Monday, January 22, 2018

[Botany • 2017] Aloe belitsakensis • A New Species (Asphodelaceae) from north-western Madagascar

 Aloe belitsakensis
in Rakotoarisoa & Grace, 2017

Madagascar is a major centre of diversity for the leaf-succulent genus Aloe Linnaeus (1753: 319) accounting for roughly a third of Aloe species (Carter et al. 2011). Approximately 128 species and 161 taxa are known from the region and all are restricted to Madagascar (Rakotoarisoa et al. 2014) and/or the nearby Mascarene archipelago. New taxa are described from these islands at a rate that rivals the ongoing discovery of aloes elsewhere in their natural range, on the African continent or Arabian Peninsula (Crouch et al. 2013). Extinction risks are alarmingly high among species of Aloe in this region. Conservatively, 39% of species are known to be threatened, and this figure is likely to be significantly higher (Rakotoarisoa et al. 2014), since several species have not been observed or collected for many decades. The Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre (KMCC) aims to record and collect the rare and threatened flora of Madagascar to ensure its conservation, and the genus Aloe is a priority for the dryland programme.

Keywords: Aloe, new species, Xanthorrhoeaceae, Madagascar, Monocots

Solofo E. Rakotoarisoa and Olwen M. Grace. 2017. Aloe belitsakensis (Asphodelaceae): A New Species from north-western Madagascar. Phytotaxa. 328(3); 276–282. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.328.3.6

[Crustacea • 2018] Takedactylus compressus & Lichtylus kaisha • Two New Species of Aphanodactylidae (Decapoda: Brachyura) from the Ryukyu and Ogasawara Islands, Japan, with the Establishment of A New Genus

Takedactylus compressus
Naruse & Yoshida, 2018

  DOI:  10.1080/03946975.2017.1395163 

A new species of Takedactylus Naruse & Maenosono, 2012, and a new genus and species of Aphanodactylidae are described from Japan. Takedactylus compressus n. sp. is collected from Ogasawara Islands. This new species is distinct from the only congener, Takedactylus masatsunei, by the shapes of the carapace, third maxilliped and the ambulatory legs. Another new species, monotypic Lichtylus kaisha n. gen., n. sp., is distinct from all other aphanodactylid species, in generic level, in the shape and position of the palp of third maxilliped, relatively long and slender ambulatory legs, and a combination of other important characters, i.e. the contour of the carapace, the degree of gap between third maxillipeds, condition of the distoflexor corners of second to fifth ambulatory propodi, and relative length of ambulatory dactyli. The present study brings the number of aphanodactylid taxa to 7 genera and 15 species.

Keywords: Taxonomy, new genus, new species, Brachyura, crab, Aphanodactylidae, Japan

Tohru Naruse and Ryuta Yoshida. 2018. Two New Species of Aphanodactylidae (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura) from the Ryukyu and Ogasawara Islands, Japan, with the Establishment of A New Genus.  Tropical Zoology.  DOI:  10.1080/03946975.2017.1395163
ゴカイと暮らす“ぺったんこ”なカニの新種を発見! | お茶の水女子大学

[Arachnida • 2018] The Cave-dwelling False Scorpion Genus Pseudoblothrus Beier, 1931 (Pseudoscorpiones: Syarinidae) in the Crimean Peninsula

Pseudoblothrus roszkovskii  (Redikorzev, 1918)

in Kolesnikov & Turbanov, 2018.


Based on morphological and molecular studies of material from caves in three karst regions of Crimea, the small, apparently relictual, Euro-Mediterranean and Macaronesian false scorpion genus Pseudoblothrus Beier, 1931 is shown to contain only one troglobiont species there, P. roszkovskii (Redikorzev, 1918), of which P. ljovuschkini Krumpál, 1984 and Obisium tauricum Lebedev, 1927 are junior subjective synonyms. A detailed redescription of the adults and tritonymph of P. roszkovskii is provided, together with phylogenetic and zoogeographical analyses.

Keywords: Pseudoscorpiones, variation, taxonomy, phylogeny

Vasiliy Kolesnikov and Ilya Turbanov. 2018. The Cave-dwelling False Scorpion Genus Pseudoblothrus Beier, 1931 (Arachnida: Pseudoscorpiones: Syarinidae) in the Crimean Peninsula. Zootaxa. 4374(4); 524–544. DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4374.4.4

[Botany • 2017] Impatiens nilalohitae • A New Species (Balsaminaceae) from Northeastern India

Impatiens nilalohitae  Hareesh & M.Sabu

in Hareesh & Sabu. 2017.  

Impatiens nilalohitae is described from Arunachal Pradesh, Northeastern India. The new species shows similarities with I. adamowskiana and I. rugosipetala, but differs by having a 10–15-flowered inflorescence, dark purple flowers, and four lateral sepals, among other characters. A detailed description and colour photographs, as well as remarks on geographic distribution and ecology, are provided.

Keywords: Arunachal Pradesh, Balsaminaceae, Impatiens, new species, Monocots

Impatiens nilalohitae Hareesh & M.Sabu sp. nov.

Impatiens nilalohitae Hareesh & M.Sabu sp. nov. 

Impatiens nilalohitae is phenotypically similar to I. adamowskiana but differs by having a non-winged stem, setaceous stipular gland, 10– 15-flowered inflorescence, dark purple flower, four lateral sepals, and spur with a notched apex. It is also similar to I. rugosipetala but differs by having 10–15-flowered inflorescence, dark purple flower with non-rugose petals, four lateral sepals, lower sepal with an acute apex, and a spur with a notched apex.

Etymology—The specific epithet refers to the purple colour (nilalohita in Sanskrit) of the flower and the abaxial leaf blade surface.

Vadakkoot Sankaran Hareesh and Mamiyil Sabu. 2017. Impatiens nilalohitae (Balsaminaceae): A New Species from Northeastern India. Phytotaxa. 323(2); 189–193.  DOI:  10.11646/phytotaxa.323.2.7

Sunday, January 21, 2018

[PaleoMammalogy • 2017] Gomphotherium tassyi • A New Species of Gomphotherium (Proboscidea, Mammalia) from China and the Evolution of Gomphotherium in Eurasia

Gomphotherium tassyi
 Wang, Li, Duangkrayom, Yang, He & Chen, 2017

Gomphotherium is a stem taxon of Elephantida that was widespread in Africa, Eurasia, and North America during the Miocene. However, the evolution of this genus is greatly debated because of morphological variation among the species of Gomphotherium. In the present work, we describe a cranium and accompanying material of Gomphotherium from the late middle Miocene Hujialiang Formation of Linxia Basin, China. The new material shows dental similarities to G. subtapiroideum from the middle Miocene of Europe; however, it displays some cranial, mandibular, and dental feature combinations that are distinct from the known species of Gomphotherium. Therefore, a new speciesGomphotherium tassyi, is established. We further study the phylogeny of Gomphotherium by cladistic analysis and recognize four groups. The most basal ‘G. annectens group’ is a paraphyletic group that includes G. annectens, G. cooperi, G. sylvaticum, and G. hannibali. The African taxa, G. libycum and G. pygmaeus, constitute a monophyletic group that has not been named. The ‘G. angustidens group’ is a monophyletic group that includes G. inopinatum, G. mongoliense, G. connexum, and G. angustidens. In addition, the ‘derived Gomphotherium group,’ which includes G. subtapiroideum, G. tassyi, G. wimani, G. browni, G. productum, and G. steinheimense, was widely distributed in Eurasia and North America during the middle and late Miocene.


Shi-Qi Wang, Yu Li, Jaroon Duangkrayom, Xiang-Wen Yang, Wen He and Shan-Qin Chen. 2017.  A New Species of Gomphotherium (Proboscidea, Mammalia) from China and the Evolution of Gomphotherium in Eurasia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 37(3); DOI:  10.1080/02724634.2017.1318284   

[Paleontology • 2018] A Revised Cranial Description of Massospondylus carinatus Owen (Dinosauria: Sauropodomorpha) based on Computed Tomographic Scans and A Review of Cranial Characters for Basal Sauropodomorpha

Massospondylus carinatus  Owen, 1854

in Chapelle & Choiniere, 2018
   DOI: 10.7717/peerj.4224 


Massospondylus carinatus is a basal sauropodomorph dinosaur from the early Jurassic Elliot Formation of South Africa. It is one of the best-represented fossil dinosaur taxa, known from hundreds of specimens including at least 13 complete or nearly complete skulls. Surprisingly, the internal cranial anatomy of M. carinatus has never been described using computed tomography (CT) methods. Using CT scans and 3D digital representations, we digitally reconstruct the bones of the facial skeleton, braincase, and palate of a complete, undistorted cranium of M. carinatus (BP/1/5241). We describe the anatomical features of the cranial bones, and compare them to other closely related sauropodomorph taxa such as Plateosaurus erlenbergiensis, Lufengosaurus huenei, Sarahsaurus aurifontanalis and Efraasia minor. We identify a suite of character states of the skull and braincase for M. carinatus that sets it apart from other taxa, but these remain tentative due to the lack of comparative sauropodomorph braincase descriptions in the literature. Furthermore, we hypothesize 27 new cranial characters useful for determining relationships in non-sauropodan Sauropodomorpha, delete five pre-existing characters and revise the scores of several existing cranial characters to make more explicit homology statements. All the characters that we hypothesized or revised are illustrated. Using parsimony as an optimality criterion, we then test the relationships of M. carinatus (using BP/1/5241 as a specimen-level exemplar) in our revised phylogenetic data matrix.

Figure 1: Photographs of the skull of BP/1/5241. (A) Left lateral view. (B) Right lateral view. (C) Dorsal view.

Figure 2: Reconstructed skull of BP/1/5241.
(A) Left lateral view. (B) Right lateral view.

 aof, antorbital fenestra; aofs, antorbital fossa; bo, basioccipital; ecpt, ectopterygoid; eo, exoccipital; fr, frontal; itf, infratemporal fenestra; j, jugal; la, lacrimal; mx, maxilla; n, nasal; nf, narial fenestra; obt, orbit; pa, parietal; pf, prefrontal; pmx, premaxilla; po, postorbital; q, quadrate; qj, quadratojugal; sq, squamosal.

Dinosauria Owen, 1842
Saurischia Seeley, 1887
Sauropodomorpha Huene, 1932

Massospondylidae Huene, 1914 sensu Yates, 2003b

Massospondylus carinatus Owen, 1854


The use of CT scanning and 3D visualization graphics allows for a better understanding of the internal and external morphological structures of the braincase as well as information about the soft tissues such as the vestibular canals. M. carinatus can be tentatively diagnosed cranially by basipterygoid processes that are separated by an angle smaller than 60° and a jugal process of the ectopterygoid that is strongly curved. A revision of cranial characters provides a basis for more comparative work on the braincase of sauropodomorphs in general. Results also show a well-supported Massospondylidae clade. Further phylogenetic analyses using individual specimens of known ontogenetic stages as operational taxonomic units would provide better resolution for the Massospondylidae clade as well as a better understanding of which sets of character states set M. carinatus aside from other taxa.

Kimberley E.J. Chapelle and Jonah N. Choiniere. 2018. A Revised Cranial Description of Massospondylus carinatus Owen (Dinosauria: Sauropodomorpha) based on Computed Tomographic Scans and A Review of Cranial Characters for Basal Sauropodomorpha.   PeerJ. 6:e4224.  DOI: 10.7717/peerj.4224
CT-scan study makes it possible to 3-D print the skull of the dinosaur species Massospondylus via @physorg_com

[Crustacea • 2018] Caligoneus cavernicola • A New Genus and New Species of Alpheid Shrimp (Decapoda: Caridea) from A Marine Cave in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, with Additional Record of Salmoneus antricola

Caligoneus cavernicola
 Komai & Fujita, 2018


Two species of alpheid shrimp collected from a marine cave off Ie Island, Okinawa Islands, Ryukyu Islands, Japan, are reported. Caligoneus cavernicola n. gen., n. sp., is described on the basis of six specimens, including two ovigerous individuals. The new monotypic genus shares a number of features with Salmoneus Holthuis, 1955 and Triacanthoneus Anker, 2010; however, the dorsally elevated rostrum and the symmetrical pereopods 1 (= chelipeds) of “minor form” distinguish Caligoneus n. gen. from the latter two genera. Other potentially diagnostic characters between the new genus and the latter two genera are also discussed. The new taxon is clearly adapted to stygobiotic environments, with its reduced cornea and very slender elongate pereopods. In addition, two complete specimens of Salmoneus antricola Komai, Yamada & Yunokawa, 2015, collected in the same cave, supplement the original description of the species, which was based on a unique holotype with a damaged telson.

Keywords: Crustacea, Caligoneus cavernicola, Ie Island, stygobiotic, Triacanthoneus

Tomoyuki Komai and Yoshihisa Fujita. 2018. A New Genus and New Species of Alpheid Shrimp from A Marine Cave in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, with Additional Record of Salmoneus antricola Komai, Yamada & Yunokawa, 2015 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Caridea). Zootaxa. 4369(4); 575–586.  DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4369.4.7
暗闇に潜む新種のテッポウエビ発見 沖縄・伊江島の海底洞窟 | 沖縄タイムス+プラス ニュース | 沖縄タイムス+プラス via @theokinawatimes

[Botany • 2018] Rediscovery of the Presumed-Extinct Dracaena umbraculifera || A Botanical Mystery Solved by Phylogenetic Analysis of Botanical Garden Collections

Dracaena umbraculifera  Jacq.

in Edwards, Bassüner, Birkinshaw, et al. 2018.
photograph by A. Lehavana  ||

Extinction is the complete loss of a species, but the accuracy of that status depends on the overall information about the species. Dracaena umbraculifera was described in 1797 from a cultivated plant attributed to Mauritius, but repeated surveys failed to relocate it and it was categorized as Extinct on the IUCN Red List. However, several individuals labelled as D. umbraculifera grow in botanical gardens, suggesting that the species’ IUCN status may be inaccurate. The goal of this study was to understand (1) where D. umbraculifera originated, (2) which species are its close relatives, (3) whether it is extinct, and (4) the identity of the botanical garden accessions and whether they have conservation value. We sequenced a cpDNA region of Dracaena from Mauritius, botanical garden accessions labelled as D. umbraculifera, and individuals confirmed to be D. umbraculifera based on morphology, one of which is a living plant in a private garden. We included GenBank accessions of Dracaena from Madagascar and other locations and reconstructed the phylogeny using Bayesian and parsimony approaches. Phylogenies indicated that D. umbraculifera is more closely related to Dracaena reflexa from Madagascar than to Mauritian Dracaena. As anecdotal information indicated that the living D. umbraculifera originated from Madagascar, we conducted field expeditions there and located five wild populations; the species’ IUCN status should therefore be Critically Endangered because < 50 wild individuals remain. Although the identity of many botanical garden samples remains unresolved, this study highlights the importance of living collections for facilitating new discoveries and the importance of documenting and conserving the flora of Madagascar.

Keywords: Botanical garden, Dracaena reflexa, Dracaena umbraculifera, extinction, living collections, Madagascar, Mauritius, phylogeny reconstruction

The original illustration of Dracaena umbraculifera from Jacquin (1797) 

Dracaena umbraculifera in Ile Sainte-Marie in full flower
photograph by A. Lehavana 

Christine E. Edwards, Burgund Bassüner, Chris Birkinshaw, Christian Camara,  Adolphe Lehavana, Porter P. Lowry, James S. Miller, Andrew Wyatt and Peter Wyse Jackson. 2018. A Botanical Mystery solved by Phylogenetic Analysis of Botanical Garden Collections: the Rediscovery of the Presumed-Extinct Dracaena umbraculifera. Oryx. DOI: 10.1017/S0030605317001570

MoBot scientists use DNA testing to bring an African plant out of extinction
Presumed-extinct 𝘋𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘢𝘦𝘯𝘢 𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘢 rediscovered! Botanical mystery solved by phylogenetic analysis of botanical garden collections 

[Herpetology • 2018] Systematics and Phylogeography of the Widely Distributed African Skink Trachylepis varia Species Complex: Trachylepis varia, T. damarana & T. laevigata

 Weinell & Bauer, 2018.

• A molecular systematic study was conducted for the wide-ranging Trachylepis varia complex.
• Phylogenetic analyses support the existence of at least eight species within the Trachylepis varia complex.
• The Southern African members of the Trachylepis varia complex are phenotypically distinct.
• We update the taxonomy for the southern Africa members of the Trachylepis varia complex.
• Diversification within the Trachylepis varia complex began during the mid to late Miocene or early Pliocene.

A systematic study of the Trachylepis varia complex was conducted using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers for individuals sampled across the species range. The taxonomic history of T. varia has been complicated and its broad geographic distribution and considerable phenotypic variation has made taxonomic revision difficult, leading earlier taxonomists to suggest that T. varia is a species complex. We used maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference to estimate gene trees and a multilocus time-tree, respectively, and we used these trees to identify the major clades (putative species) within T. varia. Additionally, we used morphological and color pattern data to distinguish and revise the taxonomy of the southern African clades. The major clades recovered in the multilocus time-tree were recovered in each of gene trees, although the relationships among these major clades differed across gene trees. Genetic data support the existence of at least eight species within the T. varia complex, each of which originated during the mid to late Miocene or early Pliocene. We focus our systematic discussion on the southern African members of the T. varia complex, revive Trachylepis damarana (Peters, 1870) and T. laevigata (Peters, 1869), and designate lectotypes for T. damarana and T. varia.

Keywords: Africa, Lygosominae, Phylogenetics, Phylogeography, Trachylepis damarana, Trachylepis laevigata

Trachylepis varia (Peters, 1867)
Euprepes varius Peters, 1867

Trachylepis laevigata (Peters, 1869)
Euprepes laevigatus Peters, 1869

Trachylepis damarana (Peters, 1870)
Euprepes damaranus Peters, 1870

  Trachylepis damarana from Haenertsberg, Limpopo Province, South Africa.

We find strong evidence that Trachylepis varia, T. damarana, and T. laevigata are distinct species that occur in southern Africa and that five additional, species-level clades occur north of the Zambezi and Kunene rivers, although future studies are needed to determine whether Trachylepis nyikae and Trachylepis isellii should also be recognized. The allopatric distribution and morphological distinctiveness of T. isellii (Largen and Spawls, 2010) suggests that this species is probably valid and the presence of multiple endemic species on the Nyika Plateau (Poynton, 1997; Burrows and Willis, 2005) suggests that T. nyikae may also be a valid species. Additionally, little is known about the distribution or natural history of the undescribed species sampled in Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, or Tanzania. Lastly, next generation DNA sequencing may be useful in resolving deeper phylogenetic relationships within the T. varia complex and for distinguishing historical gene flow from incomplete lineage sorting. This study is the first to use genetic data to address species diversity, phylogenetic history, and taxonomic issues for the T. varia complex and is an example of how both genetic and phenotypic data can be used to resolve taxonomic problems and to estimate species ranges.

 Jeffrey L. Weinell and Aaron M. Bauer. 2018. Systematics and Phylogeography of the Widely Distributed African Skink Trachylepis varia Species Complex. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.  120; 103-117. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2017.11.014

[Botany • 2018] Thismia thaithongiana • A New Species of Mycoheterotroph (Dioscoreaceae: Thismieae) from An Unusual Habitat in Thailand

Thismia thaithongiana
 Chantanaorr. & Suddee

in Chantanaorrapint & Suddee, 2018.

With more than 60 currently accepted species, Thismia Griffith (1844: 221) is the largest genus of the tribe Thismieae of Dioscoreaceae (sensu APG 2016, or Thismiaceae of other authors). The genus is widely distributed mainly in the tropical and subtropical regions with a concentration of species in Southeast Asia (ca. 30 species) including the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Thailand and Vietnam. In last decade, many new taxa have been described from Southeast Asia (e.g. Larsen & Averyanov 2007, Chantanaorrapint 2008 2012, Tsukaya & Okada 2012, Dančák et al. 2013, Nuraliev et al. 2014 2015, Truong et al. 2014, Tsukaya et al. 2014, Chantanaorrapint & Sridith 2015, Hroneš et al. 2015, Chantanaorrapint et al. 2016, Sochor et al. 2017). Members of the genus are small mycoheterotrophic herbs with a highly reduced habit and usually grow among leaf litter in shady wet forests.

Keywords: Doi Hua Mot; Umphang; mycoheterotrophic; taxonomy; Thailand; Thismia; Monocots

พิศวงตานกฮูกหรือพิศวงไทยทอง Thismia thaithongiana Chantanaorr. & Suddee ตีพิมพ์ในวารสาร Phytotaxa. 333(2): 287–292. 2018. คำระบุชนิดตั้งให้เป็นเกียรติแก่ รศ.ดร.อบฉันท์ ไทยทอง

 Sahut Chantanaorrapint and Somran Suddee. 2018. Thismia thaithongiana (Dioscoreaceae: Thismieae), A New Species of Mycoheterotroph from An Unusual Habitat. Phytotaxa. 333(2); 287–292. DOI:  10.11646/phytotaxa.333.2.14

[Ichthyology • 2018] Review of the Lepidotrigla Gurnards (Scorpaeniformes: Triglidae) in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea off Myanmar with A Description of A New Species; Lepidotrigla psolokerkos

Lepidotrigla longipinnis Alcock, 1890,
Lepidotrigla psolokerkos Gomon & Psomadakis, 2018
 L. omanensis Regan, 1905 


A 2015 trawl survey along the coast of Myanmar provided an opportunity to assess species of the triglid genus Lepidotrigla occurring in the country. Three species, L. longipinnis Alcock, 1890, L. omanensis Regan, 1905, and an undescribed species, were identified among the 15 voucher specimens retained. A formal description of the unnamed species, as well as descriptive accounts of the other two are provided. Lepidotrigla psolokerkos, new species, based on two specimens, resembles L. alcocki Regan, 1908 described from the Saya de Malho Bank in the central Indian Ocean, differing from it in having fewer oblique scale rows between the anal fin origin and the lateral line and broader covering of dark pigmentation on the inner surface of the pectoral fin. The known geographical ranges of L. longipinnis, reported in the literature as L. riggsi Richards & Saksena, 1977, and L. omanensis are extended to the Andaman Sea off south-eastern Myanmar. A key is provided for the three species occurring in the survey area.

 Key words. Indian Ocean, taxonomy, ichthyology, geographical distribution, depth range

Fig. 1. Myanmar species of Lepidotrigla.
A, Lepidotrigla longipinnis, NMV A31696-001, 121 mm SL, Myanmar, off Ayeyarwady Delta, 111–104 m;
B, Lepidotrigla omanensis, NMV A31691-001, 110 mm SL, Myanmar, off Ayeyarwady Delta, 149–164 m;
C, Lepidotrigla psolokerkos new species, holotype, NMV A31698-001, 135 mm SL, Myanmar, off Ayeyarwady Delta, 147–156 m. 


Lepidotrigla longipinnis Alcock, 1890 
Proposed vernacular: Stellar Gurnard

Etymology. Initially proposed as a varietal name, longipinnis is an amalgamation of the Latin “longus” for long and “pinna” for fin, in reference to the longer pectoral fin that was considered by Alcock (1890) to distinguish what is now recognised as a distinct species from L. spiloptera Günther, 1860. 

Distribution. Confined to coastal waters of the northern Indian Ocean, from at least Bombay, India to just south of the equator off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia (Fig. 4) at depths of 70 to at least 107 m.

Lepidotrigla omanensis Regan, 1905 
Vernacular: Oman Gurnard 

Etymology. Regan’s (1905) omanensis was named for the collecting locality “the Sea of Oman” for his three type specimens. 
Distribution. Occurs in coastal waters of the northern Indian Ocean from the Gulf of Aden to the Andaman Sea off south-eastern Myanmar (Fig. 4) at depths of 41–335 m; apparently excluded from the Persian Gulf.

Lepidotrigla psolokerkos new species 
Proposed vernacular: Skinny Gurnard

Etymology. The name psolokerkos is a conjunction of the Greek psolos for “dirt” and “kerkos” for tail in reference to the distinctive grey blotch dorsoposteriorly on the caudal fin of this species. 

Distribution. Known only from the two type specimens collected in the Andaman Sea off south-eastern Myanmar (Fig. 4) at depths of 151–255 m.

Fig. 4. Overall distributions of species of Lepidotrigla occurring in coastal waters of Myanmar based on specimens in collections: Lepidotrigla longipinnis (blue circles), Lepidotrigla omanensis (red squares) and Lepidotrigla psolokerkos new species (yellow triangles).

Martin F. Gomon and Peter N. Psomadakis. 2018. Review of the Lepidotrigla Gurnards (Teleostei: Scorpaeniformes: Triglidae) in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea off Myanmar with A Description of A New Species. RAFFLES BULLETIN OF ZOOLOGY. 66; 66–77.

[Ornithology • 2018] Structural Absorption by Barbule Microstructures of Super Black Bird of Paradise Feathers

Magnificent Riflebird Ptiloris magnificus during courtship display.

in  McCoy, Feo, Harvey & Prum, 2018.
photo: Tim Laman || DOI:  10.1038/s41467-017-02088-w 

Many studies have shown how pigments and internal nanostructures generate color in nature. External surface structures can also influence appearance, such as by causing multiple scattering of light (structural absorption) to produce a velvety, super black appearance. Here we show that feathers from five species of birds of paradise (Aves: Paradisaeidae) structurally absorb incident light to produce extremely low-reflectance, super black plumages. Directional reflectance of these feathers (0.05–0.31%) approaches that of man-made ultra-absorbent materials. SEM, nano-CT, and ray-tracing simulations show that super black feathers have titled arrays of highly modified barbules, which cause more multiple scattering, resulting in more structural absorption, than normal black feathers. Super black feathers have an extreme directional reflectance bias and appear darkest when viewed from the distal direction. We hypothesize that structurally absorbing, super black plumage evolved through sensory bias to enhance the perceived brilliance of adjacent color patches during courtship display.

Magnificent Riflebird Bird of Paradise Ptiloris magnificus male displaying to female.
 photo: Tim Laman

Fig. 1  Six species of birds of paradise and one close relative.
a, b Species with normal black plumage patches. cg Species with super black plumage patches.

a Paradise-crow Lycocorax pyrrhopterus. b Lesser Melampitta Melampitta lugubris, a Papuan corvoid closely related to birds of paradise.
c Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia Astrapia stephaniae. d Twelve-wired Birds-of-Paradise Seleucidis melanoleucus. e Paradise Riflebird Ptiloris paradiseus during courtship display. f Wahnes’ Parotia Parotia wahnesi. g Superb Bird-of-Paradise Lophorina superba during courtship display with female (brown plumage).

Photos: a @Hanom Bashari/Burung Indonesia; b Daniel López-Velasco; c Trans Niugini Tours; d–f Tim Laman; g Ed Scholes.  DOI:  10.1038/s41467-017-02088-w 

Fig. 3 Examples of normal and super black feather microstructure.
 a SEM micrograph of Lycocorax pyrrhopterus normal black feather with typical barbule morphology; scale bar, 200 µm. b SEM micrograph of Parotia wahnesi super black feather with modified barbule arrays; scale bar, 50 µm. c Gold sputter-coated normal black breast feather of Melampitta lugubris appears gold. d Gold sputter-coated super black breast feather of Ptiloris paradiseus retains a black appearance indicating structural absorption. SEM stubs are 12.8 mm in diameter.

A comparison of a normal feather, top left, and a feather from a paradise riflebird, top right.
The bottom panels are the feathers coated in gold. Notice how the riflebird’s still appears a deep black.
photos: Dakota McCoy 

Dakota E. McCoy, Teresa Feo, Todd Alan Harvey and Richard O. Prum. 2018. Structural Absorption by Barbule Microstructures of Super Black Bird of Paradise Feathers. Nature Communications. 9, Article number: 1. DOI:  10.1038/s41467-017-02088-w

Evolved illusion: Blackest black gives bird of paradise an edge