Monday, February 20, 2017

[Paleontology • 2017] Yehuecauhceratops mudei, A New Ceratopsid Dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Coahuila, Mexico • Mexican Ceratopsids: Considerations on their Diversity and Evolution

Yehuecauhceratops mudei 
Rivera-Sylva, Frey, Stinnesbeck, Guzmán-Gutiérrez & González-Gonzáleza, 2017

During the past decade, three new endemic taxa of ceratopsian ornithischians have been described from Mexico. Apparently, this group experienced a regional diversification in this area. To date Mexican Ceratopsia are represented by three species, one of which is a centrosaurine and two are chasmosaurines. Here we provide a critical review on Mexican ceratopsians and formally name a new centrosaurine ceratopsid species from the Aguja Formation as Yehuecauhceratops mudei. We also discuss possible causes for the rapid endemic diversification of Mexican ceratopsians.


Héctor E. Rivera-Sylva, Eberhard Frey, Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, José Rubén Guzmán-Gutiérrez and Arturo H. González-Gonzáleza. 2017. Mexican Ceratopsids: Considerations on their Diversity and Evolution.  Journal of South American Earth Sciences. DOI:  10.1016/j.jsames.2017.01.008

[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

[Herpetology • 2010] Cyrtodactylus dumnuii • A New Cave-dwelling Gecko (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Chiang Mai Province, Thailand

ตุ๊กกายดำนุ้ย, Cyrtodactylus dumnuii 
 Bauer, Kunya, Sumontha, Niyomwan, Pauwels, Chanhome & Kunya, 2010


A new cave-dwelling species of Cyrtodactylus is described from Chiang Mai Province in northern Thailand. Cyrtodactylus dumnuii sp. nov. may be distinguished from all other congeners by the possession of a series of enlarged femoral scales, disjunct precloacal and femoral pores in males (minute precloacal pores variably present in females), a relatively high number (18–22) of closely spaced, regularly arranged dorsal tubercle rows, well-defined non-denticulate ventrolateral folds, transversely enlarged subcaudal plates, and a color pattern of approximately six pairs of alternating light and dark transverse bands on the trunk. It is the nineteenth member of the genus recorded from Thailand and the eighth Thai Cyrtodactylus known to be a facultative troglophile.

Keywords: Thailand; Chiang Mai; Reptilia; Gekkonidae; Cyrtodactylus dumnuii; new species; taxonomy; cave-dwelling

Aaron M. Bauer, Kirati Kunya, Montri Sumontha, Piyawan Niyomwan, Olivier S. G. Pauwels, Lawan Chanhome and Tunyakorn Kunya. 2010.
 Cyrtodactylus dumnuii (Squamata: Gekkonidae), A New Cave-dwelling Gecko from Chiang Mai Province, Thailand.
 Zootaxa. 2570: 41–50.

ตุ๊กกายดำนุ้ย Cyrtodactylus dumnuii (Squamata : Gekkonidae)
ตุ๊กกายตัวแรกที่ได้ตั้งชื่อให้ ตั้งเป็นเกียรติ กับนายโสภณ ดำนุ้ย ขณะที่ดำรงตำแหน่งผู้อำนวยการองค์การสวนสัตว์ในพระบรมราชูปถัมภ์
ค้นพบตุ๊กกายสายพันธุ์ใหม่ในสกุล Cyrtodactylusที่จังหวัดเชียงใหม่ สามารถแยกตุ๊กกายดำนุ้ย (Cyrtodactylus dumnuii sp. nov.) จากตุ๊กแกในชั้นเดียวกันโดย การมีเกล็ดขา (femoral scales) ขนาดใหญ่ การมีรูเปิดหน้าทวารร่วม (precloacal pore) และรูเปิดขาพับใน (femoral pore) ที่ไม่ต่อกันในเพศผู้ (สามารถพบรูเปิดหน้าทวารร่วม (precloacal pore) ขนาดเล็กได้บ้างในเพศเมีย) แนวปุ่มนูนกลางหลัง (dorsal tubercle) เรียงชิดกันอย่างเป็นระเบียบจำนวนมาก (18-22) รอยพับข้างลำตัว (ventrolateral folds) ชัดเจน subcaudal platesขยายขนาดในแนวข้าง และลายแถบขวางบริเวณช่วงลำตัว (trunk) สลับสีอ่อนเข้มจำนวน 6คู่ ตุ๊กกายดำนุ้ยเป็นตุ๊กกายในสกุล Cyrtodactylus ชนิดที่ 19 ที่พบในประเทศไทย และเป็นตุ๊กกายไทยชนิดที่ 8ในกลุ่มตุ๊กกายที่อาศัยอยู่ในถ้ำ (facultative troglophile)
Key words:Thailand, Chiang Mai, Reptilia, Gekkonidae, Cyrtodactylus dumnuii, new species, taxonomy, cave-dwelling

สกุล Cyrtodactylus Gray เป็นสกุลที่มีจำนวนชนิดของตุ๊กกายมากที่สุดในวงศ์ตุ๊กแก โดยมีประมาณ 120 ชนิด ประมาณครึ่งหนึ่งของสกุลนี้ถูกค้นพบในทศวรรษที่ผ่านมา (Uetz 2010) แหล่งที่มีการค้นพบมากที่สุดอยู่ในแถบเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้ ตัวอย่างเช่น การศึกษาในประเทศเวียดนาม ได้มีการค้นพบตุ๊กกายทั้งหมด 19 ชนิด ซึ่งส่วนใหญ่เป็นสัตว์ท้องถิ่น และส่วนมากพบในเขตหินปูน หรือตามถ้ำหินปูน (e.g., Nazarov et al. 2008; Ngo 2008; Ngo & Bauer 2008; Ngo et al. 2008; Ziegler et al. 2010 และอ้างอิงอื่นๆที่มีการกล่าวถึง) ในประเทศไทย Baueret al.(2002) ค้นพบ Cyrtodactylus จำนวนทั้งสิ้น 13ชนิด อีก 5ชนิดได้มีการค้นพบในพื้นที่ต่างๆทั่วประเทศในเวลาต่อมา (Baueret al.2003; Pauwels et al. 2004; Baueret al. 2009; Sumontha et al. 2010) ซึ่งหลายชนิดมาจากถ้ำหินปูน (Sumontha et al. 2010) ในครั้งนี้จะทำการอธิบายลักษณะของตุ๊กกายชนิดใหม่ที่ค้นพบในถ้ำหินปูนในจังหวัดเชียงใหม่
กีรติ กันยาและมนตรี สุมณฑา

[Crustacea • 2017] Diyutamon cereum • A New Genus and New Species of Potamidea (Decapoda: Brachyura: Potamoidae), the First Stygomorphic Cave Crab Known from China and East Asia

Diyutamon cereum  
Huang, Shih & Ng, 2017 

Diyutamon cereum 


A new genus and species of freshwater crab, Diyutamon cereum n. gen., n. sp., is described from a cave in Guizhou, China. This is the first record of a true stygomorphic crab from China and East Asia, possessing pale body coloration, strongly reduced eyes, and long ambulatory legs. While superficially similar to Chinapotamon Dai & Naiyanetr, 1994, and Tiwaripotamon Bott, 1970, the new genus possesses a diagnostic combination of carapace, ambulatory leg, thoracic sternal, and male abdominal characters that easily distinguishes it from other genera. Molecular data derived from the mitochondrial 16S rDNA supports the establishment of the new genus.

Keywords: Crustacea, Diyutamon cereum, new genus, new species, caves, stygobite, 16S rDNA

Chao Huang, Hsi-Te Shih and Peter K. L. Ng. 2017. A New Genus and New Species of Potamidea (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura: Potamoidae), the First Stygomorphic Cave Crab Known from China and East Asia.
  Zootaxa. 4232(1); 71–84. DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4232.1.5

[Ichthyology • 2017] Astyanax brucutu • A New Remarkable and Critically Endangered Species of Astyanax Baird & Girard (Characiformes: Characidae) from Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, Brazil, with A Discussion on Durophagy in the Characiformes

Astyanax brucutu 
 Zanata, Lima, Dario & Gerhard, 2017


Astyanax brucutu is described from the rio Pratinha, rio Paraguaçu basin, Bahia, Brazil. The new species is promptly distinguished from other characids by having four, rarely three, robust, rounded, and usualy tricuspid teeth on inner premaxillary series and similar teeth on dentary. The species is furthermore characterized by a series of unusual character states in the Characidae, including head blunt in lateral and dorsal views, longitudinal foreshortening of lower jaw, ventral margin of third infraorbital distinctly separated from horizontal limb of preopercle, leaving a broad area without superficial bones, mesethmoid anteroventrally expanded, and adductor mandibulae and primordial ligament remarkably developed. Analysis of gut contents of adults revealed the almost exclusive presence of crushed shells of tiny gastropods of the family Hydrobiidae. The robust anatomy of jaws, teeth, muscles and associated ligaments are likely adaptations to durophagy, a feeding strategy unusual among characids. Astyanax brucutu is known only from its type locality, an approximately 670 m long, transparent and isolated perennial epigean watercourse surrounded by subterranean or intermittent rivers. The distinctive combination of environmental features characterizing the area of occurrence of the new species is not observed elsewhere in the basin or adjacent basins. A series of severe anthropogenic impacts, associated with the restricted geographic range of the species, implies that A. brucutu should be regarded as Critically Endangered (CR) according to IUCN Red List Criteria.

Keywords: Pisces, Neotropical fish, taxonomy, rio Paraguaçu, Dentition, Conservation

Astyanax brucutu  Zanata, Lima, Dario & Gerhard, 2017

paratype, UFBA 8095, not measured, collected with holotype and photographed alive.

Etymology. The specific epithet “brucutu” is a Portuguese adjective, meaning a strong and rough person, in reference to the blunt and massive general aspect of the anterior portion of the cranium and lower jaw of the new species. A name in apposition. 


Angela M. Zanata, Flávio C.T. Lima, Fabio di Dario and Pedro Gerhard. 2017. A New Remarkable and Critically Endangered Species of Astyanax Baird & Girard (Characiformes: Characidae) from Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, Brazil, with A Discussion on Durophagy in the Characiformes. Zootaxa.  4232(4); 491–510. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4232.4.2

Sunday, February 19, 2017

[Herpetology • 2017] Phylogenetics of Kingsnakes, Lampropeltis getula Complex (Serpentes: Colubridae), in Eastern North America

Distribution of kingsnakes in the Lampropeltis getula complex in North America:
(A) Lampropeltis californiae (banded); (B) Lampropeltis holbrooki; (C) Lampropeltis nigra; (D) Lampropeltis getula getula; (E) Lampropeltis getula sticticeps”; (F) Lampropeltis getula floridana; (G–I) Lampropeltis getula meansi (patternless, striped, and wide-banded, respectively); (J) Lampropeltis splendida; (K) Lampropeltis getula nigrita; (L) Lampropeltis californiae (striped).

Distributions are modified after Conant and Collins (1998), Krysko (2001), Stebbins (2003), Krysko and Judd (2006), and Pyron and Burbrink (2009a, 2009b).

Kingsnakes of the Lampropeltis getula complex range throughout much of temperate and subtropical North America. Studies over the last century have used morphology and color pattern to describe numerous subspecies. More recently, DNA analyses have made invaluable contributions to our understanding of their evolution and taxonomy. We use genetic and ecological methods to test previous hypotheses of distinct evolutionary lineages by examining 66 total snakes and 1) analyzing phylogeographic structure using 2 mtDNA loci and 1 nuclear locus, 2) estimating divergence dates and historical demography among lineages in a Bayesian coalescent framework, and 3) applying ecological niche modeling (ENM). Our molecular data and ENMs illustrate that 3 previously recognized subspecies in the eastern United States comprise well-supported monophyletic lineages that diverged during the Pleistocene. The geographic boundaries of these 3 lineages correspond closely to known biogeographic barriers (Florida peninsula, Appalachian Mountains, and Apalachicola River) previously identified for other plants and animals, indicating shared geographic influences on evolutionary history. We conclude that genetic, ecological, and morphological data support recognition of these 3 lineages as distinct species (Lampropeltis floridana, Lampropeltis getula, and Lampropeltis meansi).

Keywords: biogeography, divergence dating, mtDNA, speciation
The geographical locations where three new kingsnake species are found in Florida are shown in this graphic.
Graphic by James Young and Kenneth Krysko

Kenneth L. Krysko, Leroy P. Nuñez, Catherine E. Newman and Brian W. Bowen. 2017. Phylogenetics of Kingsnakes, Lampropeltis getula Complex (Serpentes: Colubridae), in Eastern North America. Journal of Heredity [J Hered]. DOI:  10.1093/jhered/esw086 

Researchers rename three state kingsnakes as separate species @floridamuseum

[Ichthyology • 2017] Parotocinclus fluminense • A New Species of Parotocinclus (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from Coastal Drainages of Rio de Janeiro, southeastern Brazil

 Parotocinclus fluminense
Roxo, Melo, Silva & Oliveira, 2017


A new species of Parotocinclus is described from tributaries of rio São João, an Atlantic coastal river of Rio de Janeiro, southeastern Brazil. The new species is distinguished from its congeners by the possession of a triangular patch of dark pigmentation on the anterior portion of the dorsal-fin base, a fully developed adipose fin, complete exposure of the ventral surface of the pectoral girdle, and a distinctive pigmentation pattern of the caudal fin. The caudal fin has a hyaline background with a large black blotch covering its anterior portion, tapering irregularly through distal portions of the ventral lobe with a hyaline rounded area, and a small patch of dark pigmentation on distal portions of the dorsal lobe.

Keywords: Pisces, biodiversity, freshwater fishes, Neotropical, Otothyrini, taxonomy

Roxo, F.F., Melo, B.F., Silva, G.S.C. and Oliveira, C. 2017. New Species of Parotocinclus (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from Coastal Drainages of Rio de Janeiro, southeastern Brazil. Zootaxa. 4232(2);  DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4232.2.9

[Entomology • 2017] Neoclita pringlei • A New Relict Genus and Species (Scarabaeidae, Cetoniinae) from the Drakensberg Range of South Africa

Neoclita pringlei 
Perissinotto, 2017 


A new genus is erected within the Cetoniini to describe a newly discovered species with characters shared between Heteroclita Burmeister, 1842Ichnestoma Gory & Percheron, 1833 and Meridioclita Krikken, 1982. Neoclita pringlei gen. et sp. nov. exhibits a simple clypeal structure without specialized armour, along with hypertrophic and hairy tarsal segments as well as a fully winged female. The new species also exhibits an aedeagal structure closest to Meridioclita, with dorsal lobes of parameres substantially narrower than the ventral ones. The species appears to be restricted to high altitudes in the southwestern peri-Drakensberg area of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Similarly to other mountain relicts known from the southern African region, adults emerge only after major rainfall events during the late spring to early summer season and do not show any evidence of feeding. It appears that flying activity may be temporarily interrupted following soil desiccation, to resume promptly after the next rainfall.

Keywords: new genus; new species; HeteroclitaIchnestomaMeridioclita; Afrotropical region

Fig. 4.  Neoclita pringlei gen. et sp. nov., ♂, specimen in its natural habitat
(photo: Lynette Clennell, Matatiele, 6 Dec. 2008).

Order Coleoptera Linnaeus, 1758
Family Scarabaeidae Latreille, 1802
Subfamily Cetoniinae Leach, 1815

Tribe Cetoniini Leach, 1815

Genus Neoclita gen. nov.

Etymology: The name of the new genus arises from the latest discovery of another taxon in the “clita” grouping

Neoclita pringlei gen. et sp. nov.  

Etymology: The species is named after the renowned South African lepidopterologist Ernest Pringle, who first collected the new species in the Matatiele Nature Reserve and promptly brought it to my attention.


 Renzo Perissinotto. 2017. Neoclita pringlei (Scarabaeidae, Cetoniinae), A New Relict Genus and Species from the Drakensberg Range of South Africa. European Journal of Taxonomy. 279: 1–12.  DOI:  10.5852/ejt.2017.279

[Paleontology • 2017] Xingxiulong chengi • A New Basal Sauropodiform Dinosaur from the Lower Jurassic of Yunnan Province, China

Xingxiulong chengi 
Wang, You & Wang, 2017 

   DOI: 10.1038/srep41881 

The Lufeng Formation in Lufeng Basin of Yunnan Province, southwestern China preserves one of the richest terrestrial Lower Jurassic vertebrate faunas globally, especially for its basal sauropodomorphs, such as Lufengosaurus and Yunnanosaurus. Here we report a new taxon, Xingxiulong chengi gen. et sp. nov. represented by three partial skeletons with overlapping elements. Xingxiulong possesses a number of autapomorphies, such as transversely expanded plate-like summit on top of the neural spine of posterior dorsal vertebrae, four sacral vertebrae, robust scapula, and elongated pubic plate approximately 40% of the total length of the pubis. Phylogenetic analysis resolves Xingxiulong as a basal member of Sauropodiformes, and together with another two Lufeng basal sauropodiforms Jingshanosaurus and Yunnanosaurus, they represent the basalmost lineages of this clade, indicating its Asian origin. Although being relatively primitive, Xingxiulong displays some derived features normally occurred in advanced sauropodiforms including sauropods, such as a four sacral-sacrum, a robust scapula, and a pubis with elongated pubic plate. The discovery of Xingxiulong increases the diversity of basal sauropodomorphs from the Lufeng Formation and indicates a more complicated scenario in the early evolution of sauropodiforms.

Figure 2: Representative elements of Xingxiulong chengi gen. et sp. nov. and reconstruction of the skeleton.
 (a) Cervical vertebrae of LFGT-D0001 (3–10); (b) articulated posterior dorsal vertebrae (10–14) and dorsosacral of LFGT-D0001 in lateral and dorsal views; (c) scapula with articulated dorsal vertebrae of LFGT-D0003 in left lateral view; (d) left humerus of LFGT-D0003 in posterior and anterior views; (e) left forelimb of LFGT-D0003 in medial view; (f) right articulated humerus, ulna and radius in medial view, and detail of the proximal end of ulna and radius; (g) left ilium of LFGT-D0002 (photograph and line drawing) in lateral view; (h) right ilium of LFGT-D0003 in lateral view; (i) right ischium of LFGT-D0002 in lateral view; (j) left femur of LFGT-D0002 in anterior, lateral, posterior and medial views; (k) distal end of left tibia of LFGT-D0003 in anterior and distal views; (l) left astragalus of LFGT-D0002 in posterior view; (m) left pes of LFGT-D0002 in lateral and ventral views; (n) right pes of LFGT-D0002 in dorsal and ventral views, with detailed metatarsal I in dorsal view; (o) reconstruction of the skeleton of Xingxiulong chengi gen. et sp. nov. (scaled to the size of the holotype). Abbreviations: 4t, fourth trochanter; alp, anterolateral process; ds, dorsosacral; epls, expanded plate-like summit; it, internal tuberosity; ls, longitudinal sulcus; lt, lesser trochanter; mt I, metatarsal I; mt V, metatarsal V; plp, posterolateral process; pmb, posterior median bulge; pop, postacetabular process; prp, preacetabular process. Dashed lines represent highlighting (c,b, and f) or reconstruction (g and h). Scale bars equal 10 cm in (a–n) and 1 m in (o). 


Dinosauria Owen, 1842
Saurischia Seeley, 1887

Sauropodomorpha Huene, 1932
Massopoda Yates, 2007

Sauropodiformes Sereno, 2007

Xingxiulong chengi gen. et sp. nov.

Type locality and horizon: The specimens were excavated near Sankeshu (Three Trees) Village, Jinshan Town, Lufeng County, Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, southwestern China (Fig. 1). The specimens were from the base of the Shawan Member of the Lower Jurassic Lufeng Formation, composed of dark purple silty mudstones.

Etymology: The generic name “Xingxiu”, meaning constellation in Chinese, is derived from the name of the ancient “Xingxiu Bridge” in Lufeng County, which was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). The specific name is dedicated to Prof. Zheng-Wu Cheng (1931–2015), for his lifetime contribution to Chinese terrestrial biostratigraphy, including the Lufeng Basin.

Diagnosis: A medium-sized basal sauropodiform with the following unique combination of character states (autapomorphies are marked by *): both surangular and angular extended more anteriorly with respect to the external mandibular fenestra; transversely expanded plate-like summit on top of posterior dorsal vertebrae* (convergent in basal saurischians); four sacral vertebrae, with two primordial sacrals bounded by a dorsosacral and a caudosacral* (convergent in derived sauropodiforms); robust scapula with both ends extremely expanded; ilium with ventral margin of postacetabular process strongly concave*; pubis with elongated proximal pubic plate relative to the pubic apron, with pubic plate approximately 40% of the total length of the pubis*(convergent in basal sauropods); posterolateral process of distal tibia much narrower anteroposteriorly and extended more laterally and distally than anterolateral process*; a median bulge present on the dorsoposterior margin of the astragalus; metatarsal V with strongly expanded proximal end with a proportion of proximal width/total length 0.85*.


Ya-Ming Wang, Hai-Lu You & Tao Wang. 2017. A New Basal Sauropodiform Dinosaur from the Lower Jurassic of Yunnan Province, China. Scientific Reports 7, 41881. DOI: 10.1038/srep41881

Saturday, February 18, 2017

[Paleontology • 2017] Neck Biomechanics indicate that Giant Transylvanian Azhdarchid Pterosaurs, Hatzegopteryx sp., were Short-necked Arch Predators

 Transylvanian giant azhdarchid pterosaur Hatzegopteryx sp. preys on the rhabdodontid iguanodontian Zalmoxes. Because large predatory theropods are unknown on Late Cretaceous Haţeg Island, giant azhdarchids may have played a key role as terrestrial predators in this community. 
DOI:   10.7717/peerj.2908 


Azhdarchid pterosaurs include the largest animals to ever take to the skies with some species exceeding 10 metres in wingspan and 220 kg in mass. Associated skeletons show that azhdarchids were long-necked, long-jawed predators that combined a wing planform suited for soaring with limb adaptations indicative of quadrupedal terrestrial foraging. The postcranial proportions of the group have been regarded as uniform overall, irrespective of their overall size, notwithstanding suggestions that minor variation may have been present. Here, we discuss a recently discovered giant azhdarchid neck vertebra referable to Hatzegopteryx from the Maastrichtian Sebeş Formation of the Transylvanian Basin, Romania, which shows how some azhdarchids departed markedly from conventional views on their proportions. This vertebra, which we consider a cervical VII, is 240 mm long as preserved and almost as wide. Among azhdarchid cervicals, it is remarkable for the thickness of its cortex (4–6 mm along its ventral wall) and robust proportions. By comparing its dimensions to other giant azhdarchid cervicals and to the more completely known necks of smaller taxa, we argue that Hatzegopteryx had a proportionally short, stocky neck highly resistant to torsion and compression. This specimen is one of several hinting at greater disparity within Azhdarchidae than previously considered, but is the first to demonstrate such proportional differences within giant taxa. On the assumption that other aspects of Hatzegopteryx functional anatomy were similar to those of other azhdarchids, and with reference to the absence of large terrestrial predators in the Maastrichtian of Transylvania, we suggest that this pterosaur played a dominant predatory role among the unusual palaeofauna of ancient Haţeg.

Figure 9: Diversity in predicted life appearance and ecologies for giant azhdarchid pterosaurs.
(A) two giant, long-necked azhdarchids—the Maastrichtian species Arambourgiania philadelphiae—argue over a small theropod;
(B) the similarly sized but more powerful Maastrichtian, Transylvanian giant azhdarchid pterosaur Hatzegopteryx sp. preys on the rhabdodontid iguanodontian Zalmoxes. Because large predatory theropods are unknown on Late Cretaceous Haţeg Island, giant azhdarchids may have played a key role as terrestrial predators in this community. 

Darren Naish​​ and Mark P. Witton​. 2017. Neck Biomechanics indicate that Giant Transylvanian Azhdarchid Pterosaurs were Short-necked Arch Predators.
   PeerJ. 5:e2908. DOI:   10.7717/peerj.2908


[Ichthyology • 2017] Syngnathus chihiroe • A New Species of Pipefish (Syngnathidae) collected off Yakushima Island (East China Sea), southern Japan

Syngnathus chihiroe 
Matsunuma, 2017  


A new species of pipefish, Syngnathus chihiroe sp. nov., (Syngnathidae), is described on the basis of a single specimen collected off Yakushima Island (East China Sea), southern Japan in a depth of 160–162 m. The new species is readily distinguished from all congeners by the combination of the following characters: dorsal-fin rays 38, pectoral-fin rays 17, trunk rings 18, tail rings 40, subdorsal rings 3.25 + 10.0 = 13.25, head length 8.7 in standard length, snout length 2.3 in head length and snout depth 3.7 in snout length. The new species is similar to Syngnathus schlegeli Kaup 1853, the only other northwestern Pacific Ocean congener, characterized by dorsal-fin rays 30–47, trunk rings 18–20 and tail rings 38–46. However, it differs from S. schlegeli in having a greater number of pectoral-fin rays (17 in the former vs. 11–15 in the latter), and a short deep snout (snout length 2.3 in head length and snout depth 3.7 in snout length vs. 1.6–2.0 and 5.6–11.3, respectively).

Keywords: Pisces, East China Sea, southern Japan, Kagoshima Prefecture, Syngnathidae, new species, taxonomy

Distribution: The species is currently known only from the type locality, southwest of Yakushima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan (East China Sea), in a depth of 160–162 m (Fig. 3).

Etymology: The specific name, chihiroe, is derived from Japanese “chihiro”, meaning great depth, alluding to the depth of capture of the holotype and only known specimen (160–162 m), one of the deepest recorded for any member of the genus (Table 4).

Matsunuma, Mizuki. 2017. Syngnathus chihiroe, A New Species of Pipefish (Syngnathidae) from southern Japan.  Zootaxa. 4232(3); 385–396.  DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4232.3.7