Tuesday, July 25, 2017

[Herpetology • 2017] Hydrophis platurus xanthos • A New Subspecies of Sea Snake from Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Hydrophis platurus xanthos 
Bessesen & Galbreath, 2017

ambush posture; floating at the sea surface at night in a sinusoidal shape, head below, mouth agape. 
We describe a distinctive new subspecies of sea snake from the occasionally anoxic inner-basin waters of Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica, based on combined data garnered between 2010 and 2017 for 154 specimens, 123 free-ranging and 31 museum-held. The yellow sea snake, Hydrophis platurus xanthos Bessesen & Galbreath, subsp. n., is diagnosed by a notably smaller body size and nearly uniform yellow coloration, which contrasts with the black and yellow striae and tail spots or bands typical of the species. Within the modest geographic range (circa 320 km2), nearly all specimens possess both diagnostic character states. Bathymetrics appear to restrict genetic flow between this allopatric population and conspecifics in the broader Eastern Pacific. In perspicuous contrast to typical H. platurus, H. p. xanthos shows no association with drift lines, and feeds at night in turbulent waters, assuming a sinusoidal ambush posture never previously reported for the species. This evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) warrants taxonomic recognition and active protection.

Keywords: Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica, sea snake, yellow color morph, platurus, type specimens, taxonomy

Figure 2: Hydrophis platurus xanthos sharply contrasts typical H. platurus in color, body size and behavior.
A Scaled size comparison of yellow sea snake, TL 43 cm (left), and yellow-bellied sea snake, TL 69 cm (right; note the use of Vetrap as a calming mask and sickly condition of the specimen) B ambush posture of H. p. xanthos; floating at the sea surface at night in a sinusoidal shape, head below, mouth agape C although predominantly yellow, xanthic individuals often possess black spots along the dorsum.
Hydrophis platurus xanthos subsp. n.

Diagnosis: Here we describe a new, allopatric subspecies, Hydrophis platurus xanthos subsp. n., or yellow sea snake, from the inner basin of Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce. The new subspecies is diagnosed based on a dramatic color character state, as well as by a marked difference in body size. Aspects of behavior also appear to be unique.

Etymology: From Greek xanthos, “yellow,” to highlight a diagnostic feature of this subspecies.

Geographic distribution: The breeding population of Hydrophis platurus xanthos appears confined to approximately 320 sq.km. in the northern half of the Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. A spatial gap up to 22 km separates the yellow sea snakes from the usually bi- or tricolored oceanic population, and appears to restrict genetic exchange (Bessesen 2012, Fig. 1).

Hydrophis platurus xanthos is a well-defined evolutionary subspecies inhabiting a small area of unusual geography. Given unique aspects of its behavioral ecology, it could well represent an intrinsically genetically isolated taxon of recent origin, in which case a species designation would be appropriate. We have been appropriately conservative here, in defining it at a subspecific level. This provides footing for protective strategies, while allowing future research to refine its taxonomic rank.

 Brooke L. Bessesen and Gary J. Galbreath. 2017. A New Subspecies of Sea Snake, Hydrophis platurus xanthos, from Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica.
 ZooKeys. 686: 109-123.  DOI:  10.3897/zookeys.686.12682


[Botany • 2017] Sciaphila sugimotoi • A New Mycoheterotrophic Plant (Triuridaceae) from Ishigaki Island, Japan

 Sciaphila sugimotoi Suetsugu & T. Nishioka


A new species of Sciaphila (Triuridaceae), Sciaphila sugimotoi Suetsugu & T. Nishioka, is described and illustrated from Ishigaki Island, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. The new species is similar to S. arfakiana in having a stipitate globose to ellipsoid knob without hairs in apices of all male perianth segments. However, it is clearly distinguishable by its shorter pedicel, filament-connective not extended and thick stem. A key to the Japanese Sciaphila based on the whole flower characteristics and stylar characteristics, are provided for easy identification of these rare mycoheterotrophic plants.

Keywords: Distribution, mycoheterotrophic plants, new species, Sciaphila, taxonomy, Triuridaceae, Ryukyu, Monocots

 Figure 1: Habit (A) and microscopic images (B, C, D) of Sciaphila sugimotoi.
A. Flowering plant. B–C. Male flower. D. Female flower.

 Photographed by Takaomi Sugimoto in the type locality. 

Sciaphila sugimotoi Suetsugu & T. Nishioka, sp. nov.

 Type:— JAPAN. Ryukyu. Okinawa Pref., Ishigaki City, Hirae, alt ca. 180m, 18 October 2016, T. Sugimoto s.n. (holotype KYO!; isotype OSA!). 

Diagnosis:— Sciaphila sugimotoi is similar to Sciaphila arfakiana Beccari (1890: 337), but it differs by its shorter pedicel, its filamentconnective not extended and its thick stem.

 Etymology:— The new species is named after Mr. Takaomi Sugimoto, who collected ample specimens of this new species for the comparative study.

Kenji Suetsugu and Tatsuki Nishioka. 2017.  Sciaphila sugimotoi (Triuridaceae), A New Mycoheterotrophic Plant from Ishigaki Island, Japan.
 Phytotaxa. 314(2); 279–284. DOI:  10.11646/phytotaxa.314.2.10

New non-photosynthesizing plant species discovered on Ishigaki island, J...
eurekalert.org/e/7ttW via @KobeU_Global @EurekAlert

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

 Zingiber alba Nurainas


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

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

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

Zingiber alba Nurainas, sp. nov 

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

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

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

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

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

Vernacular name: Penggalan (Minangkabau language).

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

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

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

[Entomology • 2017] Host Associations of Melanterius Erichson (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Cleogonini), with A Diagnosis and Delimitation of the Genus and Description of Five New Species

Melanterius pungalinae   
Pinzón-Navarro, Jennings & Oberprieler, 2017  


This paper presents the results of a three-year collecting and research project on Melanterius weevils in Australia, aimed mainly at discovering new host associations and assessing their fit to the emerging reconstruction of phylogenetic relationships in the large genus Acacia. A revised and extended diagnosis of the genus Melanterius is provided, as well as characters differentiating the genus from related and/or similar Australian genera classified in the tribe Cleogonini. Given the size (79 species) and morphological variation of Melanterius, and to facilitate the assessment of co-evolutionary patterns between the weevils and their hosts, the genus is divided into six tentative species groups characterised by particular morphological traits. New host and locality data are recorded for 23 species, including five species described as new to scienceMelanterius abbreviatus sp. n., M. curvistriatus sp. n., M. psittacoides sp. n., M. pungalinae sp. n. and Mtesseymani sp. n. For each species, salient characters and a summary of known host plant species are provided. Melanterius tasmaniensis (Lea, 1909) comb. et stat. n. is raised from a subspecies of Melanteriosoma costatum to species level. All recorded host associations of Melanterius known to us are summarised, including those published, those recorded on label data associated with specimens in the Australian National Insect Collection and those recorded during this study. These host records are differentiated into true host associations (based on specimens reared from seeds), putative associations (based on long series of specimens collected from plants) and coincidental associations (based on single specimens collected from plants). Altogether, Melanterius weevils are recorded from 71 species of Acacia, still a small number in view of the ca. 1000 described species of Acacia, but it is likely that many or most of the other species are also hosts of Melanterius species or of the closely related genus Lybaeba. The pattern of host associations in evidence indicates that most species of Melanterius are not host-specific, developing in the seeds of a number of apparently related Acacia species. Nevertheless, several Melanterius species appear to have the potential to be employed as biocontrol agents if their main hosts become invasive weeds.

Keywords: Coleoptera, weevils, host-plant associations, Acacia, biological control agents

Melanterius pungalinae  Pinzón-Navarro, Jennings & Oberprieler, 2017

 Sara Pinzón-Navarro, Debbie Jennings and Rolf G. Oberprieler. 2017. Host Associations of Melanterius Erichson (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Cleogonini), with A Diagnosis and Delimitation of the Genus and Description of Five New Species.
 Zootaxa. 4298(1); 1–77.   DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4298.1.1

Monday, July 24, 2017

[Mammalogy / Conservation • 2017] Natural Canopy Bridges Effectively Mitigate Tropical Forest Fragmentation for Arboreal Mammals

Linear infrastructure development and resulting habitat fragmentation are expanding in Neotropical forests, and arboreal mammals may be disproportionately impacted by these linear habitat clearings. Maintaining canopy connectivity through preservation of connecting branches (i.e. natural canopy bridges) may help mitigate that impact. Using camera traps, we evaluated crossing rates of a pipeline right-of-way in a control area with no bridges and in a test area where 13 bridges were left by the pipeline construction company. Monitoring all canopy crossing points for a year (7,102 canopy camera nights), we confirmed bridge use by 25 mammal species from 12 families. With bridge use beginning immediately after exposure and increasing over time, use rates were over two orders of magnitude higher than on the ground. We also found a positive relationship between a bridge’s use rate and the number of species that used it, suggesting well-used bridges benefit multiple species. Data suggest bridge use may be related to a combination of bridge branch connectivity, multiple connections, connectivity to adjacent forest, and foliage cover. Given the high use rate and minimal cost, we recommend all linear infrastructure projects in forests with arboreal mammal populations include canopy bridges.

Figure 1: The six species that most frequently used the 13 natural canopy bridges over the pipeline clearing: (a) Aotus nigriceps, (b) Potos flavus, (c) Coendou ichillus, (d) Caluromys lanatus, (e) Bassaricyon alleni, and (f) Hadrosciurus spadiceus

Coendou ichillus,     Tamandua tetradactyla

Pithecia irrorata,       Saguinus fuscicollis

Figure 1: The six species that most frequently used the 13 natural canopy bridges over the pipeline clearing:
(a) Aotus nigriceps, (b) Potos flavus, (c) Coendou ichillus, (d) Caluromys lanatus, (e) Bassaricyon alleni, and (f) Hadrosciurus spadiceus

Figure 5: Tremaine Gregory climbing a canopy bridge over a recently cleared natural gas pipeline in the Lower Urubamba Region of Peru.

Tremaine Gregory, Farah Carrasco-Rueda, Alfonso Alonso, Joseph Kolowski and Jessica L. Deichmann. 2017. Natural Canopy Bridges Effectively Mitigate Tropical Forest Fragmentation for Arboreal Mammals. Scientific Reports. 7, Article number: 3892. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-04112-x

Natural Canopy Bridges Maintain Vital Connections for Arboreal Mammals in Fragmented Forests  NationalZoo.SI.edu/news/natural-canopy-bridges-maintain-vital-connections-for-arboreal-mammals-fragmented-forests

[Arachnida • 2017] Plethoscorpiops profusus • A New Genus and Species of Scorpion (Scorpiones: Scorpiopidae) from Myanmar [Burma]: Implications for the Taxonomy of the Family

Plethoscorpiops profusus  Lourenço, 2017

Plethoscorpiops profusus gen. n., sp. n., belonging to the family Scorpiopidae Kraepelin, 1905 is described on the basis of two specimens, one adult female and one male juvenile collected in the Saddan Cave, in Kayin State, Hpa-An, Burma (Myanmar). This new scorpion taxon most certainly represents an endemic element for the fauna of Burma and seems to be strictly distributed inside the cave system. The new genus is characterized by a previously unknown and totally unique plethotaxic trichobothrial pattern within the family Scorpiopidae.

Keywords: Scorpion, Scorpiopidae, Burma, New genus, New species, Trichobothrial pattern

Fig. 5. Plethoscorpiops profusus sp. n. Female holotype alive (photo A. Kury).

Fig. 2. The region where is located the Saddan Cave, showing the outside relief and typical vegetation (photo: F. Bréhier).
Fig. 4. Interior view of the Saddan Cave, showing the limestone walls with the crevices where the specimens were found (photo A. Kury).

Taxonomic treatment

Family Scorpiopidae Kraepelin, 1905

Genus Plethoscorpiops gen. nov.

Diagnosis for the new genus: The new genus presents most of the characteristics already defined for the family Scorpiopidae and several of these characters associate it with both Alloscorpiops and Dasyscorpiops. It can, however, be characterized by a very particular trichobothrial pattern of some ‘territories’ or series. Femur with three trichobothria: dorsal, internal and external. Patella with two dorsal, one internal, 23 ventral and a very high number of 41 external trichobothria (up to 42–43 in the male paratype). Most outstanding are the values found for chela-hand with 25 ventral, two dorsal (Dt, Db), two internal (ib, it), 3 Est, 6 Et, Esb and a very high number of 19 trichobothria in the Eb series. This latter number is particularly unusual, because in the other genera of the family, only three (or five) trichobothria are observed on Eb series. See the following taxonomic comments.

Type species: Plethoscorpiops profusus sp. n.

Etymology: The generic name is an association of plethos with scorpiops and refers to the very high numbers of trichobothria found in the chela of pedipalps. From Latin plethora, originate from ancient Greek πληθώρη (plēthōrē) = plenty.

Fig. 1. Map of Southeast Asia showing the known distribution of genera Alloscorpiops, Dasyscorpiops and Plethoscorpiops. Notice that the type locality of Dasyscorpiops grandjeani, Malacca is dubious (according to Fage's personal notes). 

 Description of the new species
Plethoscorpiops profusus sp. n.

Burma (Myanmar), Kayin State, Hpa-An, Saddan Cave, 250 m alt., about 90 m from the entry, hidden in wall crevices, 31/VII/2016 (A. Giupponi & A. Kury leg.). 
Female holotype, deposited in the Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro; male juvenile paratype deposited in the ‘Muséum national d’histoire naturelle’, Paris.

Etymology: The specific name refers to the very high number of trichobothria presented by the new species.

Diagnosis: Species of moderate size relative to other species of the family Scorpiopidae, adult female 61.8 mm in total length. Coloration dark reddish-brown; three pairs of lateral eyes, the third pair reduced; pectines with 9–9 teeth in the female holotype and 12–13 teeth in the male paratype; fulcra reduced to vestigial. Annular ring clearly marked in the telson. Trichobothrial pattern as in generic diagnosis.


Wilson R. Lourenço. 2017. A New Genus and Species of Scorpion from Burma [Myanmar] (Scorpiones: Scorpiopidae): Implications for the Taxonomy of the Family. {Un nouveau genre et espèce de scorpion de Birmanie [Myanmar] (Scorpiones : Scorpiopidae) : implicationsdans la taxonomie de la famille}. Comptes Rendus Biologies. In Press.  DOI: 10.1016/j.crvi.2017.05.003 

Résumé: Plethoscorpiops profusus gen. n., sp. n., appartenant à la famille des Scorpiopidae Kraepelin, 1905 est décrit sur deux spécimens, une femelle adulte et un mâle juvénile, collectés dans la grotte Saddan, située dans l’État de Kayin, Hpa-An, Myanmar. Ce nouveau taxon scorpionique représente très certainement un élément endémique pour la faune de Myanmar et semble strictement inféodé dans le système cavernicole. Le nouveau genre est caractérisé par un modèle trichobothriotaxique, pléthotaxique, encore inconnu et certainement unique parmi les scorpions de la famille des Scorpiopidae.
Mots clés: Scorpion, Scorpiopidae, Myanmar, Nouveau genre, Nouvelle espèce, Modèle trichobothriotaxique

[Herpetology • 2017] Sphaenorhynchus cammaeus • A New Species of Sphaenorhynchus (Anura: Hylidae) from northeastern Brazil

Sphaenorhynchus cammaeus 
Roberto, Araujo-Vieira, Carvalho-e-Silva & Ávila, 2017 

We describe a new species of Sphaenorhynchus from highland forest habitats in the Reserva Biológica de Pedra Talhada, an Atlantic Forest remnant of northeastern Brazil [ca. 850 m elevation]. The new species is diagnosed by having a snout–vent length of 24.8–29.3 mm in males and 26.6 mm in the only available female; snout truncate in dorsal view, protruding in lateral view; vocal sac single, subgular, moderately developed, extending to the middle of the pectoral region, longitudinal folds present; dorsolateral black line from the tip of snout extending posteriorly beyond the eye to gradually disappear on the flanks; white glandular subcloacal dermal fold present; vomerine, premaxillary, and maxillary teeth present; and advertisement call with 2–3 pulsed notes (3–6 pulses each) with a duration of 0.19–0.24 s, a frequency range of 526.3–4438.8 Hz, and a dominant frequency of 2250–3000 Hz. It is the eighth species of the genus that occurs in northeastern Brazil.

Keywords: Atlantic Forest, Hatchet-faced treefrogs, Reserva Biológica de Pedra Talhada, Species description, Taxonomy, Vocalization

FIG. 4.— Dorsal and ventral views of  Sphaenorhynchus cammaeus in life.
(upper) URCA-H 9285. (C–D) URCA-H 9286.

Sphaenorhynchus cammaeus sp. nov.

Sphaenorhynchus prasinusDa Silva et al. (2013: 1519–1520), Carvalho-e-Silva et al. (2015: 347).
Sphaenorhynchus aff. palustrisAraujo-Vieira et al. (2016).

Etymology.— The specific epithet is a Medieval Latin name that means carved precious stone with two color layers.It is given in reference to the name of the type locality (Pedra Talhada = carved stone) and also to the beauty of the species.
Dorsal view of  Sphaenorhynchus cammaeus  in life, URCA-H 9285. 

Igor Joventino Roberto, Katyuscia Araujo-Vieira, Sergio Potsch de Carvalho-e-Silva and Robson Waldemar Ávila. 2017. A New Species of Sphaenorhynchus (Anura: Hylidae) from northeastern Brazil.   Herpetologica. 73(2); 148–161.
 DOI: 10.1655/HERPETOLOGICA-D-16-00021

Nova espécie de anfíbio é descoberta no Brasil - Primeira Hora notícias em Meio Ambiente

[Invertebrate • 2017] Illustrated Guide to the Echinoid Fauna (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) of South Africa

Tripneustes gratilla (Linnaeus, 1758)
     Filander & Griffiths, 2017.  


The sea-urchins (class Echinoidea) of South Africa have received little taxonomic attention since the last comprehensive regional monographic guide, which was published in 1976 and is thus now severely outdated. That account was also poorly illustrated, making it difficult to use. Recent work by the authors has also added some 19 additional species to the known fauna, which now stands at 70 species. The aims of this study are thus to revise and update the South African echinoid fauna list, and to present a new, easy to use and fully-illustrated guide to all known regional species. The analysis is based mainly on examination of samples from the Iziko South African Museum collections, although additional records from other museum collections, the published literature, photographic images submitted to the EchinoMap Virtual Museum Database and any other reliable records are also included. A short account of each species is given, including relevant synonymy and literature, and brief notes on identification, size, and global distribution. Photographs that best represent the diagnostic features of each species and a map showing its known records within the region accompany each species account. A binary key to species is also provided.

Keywords: Echinodermata, Biodiversity, taxonomy, echinoderm, sea urchin, distribution records, identification key

Tripneustes gratilla (Linnaeus, 1758)

 Zoleka Filander and Charles Griffiths. 2017. Illustrated Guide to the Echinoid (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) Fauna of South Africa. Zootaxa. 4296(1); 1-72.  DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4296.1.1

[Crustacea • 2017] On the Identities of The Highland Vampire Crabs, Geosesarma foxi (Kemp, 1918) and G. serenei Ng, 1986 (Decapoda: Brachyura: Sesarmidae), with Description of A New Phytotelmic Species, Geosesarma faustum, from Penang, Peninsular Malaysia

Geosesarma faustum  Ng, 2017

 The identities of two poorly known semiterrestrial sesarmid crabs Geosesarma foxi (Kemp, 1918) and G. serenei Ng, 1986, from northern Peninsular Malaysia are clarified with the study of additional material. A new species associated with phytotelms in Penang, Geosesarma faustum n. sp., is described and distinguished from the two known species by various carapace, male pleon and gonopod characters. The taxonomy of the three species is discussed. All three are highland species, occurring only at altitudes higher than 700 m; and are characterised by their quadrate carapace, long and slender ambulatory legs, absence of a flagellum on the exopod of their third maxilliped, and relatively slender male first gonopod. 

Key words: Phytotelmata, Southeast Asia, Sesarmidae, montane crabs, Geosesarma, taxonomy, new taxa
Fig. 8. Geosesarma faustum n. sp., colour in life, Penang Hill, Penang.
 AB, specimens photographed in bromeliad in situ, part of type species; C, holotype male (10.6 × 10.5 mm) (ZRC 2016.617); D, paratype ovigerous female (10.6 × 10.4 mm) (ZRC 2014.340). 

Geosesarma faustum n. sp. 

Etymology. The species name is derived from the Latin for fortunate and lucky; alluding to the circumstances leading to the discovery of the new species

Fig. 8. Geosesarma faustum n. sp., colour in life, Penang Hill, Penang.
AB, specimens photographed in bromeliad in situ, part of type species; C, holotype male (10.6 × 10.5 mm) (ZRC 2016.617); D, paratype ovigerous female (10.6 × 10.4 mm) (ZRC 2014.340).
 Photo credits: A–D, Ji Tan; E–F, Paul Y. C. Ng 

Fig. 8. Geosesarma faustum n. sp., colour in life, Penang Hill, Penang.
A, B, specimens photographed in bromeliad in situ, part of type species;
C, holotype male (10.6 × 10.5 mm) (ZRC 2016.617); D, paratype ovigerous female (10.6 × 10.4 mm) (ZRC 2014.340);
  EG, paratype male (10.2 × 10.1 mm) (ZRC 2016.0599); H, paratype female (10.8 × 10.9 mm) (ZRC 2016.0599). Photo credits: A–D, Ji Tan; E–H, Paul Y. C. Ng 

Peter K. L. Ng. 2017. On the Identities of The Highland Vampire Crabs, Geosesarma foxi (Kemp, 1918) and G. serenei Ng, 1986, with Description of A New Phytotelmic Species from Penang, Peninsular Malaysia (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura: Sesarmidae). RAFFLES BULLETIN OF ZOOLOGY. 65: 226–242. 



[Botany • 2017] Geosiris australiensis • First Record of Geosiris (Iridaceae: Geosiridoideae) from Australasia : A New Record and A New Species from the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Australia

Geosiris australiensis   B. Gray & Y.W. Low

Geosiris Baill. is a small genus of achlorophyllous, mycoheterotrophic herbs that until now consisted of only two species, Geosiris albiflora Goldblatt & J.C. Manning and Geosiris aphylla Baill., the latter being the type species of the genus. Prior to this study, the genus was known only from two islands off the southeast coast of Africa, Madagascar and Mayotte. A recent discovery in Australia reported here expands its geographic range to the Pacific. The Australian taxon represents a species distinct from the two African taxa based on the key morphological characters for species distinction in the genus, namely stigma characteristics. Geosiris albiflora has a somewhat club-like stigma with three coherent lobes, Geosiris aphylla with a stigma terminates in three fringed broad and flat stigmatic lobes, and the Australian Geosiris has a truncate stigma with a short fimbriate margin. Hence, the Australian taxon is formally described here as Geosiris australiensis B. Gray & Y.W. Low.

Keywords: Iridaceae, Geosiris, Australia, Queensland, Taxonomy, Mycoheterotrophy, New generic record, New species

Geosiris australiensis B. Gray & Y.W. Low, spec. nova

Etymology. – The species epithet refers to Australia, as it is the first generic record for the continent.

Distribution and habitat. – Geosiris australiensis is only known from the tropical rainforests of north-east Queensland, Australia. The only known specimens were growing on a moist forest floor covered with thick organic litter under shaded conditions in the Daintree National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Bruce Gray and Yee Wen Low. 2017. First Record of Geosiris (Iridaceae: Geosiridoideae) from Australasia : A New Record and A New Species from the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Australia. Candollea. 72(2); 249-255.  DOI: 10.15553/c2017v722a2

Scientists in a spin over discovery of new flower species in Daintree

Sunday, July 23, 2017

[Ichthyology • 2017] Mola tecta • Hiding in Broad Daylight: Molecular and Morphological Data Reveal A New Ocean Sunfish Species (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae) that has Eluded Recognition

Mola tecta
Nyegaard, Sawai, Gemmell, Gillum, Loneragan, Yamanoue & Stewart, 2017

Hoodwinker Ocean Sunfish  DOI: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx040 


The taxonomy of the ocean sunfishes (Molidae) has a complicated history. Currently, three genera and four species are recognized, including two in the genus Mola (M. mola and M. ramsayi). In 2009, a genetic study revealed a potential third species, Mola species C, in Southeast Australian waters. Concentrating on this region, we obtained samples and morphological data from 27 Mola sp. C specimens, genetically confirmed the existence of this species (mtDNA D-loop and cytochrome c oxidase 1), and established its morphology across a size spectrum of 50–242 cm total length. Mola sp. C is diagnosed by clavus meristics [15–17 fin rays (13–15 principal, 2 minor), 5–7 ossicles, paraxial ossicles separate], clavus morphology (prominent smooth band back-fold, rounded clavus edge with an indent), and body scale morphology (raised conical midpoints, non-branching). This species does not develop a protruding snout, or swollen dorso- or ventrolateral ridges. Body proportions remain similar with growth. A review of the historic literature revealed that Mola sp. C is a new, hitherto undescribed species, Mola tecta, which we describe and diagnose, and that it is the first proposed addition to the genus Mola in 125 years. Its core distribution is likely in the temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere.

Keywords: Australia, CO1 mtDNA, D-loop, morphology, morphometrics, New Zealand, phylogenetics, southern hemisphere, taxonomy.

Family Molidae Bonaparte, 1832
Genus Mola Koelreuter, 1766

Mola Koelreuter, 1766. Type specimen Mola aculeata, i.e. pre-juvenile form.
Mola Cuvier, 1798. Type specimen Tetraodon mola Linnaeus, 1758, i.e. adult form.

 •  Mola mola (Linnaeus, 1758)
No known holotype (Parenti, 2003; Eschmeyer et al., 2017) 

Distribution: Currently thought to be widely distributed in all the world’s oceans except for the polar seas, however may be relatively uncommon in some areas (e.g. around Australia and New Zealand).

 •  Mola ramsayi (Giglioli, 1883)
Holotype: BMNH 1883.11.29.22 

Distribution: Previously thought to be restricted to the South Pacific (Fraser-Brunner, 1951), however if Mola sp. A is shown to belong to M. ramsayi, the distribution is much wider than previously thought, including the Pacific and Indian oceans in both hemispheres, as well as the Mediterranean and probably also the European seas.

Mola tecta stranded on Birdlings Flat south of Christchurch, New Zealand, May 2014.
Photograph by M. NYEGAARD 

The hoodwinker sunfish grows to at least 2.4 metres long, with a distinctive ‘backfold’ of smooth skin separating the back fin into two.
Illustration by Michelle Freeborn, Wellington Museum Te Papa Tongarewa. 

 •  Mola tecta sp. nov. 
New English name: Hoodwinker Ocean Sunfish.
New Japanese name: Kakure-manbo

Etymology: The species name tecta is derived from the Latin tectus (disguised, hidden), as this species evaded discovery for nearly three centuries, despite the keen interest among early sunfish taxonomists and the continued attention these curious fish receive. The Japanese name is derived from the species name tecta: ‘hidden’ (Kakure), ‘sunfish’ (manbo), while the English name, ‘Hoodwinker’, pertains to the figurative meaning ‘trickster, deceiving by disguise’, c. 1600.

Habitat and distribution: Mola tecta has been confirmed in the southeast of Australia (New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria) (Yoshita et al., 2009; this study), around New Zealand (this study), and off South Africa (Bass et al., 2005) (Fig. 10). Photographs (e.g. Supporting Information, Fig. S1A) indicates that it also occurs in Chilean waters. This suggests that M. tecta is distributed widely in the temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere, with occasional, but presumably rare, occurrences in the Northern Hemisphere. Migrations are unknown.

Marianne Nyegaard, Etsuro Sawai, Neil Gemmell, Joanne Gillum, Neil R. Loneragan, Yusuke Yamanoue and Andrew L. Stewart. 2017. Hiding in Broad Daylight: Molecular and Morphological Data Reveal A New Ocean Sunfish Species (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae) that has Eluded Recognition.  Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. XX, zlx040. DOI: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx040

The four-year treasure hunt for the hoodwinker sunfish theconversation.com/the-four-year-treasure-hunt-for-the-hoodwinker-sunfish-81265 via @ConversationEDU
 Massive Two-Ton Fish Species Discovered  on.natgeo.com/2udsR8V via @NatGeo

[Botany • 2017] Premna bhamoensis • A New Species (Lamiaceae, Premnoideae) from Kachin State, northeastern Myanmar

Premna bhamoensis  Y. T. Tan & B. Li

In the present study, we describe and illustrate a new speciesPremna bhamoensis Y. T. Tan & B. Li (Lamiaceae), from Myanmar. In the 1980s, this species was transplanted from Bhamo County in northeastern Myanmar to the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The species shows striking morphological similarity to P. menglaensis B. Li, and thus, has been misidentified as the latter for a long period of time. However, morphological comparison revealed that P. bhamoensis is distinct from P. menglaensis in many aspects. Moreover, literature survey and specimen examinations also indicated that P. bhamoensis is undoubtedly different from all seven known congenetic species recorded from Kachin State, Myanmar, and a key for their identification has been provided in this paper.

Keywords: China, morphology, Myanmar, Premna menglaensis, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden

Figure 2. Morphological comparison between Premna bhamoensis (AC) and P. menglaensis (ac).
A, a branchlets with inflorescences B, b inflorescences, flowers and calyces (in the blank circle) C, c fruitescences and fruits (arrow show fruiting calyx). 

Figure 1. Premna bhamoensis Y. T. Tan & B. Li, sp. nov.
habit a branchlet with ovate-oblong to elliptic leaves C branchlet and petioles covered by dense brownish pubescences D abaxial surface of leaf blade.

Premna bhamoensis Y.T. Tan & B. Li, sp. nov.

Diagnosis: The species is most similar in morphology to P. menglaensis B. Li, but differs from the latter in having branchlets and petioles densely tomentose (vs. glabrous or glabrescent), leaf blades papery with minute pubescence (vs. leathery and glabrous), flowers green to greenish yellow (vs. red flowers), calyces slightly 2-lipped with five equal lobes (vs. calyces distinctly 2-lipped with entire or minute emarginate lips), and stamens exserted from corolla (vs. included).

Distribution: Per the introduction record, P. bhamoensis is originally collected from northeastern Myanmar, but currently known only from the cultivated type in the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (Figure 4). Based on our experience in examination of Asian Premna specimens, we suspect that the species is probably endemic to Kachin State of Myanmar and distributed in a very small area.

Etymology: The specific epithet of this new species, “bhamoensis”, is derived from the name of the locality, Bhamo County, from where the species was originally collected.

 Yunhong Tan, Derong Li, Yongjun Chen and Bo Li. 2017. Premna bhamoensis (Lamiaceae, Premnoideae), A New Species from Kachin State, northeastern Myanmar.   PhytoKeys. 83: 93-101.  DOI:  10.3897/phytokeys.83.12869