Tuesday, September 23, 2014

[Herpetology • 2014] On Trimeresurus sumatranus (Raffles, 1822), with the Designation of A Neotype and the Description of A New Species of Pitviper (Viperidae: Crotalinae) from the mountainous areas of western Sumatra; Trimeresurus gunaleni | Ular Hijau Gunung | Sumatran Montane Pitviper

Trimeresurus gunaleni spec. nov.
Fig. 3A. Live adult female Holotype | Fig. 4B. Live male
from Mt. Sibayak, ca. 1,800 m a.s.l., west of Brastagi, Sumatera Utara Province, Sumatra
Photos: G. Vogel.

Variation in morphological characters were investigated among 126 specimens from at least 67 populations covering the whole range of the large pitviper currently known as Trimeresurus sumatranus (Raffles, 1822). The results showed that two distinct taxa are involved. Herein Trimeresurus sumatranus is redefined. In order to fix the status of this species, a neotype is selected and described. Its type locality is restricted to the vicinity of Bengkulu, Bengkulu Province, Sumatra. The second taxon represents a distinct, previously unnamed species, which is described. The new species differs from Trimeresurus sumatranus by a lower number of ventrals in males (162–179 against 178–185) and females (164–171 vs. 175–191); a distinctly longer tail in males (value of the ratio tail length/total length: 0.201–0.210 vs. 0.150–0.168), the color of the tail (see the description), the color of the eyes: green in the new species, vs. dark grey in T. sumatranus, the color of the ventrals, which are green with a pale posterior suture in the new species and pale with dark posterior suture in T. sumatranus. The new species lives in higher elevations than T. sumatranus and seems to be endemic to the higher mountain ranges of western Sumatra.

Key words. Sumatra, West Malaysia, Borneo, Trimeresurus gunaleni spec. nov., Trimeresurus malcolmiTrimeresurus sumatranus 

Fig. 13. MZB.Ophi.5452 holotype of Trimeresurus gunaleni spec. nov., adult female.
Photo: N. Maury.
Trimeresurus gunaleni Vogel, David & Sidik, 2014

 Suggested common names: English: Gunalen’s Pitviper.
Bahasa Indonesia: Ular Hijau Gunung.
Karo: Nipe Ratah. Padang (Minang): Ular Ijo Babiso. French: Trimérésure de Gunalen. German: Gunalen’s Grubenotter.

Etymology: The specific nomen is dedicated to Mr. Danny Gunalen, who was the first to find the species alive and who greatly supported the work resulting in the description of this new species.

Distribution: Indonesia; Sumatra. Endemic; Trimeresurus gunaleni spec. nov. is known only from two provinces: Sumatera Barat (Solok and Padang Mountains) and Sumatera Utara (Mt. Sibayak, Mt. Sinabung and Mt. Singkut near Berastagi).
This species can be expected in higher elevations all over the mountainous areas of Sumatra.

Natural History: Trimeresurus gunaleni spec. nov. inhabits regions typically covered with tropical moist montane forests, from 1,500 m to as high as at least 2,000 m, perhaps as much as 2,200 m, where it has been observed by local insect collectors (Figs. 15 and 16). There is no record of populations lower than 1,500 m. On Mount Sibayak, Danny Gunalen collected specimens of Trimeresurus hageni at elevation of 500 m, and Tropidolaemus wagleri at 200 m. Trimeresurus gunaleni is clearly isolated as a high montane dweller.


These species or complexes of pitvipers show the close zoogeographic relationships of the islands of Borneo and Sumatra with Peninsular Malaysia. Furthermore, it can also be seen that Sumatra is split into a northern and a southern region, with the larger northern region closely connected to Western Malaysia and Borneo, and the smaller southern region connected with Java. The limit between these two regions seems to be located between Padang and Bengkulu. Previously, these species complexes were regarded as widely distributed species, obscuring the zoogeographical relations of these regions. We are not confident that the taxonomy of the genus Trimeresurus is fully resolved and previously mentioned taxa might still prove to be endemic for one of the regions.
The finding of such a large and venomous pitviper as T. gunaleni spec. nov. in a group that was supposed to be well known is quite surprising. It is hard to understand that it was overlooked for such a long time despite thefact that the three specimens in the collection of Vienna have been available for a long time (collected 1899) and were already examined by other groups of herpetologists. The mountainous areas of Sumatra are still very incompletely known and further research in these areas is highly desirable.

Gernot Vogel, Patrick David and Irvan Sidik. 2014. On Trimeresurus sumatranus (Raffles, 1822), with the Designation of A Neotype and the Description of A New Species of Pitviper from Sumatra (Squamata: Viperidae: Crotalinae).
Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 8(2) [General Issue]: 1–29 (e80).

[Ornithology • 2014] Taxonomy of “Mouse-colored Tapaculos” (II): An Endangered New Species (Passeriformes: Rhinocryptidae) from the Montane Atlantic Forest of southern Bahia, Brazil; Scytalopus gonzagai

Scytalopus gonzagai Maurício, Belmonte-Lopes, Pacheco, Silveira,
Whitney & Bornschein, 2014
 Bahian Mouse-colored Tapaculo, an adult male at Boa Nova, Bahia.
photo: Ciro Albano.

An isolated population of tapaculos attributed to Scytalopus speluncae has been known from the mountains of southeastern Bahia state, Brazil, since the early 1990s, and a second isolated population was discovered in 1999. Morphological and bioacoustic analyses of 11 specimens and several tape recordings indicated that these populations represent a new species, in agreement with a previous molecular phylogenetic study. This species is unambiguously distinguished from its closest relatives by 4 suites of characters: (1) morphometrics–body proportions, (2) plumage color, (3) vocalizations, and (4) genetics. Using each of these character sets, separately or in combination, one can distinguish with 100% confidence the new species from its sister lineages. The new species is known from only 5 localities distributed in 2 distinct mountain ranges, 1 on the eastern slopes of the Planalto da Conquista, between the municipalities of Boa Nova and Iguaí, and another in the Serra das Lontras, ∼100 km to the southeast and only 37 km from the coast. The new species primarily inhabits undisturbed montane forest, from 660 to 1,140 m a.s.l. We estimated an area of occupancy of the species of only 5,885 ha and a density of 0.49 individuals ha−1, resulting in a total estimated population of 2,883 individuals. Forest remnants are under severe pressure from clandestine timber extraction and outright deforestation. Under IUCN criteria, this new species should be classified as “Endangered.”

Keywords: biogeography, conservation, endangered species, montane Atlantic Forest, Scytalopus, taxonomic revision, vocalizations

Giovanni Nachtigall Maurício, Ricardo Belmonte-Lopes, José Fernando Pacheco, Luís Fábio Silveira, Bret M. Whitney, and Marcos Ricardo Bornschein. 2014. Taxonomy of “Mouse-colored Tapaculos” (II): An Endangered New Species from the Montane Atlantic Forest of southern Bahia, Brazil (Passeriformes: Rhinocryptidae: Scytalopus). The Auk. 131 (4): 643-659; doi: dx.doi.org/10.1642/AUK-14-16.1

Uma população isolada, atribuída a Scytalopus speluncae, foi encontrada no início da década de 1990 em montanhas* do sudeste da Bahia, Brasil; posteriormente, uma segunda população foi encontrada em 1999. Análises morfológicas de 11 espécimes de museu e bioacústicas de várias gravações indicam que estas aves representam uma nova espécie, concordando com um estudo molecular anterior. A nova espécie é inequivocamente distinta de seus parentes mais próximos em quatro conjuntos de caracteres: (1) morfometria/proporções do corpo, (2) coloração da plumagem, (3) vocalizações, e (4) aspectos genéticos. É possível distinguir com 100% de confiança a nova espécie de suas linhagens irmãs usando estes caracteres, separadamente ou em combinação. A nova espécie é encontrada em apenas cinco localidades distribuídas em dois complexos montanhosos, um na vertente leste do Planalto da Conquista, entre os municípios de Boa Nova e Iguaí, e outro na Serra das Lontras, cerca de 100 km a sudeste e somente a 37 km da costa. Esta nova espécie ocorre principalmente em floresta primária montana entre 660 e 1.140 m de altitude. Estimamos uma área de ocupação de apenas 5.885 ha e uma densidade de 0,49 indivíduos por ha para esta espécie, resultando em uma população estimada em 2.883 indivíduos. Os remanescentes florestais na área de ocorrência da espécie estão sob forte pressão de atividades ilegais de desmatamento e extração de madeira. De acordo com os critérios da IUCN, esta nova espécie deve ser classificada como Em Perigo.

Palavras-chave: biogeografia, conservação, espécie ameaçada, floresta atlântica montana, Scytalopus, revisão taxonômica, vocalizações

New Bird Species Discovered in Brazil - Bahian Mouse-Colored Tapaculo

Monday, September 22, 2014

[Paleontology • 2014] Rhinorex condrupus • A New saurolophine hadrosaurid (Dinosauria: Ornithopoda) from the Campanian of Utah, North Americ

Rhinorex condrupus Gates & Scheetz, 2014
Rhinorex attacked by Deinosuchus, a Cretaceous crocodile
illustration: Julius Csotonyi

A new hadrosaurid is described from the Upper Cretaceous Neslen Formation of central Utah. Rhinorex condrupus gen. et sp. nov. is diagnosed on the basis of two unique traits, a hook-shaped projection of the nasal anteroventral process and dorsal projection of the posteroventral process of the premaxilla, and is further differentiated from other hadrosaurid species based on the morphology of the nasal (large nasal boss on the posterodorsal corner of the circumnarial fossa, small protuberences on the anterior process, absence of nasal arch), jugal (vertical postorbital process), postorbital (high degree of flexion present on posterior process), and squamosal (inclined anterolateral processes). This new taxon was discovered in estuarine sediments dated at approximately 75 Ma and just 250 km north of the prolific dinosaur-bearing strata of the Kaiparowits Formation, possibly overlapping in time with Gryposaurus monumentensis. Phylogenetic parsimony and Bayesian analyses associate this new taxon with the Gryposaurus clade, even though the type specimen does not possess the diagnostic nasal hump of the latter genus. Comparisons with phylogenetic analyses from other studies show that a current consensus exists between the general structure of the hadrosaurid evolutionary tree, but on closer examination there is little agreement among species relationships.

Keywords: Hadrosauridae, ornithopod, Cretaceous, Utah, Book Cliffs, Neslen Formation, biogeography, phylogenetics Related arti

Terry A. Gates & Rodney Scheetz. 2014. A New saurolophine hadrosaurid (Dinosauria: Ornithopoda) from the Campanian of Utah, North America.
Journal of Systematic Paleontology. doi: 10.1080/14772019.2014.950614

Saturday, September 20, 2014

[Herpetology • 2014] Limnonectes cintalubang • A New Burrow-utilising Fanged Frog (Anura: Dicroglossidae) from Sarawak, East Malaysia

Limnonectes cintalubang
 Matsui, Nishikawa & Eto, 2014

 We found a unique, burrow-utilising dicroglossid frog of the genus Limnonectes from western Sarawak, East Malaysia. This frog is always found near burrows on the ground, into which it escapes when disturbed. It is much divergent from other congeners in morphology and mtDNA sequences. This species is nested using molecular phylogeny in a clade with Bornean populations of L. kuhlii complex and L. hikidai, but differs completely from the others by having relatively smooth skin, distinct tympanum, and chocolate brown dorsum with tiny blue spots laterally. We thus describe it as a new species and discuss its unique habit of burrow utilisation.

Key words. New Limnonectes, MtDNA phylogeny, burrow utilisation, Sarawak, taxonomy

Fig. 3. Dorsolateral view of a male holotype of Limnonectes cintalubang, new species (KUHE 47859).

Etymology. The species name is from the Malay words “cintai”, meaning to love, and “lubang”, meaning a hole, alluding burrow-utilising habits of the new species.

 Masafumi Matsui, Kanto Nishikawa & Koshiro Eto. 2014. A New Burrow-utilising Fanged Frog from Sarawak, East Malaysia (Anura: Dicroglossidae). RAFFLES BULLETIN OF ZOOLOGY. 62: 679–687.

Friday, September 19, 2014

[Herpetology • 2014] The Phylogenetic Relationships of Three New Species of the Cyrtodactylus pulchellus complex (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from poorly explored regions in northeastern Peninsular Malaysia; Cyrtodactylus sharkari, C. jelawangensis & C. timur

 Jelawang Bent-toed Gecko | Cyrtodactylus jelawangensis
Grismer, Wood, Anuar, Quah, Muin, Mohamed, Onn, Sumarli, Loredo & Heinz, 2014
FIGURE 4. Upper: adult female paratype (LSUHC 11063) of Cyrtodactylus jelawangensis sp. nov. from Kem Baha, Hutan Lipur Jelawang, Kelantan, Peninsular Malaysia. Lower: microhabitat at the type locality

An integrative taxonomic analysis of three newly discovered populations of the gekkonid genus Cyrtodactylus Gray from Merapoh, Pahang; Gunung Stong, Kelantan; and Gunung Tebu, Terengganu indicate they are part of the C. pulchellus complex and each is a new species and thusly named Cyrtodactylus sharkari sp. nov., C. jelawangensis sp. nov., and C. timur sp. nov., respectively. Each species bears a unique suite of morphological and color pattern characters separating them from each other and all other nominal species in the C. pulchellus complex. Their phylogenetic relationships to each other and other species in the C. pulchellus complex were unexpected in that they are not in accordance with the general distribution of the species in this complex, underscoring the intricate historical biogeography of the Thai-Malay Peninsula. These descriptions highlight our current lack of knowledge concerning the herpetological diversity and distribution of species in northeastern Peninsular Malaysia.

Key words: Conservation, Integrative taxonomy, Molecular systematics, Southeast Asia, Sundaland, Conservation

Sharkari’s Bent-toed Gecko | Cyrtodactylus sharkari
Grismer, Wood, Anuar, Quah, Muin, Mohamed, Onn, Sumarli, Loredo & Heinz, 2014
FIGURE 3. Upper: adult male holotype (LSUHC 11022) of Cyrtodactylus sharkari sp. nov. from Gua Gunting, Merapoh, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia. Microhabitat of Cyrtodactylus sharkari sp. nov. at Gua Gunting (lower right) that is contiguous with Gua Goya (lower left) where this species is also expected to occur.

Sharkari’s Bent-toed Gecko | Cyrtodactylus sharkari 

Distribution. This species is known only from the type locality at Gua Gunting, Merapoh, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia (Fig. 1). It is expected that its distribution is more extensive throughout the limestone forest of this region.

Etymology. The specific epithet sharkari is a patronym honoring Dato Mohd. Sharkar Shamsudin Chairman of the Pahang State Tourism and Culture Committee for his persistence in ensuring the cancellation of the proposed cement plant in Merapoh.

Natural History. The holotype was collected at 2100 hrs approximately 2 m above the ground on a vertical surface of the perimeter of an extensive karst system surrounded by a limestone forest (Fig. 3). 

 Jelawang Bent-toed Gecko | Cyrtodactylus jelawangensis

Distribution. Cyrtodactylus jelawangensis sp. nov. is known only from the type locality at Kem Baha, Gunung Stong, Kelantan, Peninsular Malaysia (Fig. 1). It is expected that its distribution is more extensive throughout Gunung Stong both above and below the type locality. Norhayati et al. (2005) recorded a specimen that was identified as C. pulchellus from around a stream near the Pergau River in the Gunung Basor Forest Reserve, Kelantan. Due to the close proximity of the location to Gunung Stong, we believe those specimens were incorrectly identified and should be assigned to this new species.

Etymology. The specific epithet jelawangensis is an adjective in reference to Hutan Lipur Jelawang, the recreational forest at the base of Gunung Stong near the type locality. 

Natural History. Cyrtodactylus jelawangensis sp. nov. was collected at night along a fast-flowing stream strewn with granite boulders coursing through hill dipterocarp forest (Fig. 4) between 455 m and 470 m in elevation. Lizards were most common on large granite boulders in areas where they could easily escape into a nearby crack or between boulders. Others were seen on roots beneath an earthen overhang and one specimen was found on a tree trunk

Banjaran Timur Bent-toed Gecko | Cyrtodactylus timur
Grismer, Wood, Anuar, Quah, Muin, Mohamed, Onn, Sumarli, Loredo & Heinz, 2014
FIGURE 5. Upper left: adult male holotype (LSUHC 11207) of Cyrtotdactylus timur sp. nov. from Punca Air, Gunung Tebu, Terengganu, Peninsular Malaysia. Upper right: female paratype LSUHC 11185. Middle left: uncataloged hatching LSUDPC 8249. Lower left: adult male paratype LSUHC 11183. Lower right: juvenile female paratype LSUHC 11184.

Banjaran Timur Bent-toed Gecko | Cyrtodactylus timur

Distribution. This species may be endemic to Gunung Tebu, Terengganu, Peninsular Malaysia. It is expected that its distribution is more extensive both above and below the type locality at Punca Air.

Etymology. The specific epithet “timur” is an invariable noun in apposition in reference to this species being found in the Banjaran Timur of northeastern Peninsular Malaysia. “Timur” means east in the Malay language and is in reference to the mountain range being on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

Natural History. All adults were collected at night in hill dipterocarp forest in the vicinity of a rocky stream (Fig. 6) between 640 m and 700 m in elevation. Lizards were most common on the granite boulders along the stream but others were seen on the bases of trees and one individual was observed on an earthen bank. A small juvenile (LSUHC 10886, SVL 60.3 mm) was found on a twig at the base of a large tree deep in the forest and not along the stream.

 L Lee Grismer, Perry L Wood, Shahrul Anuar, Evan S H Quah, Mohd Abdul Muin, Maketab Mohamed, Chan Kin Onn, Alexandra X Sumarli, Ariel I Loredo and Heather M Heinz. 2014. The Phylogenetic Relationships of Three New Species of the Cyrtodactylus pulchellus complex (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from poorly explored regions in northeastern Peninsular Malaysia. Zootaxa. 3786(3):359-81.

[Ornithology • 2013] The Taxonomic and Conservation Status of the Oxypogon Helmetcrests

Buffy Helmetcrest Oxypogon stubelii by Juan José Arango
Blue-bearded Helmetcrest Oxypogon cyanolaemus by John Gould,
White-bearded Helmetcrest Oxypogon lindenii by Hugo Arnal, and 
Green-bearded Helmetcrest Oxypogon guerinii by Jacob Drucker.

Morphological variation in the genus Oxypogon was studied using biometrics and plumage data, and available sound recordings were inspected. Four distinct populations of Bearded Helmetcrest Oxypogon guerinii (cyanolaemus in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, lindenii in the Venezuelan Andes, guerinii in the East Andes of Colombia, and stubelii in the Central Andes of Colombia) were lumped without justification in the 1940s but are highly distinct in multiple plumage and morphometric characters. Species rank is suggested for all four taxa, following species scoring tests. We draw special attention to O. cyanolaemus of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which has not been reported since 1946. It is recommended for the IUCN criteria of Critically Endangered, although it may possibly already be extinct.

Key words: Oxypogon, Bearded helmetcrests, taxonomy, conservation, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, paramo

Collar, N.J. & Salaman, P. 2013. The Taxonomic and Conservation Status of the Oxypogon Helmetcrests. Conservación Colombiana. 19: 31-38.

Proposed splits are accepted of Oxypogon Helmetcrests into four species (three in Colombia)
Green-bearded Helmetcrest Oxypogon guerinii 
Blue-bearded Helmetcrest O. cyanolaemus 
Buffy Helmetcrest O. stubelii 
We accept the splits set out in Collar & Salaman (2013), resulting in recognition of three species occurring in Colombia, guerinii in the Central Andes, cyanolaemus in Santa Marta and stubelii in the East Andes. All are known from specimen records in Colombia so can be considered confirmed for the country.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

[Paleontology • 2012] Datanglong guangxiensis • A New Carcharodontosauria (Theropoda) from the Early Cretaceous of Guangxi, Southern China

  Datanglong guangxiensis
Mo, Zhou, Li, Hunag & Cao, 2014
illustration: EloyManzanero on @deviantART 
A new large-bodied theropod dinosaur, Datanglong guangxiensis gen. et sp. nov., was recovered from the Lower Cretaceous Xinlong Formation of the Datang Basin, Guangxi. It is unique in several features including: posteriormost dorsal vertebra with teardrop-shaped pneumatic foramen confined by enlarged pcdl, acpl and the centrum; posteriormost dorsal with well-developed, horizontal prpl; posteriormost dorsal with a parapophysis projecting more laterally than the diapophysis; brevis fossa shallow with short, ridge-like medial blade; and iliac pubic peduncle with posteroventrally expanded margin. Cladistic analysis supports the idea that this new taxon Datanglong guangxiensis is a primitive member of the Carcharodontosauria in possessing two unambiguous synapomorphies: large external pneumatic foramina and internal spaces present in the lateral surface of ilium, and a peg-and-socket ischiac articulation with the ilium. The presence of the new taxon from Guangxi further confirms that Carcharodontosauria were cosmopolitan large-bodied predators during the Early-mid Cretaceous.

Keywords: Theropoda; Carcharodontosauria; Lower Cretaceous; Xinlong Formation; Guangxi

MO, J., ZHOU, F., LI, G., HUANG, Z. and CAO, C. 2014, A New Carcharodontosauria (Theropoda) from the Early Cretaceous of Guangxi, Southern China. Acta Geologica Sinica, 88: 1051–1059. doi: dx.doi.org/10.1111/1755-6724.12272
Cau, Andrea. 2014. "Datanglong: un nuovo carcharodontosauriano?" [Datanlong: a new carcharodontosaur?]. Theropoda (in Italian) http://theropoda.blogspot.com/2014/08/datanglong-un-nuovo-carcharodontosauria.html

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

[PaleoBotany • 2014] PaleoBiogeography of the Lotus Plant (Nelumbonaceae: Nelumbo) and Its Bearing on the Paleoclimatic Changes

Fig. 2. The distribution of fossil records of Nelumbo on modern world map.

• This paper provides additional descriptions to Nelumbo changchangensis He et Jin.
• The historical biogeography of Nelumbo is reconstructed by fossil records.
Nelumbo distributions in geologic past are linked to climatic changes.
• The origin of lotus tubers is related to cooling climate and increasing seasonality.

The historical reconstruction of the origin and dispersal of plant taxa in space and time facilitates a better understanding of their modern distribution patterns. However, most studies of paleobiogeography have focused on terrestrial plants, and the distribution changes of aquatic plants are less well understood. Here we study the lotus plant Nelumbo (Nelumbonaceae), an aquatic perennial herb, with a disjunctive distribution across East, South and Southeast Asia-North Australia and North America. The reproductive organs of Nelumbo changchangensis He et Jin from the Eocene of Hainan, China are supplementarily described. Analysis of the spatial and temporal distributions of Nelumbo in the geologic past indicates that the genus first occurs in mid-latitude area of Laurasia in the Early Cretaceous, then becomes widespread in North America and Eurasia and expands into South America during the Late Cretaceous, and reaches its maximum northern limit during the Eocene. The genus persists and thrives in North America and Eurasia until the Pliocene. The Pleistocene ice age causes the extinction of Nelumbo in Europe and central Asia, and its populations in North American and Asia are also restricted to refuges of lower latitude. Like the terrestrial plants Metasequoia (Cupressaceae) and Nordenskioeldia (Trochodendraceae), the fluctuations of Nelumbo distribution ranges are also linked to climatic changes in the Cenozoic. The cooling climate and increasing seasonality in the Eocene of East Asia may favor the origin of tubers and the differentiating of the ecotypes in lotus, which allow the deciduous type to survive in cold winters.

Keywords: Paleobiogeography; Paleoclimatic change; Lotus; Nelumbo; Nelumbonaceae

Fig. 1. The present disjunctive distribution of Nelumbo.

Ya Li, Thierry Smith, Popova Svetlana, Jian Yang, Jian-Hua Jin and Cheng-Sen Li. 2014. Paleobiogeography of the Lotus Plant (Nelumbonaceae: Nelumbo) and Its Bearing on the Paleoclimatic Changes. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 399; 284–293. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.01.022

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

[Botany • 2014] Gymnosperms of Laos

Nordic J Botany | DOI: 10.1111/njb.00498

The present review includes keys for identification and summary data on the nomenclature, morphology, ecology and distribution for all 33 species of gymnosperms hitherto recorded in the flora of Laos. They belong to 8 families and 15 genera. Important additions to these data were obtained during fieldwork in 2009–2013, when 58 localities containing 25 species from 14 genera and 8 families were explored and initially studied. Two species, Cycas laotica and Pinus cernua, are described as new species for science. Seven species, Cycas dolichophylla, C. inermis, C. macrocarpa, C. micholitzii, C. nongnoochiae, C. petraea and Taxus wallichiana, are found in Laos and represent new records for the flora of the country. Maps of the distribution and illustrations for the newly discovered gymnosperm species are provided. All observations, records and discoveries are based on reliable scientific literature and collected voucher herbarium specimens housed in main regional herbaria.

Leonid V. Averyanov, Tien Hiep Nguyen, Khang Nguyen Sinh, The Van Pham, Vichith Lamxay, Somchanh Bounphanmy, Shengvilai Lorphengsy, Loc Ke Phan, Soulivanh Lanorsavanh and Khamfa Chantthavongsa. 2014. Gymnosperms of Laos.
Nordic Journal of Botany. 
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1111/njb.00498

Friday, September 12, 2014

[Paleontology • 2014] Ikrandraco avatar • An Early Cretaceous Pterosaur with an unusual Mandibular Crest from China and A Potential Novel Feeding Strategy

Ikrandraco avatar
Wang, Rodrigues, Jiang, Cheng & Kellner, 2014

The Aptian Jiufotang Formation of northeast China is a Konservat Lagerstätte particularly rich in pterosaurs, notably azhdarchoids. Here we describe a new genus and species of toothed pteranodontoid pterosaur, Ikrandraco avatar gen. et sp. nov., based on two laterally flattened specimens. Ikrandraco avatar is diagnosed by a suite of features, including a very low and elongate skull, strongly inclined quadrate, and a deep, blade-like bony mandibular crest with a hook-like process on its posterior edge, an unusual structure so far unique to this taxon. The particular skull shape hints at a distinct feeding habit for pterosaurs that potentially includes temporary skimming and an extensible skin acting as a throat pouch that was more developed than in any other pterosaur known so far. The presence of two other taxa of purported piscivorous pterosaurs in the Jiufotang Formation suggests distinct resource exploitation in this part of China during the Early Cretaceous.

ancient pterosaur Ikrandraco avatar had at least 40 pairs of small teeth and possibly a throat pouch for catching fish.
illustration: Chuang Zhao

Systematic paleontology

Pterosauria Kaup, 1834
Pterodactyloidea Plieninger, 1901

Dsungaripteroidea Young, 1964
Pteranodontoidea Marsh, 1876

Ikrandraco gen. nov.

Type species: Ikrandraco avatar, type by monotypy.
Etymology: Ikran, from the fictional flying creature portrayed in the movie Avatar that shows a well developed dentary crest, and draco, from the Latin meaning dragon.

Diagnosis: The same for the type species.

Ikrandraco avatar sp. nov.
Etymology: Avatar, in allusion to the homonymous science fiction movie.

The remains of an extinct flying reptile (shown here in a reconstruction) that lived some 120 million years ago reveal the creature had a wingspan of 4.9 feet (1.5 meters). The pterosaur now called Ikrandraco avatar may have stored food in a throat pouch similar to a pelican.
illustration: Chuang Zhao

Xiaolin Wang, Taissa Rodrigues, Shunxing Jiang, Xin Cheng & Alexander W. A. Kellner. 2014. An Early Cretaceous Pterosaur with an unusual Mandibular Crest from China and A Potential Novel Feeding Strategy. Scientific Reports 4, Article number: 6329 doi: dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep06329

Citation: Humphries S, Bonser RHC, Witton MP, Martill DM (2007) Did Pterosaurs Feed by Skimming? Physical Modelling and Anatomical Evaluation of an Unusual Feeding Method. PLoS Biol. 5(8): e204. doi: dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0050204

Ancient Flying Reptile Ate Like a Toothy Pelican http://on.natgeo.com/1qNitwP  via @NatGeo

[Paleontology • 2014] Semiaquatic Adaptations in a Giant Predatory Dinosaur, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus

Cretaceous Leviathan
The only known dinosaur adapted to life in water, Spinosaurus swam the rivers of North Africa a hundred million years ago. The massive predator lived in a region mostly devoid of large, terrestrial plant-eaters, subsisting mainly on huge fish.
Art: Davide Bonadonna. Sources: Nizar Ibrahim, University of Chicago; Cristiano Dal Sasso and Simone Maganuco, Natural History Museum of Milan ngm.nationalgeographic.com

We describe adaptations for a semiaquatic lifestyle in the dinosaur Spinosaurus aegyptiacus. These adaptations include retraction of the fleshy nostrils to a position near the mid-region of the skull and an elongate neck and trunk that shift the center of body mass anterior to the knee joint. Unlike terrestrial theropods, the pelvic girdle is downsized, the hind limbs are short, and all of the limb bones are solid without an open medullary cavity, for buoyancy control in water. The short, robust femur with hypertrophied flexor attachment and the low, flat-bottomed pedal claws are consistent with aquatic foot-propelled locomotion. Surface striations and bone microstructure suggest that the dorsal “sail” may have been enveloped in skin that functioned primarily for display on land and in water.

Ibrahim, N., Sereno, P., Dal Sasso, C., Maganuco, M., Martill, D., Zouhri, S., Myhrvold, N., Iurino, D. 2014. Semiaquatic Adaptations in a Giant Predatory Dinosaur. Science.
doi: dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1258750

Digital skeletal reconstruction and transparent flesh outline of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus
Color codes are used to show the origin of different parts of the digital skeletal model.
Bones of the neotype and for Suchomimus tenerensis were CT-scanned, surfaced and size-adjusted before being added to the model.
Color coding: red, neotype (FSAC-KK 11888); orange, Stromer’s bones; yellow, isolated bones from the Kem Kem; green, surrogate bones modeled or taken from the spinosaurids Suchomimus, Baryonyx, Irritator or Ichthyovenator; blue, inferred bones from adjacent bones. A red dot below the posterior dorsal centra shows the approximate position of the center of mass.
Model by Tyler Keillor, Lauren Conroy, and Erin Fitzgerald. | phenomena.nationalgeographic.com

A reconstruction of the skull of Spinosaurus, with known elements in blue.
Art by Davide Bonadonna.

Researchers have long debated whether dinosaurs could swim, but there has been little direct evidence for aquadinos. Some tantalizing hints have appeared, however, in claimed "swim tracks" made by the bellies of dinos in Utah and oxygen isotopes indicating possible aquatic habitats in a group of dinosaurs called spinosaurs. Now, a research team working in Morocco has found the most complete skeleton yet of a giant carnivore called Spinosaurus, very fragmentary remains of which were first discovered in 1912 in Egypt. The new fossils not only confirm that Spinosaurus was bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex, but also show that it had evolutionary adaptations—ranging from pedal-like feet to a nostril far back on the head to high bone density like that of hippos—clearly suited for swimming in lakes and rivers.

Michael Balter. 2014. Giant Dinosaur was a Terror of Cretaceous Waterways. Science. 345(6202): 1232. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.345.6202.1232

Scientists Report First Semiaquatic Dinosaur, Spinosaurus
Massive Predator Was More Than 9 Feet Longer Than Largest Tyrannosaurus rex
Spinosaurus: The First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur http://www.science20.com/news_articles/spinosaurus_the_first_semiaquatic_dinosaur-144684 via @science2_0


pre-2014 PaleoArt 

Spinosaurus aegyptiacus
All Yestered by Rodrigo-Vega on @deviantART 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

[PaleoMammalogy • 2014] Anthracotheres from Wadi Moghra, early Miocene, Egypt; Jaggermeryx naida, Afromeryx grex & A. palustris

 Jaggermeryx naida
Top and side views of a fossilized jaw bone of an ancient creature recently named after Mick Jagger, in honor of the animal's big, sensitive lips and snout. The animal's jaw bones suggest it was roughly the size of a small deer.
Photo: Gregg Gunnell, Duke Lemur Center | DOI: 10.1666/13-122

The early Miocene site of Wadi Moghra, Qattara Depression, Egypt, is important for interpreting anthracothere (Mammalia, Artiodactyla) evolution, because the Moghra sediments preserve a higher diversity of anthracotheres than any other pene-contemporaneous site. New specimens from Moghra are described and form the basis for the systematic revision of Moghra anthracotheres provided here. Among the important discoveries recently made at Moghra is the first complete skull of Sivameryx moneyi. Other new specimens described here include two new species of Afromeryx, and a new genus and species, all of which are unique to Moghra. A review of biogeographic information supports the conclusion that three of the Moghra anthracotheres (Brachyodus depereti, B. mogharensis, and Jaggermeryx naida, n. gen. n. sp.) are members of late surviving lineages with a long history in Africa, while three other species (Afromeryx grex, n. sp., A. palustris, n. sp., and Sivameryx moneyi) represent more recent immigrants from Eurasia.

Ellen R. Miller, Gregg F. Gunnell, Mohamed Abdel Gawad, Mohamed Hamdan, Ahmed N. El-Barkooky, Mark T. Clementz and Safiya M. Hassan. 2014. Anthracotheres from Wadi Moghra, early Miocene, Egypt. Journal of Paleontology. 88(5); 967-981.  DOI: 10.1666/13-122

UW Researcher Contributes to Discovery of Mick Jagger-Like Swamp Creature

Ancient swamp creature had lips like Mick Jagger
A swamp-dwelling, plant-munching creature that lived 19 million years ago in Africa has been named after Rolling Stones lead singer Sir Mick Jagger, because of its big, sensitive lips and snout. The name of the animal, Jaggermeryx naida, translates to 'Jagger's water nymph.'