to the carcass as it decayed.
Reconstruction by Travis R. Tischler.

 Poropat, Nair, Symeet al. 2017. Reappraisal of Austrosaurus mckillopi Longman, 1933. ... DOI: 10.1080/03115518.2017.1334826

Austrosaurus mckillopi was the first Cretaceous sauropod reported from Australia, and the first Cretaceous dinosaur reported from Queensland (northeast Australia). This sauropod taxon was established on the basis of several fragmentary presacral vertebrae (QM F2316) derived from the uppermost Lower Cretaceous (upper Albian) Allaru Mudstone, at a locality situated 77 km west-northwest of Richmond, Queensland. Prior to its rediscovery in 2014, the type site was considered lost after failed attempts to relocate it in the 1970s. Excavations at the site in 2014 and 2015 led to the recovery of several partial dorsal ribs and fragments of presacral vertebrae, all of which clearly pertained to a single sauropod dinosaur. The discovery of new material of the type individual of Austrosaurus mckillopi, in tandem with a reassessment of the material collected in the 1930s, has facilitated the rearticulation of the specimen. The resultant vertebral series comprises six presacral vertebrae—the posteriormost cervical and five anteriormost dorsals—in association with five left dorsal ribs and one right one. The fragmentary nature of the type specimen has historically hindered assessments of the phylogenetic affinities of Austrosaurus, as has the fact that these evaluations were often based on a subset of the type material. The reappraisal of the type series of Austrosaurus presented herein, on the basis of both external morphology and internal morphology visualized through CT data, validates it as a diagnostic titanosauriform taxon, tentatively placed in Somphospondyli, and characterized by the possession of an accessory lateral pneumatic foramen on dorsal vertebra I (a feature that appears to be autapomorphic) and by the presence of a robust ventral mid-line ridge on the centra of dorsal vertebrae I and II. The interpretation of the anteriormost preserved vertebra in Austrosaurus as a posterior cervical has also prompted the re-evaluation of an isolated, partial, posterior cervical vertebra (QM F6142, the ‘Hughenden sauropod’) from the upper Albian Toolebuc Formation (which underlies the Allaru Mudstone). Although this vertebra preserves an apparent unique character of its own (a spinopostzygapophyseal lamina fossa), it is not able to be referred unequivocally to Austrosaurus and is retained as Titanosauriformes indet. Austrosaurus mckillopi is one of the oldest known sauropods from the Australian Cretaceous based on skeletal remains and potentially provides phylogenetic and/or palaeobiogeographic context for later taxa such as Wintonotitan wattsi, Diamantinasaurus matildae and Savannasaurus elliottorum.

Fig. 11. Reconstruction of the possible sequence of events that led to the preservation of the carcass of the sauropod Austrosaurus mckillopi in the Eromanga Sea. (AAustrosaurus as a living animal on land; (B) freshly deceased Austrosaurus prior to bloating; (C) bloated Austrosaurus carcass washed out to sea, where it was possibly scavenged by marine reptiles like Kronosaurus; (D) the partially defleshed but still effectively intact thoracic portion of the Austrosaurus carcass is picked at by sharks as it sinks to the seafloor; (E) the thoracic portion of the Austrosaurus carcass is buried along with several ammonites (Beudanticeras) and bivalves (Inoceramus), which were possibly drawn to the carcass as it decayed.
Reconstruction by Travis R. Tischler. 

The sauropod taxon Austrosaurus mckillopi is of historical significance to Australian palaeontology as the first Cretaceous dinosaur recognized in Queensland, and the first Cretaceous sauropod ever reported from the entire continent. The augmentation, articulation and description of the type material have helped to shed light on the phylogenetic position of Austrosaurus, unequivocally placing it within Titanosauriformes, and probably as a member of Somphospondyli. The identification of an autapomorphic auxiliary pneumatic foramen in dorsal vertebra I means that the referral of other sauropod specimens to Austrosaurus should be possible in the future, although this feature is not presently observable in any other Australian sauropod specimen. The morphological congruence of the posteriormost cervical vertebra of Austrosaurus with QM F6142 (the ‘Hughenden sauropod’) might represent grounds for the referral of the latter to the former, although this can not be demonstrated unequivocally. Lastly, despite its fragmentary nature, Austrosaurus appears to share several features with the type specimens of both Diamantinasaurus and Savannasaurus, possibly indicating a close phylogenetic relationship.

The fragmentary nature of the type series of Austrosaurus has impeded, and will continue to restrict, efforts to precisely resolve its phylogenetic position within Titanosauriformes. Consequently, the palaeobiogeographic significance of Austrosaurus is poorly understood, a situation worsened by the relative rarity of Early Cretaceous titanosauriforms in South America and the lack of such in Antarctica. Nevertheless, the presence of numerous titanosauriform lineages in the Early Cretaceous of South America provides some context for Australian Early Cretaceous titanosauriforms like Austrosaurus, and also for the mid-Cretaceous Winton Formation fauna, which appears to have been dominated by titanosaurs with amphicoelous (rather than procoelous) caudal vertebrae.

Stephen F. Poropat, Jay P. Nair, Caitlin E. Syme, Philip D. Mannion, Paul Upchurch, Scott A. Hocknull,  Alex G. Cook, Travis R. Tischler and Timothy Holland. 2017. Reappraisal of Austrosaurus mckillopi Longman, 1933 from the Allaru Mudstone of Queensland, Australia’s First Named Cretaceous Sauropod Dinosaur. Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology. DOI: 10.1080/03115518.2017.1334826