Sunday, December 17, 2017

[Paleontology • 2017] Almas ukhaa • A New Late Cretaceous Troodontid from Ukhaa Tolgod, Ömnögovi Aimag, Mongolia

Almas ukhaa
Pei, Norell, Barta, Bever, Pittman & Xu, 2017

  DOI: 10.1206/3889.1 

A new troodontid dinosaur, Almas ukhaa, from the Late Cretaceous deposits of the Djadokhta Formation at Ukhaa Tolgod, Mongolia, is described here. The holotype specimen (IGM 100/1323) comprises an almost complete and articulated cranium and partial articulated postcranial skeleton. This specimen has a small body size and a short snout as in basal paravians, but it exhibits a number of derived troodontid features that differentiate Almas ukhaa from the Early Cretaceous troodontids reported from China and unite this new taxon with other Late Cretaceous troodontids. Relative to other troodontids, Almas ukhaa is autapomorphic in the presence of a posteriorly curved pterygoid flange, absence of a lateral groove on the anterior part of the dentary, presence of a distinct spikelike process on the ischium, and elongate chevrons. The eggshell associated with IGM 100/1323 can be assigned to Prismatoolithidae indet. based on the smooth surface, eggshell thickness, and microstructural characteristics, and also preserves attributes similar to Protoceratopsidovum minimum. A unique relationship between Byronosaurus and the perinate troodontids IGM 100/972 and IGM 100/974 is no longer supported based on the new observations of Almas ukhaa and Gobivenator.

Rui Pei, Mark A. Norell, Daniel E. Barta, G.S. Bever, Michael Pittman and Xing Xu. 2017. Osteology of A New Late Cretaceous Troodontid Specimen from Ukhaa Tolgod, Ömnögovi Aimag, Mongolia. American Museum Novitates. 3889; 1-47.  DOI: 10.1206/3889.1

[Botany • 2018] Paraboea fimbriata • A New Species of Paraboea (Gesneriaceae) from western Thailand

ชาฤาษีไทรโยค ||  Paraboea fimbriata  C.Puglisi & Phutthai

Puglisi & Phutthai, 2018. 


A new species of Paraboea P. fimbriata C.Puglisi & Phutthai, from Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand, is described.

Keywords: Kanchanaburi, limestone, taxonomy

Fig. 1. Paraboea fimbriata Puglisi & Phutthai.
A and B, Habit; C and D, inflorescence; E, capsule.
Photographs by T. Phutthai.

C. Puglisi and Thamarat Phutthai. 2018. A New Species of Paraboea (Gesneriaceae) from Thailand. Edinburgh Journal of Botany. DOI: 10.1017/S0960428617000324 

[Herpetology • 2018] Resolving Taxonomic Turbulence and Uncovering Cryptic Diversity in the Musk Turtles (Sternotherus) Using Robust Demographic Modeling; Sternotherus intermedius

Sternotherus intermedius
Scott, Glenn & Rissler, 2018

• We use 3RADseq to resolve Musk Turtle (Sternotherus) systematics.
• We discover cryptic species-level diversity in Sternotherus.
• Multiple species-tree methods infer conflicting relationships for Sternotherus species.
• Robust demographic modeling provides resolution to Sternotherus phylogeny.
• We provide a revised taxonomy for Sternotherus.

Accurate and consistent delimitation of species and their relationships provides a necessary framework for comparative studies, understanding evolutionary relationships, and informing conservation management. Despite the ever-increasing availability of genomic data, evolutionary dynamics can still render some relationships exceedingly difficult to resolve, including underlying speciation events that are rapid, recent, or confounded by post-speciation introgression. Here we present an empirical study of musk turtles (Sternotherus), which illustrates approaches to resolve difficult nodes in the Tree of Life that robust species-tree methods fail to resolve. We sequence 4430 RAD-loci from 205 individuals. Independent coalescent-based analyses, corroborated with morphology and geography, strongly support the recognition of cryptic species within Sternotherus, but with conflicting or weak support for some intraspecific relationships. To resolve species-tree conflict, we use a likelihood-based approach to test support for alternative demographic models behind alternative speciation scenarios and argue that demographic model testing has an important role for resolving systematic relationships in recent, rapid radiations. Species-tree and demographic modeling strongly support the elevation of two nominal subspecies in Sternotherus to species and the recognition of a previously cryptic species (Sternotherus intermedius sp. nov.) described within. The evolutionary and taxonomic history of Sternotherus is discussed in the context of these new species and novel and well-supported systematic hypotheses.

Keywords: Sternotherus, Species delimitation, Demographic models, Cryptic species, Species tree conflict

A revised and consistent taxonomy for Sternotherus
We find strong support for the recognition of Sodoratus (Latreille in Sonnini and Latreille, 1802:122) and Scarinatus (Gray, 1855:211) as they have been previously defined; therefore, the taxonomic status of these species will not be discussed further.

A.1. The Sternotherus minor species group

A.2. Sternotherus depressusTinkle and Webb, 1955

A.3. Sternotherus intermedius Scott et al., new species

Etymology. Medieval Latin intermediātus, past participle of intermediāre. This species is named for its long recognition as being a hypothetical “intermediate” form between S. peltifer and S. minor (e.g. Ernst et al., 1988), as turtles now attributed to S. intermedius have historically been recognized as hybrids between the two aforementioned species due to having a superficially intermediate morphology. The name is a noun in apposition.

Distribution – Sintermedius is endemic to only the Choctawhatchee and Escambia River basins and associated waters from the Apalachicola Bay in southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle (including the Choctawhatchee, Conecah, Yellow, Pea, Blackwater, and Escambia rivers drainages). This distribution is bordered to the north and west by the greater Mobile River Basin (including the Alabama, Coosa, and Tallapoosa River drainages), where it is replaced by S. pelitifer, and to the east by the greater Apalachicola River Basin (including the Chattahoochee and Flint River drainages), where it is replaced by S. minor.

A.4. Sternotheris peltifer Smith and Glass, 1947

A.5. Sternotherus minor Agassiz, 1857

  Peter A.Scott, Travis C.Glenn and Leslie J.Rissler. 2018.  Resolving Taxonomic Turbulence and Uncovering Cryptic Diversity in the Musk Turtles (Sternotherus) Using Robust Demographic Modeling. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.  120; 1-15. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2017.11.008 

Meet the intermediate musk turtle, Alabama's newest turtle species  @now_bham

Saturday, December 16, 2017

[Paleontology • 2017] Rhaeticosaurus mertensi • A Triassic Plesiosaurian Skeleton and Bone Histology Inform on Evolution of A Unique Body Plan

Rhaeticosaurus mertensi 
Wintrich, Hayashi, Houssaye, Nakajima & Sander, 2017

Secondary marine adaptation is a major pattern in amniote evolution, accompanied by specific bone histological adaptations. In the aftermath of the end-Permian extinction, diverse marine reptiles evolved early in the Triassic. Plesiosauria is the most diverse and one of the longest-lived clades of marine reptiles, but its bone histology is least known among the major marine amniote clades. Plesiosaurians had a unique and puzzling body plan, sporting four evenly shaped pointed flippers and (in most clades) a small head on a long, stiffened neck. The flippers were used as hydrofoils in underwater flight. A wide temporal, morphological, and morphometric gap separates plesiosaurians from their closest relatives (basal pistosaurs, Bobosaurus). For nearly two centuries, plesiosaurians were thought to appear suddenly in the earliest Jurassic after the end-Triassic extinctions. We describe the first Triassic plesiosaurian, from the Rhaetian of Germany, and compare its long bone histology to that of later plesiosaurians sampled for this study. The new taxon is recovered as a basal member of the Pliosauridae, revealing that diversification of plesiosaurians was a Triassic event and that several lineages must have crossed into the Jurassic. Plesiosaurian histology is strikingly uniform and different from stem sauropterygians. Histology suggests the concurrent evolution of fast growth and an elevated metabolic rate as an adaptation to cruising and efficient foraging in the open sea. The new specimen corroborates the hypothesis that open ocean life of plesiosaurians facilitated their survival of the end-Triassic extinctions.

Systematic paleontology
Reptilia Linnaeus, 1758
Diapsida Osborn, 1903

Plesiosauria de Blainville, 1835

Phylogenetic definition: We offer the following apomorphy-based definition of Plesiosauria: Sauropterygians with a short, wide trunk–bearing four flippers of even structure and subequal size, the flippers consisting of long, straight propodials combined with very short and dorsoventrally flattened zeugopodials.

Diagnosis: Plesiosauria is diagnosed (see Materials and Methods) by two unique and unambiguous synapomorphies: tooth enamel surface, striations present (character, 106; state, 0; see comment in table S2); orientation of cervical zygapophyses, dorsomedially facing (128, 1). An unambiguous but not unique synapomorphy is as follows: dorsal half of ilium, subequal anterior and posterior expansion (174, 0).

Rhaeticosaurus mertensi gen. et sp. nov.

Etymology: The genus name is based on rhaeticus, latinized adjective meaning “from the Rhaetian stage,” and sauros (Greek), meaning lizard or saurian. The specific epithet honors the discoverer of the holotype, Michael Mertens of Schwaney, Westphalia, Germany.

Holotype specimen: LWL-Museum für Naturkunde (Münster, Germany), LWL-MFN P 64047.

Locality and horizon: Clay pit #3 of Lücking brick company, 1 km north of the village of Bonenburg, city of Warburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (Fig. 1A). The specimen derives from Rhaetian dark marine mudstones of the Exter Formation, 21 m in the section below the Triassic-Jurassic boundary and about 3.5 m below a bonebed containing a vertebrate fauna of Rhaetian age.

Diagnosis: Small-bodied plesiosaurian with an estimated total length of 237 cm (Fig. 2, A and B). The new taxon has two autapomorphies (Fig. 2C): a modified V-shaped neurocentral suture in the anterior and middle cervical vertebrae. In Rhaeticosaurus, the sides of the “V” are ventrally concave, and the tip of the “V” almost reaches the ventral margin of the centrum. In other plesiosaurians with a V-shaped neurocentral suture, the sides of the “V” are straight, and the tip only extends to the middle of the centrum. The second autapomorphy is greatly foreshortened zeugopodials with a humerus/radius ratio of 3.8 and a femur/tibia ratio of 4.3 (Fig. 2, B, D, and E, and table S4). In addition, there are 10 unambiguous but not unique synapomorphies (tables S2 and S3).

Phylogenetic relationships: To assess the systematic position of the Triassic plesiosaurian skeleton, we coded it for a recently published phylogenetic data matrix aimed at clarifying plesiosaurian interrelationships (data file S1) (4). Rhaeticosaurus was found to be nested within Plesiosauria as a basal member of the Pliosauridae, with Anningasaura as the most basal plesiosaurian (Fig. 3A). As a consequence, six nodes in the cladogram are of Triassic age, indicating pre-Jurassic diversification of plesiosaurians into their major clades (Fig. 3A).

This is the skeleton of Rhaeticosaurus on exhibit at the LWL-Museum für Naturkunde in Münster (Germany). The disintegrated skull and neck can be seen on the left.
Photo: Georg Oleschinski

  Tanja Wintrich, Shoji Hayashi, Alexandra Houssaye, Yasuhisa Nakajima and P. Martin Sander. 2017. A Triassic Plesiosaurian Skeleton and Bone Histology Inform on Evolution of A Unique Body Plan. Science Advances. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701144

The Oldest Plesiosaur Was a Strong Swimmer via @unibonn @EurekAlert

[Botany • 2017] Dinizia jueirana-facao • The Majestic Canopy-Emergent Genus Dinizia (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae), Including A New Species Endemic to the Brazilian State of Espírito Santo

Dinizia jueirana-facao  G. P. Lewis & G. S. Siqueira

in Lewis, Siqueira, Banks & Bruneau, 2017.

Since its description, almost 100 years ago, the genus Dinizia has been treated as monospecific, comprising the single canopy-emergent species Dinizia excelsa Ducke which grows in non-flooded Amazonian forests of Guyana, Suriname and seven states of northern and central-western Brazil. Dinizia jueirana-facao G. P. Lewis & G. S. Siqueira, which grows in a restricted area of semi-deciduous Atlantic rain forest in Espírito Santo state, Brazil, is described as a new species in the genus. The new species is also a canopy-emergent of impressive stature. We provide descriptions for both species, a key to species identification, a distribution map and the new species is illustrated. Fossil leaves, inflorescences and fruit provide evidence for a Dinizia-like ancestor occurring in south-eastern North America during the Eocene. In contrast to D. excelsa where pollen is dispersed in tetrads, the pollen of D. jueirana-facao is shed in monads. D. jueirana-facao is considered critically endangered following IUCN conservation criteria, whereas D. excelsa is assessed to be of least concern. A lectotype is designated for D. excelsa.

Key Words: Fabaceae, fossils, Neotropics, pollen, taxonomy 

Fig. 3 Dinizia jueirana-facao.
A flowering branch and part of a bipinnate leaf; B leaflets at the base of a single pinna; C hermaphrodite flower; D functionally male flower opened to show stamen filaments and suppressed gynoecium development; E calyx opened out, outer surface; F longitudinal section of hermaphrodite flower to show gynoecium; G petal, outer surface; H stamen; J anther; K fruit; L part of a single valve of dehisced fruit with seeds attached; M seed.

A – J from Folli 4889 (K), K – M from Folli 4484 (K). drawn by Margaret Tebbs.

Dinizia jueirana-facao G. P. Lewis & G. S. Siqueira sp. nov. 
Type: Brazil, Espírito Santo, Linhares, Reserva Natural Vale, 30 July 2004 (fl.), D. A. Folli 4889 (holotype CVRD!; isotypes HUEFS!, K!).

Recognition. Dinizia jueirana-facao differs from its sister species D. excelsa in having leaflets in (9 –) 15 – 23 (– 24) pairs per pinna (vs 7 – 14 pairs), the leaflets completely glabrous (vs puberulent to glabrescent on their lower surface), its individual racemes 28 – 35 × 3 – 4.5 cm (vs 10 – 18 × 1 – 2 cm), buds ellipsoid to obovoid (vs globose), flowers 8.5 – 10 mm long (vs 4 – 5 mm long), its floral bracts spathulate and caducous (vs lanceolate and often persistent), its fruit woody and dehiscent along both sutures (vs indehiscent), seeds 25 – 30 × 16 – 19 mm (vs (10 –) 14 – 15 × 6 – 7 mm); and pollen in monads (vs tetrads).

Distribution. Dinizia jueirana-facao is currently known only from two locations, one (19°08'52.0"S, 40°05'16.4"W) in the Reserva Natural Vale in Linhares, northern Espirito Santo state, Brazil, and the second (19°05'12.1"S, 40°10'41.2"W) just outside the reserve in the surroundings of the small hamlet of Santa Luzia Sooretama. Map 1.

Habitat. An emergent tree in semi-deciduous forest and mata ciliar in the Reserva Natural Vale, an area of 22,000 hectares of pristine Atlantic Forest. This is the largest protected area of semi-deciduous forest in eastern Brazil. Also known from mata de tabuleiro, in the surroundings of Sooretama, just outside the Vale Reserve. Growing at elevations of 40 – 150 m above sea level.

Etymology. The species name is taken directly from the local name, “jueirana-facão”, for the tree in Espirito Santo. In the Reserva Natural Vale, the large legume tree Parkia pendula (Willd.) Benth ex Walp. is known as jueirana-vermelha and the new Dinizia species, which has a very similar bark which breaks off in large woody plates, but much larger fruits, is locally differentiated by replacing vermelha (Portuguese for red) with facão (Portuguese for large knife or machete), because the woody fruits of D. jueirana-facao have the appearance of a machete sheath or scabbard. According to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants (McNeill et al. 2012) an epithet can be a word in apposition (Art. 23.1) and taken from any source whatsoever (Art. 23.2), but the Code does not give clear guidance on diacritical signs, just ruling (Art. 60.6) that “the [diacritical] signs are to be suppressed with the necessary transcription of the letters so modified” but without elaborating on what “necessary transcription” means beyond the cited examples, which do not include ã. We thus transcribe the ã as a in the specific epithet here chosen for the new species.

Jueirana is thought to be derived from the Tupi word yuá-rana. Yuá (or Juá) is a Tupi common name for several different plant species, especially those in the Solanaceae with round, spiny fruits (Andrade 2006; Sampaio 1987). Rana in Tupi means similar to, so yuá-rana or jueirana means false juá (or similar to juá), although there is little resemblance between the new legume species and any Solanaceae. A number of place names in Brazil are derived from jueirana or an orthographic variant of this.

Notes. Dinizia jueirana-facao, as currently known, is a narrowly restricted species endemic to a small area of Atlantic forest in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo. Although a tree of shorter stature, and lacking buttresses, many of its vegetative and reproductive morphological characteristics are greater in number and/or size than those seen in its widespread Amazonian sister species, D. excelsa. D. jueirana-facao has leaflets in (9 –) 15 – 23 (– 24) pairs per pinna (7 – 14 pairs per pinna in D. excelsa), the leaflets glabrous (vs puberulent to glabrescent on their lower surface), its individual racemes 28 – 35 × 3 – 4.5 cm (vs 10 – 18 × 1 – 2 cm) in open flower, its flower buds ellipsoid to obovoid (vs globose), its flowers 8.5 – 10 mm long (vs 4 – 5 mm long), its floral bracts spathulate and caducous (vs lanceolate and often persistent), its fruit woody and dehiscent along both sutures (vs indehiscent), its seeds 25 – 30 × 16 – 19 mm (vs (10 –) 14 – 15 × 6 – 7 mm), and its pollen in monads (vs tetrads). D. jueirana-facao is critically endangered and presently known from less than 25 trees in two small areas, of which only one locality is inside a protected reserve. The type collection of the new species is from one of the largest trees growing inside the reserve.

G. P. Lewis, G. S. Siqueira, H. Banks and A. Bruneau. 2017. The Majestic Canopy-Emergent Genus Dinizia (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae), Including A New Species Endemic to the Brazilian State of Espírito Santo. Kew Bulletin. 72:48.  DOI: 10.1007/s12225-017-9720-7

Probably the world's heaviest living organism described in 2017?
New tree species in Brazil probably the world's heaviest living organism via @physorg_com

[Herpetology • 2017] Goggia incognita & G. matzikamaensis • Molecular Phylogeny reveals Strong Biogeographic Signal and Two New Species in A Cape Biodiversity Hotspot Endemic Mini-Radiation, the Pygmy Geckos (Gekkonidae: Goggia)

Goggia matzikamaensis
Heinicke, Turk & Bauer, 2017


The gekkonid genus Goggia includes eight described species of mostly small-bodied rock dwelling gecko endemic to the southwestern portion of southern Africa, in South Africa and extreme southern Namibia. Previous studies focused on Goggia have employed external morphology and allozyme electrophoresis, but no sequence-based molecular phylogeny of the group has been produced. We have generated a molecular phylogeny of Goggia including all named species and multiple individuals within each species, using sequences of the mitochondrial gene ND2 and nuclear genes RAG1 and PDC. The phylogeny depicts a basal divergence between eastern and western species of small-bodied Goggia, with additional divergences also showing structure strongly correlated with geography. Goggia lineata and G. rupicola are shown to be non-monophyletic, and examination of external morphology supports the distinctiveness of these lineages. We describe two new species to accommodate the southern lineages of “G. lineata” and “G. rupicola”: Goggia incognita sp. nov. and Goggia matzikamaensis sp. nov. Both new species are separated from their northern relatives by geographic barriers: the Knersvlakte plain for G. incognita sp. nov. and G. lineata, and the high Kamiesberg mountains for G. matzikamaensis sp. nov. and G. rupicola. The possible roles of geography, ecology, and climate in promoting diversification within Goggia are discussed.

Keywords: Reptilia, allopatry, Cape Fold Belt, fynbos, Karoo, Namaqualand, taxonomy

Goggia incognita sp. nov. 
Diplodactylus lineatus (part) Gray, 1845
Phyllodactylus lineatus (part) Smith, 1849
Phyllodactylus lineatus lineatus (part) Hewitt, 1937 
Goggia lineata (part) Bauer, Good, and Branch, 1997

Etymology. The specific epithet is from the Latin word incognitus, meaning “not known”. The English phrase “going incognito” refers to remaining hidden or disguised. The name is chosen to reflect the 150+ year time period in which this species has remained hidden within what were considered nominotypical populations of Goggia lineata. It additionally reflects the natural history of the species, as members of the species are typically inconspicuous and hidden under cover objects by day. The name is used as an adjective.

One of the newly described Dwarf Leaf-toed Geckos - Goggia matzikamaensis from near Kliprand in the Western Cape, South Africa.

Goggia matzikamaensis sp. nov. 
Phyllodactylus rupicolus (part) Branch, Bauer, and Good, 1995 
Goggia rupicola (part) Bauer, Good, and Branch, 1997

Etymology. The specific epithet means “from Matzikama”, and refers to the type locality, which is within Matzikama Local Municipality, the northernmost municipality in Western Cape Province. The epithet is used as an adjective.

Matthew P. Heinicke, Dilara Turk and Aaron M. Bauer. 2017. Molecular Phylogeny reveals Strong Biogeographic Signal and Two New Species in A Cape Biodiversity Hotspot Endemic Mini-Radiation, the Pygmy Geckos (Gekkonidae: Goggia).  Zootaxa. 4312(3); 449–470.  DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4312.3.3

[Ichthyology • 2017] Brachychalcinus reisi • A New Species of Brachychalcinus (Characiformes: Characidae) from the rio Xingu basin, Serra do Cachimbo, Brazil

Brachychalcinus reisi 
Garcia-Ayala, Ohara, Pastana & Benine, 2017


Brachychalcinus reisi, a new species of characid fish, is described from the rio Curuá, tributary of rio Iriri, rio Xingu basin, Serra do Cachimbo, Pará State, Brazil. The new species can be distinguished from its congeners by the presence of a series of longitudinal black wavy stripes on the entire body and by a lower number of longitudinal scale rows between dorsal-fin origin and lateral line (7–8 vs. 8–12). Additionally, the new species differs from B. copei, B. parnaibae, and B. retrospina by the lower number of branched dorsal-fin rays (9 vs.10). This is the first description of a new species of the subfamily since the revisionary study of Stethaprioninae, published almost 30 years ago.

Keywords: Pisces, Stethaprioninae, Neotropical region, freshwater fishes, taxonomy, Amazon

FIGURE 4. Brachychalcinus reisi, MZUSP 119456, paratype, 57.3 mm SL, Brazil, Pará, Altamira, rio Curuá, rio Xingu basin. 

Brachychalcinus reisi new species

Etymology. The specific name reisi is in honor of Roberto Esser dos Reis, for his great contributions to the knowledge of the Stethaprioninae and the Neotropical ichthyology as a whole. A genitive noun.  

  FIGURE 6. Type-locality of Brachychalcinus reisi, Brazil, Pará, Altamira, upper rio Curuá, rio Xingu basin.  

James R. Garcia-Ayala, Willian M. Ohara, Murilo N. L. Pastana and Ricardo C. Benine. 2017. A New Species of Brachychalcinus (Characiformes: Characidae) from the rio Xingu basin, Serra do Cachimbo, Brazil. Zootaxa. 4362(4); 564–574.  DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4362.4.5

[Arachnida • 2017] Daddy-long-leg Giants: Revision of the Spider Genus Artema Walckenaer, 1837 (Araneae, Pholcidae)

Artema nephilit 
Aharon, Huber & Gavish-Regev, 2017


This is the first revision of Artema Walckenaer, 1837, a genus consisting of large and phylogenetically interesting species. Even though Artema is not species-rich (now eight nominal species), it has suffered from poor descriptions and synonymies. Our main goal was to gather all available material and to clarify species limits. Four species are easily distinguished from other congeners: Artema atlanta Walckenaer, 1837, the type species; A. kochi Kulczyński, 1901 (revalidated); A. bunkpurugu Huber & Kwapong, 2013; and A. nephilit sp. nov. All other species are problematic for varying reasons: species limits are unclear between A. doriae Thorell, 1881 and A. transcaspica Spassky, 1934; A. magna Roewer, 1960 and A. ziaretana (Roewer, 1960) are problematic because they are based on female and juvenile types respectively and little new material is available. The material available to us suggests the existence of a few further species; however, they are not formally described, either because of small sample sizes (Artema sp. a and A. sp. b are represented by only one specimen each) or because of unclear species limits (between Artema sp. c, A. transcaspica and A. doriae).This study is the first serious step towards understanding the genus. Intensive collecting effort is needed in order to fully clarify species limits.

Keywords: key; Middle East; Pholcidae; taxonomy

Figs 3–8. Live specimens and habitats.
  3. Artema atlanta Walckenaer, 1837 from Thailand, Ratchaburi.
 45. A. nephilit sp. nov. from Israel. 6. Typical Artema web mass, in a cave in Petra, Jordan. 78. Caves populated by Artema nephilit sp. nov.: Oren Cave, Mount Karmel (7) and caves in the Eilat Mountains (8), Israel.

 Photos: B. A. Huber (3–4, 6–8), S. Aharon (5). 

Class Arachnida Cuvier, 1812
Order Araneae Clerck, 1757

Family Pholcidae C.L. Koch, 1851

Artema Walckenaer, 1837

Artema Walckenaer, 1837: 656; 
type species: Artema atlanta (by subsequent monotypy).

Coroia González-Sponga, 2005: 102; 
type species: Coroia magna González-Sponga, 2005; synonymized by Huber et al. 2014: 416.

Diagnosis: Artema is easily distinguished from other pholcids by its large body and strong legs (body length 5.5– 9.5 mm; leg span up to 15 cm; tibia 1 L/d: 34–42); also by distinctive pattern on globose and high abdomen (dark dots dorsally, arranged in stripes from dorsal to lateral, sometimes absent; Figs 3–5, 51– 53); by male pedipalp with its unique bulbal processes and short but massive procursus with proximal dorsal process (dp: Fig. 89) and weakly developed ventral pocket (vp: Fig. 89); by armature of male chelicerae (frontal row of cone-shaped hairs on each side, situated on elevated processes or ridges; Figs 23, 44); and by pair of low to high projections in front of large anterior epigynal plate (AEP: Fig. 15).

Artema atlanta Walckenaer, 1837

Artema doriae Thorell, 1881

Etymology: Even though the species was named for a man (Marchese Giacomo Doria, 1840–1913), the ICZN (1999: article 31.1) clearly states that the correct patronym has to be doriae, not doriai. The latter is thus an unjustified emendation.

Artema transcaspica Spassky, 1934

Artema magna Roewer, 1960

Artema kochi Kulczyński, 1901 (revalidated) 

Artema nephilit sp. nov.
Artema mauriciana” (misidentification) – Bodenheimer 1937: 238 (“Palestina”)
Artema mauricia” (misidentification) – Dalmas 1920: 59 (Bodrum, Turkey). 

Diagnosis: Males can be distinguished from all known congeners by their bulbal processes: process c (Fig. 40) projecting prolaterally, processes d and e absent (Fig. 39) (A. magna: process c robust, strongly curved prolaterally, process d distinct rounded projection on ventral side of bulb – see Figs 159–160; A. doriae and A. transcaspica: process d small, pointed towards ventrodistally) and by unique median projection on each male cheliceral process (Figs 43–44, 67) (only A. magna with similar median projection but no modified hairs connect to main ridge as in A. nephilit sp. nov. – see Figs 163–164). Females with semicircular epigynum (Figs 45–50); differing from A. atlanta by straight posterior epigynal margin; from A. magna by epigynal plate length to width ratio; from A. bunkpurugu by much less prominent anterior epigynal projections (AEP in Fig. 48) (cf. Huber & Kwapong 2013: figs 49, 53–54). 

Etymology: The species epithet is derived from the feminine singular noun of the biblical name “Nephilim”, the giants who were seen by the twelve people sent by Moses to scout the Land of Canaan. It refers to the large size of the spider. Noun in apposition.

Shlomi Aharon, Bernhard A. Huber and Efrat Gavish-Regev. 2017. Daddy-long-leg Giants: Revision of the Spider Genus Artema Walckenaer, 1837 (Araneae, Pholcidae). European Journal of Taxonomy. 376: 1–57. DOI: 10.5852/ejt.2017.376


[Botany • 2017] Polystichum zhijinense • A New Cave Species of Polystichum (subg. Haplopolystichum; Dryopteridaceae) from Guizhou, China

 Polystichum zhijinense

Duan, Kropf & Zhang, 2017.  DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.331.1.11  


A new fern species, Polystichum zhijinense, a member of P. subg. Haplopolystichum (Dryopteridaceae), is described and illustrated from Guizhou Province in Southwest China. Polystichum zhijinense is somehow similar to P. fengshanense in having pinnae oblong and entire or shallowly repand (not aristate-spinulose on the margin), but differs in the shape of the pinna apex, the morphology of microscales, and the sorus distribution. Polystichum zhijinense was found at a cave entrance and is currently known from one population only and thus is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) following IUCN Red List criteria.

Keywords: Guizhou, IUCN Red List, karst cave, Polystichum zhijinense, Pteridophytes

Yi-Fan Duan, Matthias Kropf and Li-Bing Zhang. 2017. Polystichum zhijinense (subg. Haplopolystichum; Dryopteridaceae), A New Cave Species of Polystichum from Guizhou, China. Phytotaxa. 331(1); 124–130. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.331.1.11

[PaleoOrnithology • 2017] Kumimanu biceae • A Paleocene Penguin from New Zealand Substantiates Multiple Origins of Gigantism in Fossil Sphenisciformes

Kumimanu biceae
Mayr, Scofield, De Pietri & Tennyson, 2017

One of the notable features of penguin evolution is the occurrence of very large species in the early Cenozoic, whose body size greatly exceeded that of the largest extant penguins. Here we describe a new giant species from the late Paleocene of New Zealand that documents the very early evolution of large body size in penguins. Kumimanu biceae, n. gen. et sp. is larger than all other fossil penguins that have substantial skeletal portions preserved. Several plesiomorphic features place the new species outside a clade including all post-Paleocene giant penguins. It is phylogenetically separated from giant Eocene and Oligocene penguin species by various smaller taxa, which indicates multiple origins of giant size in penguin evolution. That a penguin rivaling the largest previously known species existed in the Paleocene suggests that gigantism in penguins arose shortly after these birds became flightless divers. Our study therefore strengthens previous suggestions that the absence of very large penguins today is likely due to the Oligo-Miocene radiation of marine mammals.

Systematic paleontology
Aves Linnaeus, 1758
Sphenisciformes Sharpe, 1891

Kumimanu biceae, n. gen. et sp.

  Holotype. NMNZ S.45877: partial skeleton of a single individual including cranial end of left scapula, incomplete right coracoid, cranialmost portion of sternum, partial left humerus, incomplete proximal end of left ulna, right femur, right tibiotarsus lacking proximal end, partial synsacrum, three vertebrae, and various bone fragments.

  Etymology. From kumi (Maori), a large mythological monster, and manu (Maori), bird. The species epithet honors Beatrice (“Bice”) A. Tennyson, the mother of AJDT, who fostered his interest in natural history (pronounced “bee-chee-ae”).

  Type locality and horizon. Hampden Beach, Otago, New Zealand (NZ Fossil Record Number J42/f0956; precise locality information is recorded at NMNZ); Moeraki Formation, late Paleocene (late Teurian, local stratigraphic level NZP522, which has an absolute age of 55.5.-59.5 million years23; a matrix sample taken from the fossil (GNS Science sample L29126) contained a specimen of the dinoflagellate Palaeocystodinium australinum and an unnamed dinoflagellate taxon that support a Teurian age for this sample; C. Clowes, pers. comm.).

  Diagnosis. A very large-sized sphenisciform species, which is characterized by proximodistally low and widely spaced condyles of the tibiotarsus. Distinguished from the late Paleocene Crossvallia and all post-Paleocene Sphenisciformes of which humeri are known in the dorsoventrally narrower humerus shaft, with ratio of maximum width of proximal end of humerus to minimum width of shaft being 2.4 (less than this value in Crossvallia and all post-Paleocene Sphenisciformes of which the humerus is known). Distinguished from Waimanu tuatahi in having the bicipital crest of humerus not forming a distally directed bulge. Distinguished from Waimanu manneringi (the humerus of which is unknown) in having the tibiotarsus with proximodistally lower and more widely spaced condyles.

The humerus (top) and a bone from the shoulder girdle (coracoid, bottom) of the Paleocene giant penguin Kumimanu biceae, compared to the corresponding bones of one of the largest fossil penguins known to date (Pachydyptes ponderosus from the Eocene in New Zealand) and those of an Emperor Penguin (Aptendodytes forsteri).

photo: G. Mayr/Senckenberg Research Institute.

Gerald Mayr, R. Paul Scofield, Vanesa L. De Pietri and Alan J. D. Tennyson. 2017. A Paleocene Penguin from New Zealand substantiates multiple origins of gigantism in fossil Sphenisciformes. Nature Communications. 8, Article number: 1927. DOI:  10.1038/s41467-017-01959-6

A giant human-sized ancient penguin has been discovered 
Ancient man-sized penguin found in New Zealand beach via @zmescience
 「怪物」サイズのペンギン、ニュージーランドで化石発見 via @afpbbcom


[Ichthyology • 2017] Cirrhilabrus greeni • A New Species of Wrasse (Pisces: Labridae) from the Timor Sea, northern Australia

 Cirrhilabrus greeni Allen & Hammer, 2017


A new species of labrid fish, the Sunset Fairy-wrasse, Cirrhilabrus greeni n. sp., is described from seven specimens, 39.4–47.3 mm SL, collected from the eastern Timor Sea, Northern Territory, Australia. The species is clearly distinguished by its terminal-phase male color pattern, consisting of pink to reddish hues on the upper half of the head and body and yellow on the lower half, in combination with a mainly yellow-orange dorsal fin and a scarletred anal fin. The caudal fin of the male is particularly distinctive, being emarginate but appearing lunate due to a clear central portion and tapering red bands along dorsal and ventral margins. Females can be distinguished from sympatric congeners by having a large black spot on the upper caudal peduncle. Sequencing of the mtDNAbarcode marker COI reveals that the new species has identical sequences to C. rubripinnis and C. aff. tonozukai from the Philippines, which have very different color patterns and tail shapes from the new species, indicating the new species has diverged recently and/or there is historic or episodic hybridization within the species complex. 

Key words: taxonomy, systematics, ichthyology, coral-reef fishes, Indo-Pacific Ocean, fairy wrasse, DNA barcoding. 

Figure 3. Cirrhilabrus greeni, aquarium photographs of live male holotype, 47.3 mm SL, eastern Timor Sea (M.P. Hammer).

Cirrhilabrus greeni, n. sp. 
Sunset Fairy-wrasse

Diagnosis. Dorsal-fin elements XI,9; anal-fin elements III,9; pectoral-fin rays 15; lateral-line scales 16–17 + 6–7; median predorsal scales 5; single horizontal scale rows on cheek below eye; gill rakers 13; body depth 3.6- 3.7 in SL; head length 2.9–3.0 in SL; snout length 3.5–4.3 in HL; dorsal fin mostly uniform height; pelvic fins of TP male moderately elongate, reaching posteriorly to about base of first soft anal-fin ray, 2.7–3.9 in SL; caudal fin distinctly emarginate, appearing lunate in males due to tapering red bands along dorsal and ventral margins. TP male in life mainly reddish on upper half of body and bright yellow below; dorsal fin mainly yellow orange, grading to reddish basally with dark-edged white or clear bands on basal half of soft rays; anal fin scarlet red; caudal fin translucent medially with tapering red bands along dorsal and ventral margins; pelvic fins pinkish; pectoral fins translucent with brilliant red triangular mark immediately above base. Female in life rosy pink on upper two-thirds of head and body, grading to whitish ventrally; body with 4–5 narrow reddish stripes on upper half; dorsal fin pinkish yellow with faint red bands and dark brown first spine; anal fin pink with faint red bands; caudal fin with numerous transverse rows of faint red spots, except darker red along edge of lower lobe; black spot, about one-third to half pupil size, on upper side of caudal peduncle.

Etymology. The species is named in honor of Tim Green of Monsoon Aquatics (Darwin, Australia), who collected the type specimens.

Distribution and habitat. The new species is currently known only from the eastern Timor Sea (Fig. 5), approximately 300 km northwest of Darwin, Australia and 300 km southwest of the Tanimbar Islands of Indonesia. It was collected and observed in depths of about 18–40 m. The habitat consists of sloping rubble bottoms with scattered low outcrops of rock or coral and occasional large coral outcrops. It co-occurs with several other members of the genus including C. hygroxerus and four species of undetermined status that are related to C. cyanopleura (Bleeker, 1851); Cexquisitus Smith, 1957; Cpunctatus Randall & Kuiter, 1989; and C. temminckii Bleeker, 1853.

Allen, G.R. and Hammer, M.P. 2017. Cirrhilabrus greeni, A New Species of Wrasse (Pisces: Labridae) from the Timor Sea, northern Australia. Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation. 29, 55–65. DOI:  10.5281/zenodo.1115674

[Paleontology • 2017] Algorachelus peregrinus • A New Turtle Taxon (Podocnemidoidea, Bothremydidae) reveals the Oldest Known Dispersal Event of the crown Pleurodira from Gondwana to Laurasia

Algorachelus peregrinus
Pérez-García. 2017 

Illustration by José Antonio Peñas

Pan-Pleurodira is one of the two clades of extant turtles (i.e. Testudines). Its crown group, Pleurodira, has a Gondwanan origin being known from the Barremian. Cretaceous turtle fauna of Gondwana was composed almost exclusively of pleurodires. Extant pleurodires live in relatively warm regions, with a geographical distribution restricted to tropical regions that were part of Gondwana. Although pleurodires were originally freshwater forms, some clades have adapted to a nearshore marine lifestyle, which contributed to their dispersal. However, few lineages of Pleurodira reached Laurasian regions and no representatives have so far been described from the pre-Santonian of Laurasia, where the continental and coastal Cretaceous faunas of turtles consist of clades exclusive to this region. A new turtle, Algorachelus peregrinus gen. et sp. nov., is described here from the southern Laurasian Cenomanian site of Algora in Spain. Numerous remains, including a skull and well-preserved postcranial specimens, are attributed to this species. The abundant shell elements, much more numerous than those known in most members of pleurodiran clade Bothremydidae, allow its variability to be studied. The new taxon represents the oldest evidence of the occurrence of Pleurodira in Laurasia, and is the oldest genus of the abundant and diverse Bothremydodda so far described. Factors such as the relatively high Cenomanian temperatures, the adaptation of this Gondwanan clade to coastal environments, and the geographical proximity between the two landmasses may have contributed to its dispersal. This finding shows that the first dispersals of Pleurodira from Gondwana to Laurasia occurred much earlier than previously thought.

Keywords: Pleurodira, Bothremydidae, new taxa, dispersal, Laurasia

Adán Pérez-García. 2017. A New Turtle Taxon (Podocnemidoidea, Bothremydidae) reveals the Oldest Known Dispersal Event of the crown Pleurodira from Gondwana to Laurasia. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 15(9); 709-731. DOI:  10.1080/14772019.2016.1228549
El increíble viaje de la primera tortuga africana que llegó a Europa via @agencia_sinc