Tuesday, November 18, 2014

[Mammalogy • 2014] How Many Species of Paradoxurus Civets are there? New Insights from India and Sri Lanka

Paradoxurus m. musangus
Male relaxing on a thick liana at Sungei Relau, Taman Negara, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia | photo: EcologyAsia.com

Using molecular data and morphological features, we investigated the species limits and genetic diversity among populations of the Asian palm civets of the genus Paradoxurus. Our main objectives were to determine the number of species within Paradoxurus hermaphroditus and to test the validity of the newly proposed species within Paradoxurus zeylonensis. Fragments of two mitochondrial (Cytochrome b, Control Region) and one nuclear (intron 7 of the beta fibrinogen) markers were sequenced from 128 individuals of P. hermaphroditus, P. zeylonensis and Paradoxurus jerdoni. DNA sequences were analysed using phylogenetic and haplotype network methods. 

Our analyses confirmed that P. hermaphroditus comprises three major clades, which should be recognized as separate species: Paradoxurus hermaphroditus (Indian and Indochinese regions), Paradoxurus musangus (mainland Southeast Asia, Sumatra, Java and other small Indonesian islands) and Paradoxurus philippinensis (Mentawai Islands, Borneo and the Philippines). Furthermore, we have proposed that there are two subspecies within both P. musangus and P. philippinensis, and there might be at least two or three subspecies within P. hermaphroditus. We found a very low genetic diversity and no geographical structure within P. zeylonensis and did not find any support for splitting P. zeylonensis into several species nor subspecies. Finally, we confirmed that P. jerdoni and P. zeylonensis are sister species.

Keywords: Asia; taxonomy; palm civets; Paradoxurus; Viverridae; Molecular systematics

Paradoxurus m. musangus 'Toddy Cat' from MacRitchie forest, Singapore
photo: Francis Yap | BESGroup.org

Paradoxurus m. musangus from  Singapore Botanic Garden
photo: Chung Yi Fei KampungLife.wordpress.com

Géraldine Veron, Marie-Lilith Patou, Mária Tóth, Manori Goonatilake and Andrew P. Jennings. 2014. How Many Species of Paradoxurus Civets are there? New Insights from India and Sri Lanka. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research. 1-14. doi: dx.doi.org/10.1111/jzs.12085.

 The common palm civet, Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, has been split into three species by a recent study (Veron et al., 2014). The name Paradoxurus hermaphroditus is restricted to the populations in India, southern China and Indo-china (henceforth as Indian palm civet). The form in Singapore, peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Java is Paradoxurus musangus (Sumatran palm civet), named by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1821 as Viverra musanga based on animals from Sumatra. Those in Borneo and the Philippines are Paradoxurus philippinensis (Philippine palm civet)

Marcus A. H. Chua & Fung Tze Kwan. 2014. Sumatran palm civet at Grange Road. Singapore Biodiversity Records. 2014http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/nus/images/pdfs/sbr/2014/sbr2014-295.pdf

[Ichthyology • 2014] Limatulichthys nasarcus • A New Species of Limatulichthys Isbrücker & Nijssen (Loricariidae, Loricariinae) from the western Guiana Shield

Limatulichthys nasarcus
Londoño-Burbano, Lefebvre & Lujan, 2014

Limatulichthys nasarcus n. sp. is described as a new species based on 15 specimens from the Ventuari and Caura Rivers in Southern Venezuela. The new species can be distinguished from its only congener, L. griseus, by the presence of anterior abdominal plates half the size of those at center of abdomen (vs. plates similar in size); distinct spots less than half of diameter of naris across entire dorsum, including snout and head (vs. indistinct dorsal spots larger or equal than diameter of naris); lateral portions of head and opercle with dark well-defined spots larger than those on dorsum (vs. spots on lateral portions of head and opercle equal in size to those on remainder of body); snout profile in dorsal view broadly rounded (vs. acutely triangular); head longer (21.4–24.2 SL vs. 17.7–21.0%); and anal fin longer (15.7–18.0 SL vs. 13.7–15.6%). Distinctiveness of the two species is further supported by their non-overlapping distribution in multivariate morphospace. The disjunct distribution of L. nasarcus across both the Caura and Ventuari rivers exclusive of the main Orinoco River channel contributes to a growing body of evidence supporting the historical connection between headwaters of these drainages. The hypothesized existence of a ‘proto-Berbice’ paleodrainage provides one explanation for such a connection.

Keywords: Limatulichthys, Neotropics, taxonomy, Ventuari, Caura

Londoño-Burbano, A., Lefebvre, S.L. & Lujan, N.K. 2014. A New Species of Limatulichthys Isbrücker & Nijssen (Loricariidae, Loricariinae) from the western Guiana Shield. Zootaxa. 3884(4): 360–370.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

[Botany • 2014] Trachycarpus ravenii • A New Species (Arecaceae, Corypheae) from Vientiane province of central Laos

Trachycarpus ravenii Aver. & K. S. Nguyen
[left] Natural habitats of Trachycarpus ravenii sp. nov. in central Laos (Vientiane province, Kasi district). (a) primary intact semideciduous forest on steep slopes of Phachao Mountain at elevation 1650–1700 m a.s.l. (Namken village area) || photo by N. S. Khang 
[upper right] Male specimen, [lower right] Female specimen || photos by L. Averyanov
 DOI: 10.1111/j.1756-1051.2013.00304.x | rufford.org

A new species Trachycarpus ravenii discovered in Kasi district, Vientiane province of central Laos is described and illustrated. Morphologically, it is closest to T. oreophilus and T. princeps, but differs by having a shorter stem of mature plants; glabrous, dull green petiole; almost circular leaf blade, waxy bluish–white abaxially; narrow leaf segments with narrow free lobes densely adpressed to each other, as well as in oblique-round apices of median leaf segments.

Figure 1. Trachycarpus ravenii sp. nov.
Male specimen, d-exsiccates of Vietnamese flora 200/LA-VN 725.
All photos and design by L. Averyanov
Figure 2. Trachycarpus ravenii sp. nov.
Female specimen, d-exsiccates of Vietnamese flora 201/LA-VN 726.
All photos and design by L. Averyanov.

Figure 3. Natural habitats of Trachycarpus ravenii sp. nov. in central Laos (Vientiane province, Kasi district).
 (a) primary intact semideciduous forest on steep slopes of Phachao Mountain at elevation 1650–1700 m a.s.l. (Namken village area), (b) forestless mountain slopes with rocky limestone outcrops among secondary grasslands and open secondary scrub at elevation about 1700 m a.s.l. (Thong Mout village area).
All photos by N. S. Khang | DOI: 10.1111/j.1756-1051.2013.00304.x

Averyanov, L. V., Nguyen, K. S., Nguyen, T. H., Pham, T. V. and Lorphengsy, S. 2014. Trachycarpus ravenii sp. nov. (Arecaceae, Corypheae) from central Laos. Nordic Journal of Botany. 32(5); 563–568. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-1051.2013.00304.x

[Ichthyology • 2014] Mugilogobius hitam • A New Species of Freshwater Goby (Teleostei: Gobioidei: Gobiidae) from Lake Towuti, central Sulawesi, Indonesia

Black Towuti Goby | Mugilogobius hitam
Larson, Geiger, Hadiaty & Herder, 2014

A new species of Mugilogobius is described from Lake Towuti, central Sulawesi, diagnosed by its possession of a distinct transverse sensory papilla pattern on the cheek, overall blackish colour on head, body and fins and relatively large adult size for the genus. Although it may superficially resemble the black goby Mugilogobius amadi from Lake Poso, M. hitam, new species, lacks the numerous predorsal scales (22–36 in M. amadi versus 17–19), high second dorsal fin ray count (I,9, usually I,10, versus I,7–8) and narrow head and protruding chin of M. amadi. Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) data provide clear support for the species status of M. hitam, new species,
indicate that all the Malili Lakes Mugilogobius may well represent a species flock and place M. sarasinorum from Lake Poso as its most likely sister taxon. In addition to the tectonic lake species, we report the occurrence of M. latifrons in streams of the Malili Lakes drainage.

Key words. Mugilogobius, Gobiidae, taxonomy, Sulawesi, Lake Towuti, freshwater fish, endemism

Helen K. Larson, Matthias F. Geiger, Renny Kurnia Hadiaty and Fabian Herder. 2014. Mugilogobius hitam, A New Species of Freshwater Goby (Teleostei: Gobioidei: Gobiidae) from Lake Towuti, central Sulawesi, Indonesia. RAFFLES BULLETIN OF ZOOLOGY. 62: 718–725. 

Mugilogobius fasciatus Larson, 2001
Mugilogobius filifer Larson, 2001 (Threadfin mangrove goby) 
Mugilogobius littoralis Larson, 2001 (Beachrock mangrove goby) 
Mugilogobius lepidotus Larson, 2001
Mugilogobius rexi Larson, 2001
Mugilogobius rivulus Larson, 2001 (Drain mangrove goby) 
Mugilogobius tigrinus Larson, 2001
Mugilogobius wilsoni Larson, 2001 (Wilson's mangrove goby) 

Mugilogobius nuicocensis V. H. Nguyễn & V. B. Vo, 2005 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

[Herpetology • 2014] Tylototriton shanorum • A New Species of Tylototriton (Amphibia: Urodela: Salamandridae) from Central Myanmar

Figure 3. Photograph of specimens of Tylototriton verrucosus verrucosus from Myanmar (A and B: dorsal and ventral views of CAS 230940 [male]; C: dorsal view of CAS 230933 [female]), dorsal view of male topotype of T. verrucosus verrucosus (D), and dorsal view of male holotype of T. uyenoi (E). Scale bar = 20 mm.
Figure 4. Photograph of dorsal head of specimens of Tylototriton verrucosus verrucosus from Myanmar (A: CAS 230940 [male]; B: CAS 230933 [female]), male topotype of T. v. verrucosus (C), and male holotype of T. uyenoi (D). Scale bar = 10 mm.

We describe a new species of Tylototriton from Taunggyi, Shan State, central Myanmar, based on molecular and morphological evidence. The new species, Tylototriton shanorum, is classified as a member of the subgenus Tylototriton. The species differs morphologically from all known congeners by having the combination of dull-colored markings, weakly protruding dorsolateral bony ridges on head, narrow and weakly segmented vertebral ridge, and narrow vomerine tooth series. The taxonomic relationship between T. verrucosus and T. shanjing is briefly discussed based on the molecular phylogeny obtained in this study.

Key words: Tylototriton, morphology, new species, Myanmar

 Kanto Nishikawa, Masafumi Matsui and Dingqi Rao. 2014. A New Species of Tylototriton (Amphibia: Urodela: Salamandridae) from Central Myanmar
The Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society. 60(1):9-22.

[Paleontology • 2014] Garjainia madiba • A New Species of Garjainia Ochev, 1958 (Diapsida: Archosauriformes: Erythrosuchidae) from the Early Triassic of South Africa

 Life reconstruction of Garjainia madiba sp. nov.
Total adult body length would have been approximately 2.5 metres, based on comparisons with G. prima.
Reconstruction by Mark Witton || FIGURE 30 | doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111154.g030


A new species of the erythrosuchid archosauriform reptile Garjainia Ochev, 1958 is described on the basis of disarticulated but abundant and well-preserved cranial and postcranial material from the late Early Triassic (late Olenekian) Subzone A of the Cynognathus Assemblage Zone of the Burgersdorp Formation (Beaufort Group) of the Karoo Basin of South Africa. The new species, G. madiba, differs from its unique congener, G. prima from the late Olenekian of European Russia, most notably in having large bony bosses on the lateral surfaces of the jugals and postorbitals. The new species also has more teeth and a proportionately longer postacetabular process of the ilium than G. prima. Analysis of G. madiba bone histology reveals thick compact cortices comprised of highly vascularized, rapidly forming fibro-lamellar bone tissue, similar to Erythrosuchus africanus from Subzone B of the Cynognathus Assemblage Zone. The most notable differences between the two taxa are the predominance of a radiating vascular network and presence of annuli in the limb bones of G. madiba. These features indicate rapid growth rates, consistent with data for many other Triassic archosauriforms, but also a high degree of developmental plasticity as growth remained flexible. The diagnoses of Garjainia and of Erythrosuchidae are addressed and revised. Garjainia madiba is the geologically oldest erythrosuchid known from the Southern Hemisphere, and demonstrates that erythrosuchids achieved a cosmopolitan biogeographical distribution by the end of the Early Triassic, within five million years of the end-Permian mass extinction event. It provides new insights into the diversity of the Subzone A vertebrate assemblage, which partially fills a major gap between classic ‘faunal’ assemblages from the older Lystrosaurus Assemblage Zone (earliest Triassic) and the younger Subzone B of the Cynognathus Assemblage Zone (early Middle Triassic).

David J. Gower, P. John Hancox, Jennifer Botha-Brink, Andrey G. Sennikov and Richard J. Butler. 2014. A New Species of Garjainia Ochev, 1958 (Diapsida: Archosauriformes: Erythrosuchidae) from the Early Triassic of South Africa. PLoS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111154.g030 

[Invertebrate • 2014] First Molecular Data and the Phylogenetic Position of the Millipede-Like Centipede Edentistoma octosulcatum Tömösváry, 1882 (Chilopoda: Scolopendromorpha: Scolopendridae)

Figure 1. Edentistoma octosulcatum and its habitat.
A, Forcipular segment in ventral view; B, alluvial forest where specimen was collected in March 2013;
C–D, specimen used for DNA sequencing. C, walking; D, coiled.


Edentistoma octosulcatum Tömösváry, 1882, is a rare, superficially millipede-like centipede known only from Borneo and the Philippines. It is unique within the order Scolopendromorpha for its slow gait, robust tergites, and highly modified gizzard and mandible morphology. Not much is known about the biology of the species but it has been speculated to be arboreal with a possibly vegetarian diet. Until now its phylogenetic position within the subfamily Otostigminae has been based only on morphological characters, being variably ranked as a monotypic tribe (Arrhabdotini) or classified with the Southeast Asian genus Sterropristes Attems, 1934. The first molecular data for E. octosulcatum sourced from a newly collected specimen from Sarawak were analysed with and without morphology. Parsimony analysis of 122 morphological characters together with two nuclear and two mitochondrial loci resolves Edentistoma as sister group to three Indo-Australian species of Rhysida, this clade in turn grouping with Ethmostigmus, whereas maximum likelihood and parsimony analyses of the molecular data on their own ally Edentistoma with species of Otostigmus. A position of Edentistoma within Otostigmini (rather than being its sister group as predicted by the Arrhabdotini hypothesis) is consistently retrieved under different analytical conditions, but support values within the subfamily remain low for most nodes. The species exhibits strong pushing behaviour, suggestive of burrowing habits. Evidence against a suggested vegetarian diet is provided by observation of E. octosulcatum feeding on millipedes in the genus Trachelomegalus.

Varpu Vahtera and Gregory D. Edgecombe. 2014. First Molecular Data and the Phylogenetic Position of the Millipede-Like Centipede Edentistoma octosulcatum Tömösváry, 1882 (Chilopoda: Scolopendromorpha: Scolopendridae).

PLoS ONE. 9(11): e112461. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112461

[Herpetology • 2014] Herpetofaunal Community of A High Canopy Tank Bromeliad Aechmea zebrina in the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve of Amazonian Ecuador, with comments on the use of “arboreal” in the herpetological literature

Fig. 2. (B) A community of Aechmea zebrina bromeliads at ~38 m (in situ). 
Fig. 3. A collection of anurans collected from Aechmea zebrina bromeliads.
 (A) Pristimantis aureolineatus hiding in leaf axil, (E) Ranitomeya ventrimaculata and (F) Scinax ruber collected from Azebrina bromeliads.

Tank bromeliads provide microhabitat that supports a high diversity of organisms in the harsh environment of tropical forest canopies. Most studies of organisms occupying tank bromeliads have focused on invertebrates found within bromeliads near or at ground level. Few investigations of vertebrate communities utilizing this keystone resource are available. We describe the amphibian and reptile community occupying the high canopy tank bromeliad, Aechmea zebrina, in lowland rainforest of the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve in the Amazon Basin of Ecuador. We used single-rope climbing techniques to sample a total of 160 A. zebrina bromeliads from 32 trees, at heights of 18.3 to 45.5 m above ground. We collected 10 metamorphosed anuran species, one gecko, one snake, and observed two species of lizard within bromeliads. Summary statistics for a suite of environmental factors associated with herpetofauna in A. zebrina bromeliads are reported. We estimated the density of anurans occupying A. zebrina communities and contrast these estimates with anuran densities from tropical forest floor anuran studies. Finally, we discuss the use of the term “arboreal” within the herpetological literature, and make recommendations for terminology used to describe the vertical space occupied by a species or assemblage.

Key words. Amphibian, anuran, epiphyte, forest, microhabitat, rainforest, reptile

Shawn F. McCracken and Michael R. J. Forstner. 2014. Herpetofaunal Community of A High Canopy Tank Bromeliad (Aechmea zebrina) in the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve of Amazonian Ecuador, with comments on the use of “arboreal” in the herpetological literature. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation. 8(1) [Special Section]: 65–75 (e83).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

[Paleontology • 2014] Origin of the Unique Ventilatory Apparatus of Turtles

The turtle body plan differs markedly from that of other vertebrates and serves as a model system for studying structural and developmental evolution. Incorporation of the ribs into the turtle shell negates the costal movements that effect lung ventilation in other air-breathing amniotes. Instead, turtles have a unique abdominal-muscle-based ventilatory apparatus whose evolutionary origins have remained mysterious. Here we show through broadly comparative anatomical and histological analyses that an early member of the turtle stem lineage has several turtle-specific ventilation characters: rigid ribcage, inferred loss of intercostal muscles and osteological correlates of the primary expiratory muscle. Our results suggest that the ventilation mechanism of turtles evolved through a division of labour between the ribs and muscles of the trunk in which the abdominal muscles took on the primary ventilatory function, whereas the broadened ribs became the primary means of stabilizing the trunk. These changes occurred approximately 50 million years before the evolution of the fully ossified shell.


Tyler R. Lyson, Emma R. Schachner, Jennifer Botha-Brink,  Torsten M. Scheyer, Markus Lambertz, G. S. Bever, Bruce S. Rubidge & Kevin de Queiroz. 2014. Origin of the Unique Ventilatory Apparatus of Turtles. Nature Communications. 5, Article number: 5211
doi: dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms6211

Monday, November 10, 2014

[Ornithology / Conservation • 2014] Gurney’s Pitta Pitta gurneyi in Thailand—from Rediscovery to Extinction in Just 28 Years

Fig. 1. Gurney’s Pitta Pitta gurneyi [นกแต้วแล้วท้องดำ] female (left) and male (right),
photographed near Ban Bang Tieo, Khlong Thom District, Krabi
(Photo by Kanit Khanikul).

The Thai-Burmese endemic bird, Gurney’s Pitta Pitta gurneyi, appears to be practically extinct in its last known Thai location around the mountain of Khao Nor Chuchi, Krabi and Trang Provinces. Conservation measures implemented since the rediscovery of the species in 1986 proved inadequate to safeguard an appropriately large area of its lowland forest habitat, most of which has been cleared illegally by rubber and oil-palm growers. The last known birds in 2013–2014 were three related individuals from an estimated population of 10–15 pairs in year 2000. This has important implications for the fate of other lowland biota, still inadequately represented in Thailand’s network of (mainly mountainous) parks and sanctuaries. Captive breeding of Gurney’s Pittas is futile without a prior realistic commitment to rehabilitate and restore a large and viable area of lowland rainforest within its former range. Conservation efforts should now be concentrated in Southern Myanmar where a significant population of Gurney’s Pittas remains.

Key words: conservation, Khao Nor Chuchi, Khao Pra-Bang Khram, Krabi, lowland forest loss, 
Pitta gurneyi

PHILIP D. ROUND. 2014. Gurney’s Pitta in Thailand—from Rediscovery to Extinction in Just 28 Years. NAT. HIST. BULL. SIAM. SOC. 60(1): 3–8

[Herpetology • 2014] The Phylogenetic Position and Taxonomic Status of the Rainbow Tree Snake Gonyophis margaritatus (Peters, 1871) (Squamata: Colubridae)

Royal Tree Snake – Gonyophis margaritatus (Peters, 1871)

Molecular phylogenies have provided strong evidence for clarifying the taxonomy of groups with ambiguous morphological traits, thus avoiding potentially misleading conclusions based on evolutionary convergence of these traits. For snakes, established molecular databases along with new sequences from rare species allows us to estimate phylogenies, to clarify the phylogenetic relationships and test the monophyly of most taxonomic groups. Using one mitochondrial gene and five nuclear loci, we evaluate the taxonomic status of a rare Southeast Asian serpent, the Rainbow Tree Snake Gonyophis margaritatus (Squamata: Colubridae) by inferring a molecular phylogeny of 101 snake species. Both maximum likelihood and time- calibrated Bayesian inference phylogenies demonstrate that G. margaritatus is sister to Rhadinophis prasinus, previously considered to be part of a radiation of Old World ratsnakes. This group is in turn sister to a group containing Rhadinophis frenatus and Rhynchophis boulengeri with the entire clade originating in the mid-Miocene (~16 Ma) in Southeast Asia. This group is sister to the genus Gonyosoma and together originated in the early Miocene (~20 Ma). We discuss three potential solutions towards eliminating polyphyly of the genus Rhadinophis, but recommend using the genus name Gonyosoma for all species within this clade, which currently contains all of the species within the genera Gonyosoma, Gonyophis, Rhadinophis, and Rhynchophis.

Keywords: Gonyophis, Gonyosoma, molecular phylogeny, polyphyly, Rhadinophis, Rhynchophis

Gonyosoma margaritatum Peters, 1871 Gonyosoma prasinum (Blyth 1854)
Gonyosoma frenatum (Gray, 1853) Gonyosoma oxycephalum (Boie 1827)

Gonyosoma Wagler 
Gonyosoma Wagler, 1828. Type species Gonyosoma oxycephalum (Boie)
Gonyophis Boulenger, 1891. Type species Gonyophis margaritatus (Peters), by monotypy Syn.n.
Rhadinophis Vogt, 1922. Type species Rhadinophis frenatus (Gray) Syn.n. 
Rhynchophis Mocquard, 1897. Type species Rhynchophis boulengeri Mocquard, by monotypy Syn.n.

 Species synonymized into the genus Gonyosoma.
Gonyosoma margaritatum Peters, 1871
Gonyosoma frenatum (Gray, 1853)
Gonyosoma prasinum (Blyth 1854)
Gonyosoma boulengeri (Mocquard 1897)
Gonyosoma oxycephalum (Boie 1827)
Gonyosoma jansenii (Bleeker 1859)

Chen, Xin, Alexander D. Mckelvy, L. L. Grismer, Masafumi Matsui, Kanto Nishikawa & Frank T. Burbrink. 2014. The Phylogenetic Position and Taxonomic Status of the Rainbow Tree Snake Gonyophis margaritatus (Peters, 1871) (Squamata: Colubridae).
Zootaxa. 3881(6): 532–548. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3881.6.3

Sunday, November 9, 2014

[Herpetology • 2003] Gongylosoma mukutense | Mukut Smooth Snake • A New Species of Gonglyosoma (Squamata: Colubridae) from Pulau Tioman, West Malaysia

Mukut Smooth Snake | Gongylosoma mukutense (Holotype - ZRC.2.5143).

A new species of Gongylosoma is described from Pulau Tioman, a small island 38 km off the southeast coast of Pahang, West Malaysia, in the South China Sea. This species differs from all other Gongylosoma in having a single, enlarged, posterior temporal; chinshields of equal size; and a thin nuchal band that contacts a vestigial vertebral stripe. The new species forms a clade with G. nicobariense from the Nicobar Islands and G. longicauda from Borneo, Java, and Sumatra and is the sister species of the latter.

Keywords: Biogeography, Gongylosoma, Liopeltis, Malaysia, Pulau Tioman

Grismer, L.L.; Indraneil Das, and Tzi Ming Leong 2003. A New Species of Gonglyosoma (Squamata: Colubridae) from Pulau Tioman, West Malaysia. Herpetologica. 59(4):565-572. 2003