Monday, August 29, 2016

[Ichthyology • 2005] Validity of the Scorpionfish Genus Hipposcorpaena and A Redescription of H. filamentosa Fowler (Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae)

Hipposcorpaena filamentosa  

Fowler, 1938 

The validity of the poorly known monotypic scorpionfish genus Hipposcorpaena Fowler is confirmed, and H. filamentosa Fowler is redescribed. The genus is characterized by the following characters: dorsal fin with 12 spines and 9 soft rays; anal fin with 2 spines and 6 soft rays; pectoral fin with 14 rays; lower pectoral fin rays slender, filamentous; longest ray extending well beyond vertical from posterior end of anal fin base; all dorsal and anal fin soft rays (except last ray of each fin divided into 2 at base), and all pectoral and caudal fin rays unbranched; head and body strongly compressed; body deep, depth 39.5%~41.2% of standard length; body covered with small cycloid scales; no palatine teeth; interorbital ridges present; tympanic spine present; posttemporal spine simple, lacking upper posttemporal spine; lower caudal fin with 1~4 distinct black spots, greater in width than orbit diameter; mature adult size at least 35.2 mm SL.

Key words: Scorpaenidae, Genus, Hipposcorpaena, Redescription, Hipposcorpaena filamentosa.

Hiroyuki Motomura and Hiroshi Senou. 2005. Validity of the Scorpionfish Genus Hipposcorpaena Fowler and A Redescription of H. filamentosa Fowler (Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae).  Zoological Studies. 44(2): 210-218.

[Botany • 2015] Gastrodia madagascariensis • from An Historical Designation to A Description of A New Species (Gastrodieae, Orchidaceae) from Madagascar

Gastrodia madagascariensis 
  H.Perrier ex Martos & Bytebier  


Gastrodia madagascariensis, a leafless achlorophyllous orchid, is described and illustrated here. The epithet was originally coined by Perrier de la Bâthie in 1939 for fruiting material found on the eastern coastal plain of Madagascar more than a century ago, but the name was never validly published. This new species is closely related to G. similis from Reunion Island, from which it can be distinguished by the perianth tube spreading towards the apex, the shape of the column and stigma, and the flower colour. The achlorophyllous genus Gastrodia currently comprises five species in the tropical parts of the Afro-Madagascan region, one of which, G. africana, is possibly extinct. We provide an artificial key to distinguish them. In addition, there is also an extratropical species in continental Africa, the introduced G. sesamoides (very local near Cape Town, South Africa).

Keywords: Didymoplexis; Flora of Madagascar; myco-heterotrophy; Perrier de la Bâthie, Monocots, Madagascar

FIGURE 1. Gastrodia madagascariensis   H.Perrier ex Martos & Bytebier  
A. Habit; note the dark color of the peduncle contrasting with the whitish pedicels, and the dark colour of the perianth tube at the apex. B. Open flower, front view; note the perianth tube spreading towards the apex, and the reddish brown (bottom half) and light brown (top half) colour of the perianth tube on the inner surface. C. Open flower, three quarter view; note the emerald green colour of the lip tip and of two tubercular calli borne on the column-foot (also seen on B). D. Dehiscent capsules borne on elongated fruiting pedicels. E. Fusiform rhizome with fine adventitious roots.
Photographs: A.Charbouillot (A–C) and J.-M.Hervouet (D) DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.221.1.4 

Diagnosis:— Similar to Gastrodia similis Bosser (2006: 52), from which it can be distinguished by the perianth tube spreading towards the apex, the cordate stigma, and the emerald green lip colour.

Distribution and habitat:— Gastrodia madagascariensis is only known from Ambodiriana Forest near Manompana (Fig. 3). Here, it grows in evergreen, humid forest below 200 m and is more commonly found in the vicinity of the river Manompana and its tributaries.

Etymology:— The epithet madagascariensis refers to Madagascar, where this species is endemic.

Since the recent treatment of Gastrodia in Genera Orchidacearum (Kores et al. 2006), the number of species has increased considerably from approximately 20 to 50 species (Hsu & Kuo 2010, 2011, Yeh et al. 2011, Hsu et al. 2012, Tan et al. 2012, Suetsugu 2013, 2014, Hu et al. 2014), making it the most diverse genus in the orchid tribe Gastrodieae. In view of that, investigations into nuclear and mitochondrial markers that would suitably resolve the phylogenetic relationships between the Gastrodia species found in the Asia-Pacific and the Afro-Madagascan region are now needed.

Florent Martos, Steven D Johnson and Benny Bytebier. 2015. Gastrodia madagascariensis (Gastrodieae, Orchidaceae): from An Historical Designation to A Description of A New Species from Madagascar.
Phytotaxa. 221(1): 48–56. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.221.1.4

Résumé: Gastrodia madagascariensis, une orchidée aphylle non-chlorophyllienne, est décrite et illustrée ici. L’épithète fut initialement proposé par Perrier de la Bâthie en 1939 pour décrire une plante en fruit trouvée dans la même région côtière de Madagascar il y a plus d’un siècle, mais sa publication était alors invalide. Cette nouvelle espèce est proche de l’espèce G. similis endémique de l’Île de la Réunion, mais s’en distingue toutefois par un calice campanulé, la forme de la colonne et du stigmate, ainsi que la couleur de la fleur. Le gene non-chlorophyllien Gastrodia comprend aujourd’hui cinq espèces en Afrique tropicale et à Madagascar; l’une d’entre elles, G. africana, étant probablement éteinte. Une clé d’identification de ces espèces est proposée ici. De plus, on recense une sixième espèce sur le continent africain, c’est-à-dire l’espèce introduite G. sesamoides (près de la ville du Cap, Afrique du Sud).
Mots-clés: Didymoplexis; Flore de Madagascar; myco-hétérotrophie; Perrier de la Bâthie

[Entomology • 2016] Cerapanorpa, A New Genus of Panorpidae (Insecta: Mecoptera) from China, with Descriptions of Three New Species

Cerapanorpa obtusa  
(Cheng, 1949)  


A new genus of Panorpidae (Mecoptera), Cerapanorpa gen. nov., is erected with Panorpa obtusa Cheng, 1949 as its type species. The new genus can be readily recognized by having a single digitate anal horn on the posterior edge of tergum VI in males, and a broad main plate bearing two pairs of basal plates at the genital plate and a well-developed elongate axis in females. Nineteen described species are transferred from Panorpa Linnaeus, 1758 to the new genus. In addition, three new species, Cerapanorpa liupanshana sp. nov., Cerapanorpa protrudens sp. nov. and Cerapanorpa sinuata sp. nov. are described and illustrated. Panorpa alticola Zhou, 2000 syn. nov. is regarded as a junior synonym of P. obtusa Cheng, 1949. A key to genera of Panorpidae is updated to include the new genus. A key to species of Cerapanorpa is also presented.

Keywords: Mecoptera, Insecta, Panorpidae, Panorpa, Oriental Region, Palearctic Region, East Asia, China

Chao Gao and Bao-Zhen Hua. 2016. Cerapanorpa, A New Genus of Panorpidae (Insecta: Mecoptera) with Descriptions of Three New Species.
Zootaxa. 4158(1); 93–104. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4158.1.5

Sunday, August 28, 2016

[Botany • 2009] Blakea attenboroughii • A New Species (Melastomataceae: Blakeeae) from Tungurahua, Ecuador

Blakea attenboroughii  Penneys 

Blakea attenboroughii, a new Ecuadorian endemic is described, illustrated, and com-pared with several allied species, including B. truncata, B. harlingii, and B. brasiliensis. The new species is remarkable for its outer floral bracts that are large, foliaceous, distinctly keeled, decurrent, and basally adpressed to each other, and also for having lavender-to blue-colored anthers. Blakea (Melastomataceae: Blakeeae) is a Neotropical genus comprised of ca. 100 species of woody root climbers, shrubs, and trees that may be terrestrial, hemiepiphytic, or epiphytic (Almeda 2000). Found from Mexico to Bolivia, including several species in the Antilles, these berry-fruited plants are characterized by their solitary to fascicled, axillary flowers, that are subtended by two pairs of decussate bracts, and laterally compressed anthers (Penneys 2007). The species proposed here is currently known only from the type locality within the Reserva Ecológica Cerro Candelaria (Fundación EcoMinga), Tungurahua, Ecuador. This species is distinctive for having large, keeled, and foliaceous outer floral bracts that are basally decurrent and adpressed to each other, as well as for having lavender-to blue-colored anthers. This combination of characters is unique in the genus. Blakea attenboroughii Penneys, sp. nov.

 Penneys, Darin S. and Jost, Lou. 2009. Blakea attenboroughii (Melastomataceae: Blakeeae): A New Species from Ecuador. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences. 60(1): 69-72.

[Herpetology • 2012] Dendrelaphis nigroserratus • A New Species of Dendrelaphis Boulenger, 1890 (Squamata: Colubridae) from Thailand and Myanmar

Dendrelaphis nigroserratus   
Vogel, Rooijen & Hauser, 2012 

A new species of the colubrid genus Dendrelaphis Boulenger 1890 is described. Dendrelaphis nigroserratus sp. nov. occurs in a part of West Thailand as well as in the extreme south of Myanmar. Morphologically, D. nigroserratus sp. nov. is similar to D. cyanochloris (Wall, 1921) with which it occurs sympatrically. It is distinguished from the latter by its highly conspicuous neck coloration, high incidence of paired postparietal shields and its much larger size. In coloration, it resembles
D. striatus (Cohn, 1906) from which it is distinguished by several aspects of its morphology. The discovery of D. nigroserratus sp. nov. underscores the notion that the hilly western parts of Thailand are in need of further exploration.

Key words: Dendrelaphis cyanochloris, Dendrelaphis nigroserratus sp. nov., Dendrelaphis striatus, Indochina, Southeast Asia, taxonomy

Proposed Thai name: ngu sai man kho dok lueai si dam – งูสายม่านคอดอกเลื่อยสีดำ, งูสายคอฟันเลื่อย

G. Vogel, J.V. Rooijen and S. Hauser. 2012. A New Species of Dendrelaphis Boulenger, 1890 (Squamata: Colubridae) from Thailand and Myanmar. Zootaxa. 3392; 35-46. 

[Herpetology • 2014] Leptolalax laui • A New Species of Leptolalax (Anura: Megophryidae) from Southern China

Lau’s Leaf Litter Toad | Leptolalax laui
Sung, Yang & Wang, 2014

 A new species, Leptolalax laui sp. nov. is described based on specimens collected from Hong Kong and Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province, China. The new species can be distinguished from other known congeners by morphological and molecular data. The new species is characterized by the following characters: 1) small size (adult males SVL 24.8.1 mm−26.7 mm); 2) near immaculate creamy white chest and belly; 3) broad lateral fringes on toes; 4) head longer or as long as wide; 5) distinct dark brown spots in flank; 6) moderate dermal fringes on fingers; 7) brown or reddish-brown dorsum with fine round scattered tubercles; 8) thin traverse brownish-grey bars on the dorsal surface of tibia and lower arms; 9) longitudinal ridges under toes not interrupted at the articulations.

Keywords: Leptolalax laui sp. nov., morphology, mitochondrial DNA, taxonomy

Diagnosis: The new species is assigned to the subgenus Lalos of the genus Leptolalax based on the following characteristics: small size, rounded finger tips, presence of an elevated inner palmar tubercle not continuous to the thumb, presence of supra-axillary, pectoral, femoral and ventrolateral glands, absence of vomerine teeth, presence of tubercles on eyelids and vertical bars on anterior tip of snout (Delorme et al., 2006; Dubois, 1983; Lathrop et al., 1998). Leptolalax laui sp. nov. is distinguished from its congeners by a combination of 1) medium size (SVL 24.8 mm – 26.7 mm in adult males and 28.1 mm in single adult female), 2) near immaculate creamy-white chest and belly, 3) broad lateral fringes on toes, 4) head longer or as long as wide, 5) distant dark brown spots in flank, 6) moderate dermal fringes on fingers, 7) brown or reddish brown dorsum with fine round scattered tubercles, 8) thin traverse brownish grey bars on the dorsal surface of tibia and lower arms, 9) longitudinal ridges under toes not interrupted at the articulations.  

Etymology: This new species is named in honor of Dr. Michael Wai-Neng Lau from Hong Kong for his longterm herpetological research and conservation in Asia, particularly in South China. As a common name we suggest “Lau’s Leaf Litter Toad” (English name).

Ecology: The species can be found in streams in secondary forests between 100–800 m elevation. Advertisement calls of males of L. laui sp. nov. can be heard in streams from February to September in Hong Kong. Calling males were usually observed within two meters from streams.

Distribution and conservation status: Leptolalax laui sp. nov. is known to occur in a number of sites, including Tai Mo Shan, Tai Po Kau, Shing Mun, Ho Chung, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, Sunset Peak, Lantau Peak, in Hong Kong, as well as Wutongshan National Forest Park, Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province; yet the exact distribution of this species in China is unknown. With limited information on the distribution of this species, we recommend the species should be listed as Data Deficient in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Yikhei SUNG, Jianhuan YANG and Yingyong WANG. 2014. A New Species of Leptolalax (Anura: Megophryidae) from Southern China. Asian Herpetological Research. 5(2): 80–90

[Ichthyology • 2016] Periophthalmus pusing • A New Species of Periophthalmus (Teleostei: Gobiidae) from the Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia

 Periophthalmus pusing  
Jaafar, Polgar & Zamroni, 2016


 We describe Periophthalmus pusing sp. nov., a mudskipper species from the Lesser Sunda Islands. This species closely resembles, and was previously identified as, its congener Periophthalmus gracilis Eggert, 1935. A black spot on the posterior portion of the first dorsal fin, a diagnostic character for P. gracilis, is also present in the new species, and thus led to the earlier confusion. Adults of Periophthalmus pusing sp. nov. (> 30 mm SL) differ from those of Periophthalmus gracilis in having XI–XV spines in the first dorsal-fin (vs. VI–XII in P. gracilis), first dorsal fin taller than depth of body at anus (first dorsal fin shorter than depth of body at anus in Periophthalmus gracilis), interdorsal distance less than half the length of the first dorsal-fin spine (interdorsal distance more than half the length of the first dorsal-fin spine in Periophthalmus gracilis).

Key words. Oxudercinae, mudskipper, cryptic species, ichthyofauna, Sumba Island.

Diagnosis. Adult Periophthalmus pusing sp. nov. are distinguished from all congeners with the following suite of characters: pelvic frenum absent; pelvic fins separate for the entire length; a black spot posteriorly on first dorsal fin, spot usually between ninth and the ultimate spine; first dorsal fin
taller than second dorsal fin; interdorsal distance less than half the length of the first dorsal-fin spine. First dorsal-fin elements XI–XV; second dorsal-fin elements I, 10–I, 12; anal-fin elements I, 10–I, 12; pectoral-fin elements 10–12; longitudinal scale rows 42–54; predorsal midline 14–19.

Etymology. The specific epithet ‘pusing’, meaning ‘giddy’ in Indonesian, is the common name used by the coastal people of the Lesser Sunda Islands to refer to Periophthalmus mudskippers. These fishes are known as ‘Ikan Pusing’ (Indonesian: ikan=fish, pusing=giddy), as it is believed that consuming these fishes causes headaches and giddiness.

Distribution. Presently known to occur only on the island of Sumba, Indonesia (Fig. 4).

Field notes: The general locality in which this mudskipper was found—Kawangu—is a tide-dominated coastal system with relatively low wave action. Within the mangrove forest, P. pusing sp. nov. was found in a variety of microhabitat types in seaward and higher mangrove areas as well as within, and on sloping banks of tidal creeks. This species was syntopic with two congeners: Periophthalmus argentilineatus and Periophthalmus malaccensis. 


Zeehan Jaafar, Gianluca Polgar and Yuliadi Zamroni. 2016. Description of A New Species of Periophthalmus (Teleostei: Gobiidae) from the Lesser Sunda Islands. RAFFLES BULLETIN OF ZOOLOGY. 64; 278–283.  


[Ornithology • 2016] Genomic Variation Across the Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) Species Complex

The four forms of Yellow-rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata, have distinct breeding ranges, with a narrow hybrid zone between Myrtle and Audubon's in western Canada. The researchers suggest that Myrtle, Audubon's and Goldman's are separate species. It's equivocal whether Black-fronted should be treated as a separate species or a subspecies of Audubon's. 
Image by David Toews.    

Populations that have experienced long periods of geographic isolation will diverge over time. The application of high-throughput sequencing technologies to study the genomes of related taxa now allows us to quantify, at a fine scale, the consequences of this divergence across the genome. Throughout a number of studies, a notable pattern has emerged. In many cases, estimates of differentiation across the genome are strongly heterogeneous; however, the evolutionary processes driving this striking pattern are still unclear. Here we quantified genomic variation across several groups within the Yellow-rumped Warbler species complex (Setophaga spp.), a group of North and Central American wood warblers. We showed that genomic variation is highly heterogeneous between some taxa and that these regions of high differentiation are relatively small compared to those in other study systems. We found that the clusters of highly differentiated markers between taxa occur in gene-rich regions of the genome and exhibit low within-population diversity. We suggest these patterns are consistent with selection, shaping genomic divergence in similar genomic regions across the different populations. Our study also confirms previous results relying on fewer genetic markers that several of the phenotypically distinct groups in the system are also genomically highly differentiated, likely to the point of full species status.

Keywords: evolutionary genomics, hybridization, gene flow, genotyping-by-sequencing, speciation, natural selection

The Myrtle form breeds in eastern and northern North America. The male's white throat distinguishes it from the three other forms, along with other differences.  
Photo by Kelly Colgan Azar via Birdshare.

David P. L. Toews, Alan Brelsford, Christine Grossen, Borja Milá, and Darren E. Irwin. 2016. Genomic Variation Across the Yellow-rumped Warbler Species Complex  [Variación genómica a través del complejo de especies de Setophaga coronata]. The Auk. 133(4); 698-717.  DOI: 10.1642/AUK-16-61.1

'Butterbutt' warbler is likely three different species, DNA reveals via @physorg_com
Goodbye, Yellow-Rump: Will We See A Return To Myrtle And Audubon’s Warblers?

RESUMEN: Las poblaciones que han experimentado largos periodos de aislamiento geográfico se diferenciarán con el paso del tiempo. La aplicación de tecnologías de secuenciación de alto rendimiento para el estudio de los genomas de taxones relacionados ahora nos permite cuantificar a escala fina las consecuencias de esta divergencia s través del genoma. Luego de numerosos estudios emerge un patrón notable: en muchos casos los estimados de diferenciación a través del genoma son fuertemente heterogéneos. Sin embargo, los procesos evolutivos que gobiernan este patrón aún no son claros. En este estudio cuantificamos la variación genómica a través de varios grupos dentro del complejo de especies de Setophaga coronata, un grupo de reinitas de Norte y Centroamérica. Mostramos que la variación genómica es altamente heterogénea entre algunos de los taxones y que las regiones de alta diferenciación son relativamente pequeñas en comparación con otros sistemas de estudio. Encontramos que las agrupaciones de marcadores áltamente diferenciados entre taxones se encuentran en regiones del genoma ricas en genes y también muestran baja diversidad intrapoblacional. Sugerimos que estos patrones son consistentes con un efecto de procesos de selección natural sobre la divergencia genómica en regiones genómicas similares a través de las diferentes poblaciones. Nuestro estudio también confirma resultados previos basados en pocos marcadores genéticos en los que se determinó que muchos de los grupos fenotípicamente distintos en este sistema también están áltamente diferenciados en sus genomas, probablemente al punto en que pueden ser consideradas con el estatus de especie.

Palabras clave: especiación, flujo genético, genómica evolutiva, genotipado por secuenciación, hibridación, selección natural

D. P. L. Toews, A. Brelsford and D. E. Irwin. 2014. Isotopic variation across the Audubon's–Myrtle warbler hybrid zone. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 27(6); 1179-1191. DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12392 

[Paleontology • 2014] Lyciasalamandra antalyana gocmeni • A New Subspecies of Lyciasalamandra antalyana (Amphibia: Salamandridae) from the Lycian Coast, Turkey

Lyciasalamandra antalyana gocmeni 
Akman & Godmann, 2014

 (a) Male from the type locality, Kırkgözhan, Yağca; (b) male, (c) female, and (d) juvenile from Kızılseki. 

A new subspecies of the Lycian salamander Lyciasalamandra antalyana is described from Yağcavillage (Antalya province) and Burdur province on the Lycian Coast, Turkey. It is distinguished from the nominotypical form by its dorsal colouration, multivariate morphometrics, and mitochondrial molecular markers.

Key words. Urodela, Lyciasalamandra antalyana gocmeni ssp. n., 16SrDNA gene, Turkey.

Figure 2.  Lyciasalamandra antalyana gocmeni(a) Male from the type locality, Kırkgözhan, Yağca; (b) male, (c) female, and (d) juvenile from Kızılseki.  

Bahadir Akman and Olaf Godmann. 2014. A New Subspecies of Lyciasalamandra antalyana (Amphibia: Salamandridae) from the Lycian Coast, Turkey. Salamandra. 50(3);125-132 · 

[Botany • 2016] Tradescantia schwirkowskiana • A Narrow Endemic New Species (Commelinaceae) from Santa Catarina, southern Brazil, and Typification of T. crassula

Tradescantia schwirkowskiana 


This contribution presents and describes Tradescantia schwirkowskiananarrow endemic new species from Santa Catarina state, southern Brazil. We assess here the conservation status of this new species as critically endangered, according to the IUCN criteria. We present here a complete description, illustrations and comments on the new species, along with an identification key to the species of Tradescantia that occur in Santa Catarina. Furthermore, we designate here a lectotype and an epitype for T. crassula, the morphologically-closest species to T. schwirkowskiana.

Keywords: Commelinales, taxonomy, threatened species, Tradescantia crassula, typification, Monocots

Luís Adriano Funez, Gustavo Hassemer and João Paulo Ramos Ferreira. 2016. Description of Tradescantia schwirkowskiana (Commelinaceae), A Narrow Endemic New Species from Santa Catarina, southern Brazil, and Typification of T. crassula.
Phytotaxa.  272(1); 63–72.   DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.272.1.3

[PaleoMammalogy • 2016] Arktocara yakataga • A New Fossil Odontocete (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the Oligocene of Alaska and the Antiquity of Platanistoidea

Arktocara yakataga 
Boersma & Pyenson, 2016

Artistic reconstruction of a pod of Arktocara yakataga, swimming offshore of Alaska during the Oligocene, about 25 million years ago, with early mountains of Southeast Alaska in the background. The authors speculate that Arktocara may have socialized in pods, like today's oceanic dolphins, while possessing a much longer snout, like its closest living relative in the freshwater rivers of South Asia.
Linocut print art by Alexandra Boersma


The diversification of crown cetacean lineages (i.e., crown Odontoceti and crown Mysticeti) occurred throughout the Oligocene, but it remains an ongoing challenge to resolve the phylogenetic pattern of their origins, especially with respect to stem lineages. One extant monotypic lineage, Platanista gangetica (the Ganges and Indus river dolphin), is the sole surviving member of the broader group Platanistoidea, with many fossil relatives that range from Oligocene to Miocene in age. Curiously, the highly threatened Platanista is restricted today to freshwater river systems of South Asia, yet nearly all fossil platanistoids are known globally from marine rocks, suggesting a marine ancestry for this group. In recent years, studies on the phylogenetic relationships in Platanistoidea have reached a general consensus about the membership of different sub-clades and putative extinct groups, although the position of some platanistoid groups (e.g., Waipatiidae) has been contested. Here we describe a new genus and species of fossil platanistoid, Arktocara yakataga, gen. et sp. nov. from the Oligocene of Alaska, USA. The type and only known specimen was collected from the marine Poul Creek Formation, a unit known to include Oligocene strata, exposed in the Yakutat City and Borough of Southeast Alaska. In our phylogenetic analysis of stem and node-based Platanistoidea, Arktocara falls within the node-based sub-clade Allodelphinidae as the sister taxon to Allodelphis pratti. With a geochronologic age between ∼29–24 million years old, Arktocara is among the oldest crown Odontoceti, reinforcing the long-standing view that the diversification for crown lineages must have occurred no later than the early Oligocene.

Systematic paleontology

Cetacea Brisson, 1762
Odontoceti Flower, 1867 sensu Fordyce & Muizon, 2001
Platanistoidea (CCN) (node-based version of Fordyce, 1994)
Allodelphinidae (CCN) (node-based version of Barnes, 2006)

Arktocara, gen. nov. 

The skull of Arktocara yakataga on an 1875 ethnographic map of Alaska drawn by William Healey Dall, a broadly trained naturalist who worked for several US government agencies, including the Smithsonian, and honored with several species of living mammals, including Dall's porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli). Near the skull of Arktocara is a cetacean tooth, likely belonging to a killer whale (Orcinus orca), collected by Aleš Hrdlička, a Smithsonian anthropologist who worked extensively in Alaska, and an Oligocene whale tooth collected by Donald Miller, a geologist who worked for the US Geological Survey, and collected the type specimen of Arktocara. Donald Orth's dictionary of Alaskan place names, published by the USGS, bookends the image.
photo: James Di Loreto, Smithsonian 

Definitions. Crown group Platanista refers to the crown clade arising from the last common ancestor of all lineages descending from Platanista, including two subspecies of Platanista gangetica (P. g. gangetica (Lebeck, 1801) and P. g. minor Owen, 1853), as recognized by The Society for Marine Mammology’ Committee on Taxonomy (2015).

Type and only included species: Arktocara yakataga, sp. nov.

Etymology. The name Arktocara derives from the combination of arktos from Greek and cara from Latin, which together signify “the face of the North.” The only preserved material of the type specimen, USNM 214830 consists of the cranium, or its face, and its type locality is the furthest north that a platanistoid has ever been found.

Age. Same as that of the species.
Diagnosis. Same as that of the species.

Arktocara yakataga, sp. nov. (Figs. 2–10 and Table 1)

The skull of Akrtocara yakataga rests on an 1875 ethnographic map of Alaska drawn by William Healey Dall, a broadly trained naturalist who worked for several US government agencies, including the Smithsonian, and honored with several species of living mammals, including Dall's porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli). Near the skull of Arktocara is a cetacean tooth, likely belonging to a killer whale (Orcinus orca), collected by Aleš Hrdlička, a Smithsonian anthropologist who worked extensively in Alaska, and an Oligocene whale tooth collected by Donald Miller, a geologist who worked for the US Geological Survey, and collected the type specimen of Arktocara. Donald Orth's dictionary of Alaskan place names, published by the USGS, bookends the image.
photo: James Di Loreto, Smithsonian  

Holotype. USNM 214830, consisting of an incomplete skull lacking the rostrum anterior of the antorbital notches, tympanoperiotics, dentition and mandibles (see Fig. 2).

Type locality. The precise geographic coordinates for the type locality of Arktocara yakataga are unknown. The type specimen (USNM 214830) was discovered and collected in 1951 by United States Geological Survey (USGS) geologist Donald J. Miller (1919–1961), who was mapping what was then the Yakataga District of Alaska (now the Yakutat City and Borough) between 1944 and 1963. Archival notes housed with the specimen at USNM state that Miller found the specimen in the Poul Creek Formation within the then-Yakataga District (see Age, below). Therefore, we delimit the area for the type’s provenance to exposures of the Poul Creek Formation in the Yakutat City and Borough, Alaska, USA, in a grid ranging approximately from 60°22′N, 142°30′W to 60°00′N, 143°22′W (see Fig. 1). While the formation has been named from its exposures along Poul Creek, it has been suggested that the most abundant macrofossils from this unit have been collected from outcrops along Hamilton Creek, White River, and Big River near Reare Glacier (Taliaferro, 1932). It is possible that Miller collected USNM 214830 from one of these exposures.

Formation. Poul Creek Formation.

Age. Archival documentation accessioned in the Department of Paleobiology with USNM 214830 indicate that the type specimen was collected from an unknown locality exposed about 400–500 m below the top of the Poul Creek Formation, which has a total stratigraphic thickness of around 1.9 km (Plafker, 1987). The Yakutat terrane of Southeast Alaska consists of the Kulthieth, Poul Creek, and Yakataga Formations (Perry, Garver & Ridgway, 2009; Plafker, Moore & Winkler, 1994; Miller, 1971). The Kulthieth Formation consists of mostly organic-rich sandstones deposited in nonmarine alluvial, deltaic, barrier beach and shallow marine environments, and is Early Eocene to Early Oligocene (∼54–33 Ma) in age based on the fossil assemblages present (Perry, Garver & Ridgway, 2009). The Upper Eocene to possibly Lower Miocene (∼40–20 Ma) Poul Creek Formation conformably overlies the Kulthieth Formation (Plafker, 1987; Miller, 1971). It is estimated to be approximately 1.9 km thick, and is composed of siltstones and organic-rich sandstones, in part glauconitic recording a marine transgression, interrupted by deposits of the Cenotaph Volcanics (Plafker, 1987). Finally, unconformably overlying the Poul Creek Formation is the Miocene to Pliocene Yakataga Formation (Miller, 1971). It is composed mainly of tillite and marine strata (Perry, Garver & Ridgway, 2009).

The Poul Creek Formation itself is broadly constrained to approximately 40–20 million years in age, from the latest Eocene to possibly early Miocene in age (Plafker, 1987; Miller, 1971). The depositional age of the unit has been further constrained to ∼24 to ∼29 Ma, or a mid to late Oligocene age, based on detrital zircon fission-track analyses of young grain-age populations (Perry, Garver & Ridgway, 2009). Using the broadest time duration for the formation (∼20 million years) and the coarse stratigraphic thickness of the sediments within it (∼2 km), a constant rate of sedimentation would suggest that the stratigraphic position of USNM 214830 at 500 m below the top of the formation would be roughly equivalent to an geochronologic age of ∼25 million years, an estimate that is consistent to the detrital zircon analyses. Overall, we propose a late Oligocene, or Chattian age for Arktocara, although we cannot exclude a Rupelian antiquity.

Diagnosis. Arktocara is a small to medium sized platanistoid odontocete (approximately 2.26 m in total length), which belongs, based on one equivocal synapomorphy, to the node-based Platanistoidea: width: width of the premaxillae >50% of the width of the rostrum at the antorbital notch (character 51[1]). More convincingly, Arktocara belongs to Platanistoidea based on its affinities to other members of the Allodelphinidae that possess unequivocal synapomorphies of the Platanistoidea (see ‘Discussion’ for further comments on the relationship of Allodelphinidae within the Platanistoidea). We also note that, for the purposes of this diagnosis, we use a broad definition of Waipatiidae that includes Otekaikea spp. (see Tanaka & Fordyce (2015a)), and Squalodelphinidae sensu Lambert, Bianucci & Urbina (2014). See ‘Discussion’ for further comments on systematics of these groups.


Etymology. The species epithet ‘yakataga’ derives from the Tlingit name for the point of land along the southeast coast of Alaska between modern day Kayak Island and Ice Bay. This point, currently called Cape Yakataga, is located directly southwest of Watson Peak and represents the southeastern boundary of a floodplain drained by the Bering Glacier. The name Yakataga was first published by Tebenkov (1852: map 7), who was a cartographer and hydrographer of the Imperial Russian Navy, as “M[ys] Yaktaga” on an 1849 map of Alaska. The geographic place name has been alternatively spelled Cape Iaktag, Cape Yakaio, Cape Yakatag, and Yokataga Reef (Orth, 1967). According to the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS, 2016), developed by USGS in cooperation with the United States Board of Geographic Names (BGN), the name “Yakataga” means “canoe road,” referring to two reefs that form a canoe passage to the shore of the village.

Figure 12: Distribution map of fossil Allodelphinidae.
Mapped of fossil localities of allodelphinids, projected on a truncated Winkel Tripel map and centered on 25°N and 170°W. Occurrences for fossil data derive from location of type and referred localities for each taxon, are listed alphabetically by region, and are represented by orange dots.

Platanistoids first appear in the fossil record in the late Oligocene, and reach peak richness in the early Miocene (Kimura & Barnes, 2016; Tanaka & Fordyce, 2015a). The oldest platanistoids with solid age constraints are the waipatiids, all found in the Oligocene-Miocene Otekaike Limestone of New Zealand (Graham et al., 2000; Benham, 1935; Fordyce, 1994; Tanaka & Fordyce, 2014; Tanaka & Fordyce, 2015a). Based on both the lithology and the presence of age-diagnostic planktic foraminifera and ostracod species, Waipatia hectori (Benham, 1935) is the oldest reported waipatiid, from the uppermost Duntroonian Stage of the Otekaike Limestone, approximately 25.2 Ma (Tanaka & Fordyce, 2015b). Arktocara is possibly very similar in age to Waipatia hectori, constrained to the Chattian Stage of the upper Oligocene in the Poul Creek Formation, approximately ∼24–29 Ma (Perry, Garver & Ridgway, 2009). Unfortunately, the lack of robust locality data for either Waipatia hectori or Arktocara makes impossible to determine which is the oldest.

Arktocara is, however, very clearly the oldest known allodelphinid, expanding the previously reported age range of Allodelphinidae by as much as 9 million years (Kimura & Barnes, 2016). Other allodelphinids span temporally from the early to middle Miocene, which largely matches the stratigraphic range of other platanistoid lineages (Fig. 11). Interestingly, Arktocara is among the oldest crown Odontoceti, reinforcing the long-standing view that the timing for the diversification for crown lineages must have occurred no later than the early Oligocene.

Lastly, Allodelphinidae appear uniquely limited, in terms of geography, to marine rocks of the North Pacific Ocean, with occurrences in Japan, Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, and California (see Fig. 12; Kimura & Barnes, 2016). Arktocara expands this geographic range to sub-Arctic latitudes. At approximately 60°N in the Yakutat City and Borough, Arktocara is the most northern platanistoid yet reported. The next most northern platanistoid reported is an incomplete and unnamed specimen from the late Chattian marine Vejle Fjord Formation in northern Denmark, approximately 56.7°N, 9.0°E (Hoch, 2000).

Alexandra T. Boersma​ and Nicholas D. Pyenson. 2016. Arktocara yakataga, a new fossil odontocete (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the Oligocene of Alaska and the antiquity of Platanistoidea.  PeerJ. 4:e2321. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.2321

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

[Arachnida • 2016] Aetius decollatus • On the Type Species of the Genus Aetius O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1896 (Araneae: Corinnidae: Castianeirinae): The First Description of Male with Notes on Cymbial Notch and Mating Plug

Aetius decollatus 
O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1896 


The rare ant mimicking sac spider genus Aetius was erected by O. Pickard-Cambridge in 1896 based on an unspecified number of female specimen(s) collected from Sri Lanka. The type species of the genus, A. decollatus O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1896, has been redescribed twice based on the holotype (Majumder & Tikader 1991; Deeleman-Reinhold 2001). Reimoser (1934) recorded the genus for the first time from India, who collected a male specimen from Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu State of southern India. This specimen was identified as A. decollatus, but it was never formally described and was later recognised to be a penultimate male (Dankittipakul & Singtripop 2013). Deeleman-Reinhold (2001) described the second representative of the genus, A. nocturnus, based on a single female specimen from Borneo, 105 years after the establishment of the genus. Dankittipakul & Singtripop (2013) described the male of A. nocturnus, thereby revealing the male genitalia of the genus, but the type species was still known only from the female sex.

Keywords: Araneae, Corinnidae, Castianeirinae

 Puthoor Pattammal Sudhin,  Karunnappilli Shamsudheen Nafin, Zoë Simmons and Ambalaparambil Vasu Sudhikumar. 2016. On the Type Species of the Genus Aetius O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1896: The First Description of Male with Notes on Cymbial Notch and Mating Plug (Araneae: Corinnidae: Castianeirinae). Zootaxa.  4154(4); 489–500.   DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4154.4.9