Tuesday, November 21, 2017

[PaleoIchthyology • 2017] Eoanabas thibetana • Fossil Climbing Perch and Associated Plant Megafossils indicate A Warm and Wet Central Tibet During the late Oligocene

Eoanabas thibetana
Wu, Miao, Chang, Shi & Wang, 2017

Understanding the Tibetan Plateau’s palaeogeography and palaeoenvironment is critical for reconstructing Asia’s climatic history; however, aspects of the plateau’s uplift history remain unclear. Here, we report a fossil biota that sheds new light on these issues. It comprises a fossil climbing perch (Anabantidae) and a diverse subtropical fossil flora from the Chattian (late Oligocene) of central Tibet. The fish, Eoanabas thibetana gen. et sp. nov., is inferred to be closely related to extant climbing perches from tropical lowlands in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It has osteological correlates of a labyrinth organ, which in extant climbing perches gives them the ability to breathe air to survive warm, oxygen-poor stagnant waters or overland excursion under moist condition. This indicates that Eoanabas likewise lived in a warm and humid environment as suggested by the co-existing plant assemblage including palms and golden rain trees among others. As a palaeoaltimeter, this fossil biota suggests an elevation of ca. 1,000 m. These inferences conflict with conclusions of a high and dry Tibet claimed by some recent and influential palaeoaltimetry studies. Our discovery prompts critical re-evaluation of prevailing uplift models of the plateau and their temporal relationships with the Cenozoic climatic changes.

Systematic Palaeontology  

Teleostei Müller, 1845
Anabantiformes sensu Wiley and Johnson, 2010

Anabantoidei sensu Lauder and Liem, 1983
Anabantidae Bonaparte, 1839

Eoanabas thibetana gen. et sp. nov.

Etymology. The generic name combines ‘Eo-’ (Greek, early/primeval) with ‘Anabas’, the type genus of Anabantidae from tropical Asia. The specific name refers to Tibet, China.

Holotype. IVPP V 22782, a complete skeleton, part and counterpart (Fig. 1a,b).

Paratypes. Sixteen specimens are designated as paratypes (Supplementary Information).

Locality and Horizon. Jiangnongtangga (type locality) and Songwori in south Nima Basin and Dayu in Lunpola Basin in central Tibet (Supplementary Figs 1 and 2). Middle-upper part of Dingqing Formation, late Oligocene (Chattian) (ca. 26~23.5 Ma)6, 20, 26.

Diagnosis. A labyrinth fish displaying anabantid characteristics including a posterior notch of the opercle bounded by spines, a V-shaped strut on inner side of opercle and six to nine anal-fin spines. It shares with Asian anabantids the following derived characters: broad infraorbitals 3–5 completely covering the cheek, a sensory canal pore just behind sphenotic/pterotic junction and pelvic plate lying flat; and it shares with African anabantids some derived characters, e.g., sensory canal opening in between the infraorbitals, supraorbital commissure of the sensory canal absent and male postocular contact organ present.

Figure 1 A new fossil climbing perch, Eoanabas thibetana gen. et sp. nov. from the upper Oligocene of central Tibet. It resembles its extant tropical relatives in having a labyrinth organ for air breathing and postocular contact organ in male fishes for stimulating the female during a mating clasp.
(a) Photograph and (b) line drawing of holotype (IVPP V22782a), image horizontally rotated. (c) Photograph and (d) line drawing of the head of IVPP V18412a, red area in (d) representing muscular attachment facet.

Abbreviations: alm, attachment facet of levator operculi muscle; Cbr1, ceratobranchial of first gill arch; op.st, V-shaped struts on inner side of opercles.

Figure 2 Fossil climbing perch, Eoanabas thibetana gen. et sp. nov. from the upper Oligocene of central Tibet.
(a) Line drawing of the head of IVPP V18414a. (b) Photograph of IVPP V18414a. (c) Photograph of IVPP V18581a. (d) Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images of relics of labyrinth organ in (c), arrows pointing the pores on the lamellae. (e) Computerized tomography of labyrinth organ (lateral view) of Anabas testudineus (OP 435). (f) Cleared and stained head showing the labyrinth organ and associated structures of Anabas testudineus (collection no. OP 432). (g) Cleared and stained specimen of Anabas testudineus (collection no. OP 433). (h) Osteological restoration of Eoanabas, purported male; not to scale.

Images in (c), (d) are horizontally rotated. Abbreviations: br, branchiostegal rays; hp1, hypural 1; m., muscle; php, parhypural.

Feixiang Wu, Desui Miao, Mee-mann Chang, Gongle Shi and Ning Wang. 2017. Fossil Climbing Perch and Associated Plant Megafossils indicate A Warm and Wet Central Tibet During the late Oligocene. Scientific Reports. 7, Article number: 878.  DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-00928-9 

[Botany • 2016] Floral Specialization for Different Pollinators and Divergent Use of the Same Pollinator Among Co-occurring Impatiens Species (Balsaminaceae) from Southeast Asia

Researchers have presented their results on specialization in pollination techniques in flowers of the genus Impatiens. For two months in 2014, they have studied 7 co-occurring species of the genus Impatiens in the Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

 Ruchisansakun, Tangtorwongsakul, Cozien, et al. 2016.

Floral variation among closely related species is thought to often reflect differences in pollination systems. Flowers of the large genus Impatiens are characterized by extensive variation in colour, shape and size and in anther and stigma positioning, but studies of their pollination ecology are scarce and most lack a comparative context. Consequently, the function of floral diversity in Impatiens remains enigmatic. This study documents floral variation and pollination of seven co-occurring Impatiens spp. in the Southeast Asian diversity hotspot. To assess whether floral trait variation reflects specialization for different pollination systems, we tested whether species depend on pollinators for reproduction, identified animals that visit flowers, determined whether these visitors play a role in pollination and quantified and compared key floral traits, including floral dimensions and nectar characteristics. Experimental exclusion of insects decreased fruit and seed set significantly for all species except I. muscicola, which also received almost no visits from animals. Most species received visits from several animals, including bees, birds, butterflies and hawkmoths, only a subset of which were effective pollinators. Impatiens psittacina, I. kerriae, I. racemosa and I. daraneenae were pollinated by bees, primarily Bombus haemorrhoidalis. Impatiens chiangdaoensis and I. santisukii had bimodal pollination systems which combined bee and lepidopteran pollination. Floral traits differed significantly among species with different pollination systems. Autogamous flowers were small and spurless, and did not produce nectar; bee-pollinated flowers had short spurs and large floral chambers with a wide entrance; and bimodally bee- and lepidopteran-pollinated species had long spurs and a small floral chamber with a narrow entrance. Nectar-producing species with different pollination systems did not differ in nectar volume and sugar concentration. Despite the high frequency of bee pollination in co-occurring species, individuals with a morphology suggestive of hybrid origin were rare. Variation in floral architecture, including various forms of corolla asymmetry, facilitates distinct, species-specific pollen-placement on visiting bees. Our results show that floral morphological diversity among Impatiens spp. is associated with both differences in functional pollinator groups and divergent use of the same pollinator. Non-homologous mechanisms of floral asymmetry are consistent with repeated independent evolution, suggesting that competitive interactions among species with the same pollination system have been an important driver of floral variation among Impatiens spp.

Keywords: autogamy; bee pollination; butterfly pollination; floral asymmetry; nectar robbing; nectar spur; pollen placement; sympatry; tropics

Figure 3. Impatiens flowers, showing variation in colour and shape and floral visitors:
 I. muscicola (A); 
I. santisukii pollinated by Polytremis lubricans lubricans (B) and Bombus haemorrhoidalis (C);
I. racemosa pollinated by B. haemorrhoidalis (D);
I. chiangdaoensis pollinated by Notocrypta curvifascia (E) and visited by a nectar-robbing B. haemorrhoidalis (F);
 I. psittacina pollinated by B. haemorrhoidalis (G);
I. kerriae pollinated by B. haemorrhoidalis (H) and visited by Apis cerana (I), Macroglossum belis (J), and Aethopyga gouldiae (K).
  I. daraneenae pollinated by an unknown bee species (Apidae) (L).

Black arrow in (A) indicates the typical position of the shed anthers onto the lower lateral united petals, facilitating autonomous self-pollination. All other arrows indicate pollen placement sites on visiting bee species (C, D, G, H, L). Scale bar in (A) represents 1 mm, all other scale bars represent 10 mm.

Saroj Ruchisansakun, Pornpimon Tangtorwongsakul, Ruth J. Cozien, Erik F. Smets FMLS and Timotheüs van der Niet. 2016. Floral Specialization for Different Pollinators and Divergent Use of the Same Pollinator Among Co-occurring Impatiens Species (Balsaminaceae) from Southeast Asia. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 181(4); 651–666.  DOI: 10.1111/boj.12427

In a study in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, researchers (including 4  from Naturalis) have presented their results on specialization in pollination techniques in flowers of the genus Impatiens. For two months in 2014, they have studied 7 co-occurring species of the genus Impatiens (see video) in the Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Impatiens develops diff. floral shapes to specialize in pollination techniques + avoid competition! Blog+video https://science.naturalis.nl/en/about-us/news/onderzoek/flowers-impatiens-genus-and-their-specialization-pollination-techniques/?platform=hootsuite

[Herpetology • 2017] Euspondylus excelsum • A New Species of Arboreal Microteiid Lizard of the Genus Euspondylus (Gymnophthalmidae: Cercosaurinae) from the Andean Slopes of central Peru with Comments on Peruvian Euspondylus

Euspondylus excelsum 
Chávez, Catenazzi & Venegas, 2017


We describe a new species of arboreal gymnophtalmid lizard from the eastern Andean slopes in central Peru. Euspondylus excelsum sp. nov. is assigned tentatively to this genus for the presence of a transparent and divided lower palpebral disc, a pair of prefrontals, striated, subimbricated and homogeneous dorsal scales, lateral scales reduced in proximity to ventrals, and a discontinuous series of femoral pores in males and females. We include a revision of the type material of E. maculatus and clarify morphological differences with the new species. Finally, we discuss the taxonomic status of Peruvian species of Euspondylus.

Keywords: Reptilia, Andes, new species, gymnophtalmid lizard, Cercosaurini, Squamata, taxonomy

Euspondylus excelsum sp. nov.

Etymology. The specific epithet “excelsum” is from Latin and means “tall”, in reference to the habitat of the new species in the canopy of the tropical rainforest.

FIGURE 2. Views of the holotype (CORBIDI 16457; SVL= 69.4 mm);
A) coloration in life; B) dorsal view of the coloration in preservative; C) ventral view of the coloration in preservative.
Photographs by Lesly Luján (A), and GermánChávez (B,C).

FIGURE 3. Views of the dorsum (left) and venter (right) of the paratypes in life,
 A–B) Adult male (CORBIDI 16465, SVL=83.7 mm); C–D) Adult female (CORBIDI 16463, SVL=81.4); E–F) Juvenile male (CORBIDI 16468, SVL=47.7). Photographs byLesly Luján. 

Germán Chávez, Alessandro Catenazzi and Pablo J. Venegas. 2017. A New Species of Arboreal Microteiid Lizard of the Genus Euspondylus (Gymnophthalmidae: Cercosaurinae) from the Andean Slopes of central Peru with Comments on Peruvian EuspondylusZootaxa. 4350(2); 301–316. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4350.2.6

Monday, November 20, 2017

[Crustacea • 2017] Birgus latro • Ruler of the Atoll: the World's Largest Land Invertebrate

A coconut crab (Birgus latro) kills an adult red- footed booby (Sula sula) on Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory) 
 Laidre, 2017.   
 DOI: 10.1002/fee.1730  

Predation can exert life-or-death selection pressures on prey over evolutionary time. Even when the observed frequency of predation is low, predators may induce wide-spread avoidance behavior in prey, thereby creating “landscapes of fear” (Laundré et al. 2014), which indi-rectly transform species abundance and community composition. For some animals, especially in remote areas, we know little about their predatory capacities or their potential impact on communities.

The coconut crab (Birgus latro) inhabits remote coral atolls and is the world’s largest terrestrial invertebrate, growing to what Charles Darwin described as “a monstrous size” (Darwin 1845), with a leg span exceeding 1 m and a weight of up to 4 kg. Following a brief larval stage in the ocean, these crabs spend the rest of their life on land, first as juveniles wearing remodeled gastropod shells (Laidre 2012) – like their closest evolutionary relatives, the terrestrial hermit crabs (Laidre 2014) – and then as adults living shell- free. Historically, coconut crabs were distributed across the Indo- Pacific on islands that for millions of years lacked any human presence. However, due to anthropogenic impacts, especially harvesting by humans, coconut crabs have been driven to local extinc-tion in many parts of their original range. Few studies of this remarkable animal’s behavior have been undertaken since Darwin’s Beagle voyage, but anecdotes abound, including rumors that the crabs ate Amelia Earhart (Nuwer 2013; though see Krieger et al. 2016 for well- documented predation on invertebrates). A review of the biology of coconut crabs emphasized that “behavioral ecology studies are few” and stressed “the need for further systematic research” (Drew et al. 2010).


Figure 1. A coconut crab (Birgus latro) kills an adult red- footed booby (Sula sula) on Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory) 

Mark E Laidre. 2017. Ruler of the Atoll: the World's Largest Land Invertebrate. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 15(9); 527–528.  DOI: 10.1002/fee.1730 

Giant coconut crab sneaks up on a sleeping bird and kills it

[Paleontology • 2017] The Squamation of the Eocene stem-Basilisk Geiseltaliellus maarius (Squamata: Iguanidae: Corytophaninae) from Messel, Germany

Geiseltaliellus maarius  Smith, 2009

life reconstruction by J. Eberhardt & A. Vogel  (SMF)
Smith, 2017SALAMANDRA. 53(4) 


 An exceptional new specimen of the stem-basilisk Geiseltaliellus maarius from the middle Eocene of Messel, Germany, preserves details of the squamation of this extinct species. The dorsum and extremities were covered by small, rhomoidal scales, about 0.2 mm in size in most places; somewhat larger scales were present on the lower extremities and on the head. Scales of the venter were arranged in transverse rows, unlike in extant Polychrus and Laemanctus. There is some evidence that the scales on the extremities possessed keels, as in extant basilisks and Polychrus. Keratin appears to be preserved in places. The “Oberhäutchen” is nearly featureless, probably the result of postmortem microbial decomposition; scale organs were not observed. Overall, the body of G. maarius possessed a fine, homogeneous squamation most similar to Basiliscus. Possible sexual dimorphism in the form of the parietal crest raises the prospect of a projecting median keel composed of skin in male G. maarius, although direct evidence on this point is currently lacking. The squamation of the tail is discussed in light of the pseudoautotomy shown by this species. 

Key words: Fossils, Corytophanidae, Eocene, scales, keratin.

Figure 1. Skeleton with skin shadows of Geiseltaliellus maarius, SMF ME 11380a (part).
 (A) Detail of temple region of head. (B) Detail of throat or shoulder region. (C) Detail of right lower leg scales (over tibia and fibula). (D) Detail of left lower leg scales (torn downward and preserved around toe). (E) Detail of digit IV of left pes. Scale bar is 5 mm.

Figure 8. Reconstruction of the squamation of male Geiseltaliellus maarius from Messel.
Juliane Eberhardt (SMF) drew the life reconstruction, colored by Anika Vogel (SMF). 

 K. T. Smith. 2017. The Squamation of the Eocene stem-basilisk Geiseltaliellus maarius (Squamata: Iguanidae: Corytophaninae) from Messel, Germany. SALAMANDRA. 53(4); 519–530.  


[Entomology • 2017] Taxonomic and Biogeographic Revision of the New Guinean genus Ophiotettix Walker, 1871 (Tetrigidae: Metrodorinae: Ophiotettigini trib. nov.), with the Descriptions of 33 New Species

Ophiotettix storozhenkoiO. filiformaO. pulcherrima, et al

Tumbrinck & Skejo, 2017

Long-headed pygmy grasshoppers (genus Ophiotettix Walker, 1871) from the New Guinean region (New Guinea and adjacent islands) are taxonomically and biogeographically reviewed. For Ophiotettix and the morphologically similar genera Paraspartolus Günther, 1939, Spartolus Stål, 1877 and Threciscus Bolívar, 1887 a new tribe is erected, Ophiotettigini trib. nov. This tribe is close to Clinophaestini Storozhenko, 2013, which is placed here also under Metrodorinae. Bufonidinae syn. rev. are regarded to be synonymous with Batrachideinae, not Cladonotinae, as previously considered. Statuses of currently known taxa of Ophiotettix are reviewed. The genus now includes 40 species, seven of them previously described: O. buergersi Bolívar, 1929, O. cygnicollis Walker, 1871, O. limosina (Snellen van Vollenhoven, 1865), O. lorentzi Bolívar, 1929, O. modesta Bolívar, 1929 stat. rev., O. scolopax Bolívar, 1929, O. westwoodi Bolívar, 1929 stat. rev. 33 new species are described and illustrated, namely: O. amberiana sp. nov., O. bewana sp. nov., O. bomberaiensis sp. nov., O. brevicollis sp. nov., O. cheesmanae sp. nov., O. depressa sp. nov., O. filiforma sp. nov., O. flyriveriensis sp. nov., O. fritzpahli sp. nov., O. hansscholteni sp. nov., O. imbiana sp. nov., O. kaitani sp. nov., O. karimuiensis sp. nov., O. katharinae sp. nov., O. luce sp. nov., O. meggy sp. nov., O. mountnokensis sp. nov., O. parvicollis sp. nov., O. projecta sp. nov., O. pulcherrima sp. nov., O. pushkari sp. nov., O. quateorum sp. nov., O. rebrinae sp. nov., O. roesleri sp. nov., O. rohwedderi sp. nov., O. sanguinea sp. nov., O. schapinae sp. nov., O. stallei sp. nov., O. storozhenkoi sp. nov., O. subbrevicollis sp. nov., O. telefominensis sp. nov., O. tenuis sp. nov., and O. toxopei sp. nov. An annotated identification key to species is provided. Antennal morphology (especially morphology of five apical segments) is diagnostically important in the taxonomy of this group and provides the best morphological character for species delimitation. Function of modified antennae is not fully understood. Differences between species exist also in head morphology, facial colouration, and morphometrics. Pygmy Giraffhoppers are a diverse group occupying most biogeographical regions of New Guinea North of the Central range, while only few species inhabit areas south of the central range.

 Keywords: Orthoptera, Tetrigidae, pygmy grasshoppers, Discotettiginae, New Guinea, taxonomy, new species, widened antennal segments, long head, horn

Josef Tumbrinck and Josip Skejo. 2017.   Taxonomic and Biogeographic Revision of the New Guinean genus Ophiotettix Walker, 1871 (Tetrigidae: Metrodorinae: Ophiotettigini trib. nov.), with the Descriptions of 33 New Species. In: Telnov, D., Barclay, M.V.L. & Pauwels, O.S.G. [Ed.] Biodiversity, Biogeography and Nature Conservation in Wallacea and New Guinea. 3; 525-580.   bib.irb.hr/904156

[Entomology • 2017] Taxonomic Review of the Oriental Flower Beetle Coilodera penicillata species complex (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Cetoniinae)

Coilodera grandimaculata   Qiu, Xu & Chen, 2017


The taxonomy of the Coilodera penicillata Hope, 1831 (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Cetoniinae) species complex, which is recognized by the black body and elytra with larger tomentose maculae, is revised. Six Indochinese species assigned to this complex, including Coilodera grandimaculata new species from Tibet, China. Coilodera nigroscutellaris Moser, 1902 revised status and C. formosana Moser, 1910 revised status formerly treated as two subspecies of C. penicillata Hope, 1831 are elevated to species rank. The distribution of C. penicillata in China is confirmed based on examination of specimens from Yunnan and Tibet, and almost all previous Chinese literature records should be referred to C. nigroscutellaris. Coilodera dives (Gory & Percheron, 1833) revised status previously synonymized with C. penicillata is herein considered as a valid species based on the examination of types and additional specimens, and C. miksici Antoine, 1986 new synonymy is regarded as a junior synonym of C. dives. A lectotype is designated for Coilodera dives (Gory & Percheron, 1833). The record of C. mearesii (Westwood, 1842) in southeastern China is attributed to a misidentification of C. nigroscutellaris, and it is here newly recoreded from Tibet near the Nepal-China border. Diagnosis characters and intraspecific variations are illustrated for all six species, new distribution records and a key to species are also presented. Ecological information is provided for all species.

 Keywords: Coleoptera, Taenioderini, Taenioderina, revision, new species, synonym, lectotype, commensalism, China

 Jian-Yue Qiu, Hao Xu and Li Chen. 2017. Taxonomic Review of the Oriental Flower Beetle Coilodera penicillata species complex (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Cetoniinae).  Zootaxa. 4350(3); 511–537. DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4350.3.5

Sunday, November 19, 2017

[Botany • 2017] Dendrobium bannaense • A New Species (Orchidaceae; Epidendroideae) from Yunnan, China: Molecular and Morphological Evidence

 Dendrobium bannaense
Tian, Li, Yang & Huang, 2017


A new species, Dendrobium bannaense, is described from Yunnan, China, based on the molecular and morphological evidence. It belongs to section Dendrobium according to analysis of combined nrITS and plastid datasets (matK, rbcL, trnH-psbA, and trnL intron). Morphological analysis reveals that D. bannaense is similar to D. parishii, but differs in having a white lip with purplish stripes and without a deep purple blotch on either side; the disk is with 3 longitudinal ridges, extending from base to upper-middle part, and lower-middle part is thickened and swell as callus shape at the joint of lip and claw.

Keywords: Asian orchids, Dendrobiinae, Malaxideae, orchid flora of China, phylogeny, Monocots

Ying-Qiu Tian, Ling Li, Yu-Ying Yang and Yu-Bi Huang. 2017. Molecular and  Morphological Evidence for Dendrobium bannaense (Orchidaceae; Epidendroideae), A New Species from China.  Phytotaxa. 328(1); 67–76. DOI:  10.11646/phytotaxa.328.1.3

[Herpetology • 2017] Dibamus floweri • A New Species of Dibamus Duméril & Bibron 1839 (Squamata: Dibamidae) from A Hill Station in Peninsular Malaysia

 Dibamus floweri 
 Quah, Anuar, Grismer & Grassby-Lewis, 2017


A new species of worm-like lizard, Dibamus floweri, is described from Fraser’s Hill, Pahang, in the central highlands of Peninsular Malaysia based on the following unique combination of characters: maximum SVL of 112 mm; tail length 11.4–15.2% of SVL; labial and nasal sutures absent; rostral suture present but incomplete; a single postocular; four scales bordering the posterior edge of first infralabial; no enlarged, medial, sublabial scale; 21 scale rows around midbody; 23 scale rows around the body immediately posterior to head; 21 scale rows around the body immediately anterior to vent; 175–194 ventral scales; 23–46 subcaudal scales and light coloured bands on body. Dibamus floweri, new species, is the third species of dibamid discovered in Peninsular Malaysia and is the first montane species. Its discovery underscores the importance of uplands regions as important habitats for herpetological diversity and their understudied nature. 

Key words: herpetofauna, montane, new species, taxonomy, conservation, systematics

Dibamidae Boulenger, 1884
Dibamus Duméril & Bibron, 1839

Dibamus floweri, new species
Flower’s blind lizard

Diagnosis. Dibamus floweri, new species, differentiated from all other congeners by this combination of characters: maximum SVL of 112 mm; tail length 11.4–15.2% of SVL; labial, nasal sutures absent; rostral suture present but incomplete; single postocular; four scales bordering posterior edge of first infralabial; no enlarged, medial, sublabial scale; 21 midbody scale rows; 23 transverse scale rows just posterior to head; 21 transverse scale rows just anterior to vent; 175–194 ventral scales; 23–46 subcaudal scales; relative size of frontal to frontanasal 1.1–1.5; relative size of interparietal to surrounding scales 1.3–1.8; and light coloured bands on the body. These characters are scored across all nominal species of Dibamus in Table 2.

Etymology: The specific epithet, floweri, is in honour of Major Stanley Smyth Flower, who was one of the pioneers for herpetological discoveries in the Malay Peninsula. He made many notable discoveries over the course of his explorations in the region and his natural history observations well over a century ago were very detailed and contributed tremendously to improving our understanding of the ecology and behaviour of many species to this day.

 Distribution: Dibamus floweri, new species, is presently known only from Fraser’s Hill, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia at elevations between 1,207 and 1,500 m (Fig. 3). 

  (A) Holotype of Dibamus floweri, new species (LSUHC 12481) from Fraser’s Hill, Pahang (Photograph by Rupert Grassby-Lewis).
(B) Paratype of Dibamus floweri, new species (ZRC 2.7240) from Fraser’s Hill, Pahang at ease. Photographs by Evan Quah.
(F) Leaf litter microhabitat at Fraser’s Hill, Pahang where the paratype of Dibamus floweri, new species, was found.

Natural history: Both specimens were found while digging through leaf litter that had accumulated along the banks of roads. The holotype was discovered at night in a drainage ditch along Jalan Girdle in a damp and shaded area. The paratype was uncovered during the day underneath approximately 3 cm beneath the soil (Fig. 2F), and in the same pile of leaf-litter, the skink, Larutia miodactyla (Boulenger, 1903) was also found. When handled, both specimens flared up their body scales, giving them a wrinkled appearance (Fig. 1C). This behaviour is interpreted as a defensive, anti-predator mechanism employed by Dibamus to mimic a possible non-palatable species of worm (Darevsky, 1992). The other two Peninsular Malaysian species, D. booliati and D. tiomanensis display the same behaviour when agitated (Das & Yaakob, 2003; Diaz et al., 2004; Grismer, 2011).

Evan S. H. Quah, Shahrul Anuar M. S., L. Lee Grismer and Rupert Grassby-Lewis. 2017. 
A New Species of Dibamus Duméril & Bibron 1839 (Squamata: Dibamidae) from A Hill Station in Peninsular Malaysia. RAFFLES BULLETIN OF ZOOLOGY. 65; 681–690. 

[Paleontology • 2017] Spinosaur Taxonomy and Evolution of Craniodental Features: Evidence from Brazil

Spinosaurid cranial remains from Brazil.
Sales & Schultz, 2017 


Fossil sites from Brazil have yielded specimens of spinosaurid theropods, among which the most informative include the cranial remains of IrritatorAngaturama, and Oxalaia. In this work some of their craniodental features are reinterpreted, providing new data for taxonomic and evolutionary issues concerning this particular clade of dinosaurs. The mesial-most tooth of the left maxilla of the holotype of Irritator is regarded as representing the third tooth position, which is also preserved in the holotype of Angaturama. Thus, both specimens cannot belong to the same individual, contrary to previous assumptions, although they could have been the same taxon. In addition, the position of the external nares of Irritator is more comparable to those of Baryonyx and Suchomimus instead of other spinosaurine spinosaurids. In fact, with regards to some craniodental features, Brazilian taxa represent intermediate conditions between Baryonychinae and Spinosaurinae. Such a scenario is corroborated by our cladistic results, which also leave open the possibility of the former subfamily being non-monophyletic. Furthermore, the differences between spinosaurids regarding the position and size of the external nares might be related to distinct feeding habits and degrees of reliance on olfaction. Other issues concerning the evolution and taxonomy of Spinosauridae require descriptions of additional material for their clarification.

Fig 1. Map of northeastern Brazil showing the location of the Araripe and São Luís-Grajaú basins. The (likely) provenance of the holotypes of local spinosaurid taxa is indicated. Modified from Bittencourt and Lange. 

Fig 2. Specimen SMNS 58022, holotype of Irritator challengeri.
A, Left lateral view. B, Right lateral view. The abbreviation for the third tooth of the left maxilla follows Hendrickx et al. [2015].

 Additional abbreviations: ao.f, antorbital fenestra; c.c, crista cranii; e.n, external naris; m, maxilla; m.r, mandibular ramus; n, nasal; n.c, nasal sagittal crest; n.p, nasal process; o, orbit; pm, premaxilla; s, stapes.

Fig 11. Spinosaurid cranial remains from Brazil.
 A, Reconstruction of specimen SMNS 58022, the holotype of Irritator challengeri. B, Specimen USP GP/2T-5, the holotype of Angaturama limai. C, Specimen MN 6117-V, the holotype of Oxalaia quilombensis.

The fragmentary maxilla (MN 6119-V) tentatively referred to O. quilombensis was not included. A is modified from Sues et al. [2002].

Final remarks
Spinosaurid dinosaurs have been surrounded by an enigmatic atmosphere due to their bizarre anatomy and morphology as well as the fragmentary nature of most collected specimens. The tragic loss of the holotype of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus also contributed to this condition. Despite being incomplete, spinosaurid cranial remains from Brazil are informative in multiple ways and help fill in some gaps in the knowledge on these theropods. The reinterpretation of certain craniodental features supports, for example, the distinction between Irritator and Angaturama at least at the individual level, and our cladistic results indicate the latter taxon and Oxalaia as successive outgroups of MSNM V4047. In addition, the evolution of spinosaurid craniodental features is likely related to different trends towards semiaquatic and/or piscivorous habits. These trends might have had a major impact on the position and size of the external nares, suggesting the reduction of the importance of olfaction in relation to other senses during foraging. However, other issues remain more disputable, such as the possible non-monophyly of Baryonychinae, the possible synonymy between the Araripe spinosaurids, and the sequence of morphological changes during the evolutionary history of Spinosauridae. Further study is needed to address these issues, including the formal description of additional cranial and postcranial remains. In this sense, although African materials are usually the focus of most investigations, Brazilian specimens play an important role in discussions concerning the evolution and paleobiology of Spinosauridae. This statement is clearly corroborated by new findings of these dinosaurs in understudied fossil sites.

Marcos A. F. Sales and Cesar L. Schultz. 2017. Spinosaur Taxonomy and Evolution of Craniodental Features: Evidence from Brazil. PLoS ONE. 12(11); e0187070. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187070

[Herpetology • 2017] Strophurus trux • A New Species of Gecko (Squamata: Diplodactylidae: Strophurus) from central Queensland, Australia

 Strophurus trux  Vanderduys, 2017

Golden-eyed Gecko  ||  DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4347.2.7


A new species of diplodactylid gecko in the genus Strophurus Fitzinger, from central Queensland, Australia, is described herein as Strophurus trux sp. nov. It is similar to the recently described Strophurus congoo Vanderduys from north Queensland and apparently shares a habitat preference for Triodia hummock open woodlands. It is notably different from the latter in possessing a vivid yellow to golden eye. It is only known from one small area of the Brigalow Belt Bioregion, although it is expected to occur more widely than the one area in which it has been found. It is likely that it is endemic to the Brigalow Belt Bioregion.

Keywords: Reptilia, Brigalow Belt, Triodia, Golden-eyed Gecko

Strophurus trux sp. nov.
Golden-eyed Gecko

Etymology. The specific epithet " trux " is Latin for wild, savage, harsh and pitiless, including instruments of human savagery, and also of the scene of such cruelty (Lewis & Short 1879; Glare 1982). This name was Chosen in reference to the only location known for Strophurus trux sp. nov. It is in the proximity of the "Marlborough stretch", a section of the old Bruce Highway in Central Queensland with notoriety as a wild and dangerous place in the 1960s and 1970s because of a series of murders and shootings (Gibson 2002) and its general remoteness.

FIGURE 1. Holotype QMJ94287 male Strophurus trux sp. nov. showing the scattered peppering of dark grey to black spots and faint reticulations on the dorsal surface. Also clearly visible is the relatively clear demarcation of tone along the lateral surface of the tail. 

FIGURE 3. Bright yellow to golden-brown eyes of Strophurus trux sp. nov. which lend it the common name golden-eyed gecko; QMJ94285 above, QMJ95524 below. 

FIGURE 7. (a) Male QMJ95524 showing bolder markings than other specimens; (b) female QMJ95523; (c–d) male QMJ94284.

FIGURE 8. Male Strophurus williamsi QMJ94288 collected 235 m from S. trux sp. nov. QMJ94287, showing distinguishing features where the two species are sympatric; orange eyes with the pupil surrounded by a black over white reticulum, relatively bold dorsal pattern, enlarged orange tubercles on dorsal and caudal surfaces. 

Eric Vanderduys. 2017. A New Species of Gecko (Squamata: Diplodactylidae: Strophurus) from central Queensland, Australia. Zootaxa. 4347(2); 316–330.   DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4347.2.7

[Mammalogy • 2017] Ototylomys chiapensis • A New Species of Big-eared Climbing Rat, Genus Ototylomys (Cricetidae: Tylomyinae), from Chiapas, Mexico

Ototylomys chiapensis
 Porter, Beasley, Ordóñez-Garza, Lindsey, Rogers, Lewis-Rogers, Sites, & Bradley, 2017

La Pera Big-eared Climbing Rat; Rata orejuda trepadora de La Pera  ||  DOI: 10.1093/jmammal/gyx096 

An allopatric population of big-eared climbing rats (Ototylomys) from the Northern Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico, is described as a new species. The new taxon is part of a unique montane rainforest community that includes several other endemic species in the limited geographic range between the Río Grijalva and the Central Depression of Chiapas. Several cranial, external, and molecular characters distinguish this new species of big-eared climbing rat from its more widely distributed congener, Ototylomys phyllotis. We performed principal component and discriminate function analyses of cranial measurements, and found that specimens of the new species consistently could be distinguished from other Ototylomys with strong statistical support. Compared with exemplars of Ototylomys from elsewhere in their range, the new species possesses a karyotype that differs by 3 additional biarmed chromosome pairs, is fixed or nearly fixed for distinct electromorphs at 12 allozyme loci, and the mean genetic distance exceeds 14%, based on comparisons of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene between the new species of Ototylomys and representatives of O. phyllotis. The restricted distribution in montane karst rainforest suggests that the species and its habitat may be a matter of conservation concern.


Family Cricetidae Fischer, 1817
Subfamily Tylomyinae Reig, 1984

Tribe Tylomyini Reig, 1984

Genus Ototylomys Merriam, 1901

Ototylomys chiapensis, new species
La Pera Big-eared Climbing Rat; Rata orejuda trepadora de La Pera

Ototylomys phyllotis connectens: Baker et al. 1971 [1973]:82 (part, faunal report based on a specimen collected in 1969, here reidentified as O. chiapensis).
Ototylomys phyllotis connectens: Hall 1981:629 (part, marginal locality record based on Baker et al. 1971 [1973]).
Ototylomys phyllotis: Lawlor 1982:3 (part, karyotypic report based on Engstrom and Tucker, cited as in litt.).
Ototylomys sp.: Rogers, Engstrom, and Arellano 2004:439 (allozyme data from 2 specimens included in the present study).
Ototylomys sp. nov.: Dudley and Parish 2006:4 (referenced as endemic to El Pozo [= La Pera]).

Ototylomys chiapensis paratype (MVZ 161246).
Photograph by Duke S. Rogers.

Etymology: The specific name refers to the species distribution in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

Distribution: Known only from the type locality and from 26 km N Ocozocoautla, both in the Mexican state of Chiapas (Figs. 1 and 2). The latter locality is in the municipality of Ocozocoautla de Espinoza at ca. 760 m elevation in the Reserva de la Biosféra Selva El Ocote, and is measured along the “old road” northwest of the city of Ocozocoautla de Espinoza (Johnson et al. 1976; Johnson and Savage 1995; Lamoreux et al. 2015).

Calvin A. Porter, Nia E. Beasley, Nicté Ordóñez-Garza, Laramie L. Lindsey, Duke S. Rogers, Nicole Lewis-Rogers, Jack W. Sites, Jr. and Robert D. Bradley. 2017. A New Species of Big-eared Climbing Rat, Genus Ototylomys (Cricetidae: Tylomyinae), from Chiapas, Mexico. Journal of Mammalogy. 98(5); 1310–1329.  DOI: 10.1093/jmammal/gyx096

Una población alopátrica de rata orejuda trepadora (Ototylomys) de las Tierras Altas del Norte de Chiapas, México se describe como una nueva especie. El nuevo taxón es parte de una comunidad única de bosque lluvioso montano que incluye varias especies endémicas en el área de distribución geográfica limitada entre el Río Grijalva y la Depresión Central de Chiapas. Varios caracteres craneales, externos, y moleculares distinguen la nueva rata orejuda trepadora de su congénere más ampliamente distribuido, Ototylomys phyllotis. Se realizaron análisis de componentes principales y de función discriminante de los caracteres craneales, y se encontró que los especímenes de La Pera fueron consistentemente distinguidos de otros Ototylomys con un fuerte soporte estadístico. En comparación con ejemplares de Ototylomys del rango, la nueva especie posee un cariotipo que difiere por 3 pares adicionales de cromosomas biarmados, está fijo o casi fijo por distintos electromorfos en 12 loci alozímicos. Adicionalmente, la media de la distancia genética comparada del gen mitochondrial citocromo b entre la nueva especie de Ototylomys y representantes de O. phyllotis, excede el 14%. La distribución restringida en el bosque lluvioso montano kárstico sugiere que la especie y su hábitat pueden ser de importancia para la conservación.

New rat species discovered, named at Sternberg https://www.hayspost.com/2017/11/16/new-rat-species-discovered-named-at-sternberg/ via @hayspost