Friday, June 23, 2017

[Crustacea • 2017] Himalayapotamon garhwalense • A New Species of Freshwater Crab of the Genus Himalayapotamon Pretzmann, 1966 (Decapoda, Brachyura: Potamidae) from Uttarakhand, northern India

Himalayapotamon garhwalense
Pati & Singh, 2017

 DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4237.1.11


A new species of potamid freshwater crab, Himalayapotamon garhwalense n. sp., is described from a stream near Khanda in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand, India. The new species is differentiated from all congeners by a suite of carapace and gonopod features, including the short, stout and conical G1 terminal joint with gradually tapered distal portion. Himalayapotamon Pretzmann, 1966, is now represented by 11 species including H. garhwalense n. sp. An identification key to the species in the genus is provided.

Keywords: Crustacea, taxonomy, new species, identification key, India

Himalayapotamon garhwalense n. sp., holotype male (ZSI, WRC-C. 1178). A, dorsal view; B, frontal view; C, ventral view. Scale bar = 10 mm. 

Family Potamidae Ortmann, 1896
Subfamily Potaminae Ortmann, 1896
Himalayapotamon Pretzmann, 1966
Himalayapotamon garhwalense n. sp.

Etymology. The specific epithet refers to Garhwal, an administrative division of the Indian state of Uttarakhand, where the crab seems to be endemic

 S. K. Pati and Singh, S., 2017, A New Species of Freshwater Crab of the Genus Himalayapotamon Pretzmann, 1966 (Decapoda, Brachyura: Potamidae: Potaminae) from Uttarakhand, northern India. Zootaxa. 4237(1); 191-200.  DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4237.1.11

[Herpetology • 2017] MtDNA Differentiation and Taxonomy of Central Asian Racerunners of Eremias multiocellata-E. przewalskii Species Complex (Squamata, Lacertidae)

Eremias dzungarica 
Orlova, Poyarkov, Chirikova, Nazarov, Munkhbayar, Munkhbayar & Terbish, 2017

Dzungarian Racerunner || DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4282.1.1 


We provide an integrative analysis of the diversity of the E. multiocellataE. przewalskii species complex in Central and Middle Asia using morphological and molecular (COI DNA-barcoding) data. We report preliminary data on mtDNA variation within this group and clarify the taxonomic status and distribution of the members of the species complex. We also provide a description of a new Eremias species from Eastern Kazakhstan and western Mongolia, where it occurs in sympatry with E. multiocellata sensu stricto, from which it can be clearly differentiated using both morphological and molecular characters. The new species, described as Eremias dzungarica sp. nov., is assigned to the subgenus Pareremias on the basis of the following features: subocular not reaching mouth edge; one frontonasal; two supraoculars; the row of small granular scales between supraoculars and frontal with frontoparietals absent; distance between the femoral pore rows being wide; femoral pore rows not reaching knee-joint; coloration pattern with light colored ocelli with black edging. The new species can be distinguished from its congeners on the basis of the following morphological attributes: a medium-sized lacertid lizard, maximum snout-vent length (SVL) = 64.5 mm, tail being ca. 1.5 times longer than body length (SVL), hindlimbs relatively long (hindlimb length to SVL ratio 0.46); subocular scale not reaching mouth edge, in touch with 6–8 supralabials; males with bright coloration consisting of 2–3 dorsolateral rows of light-colored ocelli with thick black edging; the ventral row of ocelli in life is greenish to bluish; dorsal pattern consisting of black irregular blotches along the middorsal line. We also report on the high genetic and morphological diversity of E. multiocellata in Mongolia and China, synonymize E. m. bannikowi with the nominative form E. m. multiocellata, discuss variation within E. przewalskii, synonymize E. p. tuvensis with the nominative form E. przewalskii, provide new data on E. cf. reticulata and E. m. tsaganbogdensis, confirm validity and clarify distribution ranges of E. stummeri, E. szczerbaki and E. yarkandensis and discuss further progress on taxonomic studies of the E. multiocellataE. przewalskii species complex.

Keywords: Reptilia, Eremias dzungarica sp. nov., Biogeography, Sauria, Multi-ocellated Racerunner, Gobi Racerunner, Middle Asia, Central Asia, morphology, mitochondrial DNA, COI, phylogeography, distribution

FIGURE 6. Holotype of Eremias dzungarica sp. nov. (ZMMU R-12845) in life in lateral view. 

Eremias dzungarica

Etymology. The specific name “dzungarica” is a Latin toponymic adjective in the nominative singular (feminine gender), referring to the distribution of the new species covering the area of Dzungaria, now in easternmost Kazakhstan, northern part of Chinese Xinjiang and the westernmost part of Mongolia (Dzungarian Gobi).

Reccomended vernacular name. We recommend the following common name in English: Dzungarian Racerunner. Recommended common name in Mongolian: Züüngaryn gürvel; in Russian: Dzhungarskaya yaschurka.

Valentina F. Orlova, Nikolay A. Jr. Poyarkov, Maritina A. Chirikova, Roman A. Nazarov, Munkhbaatar Munkhbayar, Khorlooghiyn Munkhbayar and Khayankhyarvagijn Terbish. 2017. MtDNA Differentiation and Taxonomy of Central Asian Racerunners of Eremias multiocellata-E. przewalskii Species Complex (Squamata, Lacertidae).
 Zootaxa. 4282(1); 1-42. DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4282.1.1

[Botany • 2017] Sedum danjoense • A New Species of Succulent Plants (Crassulaceae) from the Danjo Islands in Japan

Sedum danjoense 
Takuro Ito, H. Nakanishi & G. Kokub. 


We compared Sedum formosanum with related species using morphological traits and molecular phylogenetic analysis of nrITS sequences. Morphological comparisons revealed that the plants historically treated as S. formosanum in the Danjo Islands of Japan had 4-merous flower; 8 stamens; narrow triangular sepals of equal size; horizontal carpels when matured; and an irregular branching form. These traits differed from those of S. formosanum in other regions, which has 5-merous flowers; 10 stamens, thick spatulate sepals of unequal size; erect carpels when matured; and a trichotomous branching form. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that plants known as S. formosanum in the Danjo Islands were sister group to S. tetractinum, which are endemic to China and belong to a different clade than S. formosanum, which are found in other regions. Based on the present morphological comparisons and phylogenetical analyses, we describe plants from the Danjo Islands as a new speciesSedum danjoense, which is distinct from S. formosanum.

Keywords: East Asia, ITS, Phylogeny, Sedum formosanum, Succulent, Eudicots

FIGURE 3. Sedum danjoense Takuro Ito, H. Nakanishi & G. Kokub.
 A. Habitat and habit. B. Inflorescence. C. Adaxial surface. D. Abaxial surface. E. Flower. F. Sepals. G. Carpels. H. Branching.

Scale bars are 25 mm for A, 5 mm for B–H [A. Wild individuals in Yorishima island photo by Yoshiro Chichibu in May 1989; B. Cultivated in Nagasaki Subtropical Botanical Garden photo by Kiyotaka Minota in Sep. 2011; C-H. Takuro Ito 3658 in Oct. 2016] 

Sedum danjoense Takuro Ito, H. Nakanishi & G. Kokub., sp. nov.  
 Type:— JAPAN. The Kyusyu, the Danjo Islands, Yorishima Island, 25 October 2016 (cultivated in Nagasaki Subtropical Botanical Garden after collecting its natural habit in 1989), Takuro Ito 3658. (holotype TNS!).

Etymology:— The epithet refers to the Japanese name of type locality of the Danjo Islands.
Japanese common name:—Danjo-mannen-gusa (nov.).

 Distribution and habitat:— Endemic to the Danjo Islands (Kyusyu), on sunny, coastal rocky slopes exposed to direct sunlight; in typical coastal vegetation within “a community of Miscanthus condensatus Hackel (1899: 639)– Crepidiastrum lanceolatum (Houtt.) Nakai (1920: 150)” similar to those in other regions of Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines. Itow & Nakanishi (1990) mentioned that this species was distributed throughout the Danjo Islands (as S. formosanum), and thus further field surveys are required on the islands.

Takuro Ito, Hiroki Nakanishi, Yoshiro Chichibu, Kiyotaka Minoda and Goro Kokubugata. 2017. Sedum danjoense (Crassulaceae), A New Species of Succulent Plants from the Danjo Islands in Japan. Phytotaxa. 309(1); 23–34. DOI:  10.11646/phytotaxa.309.1.2

[Herpetology • 2017] Description of Four New Species of Burrowing Frogs in the Fejervarya rufescens complex (Dicroglossidae) with Notes on Morphological Affinities of Fejervarya Species in the Western Ghats

Fejervarya kadarFejervarya manoharani,
Fejervarya neilcoxi Fejervarya cepfi

Garg & Biju, 2017


The Rufescent Burrowing Frog, Fejervarya rufescens, is thought to have a wide distribution across the Western Ghats in Peninsular India. This locally abundant but secretive species has a short breeding period, making it a challenging subject for field studies. We sampled 16 populations of frogs morphologically similar to F. rufescens in order to understand the variation among populations found across the Western Ghats. Our study shows significant morphological and genetic differences among the sampled populations, suggesting that F. ‘rufescens’ is a complex of several undescribed species. Using evidence from morphology and genetics, we confirm the presence of five distinct species in this group and formally describe four as new. The new species were delineated using a phylogeny based on three mitochondrial genes (16S, COI and Cytb) and a haplotype network of a nuclear gene (Rag1). Hereafter, the distribution of F. rufescens is restricted to the state of Karnataka and adjoining regions of northern Kerala. Three new species (Fejervarya kadar sp. nov., Fejervarya manoharani sp. nov. and Fejervarya neilcoxi sp. nov.) are from regions south of Palghat gap in the state of Kerala, and one (Fejervarya cepfi sp. nov.) from the northern Western Ghats state of Maharashtra. These findings indicate that Fejervarya frogs of the Western Ghats are more diverse than currently known. Our results will also have implications on the conservation status of F. rufescens, which was previously categorized as Least Concern based on its presumed wide geographical distribution. Furthermore, in order to facilitate a better taxonomic understanding of this region’s fejervaryan frogs, we divide all the known Fejarvarya species of the Western Ghats into four major groups—Fejervarya nilagirica group, Fejervarya rufescens group, Fejervarya sahyadris group and Fejervarya syhadrensis group, based on their morphological affinities.

Keywords: Amphibians, bioacoustics, multi-gene DNA barcoding, India, integrative taxonomy, molecular phylogeny, new species, species diversity, Western Ghats

Taxonomic accounts and description of new species 

Fejervarya rufescens (Jerdon, 1853) 
Rufescent Burrowing Frog (Daniels 2005)

Original name: Pyxicephalus rufescens Jerdon, 1853. Catalogue of reptiles inhabiting the Peninsula of India, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 22: 522–534. 

Fejervarya kadar sp. nov. 
Kadar Burrowing Frog

Etymology. The species is named after the Kadar tribe of Kerala, who live in the Vazhachal forest where the type series was collected. We enjoyed their support and hospitality during amphibian field studies in the region. The specific epithet kadar is treated as an invariable noun in apposition to the generic name. 

Fejervarya manoharani sp. nov. 
Manoharan’s Burrowing Frog 
Etymology: This species is named for Mr TM Manoharan, who severed as the Head of Kerala Forest Department for over a decade, for providing encouragement as well as personal financial support to SDB during the initial phases of his scientific career. The species epithet manoharani is treated as a noun in the genitive case. 

Fejervarya neilcoxi sp. nov. 
Neil Cox’s Burrowing Frog

Etymology: This species is named for Dr Neil Cox, Manager of the IUCN-Conservation International Biodiversity Assessment Unit. Neil has been associated with the IUCN Red List in a variety of capacities including species assessment and management, and the new species is named particularly in appreciation of his contribution towards the Global Amphibian Assessment. The species epithet neilcoxi is treated as a noun in the genitive case.

Fejervarya cepfi sp. nov. 
CEPF Burrowing Frog

Etymology. The species is named after the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for its effort to protect global biodiversity hotspots by providing grants in general, and specifically for a grant supporting research and conservation planning in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot through the Project Western Ghats Network of Protected Areas for Threatened Amphibians (WNPATA) to SDB (University of Delhi). The specific epithet cepfi is treated as a noun in the genitive case.

  Sonali Garg and S.D. Biju. 2017.  Description of Four New Species of Burrowing Frogs in the Fejervarya rufescens complex (Dicroglossidae) with notes on Morphological Affinities of Fejervarya Species in the Western Ghats. 
Zootaxa. 4277(4); 451–490.  DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4277.4.1


 S K. Kiran, V. S. Anoop, K. C. Sivakumar, Raghunathan Dinesh, J. P. Mano, Deuti Kaushik and George Sanil. 2017. An Additional Record of Fejervarya manoharani Garg and Biju from the Western Ghats with A Description of Its Complete Mitochondrial Genome. Zootaxa. 4277(4); 491–502.  DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4277.4.2

[Paleontology • 2017] The Chinese Colossus: An Evaluation of the Phylogeny of ​Ruyangosaurus giganteus​ and Its Implications for Titanosaur Evolution

Skeletal and life restorations of the Ruyangosaurus giganteus holotype by Nima Sassani.
Osteoderms hypothesized based on Vidal, Ortega, and Sanz (2014). Beige elements are based on undescribed material likely referable to the holotype specimen. Scale bar equals 4m.


For many years the precise taxonomy of Titanosauria has been a puzzle, and even today only certain segments of this vast clade are well-understood. The phylogenetic positions of many titanosaurs are murky, though specimens often still await rigorous analysis. One of the largest examples is the massive Chinese titanosaur Ruyangosaurus giganteus – though largely incomplete, the holotype is distinct enough to indicate strong phylogenetic affinities with a specific subgroup of titanosaurs. A review of previous literature on Ruyangosaurus, referred tentatively to Andesauridae, shows that this classification is based on three weak, non-diagnostic characters. Ruyangosaurus differs from taxa traditionally included in Andesauridae in at least 20 characters of the torso, femur, and tibia. Several plesiomorphies of Ruyangosaurus are extremely rare in titanosauria except for the clade Lognkosauria and its close relatives. The vertebra initially described as a posterior cervical is most likely an anterior dorsal, with a strong resemblance to that of Puertasaurus. The posterior dorsal of Ruyangosaurus shares synapomorphies with Mendozasaurus and Dreadnoughtus. The femur clusters close to the femora of Malawisaurus, Traukutitan, and Pitekunsaurus. Ruyangosaurus is here recovered as a lognkosaurian, with significant implications for the distribution and evolution of that group and the paleobiology of Mid-Cretaceous China.

Fig. 15. Skeletal and life restorations of the Ruyangosaurus giganteus holotype by Nima Sassani. Osteoderms hypothesized based on Vidal, Ortega, and Sanz (2014). Beige elements are based on undescribed material likely referable to the holotype specimen. Scale bar equals 4m.

Ruyangosaurus giganteus represents a new and unusual radiation of Lognkosauria in Asia in the early part of the Late cretaceous period, coinciding with a time of Africa’s final separation from South America and gradual collision with Asia. Its unique morphology implies a close relationship to Puertasaurus, and it is possible it may form a subclade within Lognkosauria with NotocolossusPitekunsaurus, and Puertasaurus, with MendozasaurusDreadnoughtus and Futalognkosaurus forming another sub-clade. However, Ruyangosaurus differs from all other lognkosaurs and the rest of titanosauria in having neural fossae separated from the neural canal by laminae, in having a strange quartet of nearly flat “spider laminae” on the posterior neural arch of the posterior dorsal, and in having the intraprezygapophyseal lamina located far higher on the neural arch in the anterior dorsal. As there is a paucity of Ruyangosaurus material,diagnosis of many features is not possible, though it shows a particularly strong affinity with Puertasaurus in anterior dorsal morphology and with Lognkosauria and Lithostrotia in general asit lacks defined hypantra and hyposphenes. Based on the dorsal material, the Ruyangosaurus holotype is a very large sauropod, exceeding Futalognkosaurus and Dreadnoughtus in size.Based on the dimensions of the anterior dorsal, it likely also exceeded Notocolossus, though wasprobably smaller than Puertasaurus and the recently discovered titanosaur species in the MPEF collections still awaiting description. This newly excavated taxon from Argentina’s Chubut province is known from multiple specimens in an excellent state of preservation, which appearstrongly lognkosaurian in morphology, among which the largest femur appears to be roughly 2.6 m in length

Nima Sassani and Gunnar Tyler Bivens. 2017. The Chinese Colossus: An Evaluation of the Phylogeny of ​Ruyangosaurus giganteus​ and Its Implications for Titanosaur Evolution.   PeerJ Preprints. 5:e2988v1. DOI: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.2988v1


 Lü J, Xu L, Jia S, Zhang X, Zhang J, Yang L, You H and Ji Q. 2009. A New Gigantic Sauropod Dinosaur from the Cretaceous of Ruyang, Henan, China. Geological Bulletin of China. 28(1); 1-10.

Ruyangosaurus giganteus (Lü et al., 2009) ... Art by Zhao Chuang

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

[Ichthyology • 2017] Cymatognathus aureolateralis • A New Genus and Species of the Family Symphysanodontidae (Perciformes) from North Sulawesi, Indonesia

 Cymatognathus aureolateralis 
Kimura, Johnson, Peristiwady & Matsuura, 2017 

Wavy Jaw Slopefish || DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4277.1.4 


A new genus and species of the percoid family Symphysanodontidae, Cymatognathus aureolateralis are described based on three specimens collected from North Sulawesi, Indonesia. The new species shares with the confamilial genus Sym-physanodon the unique supraneural and spinous dorsal-fin pterygiophore insertion pattern usually of 0/0/0+2+1/1/, T-shaped first supraneural, foreshortened base of the penultimate ventral procurrent caudal-fin ray, well-developed outer tooth patches at anterior tips of both jaws as well as along the medial surface of most of the length of the coronoid process of the dentary. The new species, however, is distinguishable from members of Symphysanodon by the following diagnostic characters: posterior tip of coronoid process of dentary abruptly depressed, so that teeth on anterior portion appear as an elevated patch, anterior tip of upper jaw not notched, and posterior nostril horizontally slit-like. Although the new species superficially resembles the members of the genus Giganthias (Giganthiidae) and some members of the subfamily Anthiadinae (Serranidae) in the unique characters it shares with Symphysanodon, it differs from Giganthias in having the above-mentioned unique pterygiophore insertion pattern and tips of all dorsal- and pelvic-fin spines smooth (vs. pterygiophore insertion pattern 0/0/2/1+1/1/, and tips of second, third and/or fourth dorsal- and pelvic-fin spines serrated), and from the members of Anthiadinae in having two flat opercular spines (vs. three) and 10 + 15 = 25 vertebrae (vs. 10 + 16–18 = 26–28). A revised diagnosis of the Symphysanodontidae is presented.

Keywords: Pisces, new genus, new species, familial diagnosis, Sulawesi, Bitung

Cymatognathus aureolateralis sp. nov., holotype, MZB 19251, 181 mm SL, Bitung, North Sulawesi, Indonesia 

Etymology: The name “ Cymatognathus ” is derived from the Greek kymatos (wave) and gnathos (jaw) in reference to the characteristic wavy upper contour of the lower jaw.  The specific name “aureolateralis” is derived from Latin aurum ( gold) and lateralis (side) in reference to the bright yellow marking laterally on body.

Seishi Kimura, G. David Johnson, Teguh Peristiwady and Keiichi Matsuura. 2017. A New Genus and Species of the family Symphysanodontidae, Cymatognathus aureolateralis (Actinopterygii: Perciformes) from Indonesia. Zootaxa. 4277(1); 51–66. DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4277.1.4

[Mammalogy • 2017] Caribbean Myotis (Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae), with Description of A New Species, Myotis attenboroughi, from Trinidad and Tobago

Myotis attenboroughi
Moratelli, Wilson, Novaes, Helgen & Gutiérrez, 2017 

We describe a new species of Myotis (Vespertilionidae, Myotinae) from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Tobago Island. The new species (Myotis attenboroughi sp. nov.) can be distinguished from all other Neotropical congeners by cranial features and cytochrome-b gene sequences. Myotis attenboroughi sp. nov. is allied morphologically with species in the albescens group (like M. nigricans), and is sister to a clade including M. cf. handleyi, M. nesopolus, and 3 possibly undescribed species from Central and South America. A review of Myotis collections from the Caribbean confirms M. nyctor for Barbados and Grenada; M. dominicensis for Dominica and Guadeloupe; M. martiniquensis for Martinique; M. pilosatibialis and M. riparius for Trinidad; and M. attenboroughi for Tobago. The occurrence of M. attenboroughi on Trinidad is still an open question.

Keywords: Caribbean, Lesser Antilles, Myotis attenboroughi, Myotis nigricans, Neotropics, Sir David Attenborough’s Myotis

The newly described, Sir David Attenborough's Myotis —Myotis attenboroughi—(Moratelli et al.,2017), represents the first, and only known, endemic mammalian species on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Molecular, morphological and morphometric analyses conducted by Moratelli et al., now confirms that the Black Myotis on Tobago (see photo), traditionally assigned, Myotis nigricans, is actually a previously unknown species now named, Myotis attenboroughi, in honour of famed naturalist, Sir David Attenborough. This tiny bat, the Sir David Attenborough's Myotis, Trinidad and Tobago's only known endemic mammalian species, consumes moths and other small flying insects. This species is known to roost in caves, tree-hollows, and if neither of these is available, the attics of buildings.
 Photo: Geoffrey Gomes (Trinibats) 

Why isn't the bat named for Tobago? In this particular case, this new designation is a result of a species split (simply put). In zoological nomenclature, this occurs when new findings warrant a species being split into subspecies or new species, which is the case here. If this specimen described for Tobago was indeed an originally described, nominal species, as distinct from a species or subspecies subsequently distinguished from it, then it may be named Tobagoi or Trinitatis (as some local bats are named), or something along those lines.
Photo: Steve Parker


Ricardo Moratelli, Don E. Wilson, Roberto L. M. Novaes, Kristofer M. Helgen and Eliécer E. Gutiérrez. 2017. Caribbean Myotis (Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae), with Description of A New Species from Trinidad and Tobago.
 J Mammal. gyx062.  DOI: 10.1093/jmammal/gyx062 
T&T goes batty over first endemic mammalian species | Loop News

Describimos una nueva especie de Myotis (Vespertilionidae, Myotinae) de la República de Trinidad y Tobago, isla de Tobago. La nueva especie (Myotis attenboroughi sp. nov.) se distingue de otros congéneres Neotropicales en sus rasgos craneanos y secuencias del gen citocromo b. Myotis attenboroughi sp. nov. es morfológicamente similar a especies del grupo albescens (tal como M. nigricans) y es hermana de un clado que incluye a M. cf. handleyi, M. nesopolus, y tres especies, posiblemente no descritas, de Centro y Sud América. Una revisión de las series de Myotis del Caribe confirma a M. nyctor para Barbados y Granada; M. dominicensis para Dominica y Guadalupe; M. martiniquensis para Martinica; M. pilosatibialis y M. riparius para Trinidad; y M. attenboroughi para Tobago. La presencia de M. attenboroughi en Trinidad sigue siendo hoy un enigma.

Singular bat Zoologists have named a newly discovered species of bat after the veteran British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough. Scientists analysed museum records of specimens of 377 Caribbean bats, and found that a species apparently endemic to the island of Tobago is morphologically and genetically different from the mainland species (Myotis nigricans) to which it had been assigned taxonomically for almost a century. Taxonomist Ricardo Moratelli and his team named the bat (pictured) Myotis attenboroughi in honour of the naturalist, who has inspired generations of wildlife biologists. The findings were published on 7 June (R. Moratelli et al. J. Mammal.; 2017).


[Botany • 2017] Delimitation of the Series Laurifoliae in the Genus Passiflora (Passifloraceae)

Flowers of some Passiflora series Laurifoliae.


Within the huge diversity of genus Passiflora, series Laurifoliae constitutes a strikingly uniform group, widely distributed in neotropical rain forests, at low to moderate elevations. Given its morphological and ecological unity, Killip mentionned it as an «exceedingly difficult» group. The lack of clear morphological criteria has not helped in delimiting it, and the confusion has grown with the addition of new species and criteria. As a preliminary step in the study of diversity within series Laurifoliae, we re-examine its morphological delimitation, assessing how its current 29 species (including the highly similar P. pachyantha and P. killipiana) conform to 20 criteria from different authors. Three criteria (indumentum on vegetative parts, stipule glands, membranous limen) appear to be irrelevant, because they are either too variable or rarely recorded in the species descriptions. Using the 17 remaining ones, 24 typical species show very limited variations, five of them differing by only one criterion. Among them, we retain terete to angular stem, setaceous or linear stipules soon deciduous, petiolar glands in one pair, leaves oblong, neither peltate nor lobate, three glandular bract over 1 cm long and free, flowers pendent, with two campanulate outer series of filaments (most other series much reduced or aborted). Five species, P. guazumaefolia, P. kikiana, P. odontophylla, P. ischnoclada, and P. maliformis, differ by three to nine traits, not found in the typical representatives of the series, so they can be excluded from it. Passiflora kikiana should be classified into series Kermesinae. For the four other ones, a satisfactory solution implies a more global study, involving other series.

Keywords: Violales, Malpighiales, Passifloraceae, Passiflora, Eudicots

Figure 1. Flowers of the series Laurifoliae.
A: Passiflora acuminata (photo: J. B. Fernandes da Silva); B: P. ambigua (photo: R. Aguilar); C: P. venusta (photo: D. Scherberich); D: P. cerasina (photo: M. Vecchia); E: P. crenata (photo: M. Rome); F: P. fissurosa (photo: M. de Souza); G: P. laurifolia (photo: F. Booms); H: P. nigradenia (photo: D. Scherberich); I: P. nitida (photo: M. Rome); J: P. popenovii (photo: G. Coppens d’Eeckenbrugge) ; K: P. rufostipulata (photo: C. Houel); L: P. gabrielliana (photo: M. Rome) : M: P. ischnoclada (photo: C. Houel); N: P. kikiana in Cervi (2010); O: P. guazumaefolia (photo: J. Ocampo); P: P. odontophylla (flower of the type specimen). 

Several diagnostic characters used by Killip and Cervi (indumenta on vegetative organs, glandular stipules, bracts rounded at apex (with reservation), limen presence and shape), appear to be variable in the series, so they can still be used to differentiate species of the series, not to delimit the series. As a variable quantitative trait, leaf width is also questionable. The criteria “campanulate calyx tube” and “tubular or filamented operculum” are characters shared by all species of supersection Laurifolia. We can also exclude them from the definition of series Laurifoliae. These modifications allow restoring a homogeneous series Laurifoliae, which could be defined as follows:

 Series Laurifoliae — Plants glabrous to pubescent. Stems terete to angular, wingless, sometimes corky on old parts. Stipules linear to setaceous, early deciduous. Petiole with two discoid to oblong sessile glands (except in populations of P. popenovii). Leaves unlobate, oblong-lanceolate, entire to glandular-serrulate, not peltate. Bracts three, in involucre, free at base, more than 1 cm long and glandular. Flowers pendent. Outer series of filaments two, campanulate (most other series much reduced or aborted).

 Currently, series Laurifoliae includes 24 species corresponding to the above criteria: P. acuminata, P. ambigua, P. capparidifolia, P. cerasina, P. chaparensis, P. crenata, P. fernandezii, P. fissurosa, P. gabrielliana, P. gleasonii, P. kapiriensis, P. killipiana, P. laurifolia, P. metae (when type effectively deposited), P. nigradenia, P. nitida, P. pachyantha, P. pergrandis, P. phellos, P. popenovii, P. riparia, P. rufostipulata, P. tolimana, and P. venusta.

Maxime Rome and Geo Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge. 2017. Delimitation of the Series Laurifoliae in the Genus Passiflora (Passifloraceae). Phytotaxa. 309(3); 245–252.  DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.309.3.5

[Herpetology • 2017] Integrative Taxonomy of the Central African Forest Chameleon, Kinyongia adolfifriderici (Sauria: Chamaeleonidae), Reveals Underestimated Species Diversity in the Albertine Rift

Kinyongia itombwensis, Kinyongia tolleyae,
Kinyongia rugegensis 
Hughes, Kusamba, Behangana & Greenbaum, 2017

The Albertine Rift (AR) is a centre for vertebrate endemism in Central Africa, yet the mechanisms underlying lineage diversification of the region’s fauna remain unresolved. We generated a multilocus molecular phylogeny consisting of two mitochondrial (16S and ND2) and one nuclear (RAG1) gene to reconstruct relationships and examine spatiotemporal diversification patterns in the AR endemic forest chameleon, Kinyongia adolfifriderici (Sternfeld, 1912). This widely distributed species was revealed to be a complex of four genetically distinct and geographically isolated species. Three new species are described based on molecular analyses and morphological examinations. We find that Kinyongia rugegensis sp. nov. (Rugege Highlands) and Kinyongia tolleyae sp. nov. (Kigezi Highlands) form a well-supported clade, which is sister to K. gyrolepis (Lendu Plateau). Kinyongia itombwensis sp. nov. (Itombwe Plateau) was recovered as sister to K. adolfifriderici (Ituri Rainforest). The phylogeographic patterns we recovered for Kinyongia suggest that speciation stemmed from isolation in forest refugia. Our estimated diversification dates in the Miocene indicate that most species of Kinyongia diverged prior to the aridification of Africa following climate fluctuations during the Pleistocene. Our results highlight the AR as a focal point of diversification for Kinyongia, further elevating the global conservation importance of this region.

Keywords: biodiversity, biogeography, Burundi, conservation, Democratic Republic of the Congo, diversification, molecular systematics, new species, phylogeography, Uganda.

Kinyongia tolleyae sp. nov. in life. Adult male lateral view (UTEP 21488);  

Kinyongia itombwensis sp. nov. in life. (A) Adult female lateral view (UTEP 20371)

Kinyongia rugegensis sp. nov. in life.  Adult female (gravid) lateral view of holotype (UTEP 21485)


Daniel F. Hughes, Chifundera Kusamba, Mathias Behangana and Eli Greenbaum. 2017. Integrative Taxonomy of the Central African forest chameleon, Kinyongia adolfifriderici (Sauria: Chamaeleonidae), Reveals Underestimated Species Diversity in the Albertine Rift. Zool J Linn Soc. zlx005. DOI: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx005

Team discovers 3 chameleon species   @physorg_com


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

[Paleontology • 2017] Chinlestegophis jenkinsi • Stem Caecilian from the Triassic of Colorado Sheds Light On the Origins of Lissamphibia

Chinlestegophis jenkinsi
Pardo, Small & Huttenlocker, 2017 

Research into modern amphibian origins is increasingly focusing on the limbless caecilians, a poorly studied group whose pre-Cenozoic fossils are limited to two species. We describe tiny fossils from the Triassic of Colorado with a mixture of traits found in caecilians and extinct Permian–Triassic temnospondyls: Stereospondyli. Computed 3D tomography shows how skull bones organized around internal structures, and we suggest how these may have become fused or simplified in caecilians. The fossils’ association with burrows highlights ecological diversity of Triassic amphibians as well as when and how burrowing evolved in the stereospondyl ancestors of caecilians. Our narrative for research on amphibian origins highlights the importance of stereospondyls, the most numerous and anatomically diverse amphibian group of the Triassic.

The origin of the limbless caecilians remains a lasting question in vertebrate evolution. Molecular phylogenies and morphology support that caecilians are the sister taxon of batrachians (frogs and salamanders), from which they diverged no later than the early Permian. Although recent efforts have discovered new, early members of the batrachian lineage, the record of pre-Cretaceous caecilians is limited to a single species, Eocaecilia micropodia. The position of Eocaecilia within tetrapod phylogeny is controversial, as it already acquired the specialized morphology that characterizes modern caecilians by the Jurassic. Here, we report on a small amphibian from the Upper Triassic of Colorado, United States, with a mélange of caecilian synapomorphies and general lissamphibian plesiomorphies. We evaluated its relationships by designing an inclusive phylogenetic analysis that broadly incorporates definitive members of the modern lissamphibian orders and a diversity of extinct temnospondyl amphibians, including stereospondyls. Our results place the taxon confidently within lissamphibians but demonstrate that the diversity of Permian and Triassic stereospondyls also falls within this group. This hypothesis of caecilian origins closes a substantial morphologic and temporal gap and explains the appeal of morphology-based polyphyly hypotheses for the origins of Lissamphibia while reconciling molecular support for the group’s monophyly. Stem caecilian morphology reveals a previously unrecognized stepwise acquisition of typical caecilian cranial apomorphies during the Triassic. A major implication is that many Paleozoic total group lissamphibians (i.e., higher temnospondyls, including the stereospondyl subclade) fall within crown Lissamphibia, which must have originated before 315 million years ago.

Keywords: burrow, Gymnophiona, temnospondyl, tetrapod, Triassic

Chinlestegophis jenkinsi, a tiny subterranean carnivore, is an ancient relative of frogs and salamanders.
(Illustration/Jorge Gonzalez)

Systematic Paleontology. 

Tetrapoda Haworth, 1825
 Temnospondyli Zittel, 1888
Stereospondyli Zittel, 1887

 Chinlestegophis jenkinsi gen. et sp. nov. 

Etymology. Jenkins’s amphibian-serpent from the Chinle.
Chinle” for the Triassic Chinle Formation; “stego-” (Greek) meaning cover or roof, but commonly applied to temnospondyl amphibians and other early tetrapods; “-ophis” (Greek) meaning serpent. The species name honors paleontologist Farish Jenkins, whose work on the Jurassic Eocaecilia inspired the present study.

Fig. 1. Skulls of Chinlestegophis jenkinsi gen. et sp. nov., DMNH 56658 (A–D) and DMNH 39033 (E–G).
Specimens are shown in dorsal (A and E), ventral (B and G), lateral (C and F), and occipital (D) views. A reconstruction of the skull based on the two specimens is shown in ventral (H), dorsal (I), and left lateral (J) views. All are to scale. a, angular; d, dentary; eo, exoccipital; f, frontal; j, jugal; lep, lateral exposure of palatine; m, maxilla; n, nasal; p, parietal; pal, palatine; pf, postfrontal; pm, premaxilla; po, postorbital; pp, postparietal; prf, prefrontal; ps, parasphenoid; pt, pterygoid; sa, surangular; sp, splenial; sq, squamosal; st, supratemporal; t, tabular.

Fig. 3. Hypothesis of morphological innovations and character transformations along the caecilian stem. Representative skulls are shown in dorsal (left) and ventral (right) views. Characters are color-coded by cranial fusions (red), fossorial characters (yellow), and other classic “caecilian” characters (blue). Some cranial fusions may represent additional adaptations for fossoriality but are treated here separately.
Exemplary taxa are shown in stratigraphic order (left, oldest; right, youngest): the Permian dissorophoid Doleserpeton [redrawn from Sigurdsen and Bolt (34)]; the Early Triassic stereospondyl Lydekkerina [redrawn from Jeannot et al. (35)]; the Middle Triassic brachyopoid Batrachosuchus (based on observation of the holotype of Batrachosuchus browni); d, the Late Triassic Chinlestegophis jenkinsi n. gen. et sp.; the Early Jurassic stem caecilian Eocaecilia [redrawn from Jenkins et al. (2)]; and the crown caecilian Ichthyophis [redrawn from Jenkins et al. (2)]. Skulls are not drawn to scale

Jason D. Pardo, Bryan J. Small and Adam K. Huttenlocker. 2017. Stem Caecilian from the Triassic of Colorado Sheds Light On the Origins of Lissamphibia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. in press.  DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1706752114

Tiny fossils reveal backstory of the most mysterious amphibian alive today 
The discovery fills a significant gap in the evolutionary history of frogs, toads and other amphibians

[Crustacea • 2017] Strongly Carinate Species of Alpheopsis Coutière, 1897 (Malacostraca: Decapoda: Alpheidae) of the Tropical Atlantic and eastern Pacific, with Redescription of A. trigona (Rathbun, 1901) and Description of Three New Species

Alpheopsis paratrigona  Anker, 2017 


The present study deals with four species of the alpheid shrimp genus Alpheopsis Coutière, 1897 characterised by the presence of at least one strong carina on the dorsal surface of the carapace. Alpheopsis trigona (Rathbun, 1901) is redescribed based on the holotype from Puerto Rico and additional material from US Virgin Islands and Florida. Two new species closely related to A. trigona, viz. Alpheopsis paratrigona sp. nov. and Alpheopsis gotrina sp. nov., are described, the first based on material from several localities in the tropical western Atlantic, and the second from the Pacific coast of Panama and Colombia. The three species together form a distinctive transisthmian clade within Alpheopsis, the A. trigona species complex, characterised by the presence of several strong longitudinal carinae on the carapace and very distinctive colour pattern. A more distantly related species, Alpheopsis aristoteles sp. nov., characterised by the presence of only one strong mid-dorsal carina in the anterior region of the carapace, is described based on material from São Tomé Island in the tropical eastern Atlantic.

Keywords: Crustacea, Caridea, marine shrimp, biodiversity, East Pacific, West Atlantic, East Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Guinea

Family Alpheidae Rafinesque, 1815 
Alpheopsis Coutière, 1897 

Alpheopsis paratrigona sp. nov.

Etymology. The specific name refers to the general resemblance of the new species to A. trigona.

Alpheopsis paratrigona sp. nov., male holotype (cl 4.5 mm) from Portobelo, Caribbean coast of Panama (MZUSP34222).
Photograph: A. Anker. 

Alpheopsis gotrina sp. nov.

Etymology. The new species’ name is an anagram of the specific epithet of its presumed closest relative, A. trigona.

Alpheopsis aristoteles sp. nov.

Etymology. The new species is named after the great Greek philosopher and scientist, Aristoteles (384–322BCE), and also the first naturalist who attempted a classification of animals based on morphology, anatomy and reproductive systems, in his famous “History of Animals” (Aristoteles 350 BCE).

Arthur Anker. 2017. Strongly Carinate Species of Alpheopsis Coutière, 1897 of the Tropical Atlantic and eastern Pacific, with Redescription of A. trigona (Rathbun, 1901) and Description of Three New Species (Malacostraca: Decapoda: Alpheidae). Zootaxa. 4277(2); 199–227. DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4277.2.2