Friday, October 30, 2015

A new minnow: Pseudophoxinus mehmeti

Pseudophoxinus is a genus of fishes belonging to the family of carps and minnows (Cyprinidae). The genus occurs in the eastern Mediterranean region, in particular in and around Anatolia.

By the way the name minnow was what early English fisherman used to describe small and insignificant fishes.

In a field survey carried out in 2014, a group of researchers from Turkey found a new species living in an isolated drainage in Burdur Province. It was named after the first author's husband, Mehmet Ekmekçi who also contributed to the studies of hydrological description and characterization, and interpretations of drainage networks and watersheds.

For the experts: Pseudophoxinus mehmeti, new cyprinid species from the Alanköy basin in south-western Turkey, is distinguished from all species of Pseudophoxinus in adjacent regions by the combination of the following characters: body slender, its length 1.3–1.5 times its depth; caudal peduncle length 1.6–2.0 times its depth; mouth almost superior, with the tip of the mouthcleft approximately level with the middle of the pupil; snout with a pointed tip, its length markedly greater than eye diameter; lateral line not complete, with 30–50 perforated scales and 48–60+2 scale rows in lateral series; 11½–13½ scale rows between lateral line and dorsal-fin origin, 3½–5½ scale rows between lateral line and anal-fin origin; dorsal-fin with 6½– 7½ branched rays; anal-fin with 6½–7½ branched rays; a distinct black epidermal stripe from eye to caudal-fin base in preserved individuals.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A new lizard: Euspondylus paxcorpus

Lizards of the genus Euspondylus belong to the family Gymnophthalmidae are also known as spectacled lizards. This name has to with their transparent lower eyelids, which allow them to see with closed eyes.

These New World lizards are very diverse in the lowland Amazonian forest and foothills, and the valleys and hillsides of the Andes. Some species reach high elevation in the Andes, such as Proctoporus bolivianus which can be found at 4080 m. Euspondylus paxcorpus was found in Junín Province, Peru at 3341 m.

The species name honors the Peace Corps because the lizards were discovered and collected by a Peace Corps Volunteer during his service in Peru to promote community-based environmental management.

For the experts: The South American gymnophthalmid genus Euspondylus is distributed from Venezuela through Peru, with its highest diversity occurring in Peru. Euspondylus paxcorpus sp. nov. is a new species from Junín, Peru possessing prefrontal scales and represented by 60 specimens. The new species differs from all other species by the combination of four supraoculars with supraocular/supraciliary fusion, 5–7 occipitals, a single palpebral scale, five supralabials and infralabials, quadrangular dorsal scales with low keels arranged in transverse series only, 40–45 in a longitudinal count and 22–28 in a transverse count, 12 rows of ventrals in a transverse count and 23–25 in a longitudinal count, and no sexual dimorphism in coloration. The discovery of E. paxcorpus increases the known number of Euspondylus species to 13. Because the coloration patterns of the specimens were greatly different after preservation in alcohol, caution should be used when identifying Euspondylus species from museum specimens.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A new coffee tree: Sommera cusucoana

During an ecological survey of montane rain forest vegetation in Cusuco National Park in Honduras researchers from Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland discovered a new coffee tree species. Only two individual trees were located, about the same size and within a few feet of each other.

The species belongs to the genus Sommera and is a 10 m high tree with cream-colored flowers and red, cherry-like fruits. Sommera is a small genus comprising 10 species of shrubs or small trees ranging from southwestern Mexico through Central America to South America.

The species name honors the Cusuco National Park in which it was found by the Operation Wallacea Forest Botany team.

For the experts: Sommera cusucoana Lorence, D. Kelly & A. Dietzsch, sp. nov., (Rubiaceae), a new species from Honduras, differs from the other Mesoamerican Sommera species by the combination of large, obovate leaves with long red petioles, glabrous or glabrate intervenal areas, red stipules, lax, sparsely pubescent inflorescences with red axes, flowers with red hypanthium and calyx, long fruiting pedicels, and dark red mature fruits. It is known only from the type locality in Cusuco National Park.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A new blind snake: Anilios fossor

Snakes of the tropical family Typhlopidae are blind and live underground in burrows, and since they have no use for vision, they just have light-detecting black eye spots but no fully developed eyes. Most blind snakes are small, with many species reaching less than 30 cm in length at full size. The largest, known as Schlegel's giant blind snake (Megatyphlops schlegelii) grows to about 90 cm.

Today's new species comes from central Australia and was discovered misidentified in a museum collection. The species name was derived from the Latin fossor, a miner, in allusion to the mining habits of the genus and the type locality, where the numerous garnets in the bed of the Hale River, misidentified as rubies, sparked the Northern Territory's first mining rush.

For the experts: Anilios fossor sp. nov. is described from a single specimen collected in 1989 from Ruby Gap Nature Park, Northern Territory. The species differs from all other Anilios species in the combination of 20 midbody scales, 514 dorsal scales, a rounded, non-angulate snout in lateral and dorsal profile, a nasal cleft contacting the second supralabial and not extending to the head dorsum, and a large round rostral shield in dorsal view. It is unclear whether the paucity of material of this species represents a limited distribution, or poor sampling in a remote, sparsely settled part of the continent. Evidence for the recognition of the Australian typhlopid fauna as a distinct genus Anilios is critically reviewed, and the genus is found to be recognizable only on genetic evidence. Some other recent nomenclatural and taxonomic changes in the Australian typhlopid fauna are considered and rejected. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

A new giant tortoise: Chelonoidis donfaustoi

There are two populations of giant tortoises on the island of Santa Cruz in the center of the Galapagos Archipelago: a large population on the west side in an area known as the "Reserve" and another on the lower eastern slopes around a hill named "Cerro Fatal" Until recently, researchers believed that these populations belonged to the same species of tortoise. New genetic and morphological analyses have now clearly identified the two populations as separate species: the Western Santa Cruz Tortoise (Chelonoidis porteri) and the new Eastern Santa Cruz Tortoise (Chelonoidis donfaustoi).

The new species was named to honor Fausto Llerena Sánchez, known to his friends and colleagues as Don Fausto. Don Fausto dedicated 43 years (1971-2014) to giant tortoise conservation as a park ranger for the Galapagos National Park Directorate. He was the primary caretaker at the Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Center on Santa Cruz, which now bears his name. The restoration of several tortoise populations is due in part to Don Fausto's dedication and efforts. He successfully bred tortoises in Galapagos while many of the best zoos around the world have failed in their efforts to do so

For the experts: The taxonomy of giant Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis spp.) is currently based primarily on morphological characters and island of origin. Over the last decade, compelling genetic evidence has accumulated for multiple independent evolutionary lineages, spurring the need for taxonomic revision. On the island of Santa Cruz there is currently a single named species, C. porteri. Recent genetic and morphological studies have shown that, within this taxon, there are two evolutionarily and spatially distinct lineages on the western and eastern sectors of the island, known as the Reserva and Cerro Fatal populations, respectively. Analyses of DNA from natural populations and museum specimens, including the type specimen for C. porteri, confirm the genetic distinctiveness of these two lineages and support elevation of the Cerro Fatal tortoises to the rank of species. In this paper, we identify DNA characters that define this new species, and infer evolutionary relationships relative to other species of Galapagos tortoises.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A new tardigrade: Batillipes acuticauda

Tardigrades are one of nature's smallest animals. They are never more than 1.5 mm long, and can only be seen with a microscope. They are commonly known as water bears. There are 900 known species. Most feed by sucking the juices from moss, lichens and algae.

The species name acuticauda is Latin for “sharp tail”. The new animal was found at the coast of Argentina.

Here a little video about these interesting creatures:

For the experts:  A new species of marine tardigrade, Batillipes acuticauda sp. n., has been found in midlittoral sand sediments collected at Monte Hermoso beach (Buenos Aires province, Argentina). The new species differs from all other members of Batillipedidae by its combination of caudal apparatus, lateral processes and toe patterns. It is the first description of an arthrotardigrade from Argentina.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A new king cricket: Libanasa kilomeni

King crickets are also known as weta and can be found in a variety of environments including alpine, forests, grasslands, shrub lands and urban gardens. The family is widely distributed across southern hemisphere lands including South America, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. They are night active and many are flightless although several flying species exist in Australia. Their diet is diverse, rarely consisting of leaves, and more commonly a combination of other insects, fungi, dead animals, and fruit. An Australian king cricket can overpower and eat the deadly funnel-web spiders.

The new species was found in Tanzania. It was named after the village Kilomeni located beneath Kindoroko forest reserve in the North Pare Mountains.

For the experts: A new species of Libanasa, L. kilomeni, is described. In contrast to L. brachyura, an inhabitant of lowland wet to submontane forest along the Tanzanian coast and part of the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania, this new species is found in montane forest in the North Pare Mountains. L. kilomeni n. sp. is restricted to a small forest reserve and due to forest clearing at lower elevations probably driven to its upper ecological border. Therefore this species is considered endangered and
should be included in the IUCN red list.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A new sharpshooter: Fonsecaiulus rectangularis

Sharpshooter is a term commonly used to describe a group of leafhoppers in the family Cicadellidae. One explanation for the use of this term is to describe the feeding damage of one of the species, on cotton. Researchers also reported "rapid and forcible ejection of minute drops of fluid". 

Disturbed sharpshooters will slip quickly behind branches and stems to avoid predators, an action not unlike the behavior of army sharpshooter riflemen who would hide behind the trunks of trees to avoid detection by the opposition as they passed by their position.

Our new species is actually one of three described in one publication. The specific name refers to the shape of the reproductive organ.

For the experts: Three new sharpshooter species of the genus Fonsecaiulus Young, 1977 are described and illustrated from specimens collected in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, F. rectangularis sp. n. and F. guttiformis sp. n. , and in the Brazilian Cerrado, F. filiformis sp. n. The descriptions are based on features from the external morphology, color pattern, and male and female genital structures. Comparisons of the three new taxa with the remaining six Fonsecaiulus species are provided. An identification key to males of all known species of the genus is given.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A new characid: Moenkhausia lineomaculata

This family of freshwater fish inhabit a wide range and a variety of habitats. They originate in the Americas, ranging from southwestern Texas and Mexico through Central and South America. Many of these fish live in rivers, but, for example, the blind cave tetra even inhabits caves.

The relationships of many fish in this family are poorly known. 

The name of the new species “lineomaculata” comes from the Latin lineo meaning line, and maculata
meaning spotted, in allusion to a series of aligned spots characteristic of the new species. It was found in Rio Juruena, Brazil.

For the experts: Moenkhausia lineomaculata, new species, is described herein from the upper rio Juruena, upper rio Tapajós basin. The new species seems to be part of a monophyletic group formed by M. cosmops, M. cotinho, M. diktyota, M. forestii, M. oligolepis, M. sanctaefilomenae, and M. pyrophthalma, the Moenkhausia oligolepis/M. sanctaefilomenae complex, by sharing a reticulated color pattern on body and the presence of a light area preceding a wide, dark caudal-peduncle blotch. The new species is distinguished from these species, except M. cotinho, by the presence of longitudinal series of dark dots on body, and from M. cotinho by the humeral blotch evenly pigmented along its length and by having the dark line along horizontal septum starting approximately at the vertical through dorsal-fin origin. The new species presents intraspecific variation in lateral-line scales perforation, a feature often present in species of the aforementioned group. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

A new owlet moth: Ogdoconta margareta

Owlet moths or Noctuidae are the largest family in the order Lepidoptera. More than 35 000 species are already known but there are colleagues that believe that there are more than 100 000 of them. 

Some owlet moth caterpillars live in the soil and are agricultural or horticultural pests. Quite a few family members are also known for their ability to feed on poisonous plants without harm. Some of those are e.g. nightshades which contain chemicals that would kill most other animals that try feeding on them.

The new species was named after the authors mother, Margareta Crabo. The type specimen was collected in Arizona three days prior to her 80th birthday. 

For the experts: A new species of Ogdoconta Butler (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae, Condicinae, Condicini) is described from the Patagonia Mountains, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, USA. Ogdoconta margareta sp. n., is related closely to Ogdoconta tacna (Barnes) from Texas. Modifications are proposed to a recently published key to the Ogdoconta species north of Mexico to allow identification of the new species.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A new bee fly: Marleyimyia xylocopae

Many members of the family of bee flies (Bombyliidae) resemble bees hence the name. The adult flies feed on nectar and pollen. Some of them are important pollinators. Their larvae however are parasites of other insects.

Today's species belongs to an extremely rare genus and its description was the first of an insect species based solely on high-resolution photographs. It was named after the carpenter bee species (Xylocopa flavicollis) that likely was the model for the mimicry.  

For the experts: A new bombyliid species Marleyimyia xylocopae Marshall & Evenhuis, sp. n., an apparent mimic of the carpenter bee Xylocopa flavicollis (De Geer), is described from South Africa on the basis of photographs only. The pros and cons of species descriptions in the absence of preserved type specimens are discussed.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A new soldier beetle: Themus dimorphus

The soldier beetles are also known as leatherwinds because of the rather soft wings. One of the first described species has a color pattern that is very similar to the red coats of early British soldiers, hence the common name. They resemble fireflies, but they lack the light-producing organ on their

Many soldier beetle species are considered beneficial as they feed on garden pests such as aphids. 

The name of the new species that was discovered in China is derived from the Latin word 'dimorphus' (dimorphic), referring to its different coloration of head and pronotum.

For the experts: A new species is described, Themus (Themus) dimorphus sp. n. from Yunnan, China. Themus (Themus) testaceicollis Wittmer, 1983 is redescribed and compared with the new species. The two species are illustrated with habitus and genitalia of both sexes and abdominal sternites VIII of female.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A new dragonfly: Libellula coahuiltecana

Dragon flies of the genus Libellula are commonly called skimmers. Most members are from the Northern Hemisphere. These large, wide-bodied dragonflies have wide wings. They spend their time perching on the ground or on vegetation, waiting for insects to fly within range before darting out to capture them.

This new species was found in Mexico and named after the Coahuiltecans, an indigenous group who inhabited the territory of the present day States of Coahuila (where this species was found)and Nuevo León in México and southern Texas in USA.

For the experts: A new species of Libellula is described from specimens collected in the most interesting area of Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila, México. Libellula coahuiltecana sp. nov. is similar in color and morphology to L. needhami Westfall with which it co-occurs locally. It differs from the latter by having conspicuous orange spots on base of wings and nodal area, and costal, subcostal, and wing tip areas slightly infumated with the same color. Other differences exist in the morphology of the secondary genitalia of males and the shape of the vulvar plate of female

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A new shrew rat: Hyorhinomys stuempkei

A shrew rat is not a true rat but a rodent that resembles a shrew. Species of this group are known only from Asia and today's new species was found on a remote, mountainous island in Indonesia.

The newcomer has a large, flat, pink nose and forward-facing nostrils for which it was named the Hog-nosed rat. With extremely large ears, long hind legs that may be used for hopping, and long white incisors, the Hog-nosed rat is so different from any other species that researchers described it as a new genus.

As mentioned above the new genus is named for its hog-like nose, by combining the Greek words “hyo” (hog), “rhino” (nose), and “mys” (mouse). The species is named in honor of Gerolf Steiner, who used the pseudonym Harald Stümpke, to publish a small book (Bau und Leben der Rhinogradentia) in English known as The Snouters. The Snouters describes a fictional island radiation of mammals with extraordinary nasal and aural adaptations and seemingly anticipates the discovery of the new species, with its large pink nose.

For the experts: We document a new genus and species of shrew rat from the north peninsula of Sulawesi Island, Indonesia. The new taxon is known only from the type locality at 1,600 m elevation on Mt. Dako, in the district of Tolitoli. It is distinguished from all other Indonesian murines by its large, flat, pink nose with forward-facing nares. Relative to other Sulawesi murines, the species has extremely large ears (~ 21% of head and body length), very long urogenital hairs, prominent and medially bowing hamular processes on the pterygoid bones, extremely long and procumbent lower incisors, and unusually long articular surfaces on the mandibular condyles. Morphologically, the new taxon is most similar to a group of endemic Sulawesi rats known commonly as “shrew rats.” These are long faced, carnivorous murines, and include the genera Echiothrix, Melasmothrix, Paucidentomys, Sommeromys, and Tateomys. Our Bayesian and likelihood analyses of DNA sequences concatenated from 5 unlinked loci infer the new shrew rat as sister to a clade consisting of Melasmothrix, Paucidentomys, and Echiothrix, suggesting that Sulawesi shrew rats represent a clade. The Sulawesi water rat, Waiomys mamasae, was sister to the shrew rats in our analyses. Discovery of this new genus and species brings known shrew rat diversity on Sulawesi to 6 genera and 8 species. The extent of morphological diversity among these animals is remarkable considering the small number of species currently known.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A new bush cricket: Horatosphaga aethiopica

Bush crickets belong to the cricket family Tettigoniidae whose members are also often called katydids or long-horned grasshoppers. Tettigoniids can be distinguished from grasshoppers by the length of their antennae, which may exceed their own body length, while grasshoppers' antennae are always relatively short and thickened.

Between March and September 1939, an expedition to the territory of the Omo river in Ethiopia brought the participants to the northern part of the Turkana lake, where they collected a series of Horatosphaga specimens including the species that was only now after 76 years described as a new one. The name of the new species refers to its country of origin, Ethiopia.

For the experts: Results of the study of specimens collected in tropical Africa and preserved in different European collections and museums are reported and extensively illustrated. The following three new species are described: Horatosphaga aethiopica sp. n., Dapanera occulta sp. n. and Cestromoecha laeglae sp. n. In addition, new diagnostic characters or distributional data for Ruspolia differens (Serville, 1838), Thyridorhoptrum senegalense Krauss, 1877, Horatosphaga leggei (Kirby, 1909), Horatosphaga linearis (Rehn, 1910), Preussia lobatipes Karsch, 1890 and Dapanera eidmanni Ebner, 1943 are reported. Finally, Symmetropleura plana (Walker, 1869) is proposed to be transferred to the genus Symmetrokarschia Massa, 2015, Conocephalus carbonarius (Redtenbacher, 1891) to the genus Thyridorhoptrum Rehn & Hebard, 1915; the genus Gonatoxia Karsch, 1889 is proposed to be synonymized with Dapanera Karsch, 1889.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A new leafhopper: Flaviata longa

Leafhoppers are one of the ten largest families of plant-feeding insects. At least 20 000 species which is more than all species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians together. 

Leafhoppers have mouthparts for piercing and sucking, enabling them to feed on plant sap hence most of them are herbivores. However, some are known to eat smaller insects, such as aphids, on occasion.

Our new species was collected in the Yunnan province, China. Its name was derived from the Latin word for long referring to an elongated appendage at the rear end.

For the experts:  A new species of genus Flaviata Lu & Qin, Flaviata longa sp. nov. is described from Yunnan (southwest China). An identification key for males of all known species in this genus is provided. Photographs and illustrations of adults and male genitalia of the new species are also given. New synonymies for two species in the leafhopper subgenus Empoasca (Matsumurasca) Anufriev of Empoascini are proposed: E. (M.) southerni Zhang, 2014 = E. (M.) clypealata Qin & Zhang, 2011; E. (M.) qini Zhang, 2014 = E. (M.) quadrialata Qin & Zhang, 2011.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A new moss mite: Zealandozetes southensis

Mites are small arthropods that are relatives of the spiders. They are among the most diverse (50000 species) and successful of all the invertebrate groups and yet do we know so little about them. They are found in an incredible array of habitats, and because of their small size, go largely unnoticed. 

Mites occupy a wide range of ecological niches. For example, Oribatid mites are important decomposers which means they eat a wide variety of mostly dead plant and fungal material, lichens and carrion; some of them are even predators. They range in size from 0.2 to 1.4mm.

Not only today's species is new to science, also its genus was newly described. The genus name Zealandozetes refers to New Zealand, home country of this new group.  The species name also refers to the place of origin, namely the South Island of New Zealand. 

For the experts: A new oribatid mite genus, Zealandozetes gen. nov. (Oribatida, Maudheimiidae), with type species Zealandozetes southensis sp. nov., is proposed and described based on adult and juvenile instars. It inhabits the soil under and around cushionforming plants in the high-altitude alpine zone of two mountain ranges (the Pisa Range and The Remarkables) in the South Island of New Zealand. It is distinguished from species of Maudheimia by having pteromorphs reduced to pleural carinae, notogastral saccules, small pedotecta I, and both postanal porose area and Ah expressed as complex saccules. Juveniles are similar to those of Maudheimia, except the humeral organ of Z. southensis is cupule-like and gastronotic microsclerites are lacking. We give a revised diagnosis for Maudheimiidae and discuss both supportive and contradictory evidence for inclusion of Zealandozetes. Finally, we discuss endemism of Zealandozetes with reference to the knowledge of New Zealand biogeography and its oribatid fauna. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A new orchid: Dendrochilum hampelii

Dendrochilum is a genus of orchids that are found in rainforests and grow on the branches and trunks of trees, thereby escaping from the competition of all the other plants to be found on the forest floor. They are not parasites as they use the tree only as perch.

These orchids grow mainly in high altitude cloud forests, where the trees on which they live are coated with moss due to the intense moisture levels in the low clouds. Once the sun burns off this water they are subjected to bright sunshine and strong winds associated with such high altitudes. 

There is a big group of hobbyists worldwide that cultivates a multitude of orchids including Dendrochilum species. Initially this species was thought to be a yet another new hybrid variant as it appeared in cultivation under the name 'Big Pink' but this new study shows it is actually new species from the Philippines. 

The species name honours Georg Hampel, who provided the authors with study material of the newly described species.

For the experts: In 2013, an unidentified species of Dendrochilum appeared in cultivation under the commercial trade name ‘Big Pink’. Using sequences of the nuclear ribosomal ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 region and of the plastid matK and ycf1 genes, we examined the phylogenetic relationships between ‘Big Pink’ and six other species of the phenetically defined Dendrochilum subgen. Platyclinis sect. Eurybrachium. Separate and combined analyses (using Bayesian, Maximum Likelihood and Parsimony inference) showed consistent placement of the unidentified species within a statistically well supported clade. Furthermore, the multi-copy nrITS marker showed clear distinct peaks. Thus, we found no evidence that ‘Big Pink’ could be a hybrid. Against this background, and further supported by species-specific mutations in (at least) nrITS and ycf1, we formally describe ‘Big Pink’ as a new species under the name Dendrochilum hampelii. Morphologically, it is most similar to D. propinquum, but it differs in a number of characters. Of the two cultivated individuals available for our study, one was of unrecorded provenance. The other allegedly originated from the Philippines. Observations of the species occurring in the wild in the Philippines in the northern provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental on the island of Mindanao confirmed this.

Monday, October 5, 2015

A new ant: Temnothorax curtisetosus

Social parasitism in ants is the coexistence of two or more ant species in one nest or colony, whereby the parasitic species lives dependence of one or several host species. There are different forms of social parasitism ranging from short term guests to downright slavery.

With more than 380 species the genus Temnothorax is one of the largest in the ant subfamily Myrmicinae. Social parasitism is often encountered in this group of ants and parasitic species were usually described in different genera. This is different this time. The new species was found in the colony of one of its sister species (Temnothorax antigoni).

The name of the new species refers to the length of some tiny bristles on its body.

For the experts: Temnothorax antigoni (Forel, 1911) is redescribed basing on a new material from southwestern Turkey (Antalya province), Lesbos and Rhodes (Greece, Aegean and Dodecanese islands). The gyne of this species is described for the first time. Temnothorax curtisetosus, a new species of social parasite collected in a nest of T. antigoni, is described. Colour photos of both taxa are given. A key to the worker caste of the eastern Mediterranean species belonging to both T. recedens and T. muellerianus groups are provided.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A new jewel beetle: Anthaxia kamieserrima

Members of the beetle family Buprestidae  are known as jewel beetles or metallic wood-boring beetles because of their glossy iridescent colors. The family is very large and contains about 15 000 species.

Larger and very colourful specimens are actually highly prized among insect collectors and their wings were used in the ancient Asian craft technique beetlewing. Other species are notorious pests such as the Emerald Ash Borer that is currently sweeping through North America and killing all ash trees by feeding (as larvae) on them. 

Today's new species, Anthaxia kamieserrima, is certainly much more harmless. It is endemic to South Africa and was named after the type locality (Kamieskroon) and part of the species name of a closely related species with the name: Anthaxia aterrima (-errima).

For the experts: Anthaxia (Anthaxia) kamieserrima sp. nov., a new endemic species from Republic of South Africa is described. New synonymy of Anthaxia (Anthaxia) aterrima Kerremams, 1903 (= Anthaxia (Anthaxia) braunsi Obenberger, 1922 syn. nov.) is proposed. Lectotypes and paralectotypes of A. aterrima and A. braunsi are designated.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A new moray eel: Gymnothorax mishrai

Moray eels are a family of mostly marine living eels that occur in all oceans of the world. Unfortunately, they have a very bad reputation for no reason: Morays are frequently thought of as particularly vicious or ill-tempered animals. In truth, morays hide from humans in crevices and would rather flee than fight. They are shy and secretive, and attack humans only in self defense or mistaken identity. Most attacks stem from disruption of a moray's burrow (to which they do react strongly), but an increasing number also occur during hand feeding of morays by divers, an activity often used by dive companies to attract tourists. Morays have poor vision and rely mostly on their acute sense of smell, making distinguishing between fingers and held food difficult; numerous divers have lost fingers while attempting hand feedings, so the hand feeding of moray eels has been banned in some locations, including the Great Barrier Reef. The moray's rear-hooked teeth and primitive but strong bite mechanism also makes bites on humans more severe, as the eel cannot release its grip, even in death, and must be manually pried off. 

Many of my colleagues state that there are a number of undescribed moray eels especially in the genus Gymnothorax, so today's new species from the Bay of Bengal is not a surprising find. It was named after Subhrendu Sekhar Mishra from the Zoological Survey of India.

For the experts: A new species of short brown unpatterned moray eel of the genus Gymnothorax, Gymnothorax mishrai sp. nov. is described from a specimen of 324 mm total length, collected from the Bay of Bengal. The species is distinguished by having the dorsal-fin origin before gill opening, jaw pores with brown rim, two branchial pores, total vertebrae 134 (MVF: 9-59-134), three median intermaxillary teeth, uniserial maxillary and vomerine teeth. The new species is distinctly different from the other eight described species of this group. This species is also the first species of short brown unpatterned moray eel to be reported from India.