Wednesday, March 1, 2017

[Paleontology • 2017] Mauriciosaurus fernandezi • A New Polycotylid Plesiosaur with Extensive Soft Tissue Preservation from the early Late Cretaceous of northeast Mexico

 Mauriciosaurus fernandezi
Frey, Mulder, Stinnesbeck, Rivera-Sylva, Padilla-Gutiérrez & González-González, 2017  

A nearly complete skeleton of a polycotylid plesiosaur is described from the early Late Cretaceous laminated limestones at Vallecillo, northeast Mexico. It shows extensive soft tissue preservation. In some exceedingly well preserved areas there are transversely elongate rectangular to trapezoid millimetric scale-like structures arranged in longitudinal rows. The trailing edge skin flap preserves fibers and scale rows perpendicular to the trailing edge. A thick layer of subdermal tissue is present, especially along the tail base. It was responsible for the hydrodynamic drop-shaped body contour, with the body and tail forming a single unit. The body shape determined from the preserved soft tissues suggests a swimming speed similar to extant leatherback turtles. Based on the unique osteology of the palate, which is intermediate between Dolichorhynchops and Trinacromerum, and according to the unique morphology of the girdles and propodials as well as the medially converging gastralia, the new specimen is placed in a new genus and species of Polycotylidae, Mauriciosaurus fernandezi gen. et sp. nov. 

Keywords: Vertebrate palaeontology, Plesiosauria, Polycotylidae, Late Cretaceous, northeast Mexico, soft tissue preservation, palaeoecology.

Figure 3 : Mauriciosaurus fernandezi  INAH CPC RFG 2544 P.F.1.
 A) Photograph of the specimen after preparation, B) interpretative line drawing. Note the massive tail base and the dorsal skin preserved between the ribs. 

Systematic paleontology

Plesiosauria de Blainville, 1835
Plesiosauroidea Welles, 1943
Leptocleidia Ketchum and Benson, 2010

Polycotylidae Williston, 1908

Mauriciosaurus gen. nov
Mauriciosaurus fernandezi sp. nov.

Derivation of name: Genus and species name in honor of Mauricio Fernández Garza, who not only made the specimen accessible for scientific research, but also secures all future work in the quarry area at Vallecillo and supports public education in Earth- and biological sciences predominantly in the state of Nuevo León.

Eberhard Frey, Eric W.A. Mulder, Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, Héctor E. Rivera-Sylva, José Manuel Padilla-Gutiérrez and Arturo Homero González-González. 2017. A New Polycotylid Plesiosaur with Extensive Soft Tissue Preservation from the early Late Cretaceous of northeast Mexico. Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana. 69(1); 87–134.

[Herpetology • 2017] Diversification in Arid Mountains: Biogeography and Cryptic Diversity of Pristurus rupestris rupestris in Arabia

 Pristurus r. rupetris of the high altitude robust morphotype.
  Panoramic view of Wadi Sareen, a Protected Area that includes the only known locality of one of the new species discovered in this study.


To understand the patterns of genetic, geographical and morphological diversification in the Arabian gecko subspecies Pristurus rupestris rupestris, and to discuss the various processes that generate and shape diversity in arid mountain ranges.

Hajar Mountains, south-eastern Arabian Peninsula.

We sampled 466 individuals across the entire range of P. r. rupestris in the Hajar Mountains and sequenced one mitochondrial gene for all the samples, and one extra mitochondrial and four nuclear genes for a subset of 75 specimens. A total of 155 individuals were characterized morphologically. Multilocus coalescent-based methods were used for species delimitation, for phylogenetic inference of species trees and to investigate the diversification dynamics. Multivariate statistics were used to analyse morphological data.

Our molecular methods revealed 14 candidate species hidden within the subspecies P. r. rupestris. Diversification started c. 15 Ma, but most of the lineages have evolved in the last 7 Ma of the mountains’ orogeny, producing a mosaic of allopatric taxa. Secondary interchange has occurred between high and low elevation lineages, and along the mountain chain between unrelated lineages formerly separated by mountain blocks. Morphological variation between the 14 candidate species is slight, but a high elevation robust morphotype is identified.

Main conclusions
Our results support the notion that mountain ranges constitute important centres of diversification in arid regions, and also act as ‘species pumps’ into surrounding areas. We also demonstrate that arid mountains may constitute important reservoirs of cryptic diversity, even in common and widespread species. This, and previous evidence, suggest that the Hajar Mountains are a biological hotspot and an important reservoir of diversity. We therefore suggest that these mountains should be a priority focal point for conservation in Arabia.

Keywords: allopatry; Arabia; arid mountains; biodiversity; biogeography; cryptic species; diversification; evolution; systematics

Photo 1: Pristurus r. rupetris of the high altitude robust morphotype.
photo: S. Carranza.  

Photo 2: Panoramic view of Wadi Sareen, a Protected Area that includes the only known locality of one of the new species discovered in this study.
photo: S. Carranza. 

Joan Garcia-Porta, Marc Simó-Riudalbas, Michael Robinson and Salvador Carranza. 2017. Diversification in Arid Mountains: Biogeography and Cryptic Diversity of Pristurus rupestris rupestris in Arabia.  Journal of Biogeography. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12929 

Scientists uncover 14 new gecko species within a single subspecies - Oman

[Botany • 2017] Garcinia hopii • A New Species (Clusiaceae) from Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, southern Vietnam

Garcinia hopii  
H.Toyama & V.S.Dang

A new speciesGarcinia hopii H.Toyama & V.S.Dang is described from Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, southern Vietnam. This species is similar to Garcinia hendersoniana Whitmore but differs from that species in having larger leaves, clustered pistillate flowers, a greater number of sterile anthers and a larger stigma of young fruits. A description, preliminary conservation assessment, illustration, photographs and DNA barcodes of the new species are provided, as well as an updated key to Garcinia sect. Hebradendron in Indochina.

Keywords: Flora, Indochina, matK, rbcL, taxonomy

Figure 2.: Garcinia hopii H.Toyama & V.S.Dang sp. nov. A branch with leaves B abaxial surface of leaf C trunk D latex E staminate flower buds F staminate flower G pistillate flower and buds H pistillate flower J immature fruits.
A–C photographed on 22 January 2015 E photographed on 19 November 2014
D, F–I photographed on 27 February 2016, J photographed on 24 April 2015.  

Garcinia hopii H.Toyama & V.S.Dang, sp. nov.

Diagnosis: This species is similar to Garcinia hendersoniana Whitmore (endemic to Peninsular Malaysia) in elliptic-orbicular coriaceous leaves but differs from that species in relatively larger leaves (10‒23.5 × 6.5‒15.5 cm vs. 8–14 × 5.5–8.5 cm), clustered pistillate flowers (2–4 vs. solitary), a greater number of sterile anthers of pistillate flowers (40–64 vs. ca. 25) and a larger stigma of young fruits (4–6 mm vs. 3–4 mm in diam.).

Type: VIETNAM. Lam Dong Province, Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, montane evergreen forest, ...27 February 2016, H. Toyama, H. Nagamasu, S. Tagane, VS. Dang, VN. Nguyen & J. Wai V4475 [female fl. & young fr.] (holotype KYO!; isotypes DLU!, FU!, NTUF!, VNM!)

Figure 2.: Garcinia hopii H.Toyama & V.S.Dang sp. nov. A branch with leaves B abaxial surface of leaf C trunk D latex E staminate flower buds F staminate flower G pistillate flower and buds H pistillate flower I pistillate flower, some tepals removed J immature fruits. A–C photographed on 22 January 2015 E photographed on 19 November 2014 D, F–I photographed on 27 February 2016, J photographed on 24 April 2015. 

Distribution and habitat: Garcinia hopii is only known from Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, southern Vietnam. It is common in moist evergreen forests dominated by Quercus poilanei Hickel & A.Camus, Neolitsea umbrosa (Nees) Gamble, Podocarpus neriifolius D.Don, Polyosma nhatrangensis Gagnep. and Symplocos sulcata Kurz at alt. 1640–1810 m.

Phenology: Flower buds were observed in November. Flowers were observed in February and April. Immature fruits were observed in April.

Etymology: Garcinia hopii is named after Prof. Hop Tran, University of Science Ho Chi Minh City, who collected the flowering and fruiting specimens [Tran & Dang dv127 (FU, VNM)].

 Hironori Toyama, Van-Son Dang, Shuichiro Tagane, Ngoc Van Nguyen, Akiyo Naiki, Hidetoshi Nagamasu and Tetsukazu Yahara. 2017. Garcinia hopii (Clusiaceae), A New Species from Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, southern Vietnam.
 PhytoKeys. 77; 63-70. DOI:  10.3897/phytokeys.77.11575

[Entomology • 2017] Endecous chape & E. naipi • New Species of Endecous (Grylloidea, Phalangopsidae, Luzarinae) from the Iguaçu National Park (Brazil), including Bioacoustics, Cytogenetic and Distribution Data

Endecous naipi  
 Souza-DiasSzinwelskiFianco, de Oliveirade Mello & Zefa, 2017  


In this study we describe two new species of cavicolous-straminicolous crickets for southern Brazil. Endecous chape n. sp. and E. naipi n. sp. are sympatric crickets that inhabit the Atlantic Semideciduous Forest of the Iguaçu National Park and adjacent areas. The descriptions were based on morphological characters, mainly from male genitalia and tegmina of adult males. Furthermore, we describe the chromosomes and the calling song of one of the new species, E. chape n. sp., presenting a discussion about the morphology of the phallic complex of Endecous and a distribution map for the species of the genus. The type-material is deposited in the Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo (MZSP), and in the Coleção de Insetos do Departamento de Zoologia (Zoology Department Insect Collection), Universidade Estadual Paulista—UNESP—Botucatu campus.

Keywords: Insect, Orthoptera, calling song, chromosomes, taxonomy, cricket

Pedro G. B. Souza-DiasNeucir SzinwelskiMarcos Fianco, Elliott Centeno de OliveiraFrancisco de A. G. de Mello and Edison Zefa. 2017. New Species of Endecous (Grylloidea, Phalangopsidae, Luzarinae) from the Iguaçu National Park (Brazil), including Bioacoustics, Cytogenetic and Distribution Data. Zootaxa. 4237(3); 454–470. DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4237.3.2

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

[Paleontology • 2017] Keilhauia nui • A New Ophthalmosaurid (Ichthyosauria) from Svalbard, Norway, and Evolution of the Ichthyopterygian Pelvic Girdle

 Keilhauia nui 

Delsett, Roberts, Druckenmiller & Hurum, 2017
reconstruction: Esther van Hulsen


In spite of a fossil record spanning over 150 million years, pelvic girdle evolution in Ichthyopterygia is poorly known. Here, we examine pelvic girdle size relationships using quantitative methods and new ophthalmosaurid material from the Slottsmøya Member Lagerstätte of Svalbard, Norway. One of these new specimens, which preserves the most complete ichthyosaur pelvic girdle from the Cretaceous, is described herein as a new taxon, Keilhauia nui gen. et sp. nov. It represents the most complete Berriasian ichthyosaur known and the youngest yet described from the Slottsmøya Member. It is diagnosed on the basis of two autapomorphies from the pelvic girdle, including an ilium that is anteroposteriorly expanded at its dorsal end and an ischiopubis that is shorter or subequal in length to the femur, as well as a unique character combination. The Slottsmøya Member Lagerstätte ichthyosaurs are significant in that they represent a diverse assemblage of ophthalmosaurids that existed immediately preceding and across the Jurassic–Cretaceous boundary. They also exhibit considerable variation in pelvic girdle morphology, and expand the known range in size variation of pelvic girdle elements in the clade.

Systematic Paleontology

Ichthyosauria de Blainville 1835
Neoichthyosauria Sander 2000
Thunnosauria Motani 1999

Ophthalmosauridae Baur 1887

Keilhauia gen. nov.

Keilhauia nui sp. nov.

Holotype and only specimen: PMO 222.655, an articulated, partial skeleton consisting of an incomplete rostrum, the dorsal and preflexural vertebrae, the right pectoral girdle and forefin, most of the pelvic girdle and both femora.

Etymology: Genus name in honor of Baltazar Mathias Keilhau (1797–1858), the first Norwegian geologist to do fieldwork in the Arctic. He was part of an expedition to Svalbard (Spitsbergen) in 1827. His collection is housed at the Natural History Museum in Oslo, Norway, where PMO 222.655 is also housed. Species name in honor of Natur og Ungdom (Young Friends of the Earth Norway) working to protect the Arctic environment, who celebrate their 50 year anniversary in 2017.

Holotype locality: Island of Spitsbergen, north side of Janusfjellet, approximately 13 km north of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway. UTM WGS84 33X 0518847 8696044

Holotype horizon and stage: Slottsmøya Member, Agardhfjellet Formation, Janusfjellet Subgroup, early Berriasian, Early Cretaceous. 44.8 metres above the echinoderm marker bed.

[lower] Fig 3. Skeletal map of Keilhauia nui (PMO 222.655) viewed from the side stratigraphically down, i.e. the prepared side. Vertebrae numbers (“x#”) indicate position relative to the anterior end of the preserved skeleton and do not correspond to their actual position in the column. Dashed lines show three faults. Scale bar equals 50 cm. Modified from Delsett et al. 2016.

 Lene Liebe Delsett, Aubrey J. Roberts, Patrick S. Druckenmiller and Jørn H. Hurum. 2017. A New Ophthalmosaurid (Ichthyosauria) from Svalbard, Norway, and Evolution of the Ichthyopterygian Pelvic Girdle. PLoS ONE. 12 (1): e0169971. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169971

Nyoppdaget fiskeøgle oppkalt etter Natur og Ungdom @NaturogUngdom

[Botany • 2017] Begonia elachista Moonlight & Tebbitt sp. nov. • An Enigmatic New Species and A New Section of Begonia (Begoniaceae) from Peru

Begonia elachista 
Moonlight & Tebbitt


The world’s smallest BegoniaBegonia elachista Moonlight & Tebbitt sp. nov., is described and illustrated from a limestone outcrop in the Amazonian lowlands of Pasco Region, Peru. It is placed within the newly described, monotypic Begonia sect. Microtuberosa Moonlight & Tebbitt sect. nov. and the phylogenetic affinities of the section are examined. Begonia elachista sp. nov. is considered Critically Endangered under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria.

Keywords: Begonia; sectional classification; limestone endemics; Peru; Amazonia

Fig 3. Begonia elachista Moonlight & Tebbitt sp. nov. 
[Begonia sect. Microtuberosa Moonlight & Tebbitt sect. nov.]A. Whole plant. B. Male and female flower, front view. C. Female flower, side view. D. Habit and associated vegetation. EF. Habitat and wild population.
Scale bars: A = 1 cm; B = 5 mm; C = 2 mm; D = 2 cm; E–F = 10 cm.
Photographed by Peter Moonlight. All from P. Moonlight & A. Daza 318 (E). 

Taxonomic Treatment

Class Equisetopsida C.Agardh (Agardh et al. 1825)
Subclass Magnoliidae Novák ex Takht. (Takhtajan 1967)
Superorder Rosanae Takht. (Takhtajan 1967)
Order Cucurbitales Juss. ex Bercht. & J.Presl (von Berchtold & Presl 1820)

Family Begoniaceae C.Agardh (Agardh 1824)

Genus Begonia L. (Linnaeus 1753)

Begonia sect. Microtuberosa Moonlight & Tebbitt sect. nov.

 Diagnosis: Begonia sect. Microtuberosa sect. nov. is most closely related to B. sect. Trachelocarpus and three species of B. sect. Gaerdtia. Both of these sections are endemic to eastern Brazil and differ markedly from sect. Microtuberosa sect. nov. in both their habit and floral characteristics (see Table 1). However, all three sections share their filaments fused at least at the base and B. sect. Microtuberosa sect. nov. further shares its androecium morphology with B. sect. Pereira and its lack of bracteoles with B. sect. Trachelocarpus. The majority of both floral and vegetative characters are, however, markedly different among the three sections.

Begonia sect. Microtuberosa sect. nov. is readily identified as the only Neotropical section of Begonia with male flowers with four or fewer stamens, and the combination of ovaries with two or three locules and entire placentas, and a tuberous habit.

Etymology: The name ‘Microtuberosa’ emphasises the diminutive and tuberous habit of the type species. 

Type species: Begonia elachista Moonlight & Tebbitt sp. nov. 

Distribution: On a limestone outcrop in lowland Amazonian Peru to the east of the Chemillén Cordillera at an altitude of 430 m.

Begonia elachista Moonlight & Tebbitt sp. nov. sect. Microtuberosa

Diagnosis: Begonia elachista sp. nov. is a highly distinct species with an unusual combination of features that is easily recognized as the only Peruvian species of Begonia that reaches maturity at fewer than 5 cm in height. It is also unique within Peru in having ovate leaves smaller than 3 × 3 cm and a combination of entire placentae and a tuberous habit.

Etymology: The epithet ‘elachista’ comes from the Greek for ‘least’ and emphasizes the diminutive size of this species, which is the smallest known species of Begonia.

Distribution and habitat: Begonia elachista sp. nov. is known only from the type locality in the Peruvian region of Pasco (Oxapampa Province) and has been collected on calcareous rocks by the entrance to a cave within primary lowland Amazonian forest, at an altitude of 430 m. It was observed growing on rocks free from other vascular plants in association with various bryophyte species in the almost continual shade of the surrounding forest.


Peter Watson Moonlight, Carlos Reynel and Mark Tebbitt. 2017.  Begonia elachista Moonlight & Tebbitt sp. nov., An Enigmatic New Species and A New Section of Begonia (Begoniaceae) from Peru. European Journal of Taxonomy.  281: 1–13.  DOI: 10.5852/ejt.2017.281

[Mollusca • 2017] Not All Spotted Cats are Leopards: Evidence for A Hemilienardia ocellata species complex (Gastropoda: Conoidea: Raphitomidae)

Fig. 2. Species of the Hemilienardia ocellata complex. The SEM image with no letter denoted shows standard measurements.
 A–D. Hemilienardia ocellata (Jousseaume, 1884). A–B. Syntype, MNHN IM-2000-3128, Mauritius, 4.0 mm. C. Loyalty Islands, Lifou, Baie du Santal, Atelier Lifou 2000, stn 1429, 20°47.5' S, 167°07.1' E, 8–18 m, 4.4 mm. D. New Caledonia, Secteur de Koumac, Expedition Montrouzier, stn 1319, 20°44.7' S, 164°15.5' E, 15–20 m, 3.6 mm.
E–F. Hemilienardia acinonyx sp. nov. E. Holotype, MNHN IM-2013-33593, Philippines, 8.1 mm. F. Loyalty Islands, Lifou, Baie du Santal, Atelier Lifou 2000, stn 1441, 20°46.4' S, 167°02.0' E, 20 m, 5.4 mm.
G–H. Hemilienardia lynx sp. nov., holotype, MNHN IM-2013-5489, Papua New Guinea, 2.75 mm.
I–M. Hemilienardia pardus sp. nov. I. BMOO 17147, Society Islands, Moorea. K. Holotype, MNHN IM-2000-31661, 5.8 mm. L–M. Loyalty Islands, Lifou, Baie du Santal, Atelier Lifou 2000, stn 1454, 20°56.65' S, 167°02.0' E, 15–18 m, 5.2 mm.


The small conoidean Hemilienardia ocellata is one of the easily recognizable Indo-Pacific “turrids”, primarily because of its remarkable eyespot colour pattern. Morphological and molecular phylogenetic analyses revealed four species that share this “characteristic” colour pattern but demonstrate consistent differences in size and shell proportions. Three new species – Hemilienardia acinonyx sp. nov. from the Philippines, H. lynx sp. nov. from Papua New Guinea and H. pardus sp. nov. from the Society and Loyalty Islands – are described based on the results of phylogenetic analyses. Although the H. ocellata species complex clade falls in a monophyletic HemilienardiaH. ocellata and H. acinonyx sp. nov. possess a radula with semi-enrolled or notably flattened triangular marginal teeth, a condition that diverges substantially from the standard radular morphology of Hemilienardia and other raphitomids.

Keywords: integrative taxonomy; species delimitation; Indo-Pacific; COI; 16S

Alexander E. Fedosov, Peter Stahlschmidt, Nicolas Puillandre, Laetitia Aznar-Cormano and Philippe Bouchet. 2017. Not All Spotted Cats are Leopards: Evidence for A Hemilienardia ocellata species complex (Gastropoda: Conoidea: Raphitomidae).  European Journal of Taxonomy. 268(2017); 1-20. DOI:  10.5852/ejt.2017.268


[Mammalogy • 2017] Sciurus meridionalis • New Endemic Mammal Species (Rodentia, Sciuridae) for Europe

 Sciurus meridionalisLucifero 1907  
summer coat, from Sila massif, Calabria, Italy.

 Photograph by Antonio Mancuso  


Combining genetic, morphological and geographical data, we re-evaluate Sciurus meridionalis, Lucifero 1907 as a tree squirrel species. The species, previously considered a subspecies of the Eurasian red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris, is endemic to South Italy with a disjunct distribution with respect to S. vulgaris. The new species has a typical, monomorphic coat colour characterized by a white ventral fur and a very dark-brown to blackish fur on the back, sides and tail. Specimens of S. meridionalis have a larger hind foot length and weigh about 35% more than live-caught S. vulgaris from northern Italy. S. meridionalis is larger than S. vulgaris specimens from three other regions in Italy for mandible length, skull width and skull (condylobasal) length, and principal component scores indicate significant shape differences of specimens from the Calabria population (S. meridionalis) compared to all other specimens (S. vulgaris). These morphological differences are further supported by genetic evidence at three mitochondrial markers (D-loop, cytochrome b and the DNA barcoding region COI) using the widest molecular dataset ever assembled for Sciurus vulgaris and S. meridionalis. All the investigated markers revealed exclusive haplotypes for S. meridionalis well separated from those of S. vulgaris and previously published results based on nuclear markers further support our taxonomic hypothesis. We suggest Calabrian black squirrel as common name for this new taxon.

Keywords: Sciuridae; Sciurus meridionalis; taxonomy; new species; Italy

Figure 2 – Sciurus meridionalis, in summer coat, from Sila massif, Calabria, Italy.
Photograph by Antonio Mancuso. 

Family Sciuridae Fischer von Waldheim, 1817

Genus Sciurus Linnaeus, 1758

Sciurus meridionalis, Lucifero 1907 

Geographical distribution: The range of Sciurus meridionalis Lucifero, 1907 includes the three main mountain blocks of Calabria: the whole Pollino massif (including Lucanian side) at the border between Calabria and Lucania, the Sila massif and the Aspromonte massif, with three once disjunct populations.Only recently the Pollino and Sila populations have become connec-ted by colonization of the Catena Costiera, which was made possible by replanting of conifers (Rima et al., 2009). The species has not been reported from the Serre Massif (Fig. 3). 

Lucas A. Wauters, Giovanni Amori, Gaetano Aloise, Spartaco Gippoliti, Paolo Agnelli, Andrea Galimberti, Maurizio Casiraghi, Damiano Preatoni and Adriano Martinoli. 2017. New Endemic Mammal Species for Europe: Sciurus meridionalis (Rodentia, Sciuridae).  Hystrix [the Italian Journal of Mammalogy]. DOI:  10.4404/hystrix-28.1-12015

[Herpetology • 2017] Rhombophryne nilevina • Diamond in the Rough: A New Species of Fossorial Diamond Frog (Rhombophryne) from Ranomafana National Park, southeastern Madagascar

Rhombophryne nilevina
Lambert, Hutter & Scherz, 2017   

We describe a new species from the cophyline microhylid genus Rhombophryne, a group of fossorial and terrestrial frogs endemic to Madagascar. Found during herpetofaunal surveys of moist montane forest in the remote north of Ranomafana National Park, Rhombophryne nilevina sp. n. exemplifies two difficulties that hinder taxonomic progress in Malagasy cophyline frogs: micro-endemicity and highly secretive habits. Known from only two adult male specimens, this new species is nonetheless easily distinguishable from all other known Rhombophryne using morphological data, and osteological data collected here via X-ray Micro-Computed Tomography, or " micro-CT ". This species is now the largest known Rhombophryne, and the only one known from Ranomafana National Park, which will make it the southern-most member of the genus pending a forthcoming taxonomic revision involving Plethodontohyla and Rhombophryne. Pairwise distances of the mitochondrial 16s rRNA marker show a minimum genetic distance of 4.9% from other nominal Rhombophryne. We also describe recordings of an advertisement call, emitted from a burrow by the holotype. Rhombophryne nilevina sp. n. is not known to be found syntopically with other Rhombophryne, nor to be present elsewhere in Ranomafana National Park, but it probably does co-occur with a few ecologically similar Plethodontohyla species. Although the type locality is within a protected area, we suggest an IUCN listing of Data Deficient for R. nilevina sp. n., as its area of occupancy is largely undetermined within the park.

Key Words: Amphibia, Anura, Microhylidae, Rhombophryne nilevina, taxonomy, osteology, micro-CT, endemicity, herpetology

Rhombophryne nilevina sp. n.
 Suggested common English name: Buried Diamond Frog
Suggested common Malagasy name: Sahona diamondra nilevina
Suggested common French name: La grenouille de diamant enterré

Diagnosis: A frog assigned to the cophyline genus Rhombophryne on the basis of its divided vomer, the possession of clavicles and knob-shaped terminal phalanges (see Scherz et al. 2016a). This species is characterized by the following suite of characters: large size (SVL at least up to 57.2 mm), wide, short head (HW 180.7% of HL), tympanum 58.6% of eye, forelimb 51.1% of SVL, tibia 42.2% of SVL, hindlimb 152.5% of SVL, large inner metacarpal and metatarsal tubercles, supratympanic fold distinct and raised, running from the posterior corner of the eye straight over the tympanum, then sharply down behind it, extending to join the front of the arm, distinct vomerine teeth forming curved rows posteromedial to the oblong choanae, separated medially by a small cleft, second finger shorter than fourth finger, fifth toe distinctly shorter than third, without finger or toe reduction, finger and toe tips not enlarged. Additionally, R. nilevina is separated from all nominal species of Rhombophryne by an uncorrected pairwise distance of at least 4.9% in the fragment of the 16S rRNA gene, and by at least 3.8% from all known candidate species in this genus.

Figure 3. Photos in life of Rhombophryne nilevina sp. n. 
(a) Dorsolateralview of the holotype (KU 340893). (b) Dorsal view of the holotype. (c) Ventral view of the holotype. (d) Dorsolateral view of the paratype (CRH 799, UADBA-A Uncatalouged). (e) Dorsal view of the paratype. (f) Ventral view of the paratype.

Etymology: The specific epithet “nilevina” is a Malagasy word meaning “buried.” This name was chosen to recognize the fossorial habits of this species. It is to be treated as an invariable noun in apposition.

Natural history. Both known specimens of R. nilevina were obtained from a relatively flat, poorly drained section of moist montane forest adjacent to a stream, with the holotype found along the bank of this stream. Nearby habitats include a swamp with many large Pandanus and steep forested slopes with relatively smaller trees. However, the calls of R. nilevina seemed to emanate mostly from the flatter, forested area. Males were heard calling during the day, particularly during overcast conditions and after rainfall. Advertisement calls were not heard at night, however, the night-time chorus of other frogs, including BoophisSpinomantisGephyromantis, and Anodonthyla, may have interfered with detection. When heard from a distance, the call is reminiscent of that of an owl. When heard from close proximity, the call sounds like a groan, and is far less melodic. Both specimens were both located by auditory tracking, and found calling from underground: one from a cavity under the roots of a large tree, and the other from a burrow in soft, moist soil alongside the stream. In order to collect the holotype from its burrow, excavation was required. Based on these observations and suggestive morphology, we presume that R. nilevina spend much of their lives underground, possibly coming to the surface for short periods during rainfall, similar to other fossorial Rhombophryne species (Glaw and Vences 2007, D’Cruze et al. 2010). We also note that R. nilevina was discovered in the middle of the wet season, and after a week-long period of particularly heavy, sustained rain.

Distribution: Rhombophryne nilevina has thus far been detected at a single site, near the former village of Andemaka, in the north-west of Ranomafana National Park (Fig. 2). This locality is relatively high-elevation for Ranomafana National Park (ca. 1240 m). To our knowledge, R. nilevina has not been detected by any previous survey, including several conducted by CRH and SML at similarly high-elevation sites in the northern (Miaranony), central (Vohiparara), and southern (Maharira) regions of Ranomafana. Nevertheless, we do not rule out here the possibility that R. nilevina occurs elsewhere in the park. This is in large part due to the secretive habits and potentially ephemeral activity periods of this species (see Natural history). In addition, much of the high-elevation forest of Ranomafana is difficult to access and thus remains sparsely or completely unsurveyed for herpetofauna. Although it is possible that R. nilevina has been overlooked in other eastern rainforest patches, current information suggests that this species is endemic to Ranomafana National Park, and potentially to a much smaller area within the park.

 Shea M Lambert, Carl R. Hutter and Mark David Scherz. 2017. Diamond in the Rough: A New Species of Fossorial Diamond Frog (Rhombophryne) from Ranomafana National Park, southeastern Madagascar. Zoosystematics and Evolution. 93(1); 143–155. DOI: 10.3897/zse.93.10188

Diamond in the rough: meet Madagascar's fat new frog via @MarkScherz

[Mammalogy • 2017] Paragalago gen. nov. • A New Genus for the eastern Dwarf Galagos (Primates: Galagidae)

The family Galagidae (African galagos or bushbabies) comprises five genera: Euoticus Gray, 1872; Galago Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1796; Galagoides Smith, 1833; Otolemur Coquerel, 1859; and Sciurocheirus Gray, 1872, none of which is regarded as monotypic, but some (Euoticus and Otolemur) certainly qualify as oligotypic. We argue for the recognition of a sixth genus, if the taxonomy is to reflect galagid evolution accurately. Genetic evidence has consistently demonstrated that the taxa currently referred to the genus Galagoides are not monophyletic but form two clades (a western and an eastern clade) that do not share an exclusive common ancestor; we review 20 years of genetic studies that corroborate this conclusion. Further, we compare vocalizations emitted by small-bodied galagids with proposed phylogenetic relationships and demonstrate congruence between these data sets. Morphological evidence, however, is not entirely congruent with genetic reconstructions; parallel dwarfing in the two clades has led to convergences in skull size and shape that have complicated the classification of the smaller species. We present a craniodental morphometric analysis of small-bodied galagid genera that identifies distinguishing characters for the genera and supports our proposal that five taxa currently subsumed under Galagoides (Galagoides cocosGalagoides grantiGalagoides orinusGalagoides rondoensis and Galagoides zanzibaricus) be placed in their own genus, for which we propose the name Paragalago.

Keywords: Biogeography, Bushbaby, Craniodental Morphometrics, Galagoides, Molecular Phylogeny, Paragalago, Vocalizations.

Map showing approximate geographic ranges of the two independent dwarf galago clades, Galagoides (red) and the eastern dwarf galagos [Paragalago] (blue). The type localities of the species comprising the genera are indicated by symbols. In the case of Galagoides demidoff, the type locality is estimated from Fischer’s (1806) description. 

A Kenya coast galago (Paragalago cocos).
Photo: Luca Pozzi

Judith C. Masters, Fabien Génin, Sébastien Couette, Colin P. Groves, Stephen D. Nash, Massimiliano Delpero and Luca Pozzi. 2017. A New Genus for the eastern Dwarf Galagos (Primates: Galagidae). Zool J Linn Soc. zlw028. DOI:  10.1093/zoolinnean/zlw028
African bush babies gain a new genus via @mongabay

[Herpetology • 2017] Resurrection of Bronchocela burmana Blanford, 1878 for the Green Crested Lizard (Squamata, Agamidae) of southern Myanmar

Bronchocela burmana  
 Blanford, 1878 

Recent fieldwork in southern Tanintharyi revealed the presence of a small Green Crested Lizard in the wet evergreen forest. We generated mtDNA sequence data (ND2) that demonstrates that this population’s nearest relative is Bronchocela rayaensis Grismer et al., 2015 of Pulau Langkawi, northwestern Peninsular Malaysia and Phuket Island. Morphologically the Burmese Bronchocela shares many features with B. rayaensis, which potentially would make this recently described Thai-Malay species a synonym of Bronchocela burmana Blanford, 1878; however, we interpret the genetic and morphological differences to reflect evolutionary divergence and recommend the recognition of both species.

Keywords:  Reptilia, Southeast Asia, Tanintharyi Division, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, morphology, molecular phylogeny, synonymy, nomenclature

Figure 1. Distribution of Bronchocela burmana (solid circles) in southern peninsular Myanmar, Taylor’s (1963) two localities for B. cristatella (open squares) in southern Thailand, and B. rayaensis type locality (star) in northwestern Peninsular Malaysia and its newly reported localities (open circles) in Thailand (Grismer et al. 2016). A solid diamond denotes the type locality of B. burmana. The red dashed lines depict the political boundaries between Myanmar-Thailand, Cambodia-Thailand, and Malaysia-Thailand. 

Figure 3. Bronchocela burmana Blanford, 1878 from the Lenya area (circa 11.68N 99.42E). A dorsolateral view of a living Burmese Crested Lizard, USNM 587483. Photo by DGM. 

Bronchocela burmana Blanford, 1878
Burmese Green Crested Lizard

Bronchocela burmana Blanford, 1878,
Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 1878(6): 141.

A Bronchocela lizard with a short nuchal crest of six to nine erect triangular crest scales; no middorsal crest of raised scales on trunk. Snout-vent length of adults range from 80 to 94 mm with tail length 240 to 360% of snout-vent length; limbs slender, forelimbs 42–52% of SVL, hindlimbs 86–97% of SVL; digits long and slender with third finger slightly longer than fourth finger, fourth toe distinctly longer that third toe; head medium sized (25–27% of SVL); head with distinct canthal ridge, narrow triangular shaped from dorsal view, length > width ≈ height and approximately 26 % of SVL; moderately large eye (OrbD/HeadL ~26–28%) and about twice diameter of tympanum (continuous with temporal surface).

General description
Detailed metric and scalation features are presented above in the Results section, also Table 2. Bronchocela burmana is a slender green lizard with long tail, usually 2.5–3.5X snout-vent length. In spite of its 80 to 94 mm body length, its slenderness and thin legs give it a delicate appearance and make it immediately recognizable among the other lizards of southern Tanintharyi.
In life, Bronchocela burmana appears uniformly green (Fig. 2). Preservation changed the overall coloration to light olive but highlights a light rufous vertical bar in the temporal area.

George R. Zug, Daniel G. Mulcahy and Jens V. Vindum. 2017. Resurrection of Bronchocela burmana Blanford, 1878 for the Green Crested Lizard (Squamata, Agamidae) of southern Myanmar. ZooKeys. 657: 141-156. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.657.11600
Grismer, L. L., JR. P. L. Wood, Cheol H. Lee, Evan S. H. Quah, Shahrul Anuar, Ehwan Ngadi & Jack W. Sites, Jr. 2015. An Integrative Taxonomic Review of the Agamid Genus Bronchocela (Kuhl, 1820) from Peninsular Malaysia with Descriptions of New Montane and Insular Endemics. Zootaxa. 3948(1): 1–23. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3948.1.1

[Ichthyology • 2017] Pseudocrenilabrus pyrrhocaudalis • A New Species of Pseudocrenilabrus (Perciformes: Cichlidae) from Lake Mweru in the Upper Congo River System

Pseudocrenilabrus pyrrhocaudalis
Katongo, Seehausen & Snoeks, 2017  


Pseudocrenilabrus pyrrhocaudalis sp. nov. is described from Lake Mweru in the upper Congo River drainage, on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. This species, which appears to be endemic to the lake, lives in sympatry with P. philander. Pseudocrenilabrus pyrrhocaudalis sp. nov. is distinguished from P. philander in nuptial males by the presence of an orange colour on the ventral part of the body and the proximal parts of the anal and caudal fins, a broad band of bright white on the distal edge of anal and caudal fins, a uniform grey head and dorsum, and a subtruncate caudal fin. In addition, P. pyrrhocaudalis has a shorter snout, a narrower head, a smaller interorbital distance, a smaller pre-anal distance, a more slender caudal peduncle and fewer scales around the caudal peduncle in both sexes.

Keywords: Pisces, Pseudocrenilabrus pyrrhocaudalis, description, south-eastern Africa

Cyprian Katongo, Ole Seehausen and Jos Snoeks. 2017. A New Species of Pseudocrenilabrus (Perciformes: Cichlidae) from Lake Mweru in the Upper Congo River System. Zootaxa.  4237(1); 181–190.  DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4237.1.10