Wednesday, September 30, 2015

[Herpetology • 2015] Japalura vela • A New Species of Japalura (Squamata: Agamidae) from upper Lancang (Mekong) Valley of Eastern Tibet, China

Japalura vela   Wang, Jiang & Che, 2015
Sail Moutain Lizard or Sail Japalura | 帆背攀蜥 (Fan Bei Pan Xi)

Figure 1: Dorsolateral close-ups, dorsolateral overviews, and ventral overviews of Japalura vela sp. nov.:
The male holotype KIZ013801 (A, B, and C) and the female paratype KIZ013802 (D, E, and F) in life.
Images not to scale. ||  Photos by Kai WANG.
Figure 7: The microhabitat (A) and macrohabitat (B) of Japalura vela sp. nov.
at the type locality, Quzika, Tibet.  || Photos by Duan YOU.

A new species of the agamid genus Japalura is described based on 15 specimens from the upper Lancang (Mekong) Valley of eastern Tibet, PR China. Populations of the new species, Japalura vela sp. nov., were previously recognized as J. flaviceps. The new species is morphologically most similar to J. batangensis, J. micangshanensis, J. variegata, and J. zhaoermii, but is distinguished from the four species and all remaining congeners by the following combination of morphological characters: 1) small adult size (SVL 56–69 mm in males, 59–66 mm in females); 2) ratio of tail TAL/SVL 1.85–2.06; 3) ratio of hind limb HLL/SVL 0.72–0.81; 4) T4S 24 or 25; 5) concealed tympanum; 6) transverse gular fold present; 7) gular pouch present; 8) axillary fold present; 9) a pronounced, continuous, sail-like vertebral crest along length of body in males; 10) ground dorsal coloration black in males; 11) distinct gray transverse streaks on dorsal surface of head; 12) black radiated streaks around eyes; 13) distinct, black vermiculate stripes on ventral surface of head in both sexes; 14) a strongly jagged dorsolateral stripe from neck to base of tail on each side of vertebral crest in males; and 15) absence of gular spots in both sexes. General distribution patterns of the genus in the Hengduan Mountains region are also discussed.

Keywords:  distribution, Hengduan Mountains, Japalura, J. flaviceps, species complex

Japalura vela sp. nov. Wang, Jiang, Che (Figures 1–6)
Synonymies: Japalura yunnanensis Vogt, 1924: 338 
Japalura flaviceps Hu et al., 1987: 112 
Japalura flaviceps Pope, 1935: 467 
Japalura flaviceps Zhao and Jiang, 1977: 293 –298 
Japalura flaviceps Zhao et al., 1999: 111–115 
Japalura flaviceps Li et al., 2010: 115 
Japalura sp. A Manthey et al., 2012

Distribution and Ecology:  The new species is currently known only from the type locality (Figures 7–8), but it may be found in valleys of adjacent reaches along Lancang Rivers. As a terrestrial species, individuals were observed commonly in rocky areas or steppe-shrub habitat along the arid river valley (Figure 7). Adult males usually basked on high rocks, while adult females and juveniles stayed lower in the rock piles, suggesting possible niche partitioning among different age-groups and between different sexes. Males are territorial, in which the territory holder will perform vertical head-nodding movements and display gular pouch toward the invader, and physical contacts (biting and chasing) will happen if the invader refuses to leave. No territorial behaviors were seen among females or juveniles. Possible predations may come from snakes (Chinese Beauty Snake, Orthriophis taeniurus, KIZ013803, was collected from the same locality) and large birds ( Corvus sp., also commonly observed at this locality).

Etymology:  The Latin word vela means “sail”, which describes the shape of the pronounced and continuous vertebral crest as the diagnostic morphology of the males of the new species. Hence according to the Latin name, we suggest Sail Moutain Lizards or Sail Japalura as its English common name, and Fan Bei Pan Xi (帆背攀蜥 ) as its Chinese common name.

 Kai Wang, Ke Jiang, Gang Pan, Mian Hou, Cameron D. Siler and Jing Che. 2015. A New Species of Japalura (Squamata: Sauria: Agamidae) from upper Lancang (Mekong) Valley of Eastern Tibet, China. ASIAN HERPETOLOGICAL RESEARCH. 6(3):159-168.

[Herpetology • 2015] Hemidactylus yajurvedi • A New Rock Dwelling Hemidactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Chhattisgarh, east-central India

Hemidactylus yajurvedi
Murthy, Bauer, Lajmi, Agarwal & Giri, 2015


A distinct new species of gecko of the genus Hemidactylus is described from the Kanker district of Chhattisgarh State, east-central India. This large-sized (SVL average 81.33±13.40 to at least 98.0 mm) Hemidactylus is characterized by a dorsum with small granules, intermixed with 10–12 rows of irregularly arranged, slightly larger, rounded, weakly-keeled tubercles at midbody; 10–12 and 13–15 subdigital lamellae on the first and fourth digits, respectively, of both manus and pes; a single enlarged postcloacal tubercle on either side of the tail; 10–12 femoral pores on each thigh separated by 5–8 poreless scales; 12–14 supralabials and 10–12 infralabials.

Keywords: Reptilia, Hemidactylus yajurvedi sp. nov., H. aaronbaueri, cryptic species, Chhattisgarh, India

B.H.C.K. Murthy, A. M. Bauer, Aparna Lajmi, Ishan Agarwal and Varad Giri. 2015. A New Rock Dwelling Hemidactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Chhattisgarh, India. Zootaxa. 4021(2): 334–350. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4021.2.5

[Herpetology • 2015] Hydrophylax bahuvistara • A New Species of Fungoid Frog (Amphibia: Ranidae) from peninsular India

Hydrophylax bahuvistara
Padhye, Jadhav, Modak, Nameer & Dahanukar, 2015

 Hydrophylax bahuvistara, a new species of fungoid frog, is described from peninsular India. It can be separated from its congeners based on a combination of characters including wider head, outline of snout in dorsal view truncated, finger and toe tips without lateroventral groove, foot moderately webbed, metatarsals of 4th and 5th toes closely set, outer metatarsal tubercle small, foot length less than or equal to half of snout vent length, dorsal parts of shank without glandular folds and sparse horny spinules, and heels touch each other when the legs are folded at right angles to the body. Genetically, H. bahuvistara forms a monophyletic group with H. malabaricus as a sister clade separated by a raw distance of 4.0 to 4.5% in the 16s rRNA gene. Morphometrically, H. bahuvistara forms a significantly different cluster from H. malabaricus and H. gracilis in Discriminant Analysis.

Keywords: Anura, molecular taxonomy, multivariate analysis, taxonomy.

Hydrophylax bahuvistara sp. nov.
(Images 1–4)
Hylarana malabarica haplogroup 1: Biju et al. (2014)

Common name: Wide-spread Fungoid Frog.

Etymology: The species is named bahuvistara (Sanskrit: ‘bahu’ = wide, ‘vistara’ = spread) owing to its wide distribution in peninsular India.

Distribution: Type material of the species comes from a wide distribution in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra and eastern Maharashtra, however, based on genetic data available in Kurabayashi et al. (2005), Biju et al. (2014) and Hasan et al. (2014) and localities for additional material from this study and distributional data for Hydrophylax malabarica Haplogroup 1 from Biju et al. (2014), the species is widespread in peninsular India distributed in Maharashra, Karnataka, Goa and Madhya Pradesh (Table 3; Fig. 4).

Figure 4. Distribution map for Hydrophylax bahuvistara sp. nov. and H. malabaricus.

Habitat, ecology and natural history: Hydrophylax bahuvistara sp. nov. is usually found near human habitation and in agricultural fields. It is also found on the forest floor and near ephemeral or permanent water bodies, but mainly during breeding season. The eggs are laid in shallow water in the paddy fields or on the banks of small ponds or lakes. Calling behavior of an adult male is shown in movie clip (Appendix C). Adults usually gather in large numbers at potential breeding habitats. A loud chorus of calling males is heard at such places (Appendix D). The loud chorus is audible form a distance of up to a kilometer on quiet nights. Occasionally, smaller groups of adult males are also seen calling from the periphery of temporary rain water pools.

Anand D. Padhye, Anushree Jadhav, Nikhil Modak, P.O. Nameer and Neelesh Dahanukar. 2015. Hydrophylax bahuvistara, A New Species of Fungoid Frog (Amphibia: Ranidae) from peninsular India. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 7(11); 7744–7760. DOI: 10.11609/JoTT.o4252.7744-60

[Herpetology • 2015] Muhtarophis gen. nov. • Molecular Phylogeny and Micro CT-Scanning Revealed Extreme Cryptic Biodiversity in Kukri Snake, A New Genus for Rhynchocalamus barani (Serpentes: Colubridae)

Muhtarophis barani
 (Olgun, Avcý, Ilgaz, Üzüm et Yýlmaz, 2007)

Application of taxonomy exclusively based on external morphology, molecular phylogeny and noninvasive anatomical investigation using micro CT scanning together is effective in resolving systematic problems, such as cryptic species. The external morphology, skull osteology and molecular phylogeny of Baran’s black-headed dwarf snake, Rhynchocalamus barani, and a subspecies of the Palestine kukri snake, Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus, were examined. Considerable osteological and molecular differences indicate that the genus Rhynchocalamus is paraphyletic. As a result, Baran’s black-headed dwarf snake should be referred to a monotypic genus, Muhtarophis gen. nov. Based on morphology and molecular data, R. satunini, previously known as a subspecies of R. melanocephalus, should be assigned the rank of species. 

Keywords: Muhtarophis gen. nov.; Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus; Rhynchocalamus satunini; Colubridae; Turkey.

Muhtarophis gen. nov.
Type species. Rhynchocalamus barani Olgun, Avcý, Ilgaz, Üzüm et Yýlmaz, 2007.
Muhtarophis barani (Olgun, Avcý, Ilgaz, Üzüm et Yýlmaz, 2007);
Rhynchocalamus barani Olgun, Avcý, Ilgaz, Üzüm et Yýlmaz, 2007;
Rhynchocalamus barani — Avcý, Üzüm, Ilgaz et Olgun, 2009;
Rhynchocalamus barani — Gruber, 2009;
Rhynchocalamus barani — Baran, Ilgaz, Avcý, Kumlutaþ et Olgun, 2012.

Derivatio nominis. The new genus is named after Prof. Dr. Muhtar Baþoðlu, the first Turkish herpetologist, together with ophis, i.e., snake; the gender is masculine.
Etymology. The new species is in dedication to Prof. Dr. İbrahim BARAN of the University of Dokuz Eylül, İzmir, to acknowledge his prolific and uninterrupted contribution to the herpetology of the Turkey.  

Distribution. Muhtarophis gen. nov. is endemic to Turkey. It is only recorded in Hatay Province, Turkey.

Aziz Avcý, Çetin Ilgaz, Mahdi Rajabizadeh, Can Yýlmaz, Nazan Üzüm, Dominique Adriaens, Yusuf Kumlutaþ and Kurtuluþ Olgun. 2015. Molecular Phylogeny and Micro CT-Scanning Revealed Extreme Cryptic Biodiversity in Kukri Snake, Muhtarophis gen. nov., a New Genus for Rhynchocalamus barani (Serpentes: Colubridae). Russian Journal of Herpetology. 22(3); 159 – 174

Aziz Avcı, Nazan Üzüm, Çetin Ilgaz and Kurtuluş Olgun. 2009. A new finding of Rhynchocalamus barani, Baran’s black-headed dwarf snake (Reptilia, Colubridae), in the Mediterranean region of Turkey widens its distribution range. Acta Herpetologica. 4(2): 177-182. 

Olgun, K., Avcı, A., Ilgaz, Ç., Üzüm, N. and Yılmaz, C. 2007. A new species of Rhynchocalamus
(Reptilia: Serpentes: Colubridae) from Turkey. Zootaxa. 1399: 57-68.

[Paleontology • 2015] Mosaiceratops azumai • A Psittacosaurid-like Basal Neoceratopsian from the Upper Cretaceous of central China and Its Implications for Basal Ceratopsian Evolution

Mosaiceratops azumai
  Zheng, Jin & Xu, 2015

Figure 1: Holotype and skeletal reconstruction of Mosaiceratops azumai, gen. et sp. nov (ZMNH M8856).   (a) photograph and line drawing of ZMNH M8856;  (b) skeletal reconstruction showing preserved elements in white. Scale bar 10 cm.

Abbreviations: a, astragalus; boc, basioccipital; c, calcaneum; cav, caudal vertebra; ch, chevron; cv, cervical vertebra; dr, dorsal rib; dv, dorsal vertebra; f, frontal; fem, femur; fl, fibula; h, humerus; il, ilium; is, ischium; L, left; mt, metatarsal; ph, phalanx/phalanges; po, postorbital; R, right; sk, skull; sq, squamosal; t, tibia; td, tendon; ?, undiagnostic remains.

Psittacosauridae (parrot-beaked dinosaurs) represents the first major radiation of ceratopsians (horned dinosaurs). However, psittacosaurids are divergent from the general morphology found in other ceratopsians, and this has resulted in their uncertain systematic position among ceratopsians. Here we describe a new basal neoceratopsian dinosaur, Mosaiceratops azumai gen. et sp. nov. based on a partial semi-articulated skeleton recovered from the Upper Cretaceous Xiaguan Formation of Neixiang County, Henan Province, China. Although our phylogenetic analysis supports this taxon as the most basal neoceratopsian, Mosaiceratops exhibits many features previously considered unique to the Psittacosauridae among the basal Ceratopsia. These include a relatively highly positioned external naris, a proportionally large premaxilla, the nasal extending ventral to the external naris, slender postorbital and temporal bars, a large notch between the basal tubera, and the edentulous premaxilla. Thus, the discovery of Mosaiceratops reduces the morphological disparity between the Psittacosauridae and other basal ceratopsians. Character optimization suggests that basal neoceratopsians have re-evolved premaxillary teeth; a major reversal previously unknown in any dinosaur clade. The new specimen also highlights the mosaic nature of evolution among early ceratopsians and supports the phylogenetic hypothesis that the Psittacosauridae is a relatively derived clade, rather than the most basal group of the Ceratopsia.

Systematic palaeontology

Dinosauria Owen, 1842
Ornithischia Seeley, 1887

Ceratopsia Marsh, 1890
Neoceratopsia Sereno, 1986

Mosaiceratops azumai gen. et sp. nov.

Etymology: The generic name Mosaiceratops (“mosaic ceratopsian”) is a contraction of the Latin terms “mosaicus” and “ceratops” in reference to the specimen’s unique (mosaic) combination of characters that were previously considered diagnostic of basal ceratopsians, psittacosaurids, or basal neoceratopsians. The specific name honors Dr. Yoichi Azuma from Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, who co-organized and participated in several dinosaur expeditions in China. One of those expeditions led to the discovery of the basal neoceratopsian Archaeoceratops.

Figure 3: Temporal calibration of the single most parsimonious tree produced by phylogenetic analysis.

Locality and horizon: Upper Cretaceous (lower-middle Turonian—middle Campanian), Xiaguan Formation, Neixiang County, Henan Province, China.

Wenjie Zheng, Xingsheng Jin and Xing Xu. 2015. A Psittacosaurid-like Basal Neoceratopsian from the Upper Cretaceous of central China and Its Implications for Basal Ceratopsian Eevolution. Scientific Reports. 5, 14190. doi: 10.1038/srep14190

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

[Entomology • 2015] Anasedulia maejophrae | ตั๊กแตนแม่โจ้แพร่ • A New Grasshopper Genus of the tribe Gereniini (Orthoptera: Acrididae, Catantopinae) from northern Thailand

Anasedulia maejophrae Dawwrueng, Storozhenko & Asanok, 2015

A monotypic genus Anasedulia maejophrae gen. et sp. n. and a new species Striatosedulia cattiensis sp. n. are described from Thailand and Vietnam respectively. A key to species of the genus Striatosedulia is also provided.

 นักวิจัยแม่โจ้-แพร่ฯ พบ ตั๊กแตนสกุลใหม่ของโลก "ตั๊กแตนแม่โจ้แพร่"  จากการทำวิจัยเรื่อง "การสำรวจความหลากหลายทางชีวภาพ ในพื้นที่ป่าธรรมชาติของมหาวิทยาลัยแม่โจ้ - แพร่ เฉลิมพระเกียรติ"  มหาวิทยาลัยแม่โจ้-แพร่ฯ อ.ร้องกวาง  จ.แพร่

ดร. แหลมไทย อาษานอก ผู้นำทีมนักวิจัย กล่าวว่า  "การวิจัยในครั้งนี้ได้รับการสนับสนุนทุนวิจัยจากมหาวิทยาลัยแม่โจ้ - แพร่ฯ และได้รับความร่วมมือกับองค์การพิพิธภัณฑ์วิทยาศาสตร์แห่งชาติ (อพ.วช.) โดยมี ดร. วียะวัฒน์ ใจตรง และ นายภัทรวิชญ์ ดาวเรือง เป็นผู้เชี่ยวชาญด้านแมลงเข้าร่วมสำรวจในครั้งนี้ด้วย ซึ่งพื้นที่วิจัยมีสภาพเป็นป่าเต็งรังภายในมหาวิทยาลัยแม่โจ้-แพร่ เฉลิมพระเกียรติ มีเนื้อที่ประมาณ 800 ไร่ จากผลการสำรวจเราได้พบตั๊กแตนชนิดหนึ่งที่ไม่เคยรู้จักมาก่อน  และคิดว่านี่อาจจะเป็นตั๊กแตนชนิดใหม่ของโลก จึงได้ดำเนินการตรวจสอบเพื่อระบุชนิด (species identification) อย่างละเอียด โดยได้รับคำปรึกษาจาก Prof. S. Yu. Storozhenko แห่ง Institute of Biology and Soil Science, Russia ซึ่งเป็นผู้เชี่ยวชาญตั๊กแตนของโลก หลังจากที่ได้ทำการพิสูจน์ชนิดเรียบร้อยแล้วจึงพบว่าตั๊กแตนชนิดนี้ไม่เพียงแต่เป็นชนิดใหม่ของโลก (new species) แต่เป็นถึงสกุลใหม่ของโลก (new genus) ซึ่งมีโอกาสยากมากที่จะค้นพบสิ่งมีชีวิตสกุลใหม่ของโลกในปัจจุบัน เราจึงตั้งชื่อสกุลให้ตั๊กแตนชนิดนี้ว่า Anasedulia เนื่องจากแผ่น subgenital ที่ปลายท้องของตัวผู้ยื่นยาวและแยกเป็นสองอัน และให้คำระบุชนิดเป็นmaejophrae เพื่อเป็นเกียรติแก่สถานที่ที่ค้นพบ รวมเป็นชื่อวิทยาศาสตร์ว่า (Anasedulia maejophrae Dawwrueng, Storozhenko et Asanok, 2015)  หรือ "ตั๊กแตนแม่โจ้แพร่" หลังจากนั้นเราจึงได้เขียนเป็นบทความทางวิชาการ ตีพิมพ์ลงในวารสารวิชาการระดับนานาชาติ ชื่อ Far Eastern Entomologist ฉบับ September 2015 เพื่อเป็นการยืนยันการค้นพบตั๊กแตนสกุลใหม่ของโลกในครั้งนี้"     

ลักษณะเด่น  ตั๊กแตนแม่โจ้แพร่ (Anasedulia maejophrae) เป็นตั๊กแตนหนวดสั้นใน เผ่า Gereniini ซึ่งมีลักษณะเฉพาะตัวคือปีกมีรูปทรงคล้ายเกล็ด (เล็กสั้น ปลายแหลมหรือมน) และขอบของปีกแต่ละข้างไม่สัมผัสกัน เป็นตั๊กแตนขนาดกลาง สีพื้นฐานสีน้ำตาลอ่อนถึงน้ำตาล มีแถบสีขาวพาดจากหลังตาถึงข้างอกอย่างชัดเจน ปีกสั้น ปลายแหลม เส้นปีกที่ช่วงปลายปีกไม่ขนานกัน มีจุดสีดำมันวาว 1-2 จุดบนปีกใกล้ฐานปีกคู่บน ขาคู่หลังมีลายสีดำพาดสามแถบ ในตัวผู้แผ่น subgenital ยาวและแยกออกเป็นสองอันชัดเจน ในตัวเมียมีอวัยวะวางไข่ที่สั้น

ความสำคัญของการค้นพบ "ตั๊กแตนแม่โจ้แพร่ (Anasedulia maejophrae)" ในครั้งนี้นับเป็นก้าวแรกของการศึกษาทางอนุกรมวิธานของตั๊กแตนในประเทศไทยอย่างจริงจัง นอกจากนั้นตั๊กแตนสกุลใหม่ของโลกนี้ ณ ปัจจุบันยังพบได้เพียงแค่ในพื้นที่ป่าเต็งรังภายในมหาวิทยาลัยแม่โจ้-แพร่ เฉลิมพระเกียรติ เท่านั้น และยังพบว่าเป็นสกุลเฉพาะถิ่น (endemic) ของประเทศไทยอีกด้วย จึงควรส่งเสริมให้มีการศึกษาในเชิงลึกต่อไป การค้นพบครั้งนี้จึงเป็นเครื่องพิสูจน์ได้ว่าการอนุรักษ์ป่าให้คงอยู่ย่อมสามารถอนุรักษ์ความหลากหลายทางชีวภาพไว้ได้ แม้มหาวิทยาลัยแม่โจ้-แพร่ เฉลิมพระเกียรติ จะมีผืนป่าอนุรักษ์เพียงเล็กน้อยยังสามารถค้นพบตั๊กแตนสกุลใหม่ของโลกได้ ดังนั้นหากช่วยกันรักษาผืนป่าขนาดใหญ่ของชาติให้คงอยู่ ย่อมสามารถรักษาความหลากหลายของสรรพชีวิตได้อย่างมากมายและยั่งยืนต่อไป

P. Dawwrueng, S. Yu. Storozhenko and L. Asanok. 2015. New Grasshoppers of the tribe Gereniini (Orthoptera: Acrididae, Catantopinae) from Thailand and Vietnam. Far Eastern Entomologist. 299: 1-10.

บ้านเมือง - แม่โจ้เปิดตัวตั๊กแตนสกุลใหม่ของโลก:
พบ‘ตั๊กแตนแม่โจ้แพร่’ ในป่าเต็งรังหลังม.แม่โจ้ เผยได้เป็นสกุลใหม่ของโลก - ข่าวไทยรัฐออนไลน์

Monday, September 28, 2015

[Primatology • 2015] Cheirogaleus andysabini | Montagne d’Ambre Dwarf Lemur • A New Species in the Genus Cheirogaleus (Cheirogaleidae)

Cheirogaleus andysabini
Lei, McLain, Frasier, Taylor, Bailey, Engberg, Ginter, Nash, Randriamampionona, Groves,
Mittermeier & Louis, 2015
Montagne d’Ambre or Andy Sabin’s Dwarf Lemur

 The genus Cheirogaleus, the dwarf lemurs (Infraorder Lemuriformes), has been identified as harboring cryptic species diversity. More comprehensive fieldwork combined with improvements in genetic research has revealed a larger radiation of species than was initially described in a number of lemur genera, including AvahiLepilemurMicrocebus, and Mirza. Available genetic and morphological evidence suggests that Cheirogaleus is among the genera where diversity was previously underestimated, and additional fieldwork may reveal even more species. A population of Cheirogaleus from northern Madagascar in and around Montagne d’Ambre National Park, surveyed during an expedition in 2005, was recently identified and proposed as a new species. Additional specimens were obtained during fieldwork in February of 2015. Subsequent genetic and morphological analyses of the data collected have determined that this population is an independent lineage, and herein we describe this new species, which we name Cheirogaleus andysabini after New York philanthropist Andy Sabin.

Key words: Cheirogaleus, cryptic species, dwarf lemurs, Madagascar, new species

Cheirogaleus andysabini sp. nov. 
Formerly Cheirogaleus sp. nov. 1, also CCS1 (Lei et al. 2014).

Distribution: Cheirogaleus andysabini is known from the Montagne d’Ambre National Park and areas nearby around the town of Joffreville, northwest of the Irodo River in northern Madagascar (Fig. 1). Observed at 541−1073 m above sea level. 

Etymology: This new species is named after Andy Sabin, a well-known New York philanthropist committed to species conservation, especially turtles, amphibians and primates. In particular, he has supported many projects in Madagascar, including research on lemurs, tortoises and frogs. His longterm interest, his enthusiasm, and his generosity have helped to encourage many researchers and conservationists, young and old alike. 

Vernacular names: Montagne d’Ambre or Andy Sabin’s dwarf lemur.

Runhua Lei, Adam T. McLain, Cynthia L. Frasier, Justin M. Taylor, Carolyn A. Bailey, Shannon E. Engberg, Azure L. Ginter, Stephen D. Nash, Richard Randriamampionona, Colin P. Groves, Russell A. Mittermeier and Edward E. Louis, Jr. 2015. A New Species in the Genus Cheirogaleus (Cheirogaleidae). Primate Conservation. 29 (2): 1–12.

[Primatology • 2015] Discovery of An Island Population of Dwarf Lemurs (Cheirogaleidae: Cheirogaleus) on Nosy Hara, far northern Madagascar

Fig. 2 Images of Cheirogaleus sp. from Nosy Hara, far northern Madagascar, 9–10 April 2015:
 probable juvenile eating fruits (drupes) of Terminalia ombrophila.
Image: Louise Jasper || DOI: 10.1007/s10329-015-0479-x

The species-level diversity of Madagascar’s lemurs has increased hugely over the last two decades, growing from 32 species in 1994 to 102 species in 2014. This growth is primarily due to the application of molecular phylogenetic analyses and the phylogenetic species concept to known populations, and few previously unknown lemur populations have been discovered during this time. We report on a new population of dwarf lemurs (Cheirogaleus sp.) from Nosy Hara, a 312-ha island in far northern Madagascar, which constitutes the northernmost distribution record for the genus. The dwarf lemurs appeared to show two characteristics of island populations—insular dwarfism and predator naïveté—that suggest a long isolation, and may thus represent an undescribed taxon. If this is the case, the dwarf lemurs of Nosy Hara are probably one of the rarest primate taxa on Earth.

Keywords: Insular dwarfism, Phylogenetic species concept, Predator naïveté,Strepsirrhini, Taxonomy, Unrecognised diversity

Fig. 2 Images of Cheirogaleus sp. from Nosy Hara, far northern Madagascar, 9–10 April 2015:
adult in shrub of Grewia sp.
Image: Louise Jasper || DOI: 10.1007/s10329-015-0479-x

Charlie J. Gardner and Louise D. Jasper. 2015. Discovery of An Island Population of Dwarf Lemurs (Cheirogaleidae: Cheirogaleus) on Nosy Hara, far northern Madagascar.
Primates. 56(4): 307-310. DOI: 10.1007/s10329-015-0479-x

Vacationing couple may have discovered a new dwarf lemur species
Scientist goes camping on tiny island, maybe finds new species of tiny lemur |

Sunday, September 27, 2015

[paleo-Cetology / Behaviour • 2015] No Deep Diving: Evidence of Predation on Epipelagic Fish for A Stem Beaked Whale Messapicetus gregarius from the Late Miocene of Peru

Life reconstruction of three individuals of the extinct beaked whale Messapicetus gregarius preying upon a school of aged sardines Sardinops sp. (average body length 38.8 cm) in the upper part of the water column along the coast of nowadays Peru. The front individual is an adult male, whereas the last in the background is a female.
Illustration by A. Gennari.  DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1530


Although modern beaked whales (Ziphiidae) are known to be highly specialized toothed whales that predominantly feed at great depths upon benthic and benthopelagic prey, only limited palaeontological data document this major ecological shift. We report on a ziphiid–fish assemblage from the Late Miocene of Peru that we interpret as the first direct evidence of a predator–prey relationship between a ziphiid and epipelagic fish. Preserved in a dolomite concretion, a skeleton of the stem ziphiid Messapicetus gregarius was discovered together with numerous skeletons of a clupeiform fish closely related to the epipelagic extant Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax). Based on the position of fish individuals along the head and chest regions of the ziphiid, the lack of digestion marks on fish remains and the homogeneous size of individuals, we propose that this assemblage results from the death of the whale (possibly via toxin poisoning) shortly after the capture of prey from a single school. Together with morphological data and the frequent discovery of fossil crown ziphiids in deep-sea deposits, this exceptional record supports the hypothesis that only more derived ziphiids were regular deep divers and that the extinction of epipelagic forms may coincide with the radiation of true dolphins.

KEYWORDS: feeding, fossil, Odontoceti, pacific sardine, Sardinops, Ziphiidae

Figure 2. Fossil remains of the extinct beaked whale Messapicetus gregarius and associated clupeid fish Sardinops sp. cf. S. sagax found in Cerro Colorado.
(a) Photograph and line drawing of the articulated caudal portion of a skeleton of Sardinops sp. in left lateral view (note the typically clupeid urostyle supporting the caudal fin complex), with a complete skeleton of the modern sardine S. sagax for comparison. (b) Imbricated large cycloid scales of Sardinops sp. in right lateral view showing tubercular protuberances in their central region and curved radii-like lines in their lateral fields, with a body of S. sagax for comparison reporting the putative collocation of the scale set. (c) Dolomite concretion with the skull and mandibles of M. gregarius in ventral view; occipital region, hamular processes of the pterygoids, posteroventral and apical regions of the mandibles emerge from the concretion. bv, articulated bivalve shells; mda, apex of mandibles; mdp, posteroventral part of mandibles; ph, hamular processes; wd, fragment of fossilized wood. (d) Line drawing of the skull of M. gregarius inside the concretion with a reconstructed outline of its body. Multiple individuals of Sardinops sp. found around the head and in the chest region are schematically represented. Stippled line marks the outline of the concretion.

Figure 1. Map and corresponding composite stratigraphic section of the locality of Cerro Colorado, Pisco Basin, southern coast of Peru, showing the distribution of 12 skeletons of the extinct beaked whale Messapicetus gregarius in the outcropping Pisco Formation. Note the concentration of specimens (including specimen O38 associated with fish remains, coloured in red), in a few layers of the lower allomember.

Figure 4. Phylogenetic tree illustrating the relationships between extant and part of the extinct ziphiids. The outgroup is the eurhinodelphinid Xiphiacetus. Grey (red) lines indicate stratigraphic ranges. Dotted lines indicate uncertainty for the age of some members of a genus. Separation between epipelagic and deep-diving taxa is based on morphology, platform versus deep-sea deposits for fossil taxa, stomach content analysis for Messapicetus, and optimization of the deep-diving ecology of most extant genera on the phylogenetic tree.

Olivier Lambert, Alberto Collareta, Walter Landini, Klaas Post, Benjamin Ramassamy, Claudio Di Celma, Mario Urbina and Giovanni Bianucci. 2015. No Deep Diving: Evidence of Predation on Epipelagic Fish for A Stem Beaked Whale from the Late Miocene of Peru. Proc. R. Soc. B. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1530
Fossilised Meal Illustrates Habitat Shift of Beaked Whales

Olivier Lambert, Giovanni Bianucci and Klaas Post. 2010. High concentration of long-snouted beaked whales (genus Messapicetus) from the Miocene of Peru.
Palaeontology. 53(5); 1077–1098. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2010.00995.x

Friday, September 25, 2015

[Ichthyology • 2015] Galaxiella toourtkoourt | Little Galaxias • A Review of Galaxiella pusilla (Mack) (Teleostei: Galaxiidae) in south-eastern Australia with A Description of A New Species

FIGURE 10. a) Galaxiella toourtkoourt male (upper) and female (lower) from Narrow Neck Drain, Hatherleigh, South Australia (Photo by M. Hammer),
b) Galaxiella pusilla s.s. male (lower) and female (upper) from Tuerong Creek, Moorooduc, Victoria (Photo by R. Kuiter).


The dwarf galaxias, Galaxiella pusilla (Mack), is a small, threatened freshwater fish from coastal south-eastern Australia. Recent genetic studies, using multiple nuclear and mitochondrial DNA markers, found substantial differences between populations in western Victoria and south Australia (‘west region’) compared to eastern Victoria, Flinders Island, and Tasmania (‘east region’) that suggest the presence of a cryptic species. Morphological measurements and meristic counts from multiple populations within each region were undertaken to investigate potential differences between regions. Several characters, found to discriminate between individuals in the regions and to be diagnostic for two taxa, were used to describe a new species, Galaxiella toourtkoourt, for the west region. This is only the second species in the Galaxiidae to exhibit sexual dimorphism. The original description of Galaxiella pusilla, based on five specimens, is revised following examination of a large number of individuals. Both species are considered nationally threatened and are categorised as ‘endangered’; the revised distribution of G. pusilla s.s. is reduced by approximately 60%. A number of inconsistencies in the most recent revision of the genus Galaxiella are also corrected.

Keywords: Pisces, taxonomic revision, dwarf galaxias, sexual dimorphism, threatened species, freshwater fish, cryptic species

Galaxiella toourtkoourt Coleman & Raadik, new species 
Little Galaxias

Etymology. Pronounced “Too-urt Koo-urt” (or Tu-urt Ku-urt), from the Australian indigenous language groups Tjapwurrung, Korn Kopan noot, and Peekwurrung, meaning ‘little fish in freshwater’. Recommended standard name as ‘Little galaxias’ based on it being the smallest species in the Galaxiidae (e.g. McDowall &Waters 2004) and consistency with ‘little’ in the indigenous language meaning. 

Distribution. Known from coastal south-eastern mainland Australia, from the upper Barwon River system near Barwon Downs, Victoria, west to the Cortina Lakes, near the Coorong, South Australia (Fig. 11). Its current known range does not overlap that of its sister species Galaxiella pusilla s.s. 

Rhys A. Coleman, Ary A. Hoffmann and Tarmo A. Raadik. 2015. A Review of Galaxiella pusilla (Mack) (Teleostei: Galaxiidae) in south-eastern Australia with A Description of A New Species. Zootaxa. 4021(2): 243–281.  DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4021.2.2

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

[Herpetology • 2015] Acanthosaura phuketensis | กิ้งก่าเขาหนามภูเก็ต | Phuket Horned Tree Agamid • A New Long-horned Tree Agamid (Squamata: Agamidae) from the Phuket Mountain Range in southwestern Thailand

Acanthosaura phuketensis
Pauwels, Sumontha, Kunya, Nitikul, Samphanthamit, Wood & Grismer, 2015 
กิ้งก่าเขาหนามภูเก็ต | Phuket Horned Tree Agamid

FIGURE 7. Live adult male Acanthosaura phuketensis sp. nov. in situ at the type locality of Cyrtodactylus ranongensis in Suk Samran District, Ranong Province, southwestern Thailand.
photo: M. Sumontha | DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4020.3.4

We describe a new lowland forest-dwelling species of the genus Acanthosaura from Phuket Island and the Phuket mountain range in southwestern Thailand. Acanthosaura phuketensis sp. nov., the 11th species in the genus, seems most closely related to A. crucigera from Myanmar and western Thailand and A. cardamomensis from the Cardamom Mountains, but can be differentiated from them by a combination of morphological and coloration characteristics. This new discovery stresses the importance of preserving the last forest patches remaining on Phuket Island, home to three other squamate endemics.

Keywords: Reptilia, Thai-Malay Peninsula, Phuket mountain range, Phuket Island, Khao Phra Thaeo Non-hunting Area, Khao Lak–Lam Ru National Park

Our comparisons show that Acanthosaura phuketensis sp. nov. is clearly distinct from all the currently recognized species of Acanthosaura, and that it is part of the A. crucigera group, in which it seems most closely related to A. crucigera and the geographically distant A. cardamomensis. Its description is just one more step in the taxonomic review of the A. crucigera group, which is already known to include several additional undescribed species in the Thai-Malay Peninsula (Wood et al. 2010, Grismer 2011, Wood et al. in prep.). Similarly, the lepidogaster species group appears to comprise several undescribed species (Ananjeva et al. 2008), and the total number of recognized Acanthosaura species will keep increasing (Sumontha et al. in prep., Wood et al. in prep.).

The main conservation threat for A. phuketensis sp. nov. is probably forest logging and degradation. Fortunately, it has already been reported from several protected areas, i.e., Khao Phra Thaeo Non-hunting Area in Phuket Province, Khao Lak - Lam Ru National Park and Phang-Nga Wildlife Breeding Station in Phang-Nga Province, and Khao Sok National Park in Surat Thani Province. It will probably be recorded from Kaeng Krung National Park, Khlong Phanom National Park and Khlong Yan Wildlife Sanctuary in Surat Thani Province, Khlong Nakha Wildlife Sanctuary in Ranong Province, and Si Phang Nga National Park and Ton Pariwat Wildlife Sanctuary in Phang-Nga Province, all offering forested areas and lying within the Phuket Range. The last forested areas on Phuket Island are currently subject to strong pressure because of unregulated infrastructure development and land use (Boupun & Wongsai 2013). The high reptile diversity of Phuket Island (Frith 1978, Pauwels & Bauer 2001, Sumontha et al. 2002a-b, Leong et al. 2003, this work), including three endemic forest dwelling species (Cnemaspis phuketensis Das & Leong, 2004, Cyrtodactylus phuketensis Sumontha et al. and Trimeresurus phuketensis Sumontha et al.), stresses the importance of preserving the last patches of primary and mature secondary forest remaining on the island. Our research team has intentionally given a specific epithet relating to Phuket Island to each of the three squamate species we described from the island in order to draw the attention of the scientific community and Government stakeholders to this need to locally improve current  conservation efforts and land use planning.

Olivier S.G. Pauwel, Montri Sumontha, Kirati Kunya, Awat Nitikul, Phamon Samphanthamit, Perry L. Wood, Jr. and Lee L. Grismer. 2015. Acanthosaura phuketensis (Squamata: Agamidae), A New Long-horned Tree Agamid from southwestern Thailand. Zootaxa. 4020(3); 473–494. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4020.3.4

[Paleontology • 2015] Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis • A New Arctic Hadrosaurid from the Prince Creek Formation (lower Maastrichtian) of northern Alaska

Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis
Mori, Druckenmiller & Erickson, 2015

The Liscomb bonebed in the Price Creek Formation of northern Alaska has produced thousands of individual bones of a saurolophine hadrosaurid similar to Edmontosaurus; however, the specific identity of this taxon has been unclear, in part because the vast majority of the remains represent immature individuals. In this study, we address the taxonomic status of the Alaskan material through a comparative and quantitative morphological analysis of juvenile as well several near adult-sized specimens with particular reference to the two known species of Edmontosaurus, as well as a cladistic analysis using two different matrices for Hadrosauroidea. In the comparative morphological analysis, we introduce a quantitative method using bivariate plots to address ontogenetic variation. Our comparative anatomical analysis reveals that the Alaskan saurolophine possesses a unique suite of characters that distinguishes it from Edmontosaurus, including a premaxillary circumnarial ridge that projects posterolaterally without a premaxillary vestibular promontory, a shallow groove lateral to the posterodorsal premaxillary foramen, a relatively narrow jugal process of the postorbital lacking a postorbital pocket, a relatively tall maxilla, a relatively gracile jugal, a more strongly angled posterior margin of the anterior process of the jugal, wide lateral exposure of the quadratojugal, and a short symphyseal process of the dentary. The cladistic analyses consistently recover the Alaskan saurolophine as the sister taxon to Edmontosaurus annectens + Edmontosaurus regalis. This phylogenetic assessment is robust even when accounting for ontogenetically variable characters. Based on these results, we erect a new taxon, Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis gen. et sp. nov. that contributes to growing evidence for a distinct, early Maastrichtian Arctic dinosaur community that existed at the northernmost extent of Laramidia during the Late Cretaceous.

Key words: Dinosauria, Hadrosauridae, Saurolophinae, Edmontosaurini, Ugrunaaluk, Edmontosaurus, ontogeny, Cretaceous, Prince Creek Formation, Arctic.

skull of juvinile Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis 
 skull reconstruction: Micheal Holland 

 Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis illustrates a scene from ancient Alaska during the Cretaceous Period.
illustration: James Havens

Fig. 4. Cranial reconstruction of Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis gen. et sp. nov. from the early Maastrichtian Prince Creek Formation in left lateral view.

Systematic Paleontology

Ornithischia Seeley, 1887
Ornithopoda Marsh, 1881

Hadrosauridae Cope, 1869
Saurolophinae Brown, 1914 sensu Prieto-Márquez, 2010a
Edmontosaurini Brett-Surman, 1989

Genus Ugrunaaluk nov.

Etymology: Transliterated from the Alaskan Iñupiaq noun ugruŋnaq, referring to a grazing animal with a long set of grinding teeth, and the adjective -aluk, old. Literally, “ancient grazer”. Intended pronunciation: “oo-GREW-nah-luk”. The name honors the Alaskan Native Iñupiaq culture from the area where the type material was discovered.

Type species: Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis sp. nov., monotypic 
Figs. 4–10. 

Etymology: The specific name is derived from the Iñupiaq word kuukpik, which refers to the Colville River, Alaska, USA along which the type material was found.

Type locality: Liscomb bonebed, along the Colville River, northern Alaska, USA. The exact location is on file with the Bureau of Land Management Arctic Field Office.

Type horizon: Upper portion of the Prince Creek Formation, lower Maastrichtian (Upper Cretaceous).

Fig. 2. Temporal distribution of Edmontosaurus species and the Prince Creek Formation taxon in the Late Cretaceous.

In this study, we; (i) identify and name a new taxon of saurolophine hadrosaurid, Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis gen. et sp. nov. from the Prince Creek Formation of Alaska; (ii) demonstrate that skeletally immature specimens can be reliably used in addressing taxonomic problems within
Hadrosauridae based on a detailed understanding of the growth patterns of closely related taxa; and (iii) show that Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis gen. et sp. nov. does not represent a juvenile form of either recognized species of Edmontosaurus. Further morphological description of the new Alaskan taxon and greater clarification of its differences from Edmontosaurus will require discovery of adult material from the Prince Creek Formation and/or description of other juvenile specimens from E. regalis and E. annectens.

The establishment of a new species of hadrosaurid, Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis gen. et sp. nov. further clarifies the faunal composition of the Prince Creek Formation and contributes to a growing body of evidence that the paleo-Arctic hosted a distinct and endemic polar, early Maastrichtian dinosaurian fauna. Ongoing field work in the formation and taxonomic clarifications of existing material will help to further establish the faunal composition of the unit and add critical new data to test hypotheses of dinosaur provinciality in Laramidia during the latest Cretaceous.


Hirotsugu Mori, Patrick S. Druckenmiller, and Gregory M. Erickson. 2015. A New Arctic Hadrosaurid from the Prince Creek Formation (lower Maastrichtian) of northern Alaska. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. in press.  doi: 10.4202/app.00152.2015


Alaskan duck-billed dinosaur find spurs physiological mystery via @slashgear
Newly discovered hadrosaur dino was one serious, cold-winter survivor