Thursday, May 5, 2016

[Herpetology • 2016] Evolution in Karst Massifs: Cryptic Diversity Among Bent-toed Geckos (Cyrtodactylus, Gekkonidae) along the Truong Son Range with Descriptions of Three New Species and One New Country Record from Laos

Cyrtodactylus calamei,  C. hinnamnoensis & C. sommerladi  
Luu, Bonkowski, Nguyen, Le, Schneider, Ngo & Ziegler, 2016


Species designated as ‘cryptic’ share a similar morphotype, and are often only clearly separable by molecular data. Cyrtodactylus, the most diverse gecko genus of the family Gekkonidae, is a prime example, because many morphologically similar taxa have only recently been identified as new species as a result of available genetic evidence. However, while cryptic diversity of Cyrtodactylus is already well documented on the Vietnamese side of the Truong Son range, only scarce data is available from central Laos. In this study, we address this issue by means of an integrative approach, which employs morphological, molecular, and ecological data to distinguish cryptic species of the Cyrtodacylus phongnhakebangensis species group primarily distributed along the northern Truong Son Range. Our analyses based on 12 selected morphological characters, a partial mitochondrial gene (COI), and five ecological parameters revealed three undescribed cryptic Cyrtodactylus species from Hin Nam No National Protected Area, which are described as Cyrtodactylus calamei sp. nov.Cyrtodactylus hinnamnoensis sp. nov., and Cyrtodactylus sommerladi sp. nov. A fourth discovered Cyrtodactylus population in Hin Nam No proved to be the first country record of C. cryptus for Laos. Our results highlight the importance of applying an integrative approach to resolving the taxonomy of complex and cryptic species groups, and the role of the Truong Son Range in maintaining the high level of biodiversity over time.

Keywords: Cryptic species, karst forest, morphology, new species, Truong Son Range, phylogeny, taxonomy, Reptilia

Taxonomic accounts

Cyrtodactylus calamei
Luu, Bonkowski, Nguyen, Le, Schneider, Ngo & Ziegler, 2016

• Cyrtodactylus calamei sp. nov.
• Cyrtodactylus hinnamnoensis sp. nov.
• Cyrtodactylus sommerladi sp. nov.
• First record of Cyrtodactylus cryptus Heidrich, Rösler, Vu, Böhme & Ziegler, 2007 from Laos

Cyrtodactylus species groups in Laos 

• Cyrtodactylus phongnhakebangensis group
Species. Cyrtodactylus bansocensis, C. calamei, C. darevskii, C. hinnamnoensis, C. jaegeri, C. jarujiniC. khammouanensisC. lomyenensisC. multiporusC. pageliC. ruffordC. sommerladiC. soudthichakiC. teyniei. 

• Cyrtodactylus irregularis group
Species. Cyrtodactylus buchardi, C. cryptus, C. pseudoquadrivirgatus.

• Cyrtodactylus wayakonei group
Species. Cyrtodactylus spelaeus, C. vilaphongi, C.wayakonei.

• Cyrtodactylus interdigitalis group.
Species. Cyrtodactylus interdigitalis.

Vinh Quang Luu, Michael Bonkowski, Truong Quang Nguyen, Minh Duc Le, Nicole Schneider, Hanh Thi Ngo and Thomas Ziegler. 2016. Evolution in Karst Massifs: Cryptic Diversity Among Bent-toed Geckos along the Truong Son Range with Descriptions of Three New Species and One New Country Record from Laos.
4107(2);  DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4107.2.1

[Herpetology • 2016] Triturus anatolicus • Description of A New Species of Crested Newt, previously subsumed in Triturus ivanbureschi (Caudata: Salamandridae)

 Anatolian Crested Newt |  Triturus anatolicus 
Wielstra & Arntzen, 2016 


Multilocus molecular data play a pivotal role in diagnosing cryptic species (i.e. genetically distinct but morphologically similar species). A multilocus phylogeographic survey has provided compelling evidence that Triturus ivanbureschi sensu lato comprises two distinct gene pools with restricted gene flow. We conclude that this taxon had better be treated as two distinct (albeit morphologically cryptic) species. The name T. ivanbureschi should be restricted to the western species, which is distributed in western Asiatic Turkey plus the south-eastern Balkan Peninsula. No name is as yet available for the eastern species, which is distributed in northern Asiatic Turkey. We propose the name Triturus anatolicus sp. nov. for the eastern species and provide a formal species description.

Keywords: gene flow, introgression, phylogeny, Triturus anatolicus sp. nov., Triturus karelinii, Amphibia

Distribution. The distribution encompasses Asiatic Turkey south of the Black Sea, reaching up to c. 200 kilometers inland (usually less), but not into inner Anatolia. To the west the new species reaches the Bosphorus at the northern side of the Marmara Sea. On the southern side of the Marmara Sea it meets T. ivanbureschi sensu stricto, east of Lake Ulubat and west of the city of Bursa. The two species form a hybrid zone here (Wielstra et al., submitted). To the east the new species reaches the town of Yomra, just east of the city of Trabzon. The nearest known Triturus localities further east are from the extreme NE of Turkey, over 150 km away, and probably concern T. karelinii sensu stricto (Wielstra et al., 2013a). An outline of the distribution of the new species is provided in Fig. 1. A database of distribution records is provided in Wielstra et al. (2014b).

Etymology. The specific epithet reflects the distribution of the new Triturus species. Triturus anatolicus sp. nov. is endemic to Anatolia. It is the only Triturus species to which this applies. It should be noted that the range of T. ivanbureschi sensu stricto covers western Anatolia (Wielstra et al., 2013a; Wielstra et al., submitted) and the range of T. karelinii sensu stricto probably protrudes into northeastern Anatolia (Wielstra et al., 2010).

Proposed vernacular name. We propose to use the vernacular name Anatolian Crested Newt for T. anatolicus sp. nov. This name highlights its status as an Anatolian endemic. We suggest to use the vernacular name Balkan Crested Newt for T. ivanbureschi sensu stricto (rather than Balkan-Anatolian Crested Newt previously applied to T. ivanbureschi sensu lato). Although T. ivanbureschi sensu stricto also partially occurs in Anatolia, the main part of its range is in the Balkan Peninsula.

We have taken a cautious approach in revising the taxonomy of T. karelinii sensu lato. We first split the group into T. karelinii sensu stricto and T. ivanbureschi sensu lato and preferred to await a detailed analysis of the putative hybrid zone between the two candidate species within T. ivanbureschi sensu lato before considering whether further taxonomic change was warranted (Wielstra et al., 2013b). By applying a next-generation sequencing protocol for Triturus (Wielstra et al., 2014a) to a detailed sampling in and around the putative hybrid zone (Wielstra et al., submitted) we could confirm the existence of an as yet undescribed cryptic species in T. ivanbureschi sensu lato. This gave us the confidence to describe T. anatolicus sp. nov. in the present paper. Our studies on Triturus illustrate how ‘shallow genomics’ (Zilversmit et al., 2002), in which a comprehensive but tractable portion of the total genome is employed to approximate evolutionary history, can be a driving force in taxonomy. As yet no diagnostic morphological characters are known to distinguish the three species comprising T. karelinii sensu lato. This raises the question: are the three crested newt species truly cryptic, or have they not been studied closely enough? Considering that previous morphological studies have mainly focused on the species meeting in the Balkan Peninsula rather than T. karelinii sensu lato (Arntzen, 2003) we suspect the latter. A future morphological study, using the genetic results as a guidance, should prove illuminating.

Wielstra, B. and Arntzen, J.W. 2016. Description of A New Species of Crested Newt, previously subsumed in Triturus ivanbureschi (Amphibia: Caudata: Salamandridae). Zootaxa. 4109(1); DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4109.1.7

Wielstra, B., S. n. Litvinchuk, B. Naumov, N. Tzankov and J. w. Arntzen. 2013. A Revised Taxonomy of Crested Newts in the Triturus karelinii Group (Amphibia: Caudata: Salamandridae), with the Description of A New Species. Zootaxa. 3682(3): 441–453. DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.3682.3.5

[Ichthyology • 2016] Sueviota bryozophila • A New Species of Coral-Reef Goby (Teleostei: Gobiidae) from Indonesia

Sueviota bryozophila 
 Allen, Erdmann & Cahyani, 2016 

A new species of gobiid fish, Sueviota bryozophila, is described from Indonesia, at Ambon, Molucca Islands and Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, on the basis of six specimens, 9.9–13.2 mm SL. The new species differs from the other four members of the Indo-Pacific genus by having reduced sensory pores on the dorsal surface of the head, with only paired pores at the mid-interorbital, and by having four pelvic-fin rays unbranched and a single branching of the fifth ray. Moreover, the new species is unique among both Sueviota and Eviota in having a complete membrane linking the two pelvic fins to form a disk. Other diagnostic features include 8–9 dorsal-fin soft rays, 7–8 anal-fin soft rays, 16 pectoral-fin rays, no pelvic frenum, and enlarged nostrils. The head and body is generally whitish to pale pink with scattered red spots. Unlike other members of the genus, there are no internal dark bars. The new species is only found associated with small pale bryozoan colonies, in which they are well camouflaged.

Key words: taxonomy, ichthyology, systematics, coral-reef fishes, Eviota, Indo-Pacific Ocean.

Gerald R. Allen, Mark V. Erdmann and N. K. Dita Cahyani. 2016. Sueviota bryozophila, A New Species of Coral-Reef Goby from Indonesia (Teleostei: Gobiidae). Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation. 20, 76–82.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

[Ichthyology • 2016] Potamotrygon wallacei • A New Species of Neotropical Freshwater Stingray (Chondrichthyes: Potamotrygonidae) from the Rio Negro, Amazonas, Brazil: the Smallest Species of Potamotrygon

Potamotrygon wallacei 
Carvalho, Rosa & Araújo, 2016 DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4107.4.5


A new species of Potamotrygon is described from the Rio Negro drainage, Amazonas, Brazil. In spite of being cited or pictured several times in the scientific and aquarium fish literature since the 19th Century, it had been misidentified and still lacked a scientific name. Potamotrygon wallacei, n. sp., is diagnosed by the following characters: dorsal surface of disc light brown, with black irregularly-shaped vermiculate markings forming an amphora- or Ω-shaped figure on mid-disc, delimiting light brown reniform areas at disc center, and with subcircular light brown ocellate markings on disc margins; small body size (smallest known Potamotrygon species; largest examined specimen measured 310 mm DW); dorsal spines on tail usually rather low, without broad bases, in one to rarely three irregular rows, but extending posteriorly only to tail mid-length and not to caudal stings, with altogether relatively few spines; denticles on posterior mid-disc and tail base Y-shaped, with a central, anterior, bulbous cusp and usually two posterior pairs of smaller, rounded cusps; and single (anterior) angular cartilage. The new species is similar to P. orbignyi and other "reticulated" species in having a single (anterior) angular cartilage and in the color pattern of the tail, but is easily distinguished based on its size, dorsal tail spine arrangement, and specific details of color pattern.

Keywords: Potamotrygon wallacei n. sp., Myliobatiformes, morphology, systematics, taxonomy, Pisces

Marcelo R. de Carvalho, Ricardo S. Rosa and Maria Lúcia G. de Araújo. 2016. A New Species of Neotropical Freshwater Stingray (Chondrichthyes: Potamotrygonidae) from the Rio Negro, Amazonas, Brazil: the Smallest Species of PotamotrygonZootaxa. 4107(4);  DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4107.4.5

[Ichthyology • 2015] Systematics and Morphology of Potamotrygon orbignyi (Castelnau, 1855) and allied forms (Myliobatiformes: Potamotrygonidae)

FIGURE 34. Original illustrations of Potamotrygon orbignyi (left side) and Potamotrygon dumerilii (right side, indicated by an arrow), modified from Castelnau (1855, plates 48 and 49).


The Neotropical freshwater stingray Potamotrygon orbignyi (Castelnau, 1855), and other similar "reticulated" species occurring in northern South American basins, were submitted to a thorough taxonomic analysis based on an extensive external and internal morphological study. The identity of Porbignyi and the taxonomic status of the related nominal species Potamotrygon dumerilii (Castelnau, 1855), Potamotrygon reticulata (Günther, 1880), and Potamotrygon humerosa Garman, 1913, are defined. Taxonomic and morphological analyses revealed that P. reticulata and P. dumerilii fall within the range of variation found in Porbignyi and were consequently treated as junior synonyms, corroborating previous works. The extensive variation in coloration observed in P. orbignyi could not be divided into consistent morphotypes; P. orbignyi is therefore a widespread species in the upper, mid and lower Amazonas basin, the Orinoco drainage, and in rivers of Suriname and the Guianas. Additionally, P. humerosa and Potamotrygon marinae Deynat, 2007 were found to present characters that support their validity, and are redescribed based on newly collected material. Potamotrygon humerosa occurs predominantly in the mid and lower Amazonas River and in lower reaches of many of its affluents, whereas P. marinae is known only from French Guiana and Suriname. Characters that proved valuable as diagnostic indicators, either in combination or as derived features, are primarily from coloration, dermal denticles and spines (morphology, development and distribution), meristic features (e.g. numbers of tooth rows, vertebrae and mesopterygial radials), morphometric proportions (e.g. snout length, tail width at base and length), and size at sexual maturity.

Keywords: Pisces, Taxonomy, Neotropical freshwater stingrays, anatomy, Potamotrygon humerosaPotamotrygon marinae

Silva, João P. C. B. D. and Marcelo R. de Carvalho. 2015. Systematics and Morphology of Potamotrygon orbignyi (Castelnau, 1855) and allied forms (Chondrichthyes: Myliobatiformes: Potamotrygonidae). Zootaxa. 3982(1): 1–82. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3982.1.1

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

[Herpetology • 2016] Hemiphyllodactylus cicak • Phylogenetic Relationships of Geckos of the Hemiphyllodactylus harterti Group, A New Species from Penang Island, Peninsular Malaysia, and A Likely Case of True Cryptic Speciation

Hemiphyllodactylus cicak 
Cobos, Grismer, Wood, Quah, Anuar & Muin, 2016


An integrative taxonomic analysis based on the mitochondrial gene ND2 and its flanking tRNAs, morphology, and color pattern indicates that a newly discovered gecko described herein as Hemiphyllodactylus cicak sp. nov. from Penang Hill on the Island of Penang, Peninsular Malaysia is a member of the H. harterti group. Hemiphyllodactylus cicak sp. nov. is most closely related to the clade composed of the sister species H. harterti from Bukit Larut, Perak in the Bintang Mountain Range and H. bintik from Gunung Tebu, Terengganu from the Timur Mountain Range. These three allopatric species form a monophyletic group that extends approximately 270 km across three isolated mountain ranges in northern Peninsular Malaysia. The molecular analysis also indicates that H. titiwangsaensis from the Titiwangsa Mountain Range is composed of three genetically distinct allopatric populations. The southern two populations from Fraser’s Hill and Genting Highlands, Pahang have an uncorrected pairwise sequence divergence of 3.5% whereas these two populations have 12.4 and 12.8 % sequence divergences, respectively, from the northern population at Cameron Highlands, Pahang. Although the high sequence divergence clearly distinguishes the southern two populations from the former as a different species, all three populations are morphologically indistinguishable, leading to the hypothesis of a true, cryptic speciation event.

Keywords: Hemiphyllodactylus, Malaysia, Penang, phylogeny, new species, cryptic speciation, Reptilia

Anthony Cobos, L Lee Grismer, Perry L Wood, Jr., Evan S H Quah, Shahrul Anuar and Mohd. Abdul Muin. 2016. Phylogenetic Relationships of Geckos of the Hemiphyllodactylus harterti Group, A New Species from Penang Island, Peninsular Malaysia, and A Likely Case of True Cryptic Speciation. Zootaxa.  4107(3); DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4107.3.5

[Herpetology • 2016] Dendropsophus mapinguari • A New Species of Clown Tree Frog, Dendropsophus leucophyllatus Species Group (Anura, Hylidae), from Amazonia

Dendropsophus mapinguari
Peloso, Orrico, Haddad, Lima-Filho & Sturaro, 2016

We describe a new species of Dendropsophus (Anura: Hylidae: Hylinae: Dendropsophini) from the Amazon river (= Rio Amazonas) basin, state of Amazonas, northern Brazil. The new taxon is included in the D. leucophyllatus group based on its phylogenetic position and on the presence of a pair of pectoral glands (a likely synapomorphy of the group). The species is distinguished from other species in the group by its color pattern and the morphology of hand and feet tubercles. In order to assess the phylogenetic relationships of the new taxon, we compiled a dataset including mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence data for all but one species in the D. leucophyllatus group, plus a series of hylid outgroups. A tree-alignment (direct optimization) parsimony analysis firmly support the new species as the sister taxon of D. sarayacuensis. The monophyly of the D. leucophyllatus species group is not recovered in our analysis and the issue is discussed further.

Keywords: Amazon, Amphibia, Biodiversity, Hylinae, Phylogeny, Systematics, Taxonomy 

The newfound frog gets its name from a legendary rain forest beast called the mapinguari.

Pedro L.V. Peloso, Victor G.D. Orrico, Célio F.B. Haddad, Geraldo R. Lima-Filho and Marcelo J. Sturaro. 2016. A New Species of Clown Tree Frog, Dendropsophus leucophyllatus Species Group, from Amazonia (Anura, Hylidae). South American Journal of Herpetology. 11(1); 66-80.  DOI: 10.2994/SAJH-D-16-00003.1

New Amazon Frog Named After Mythical Monster via @NatGeo

Monday, May 2, 2016

[Invertebrate • 2016] Orientothele alyratus • A New Genus and New Species of Diplurid Spider (Araneae: Mygalomorphae: Dipluridae) from northeast India

Orientothele alyratus  
Mirza, Sanap & Kunte, 2016

A new diplurid genus and species is described from northeast India based on a single female specimen from Jampui hills. Orientothele gen. nov. is placed in the subfamily Diplurinae based on the presence of one row of teeth on the chelicerae. The new genus and species can be diagnosed from most diplurid genera in lacking lyra on the prolateral face of maxilla, paired claw with one row of teeth, maxilla with numerous cuspules, scopulae absent on all legs, and spermathecae consisting of two elongate stalks with bulbous receptacles at their tips which are bent inwards. Ischnothele indicola Tikader, 1969 is here treated as incertae sedis with regards to its generic placement in light of the discovery of Orientothele gen. nov.

Keywords: mygalomorphae; new genus; northeast India; Orientothele gen. nov.; Orientothele alyratus sp. nov.

Taxonomic accounts

Family Dipluridae Simon, 1889
Subfamily Diplurinae Simon, 1889
Orientothele gen. nov.

Type species: Orientothele alyratus gen. et. sp. nov.

Diagnosis. Orientothele gen. nov. is here placed in the subfamily Diplurinae based on the presence of one row of teeth on the chelicerae. The new genus and species can be diagnosed from most diplurid genera in lacking lyra on the prolateral face of the maxilla, paired claw with one row of teeth, maxilla with numerous cuspules, scopulae absent on all legs, and spermathecae consists of two elongate stalks with bulbous receptacles at their tips which are bent inwards. Male unknown.

Description. A medium sized spider in relation to members of this family reaching a total length of 17.2 mm excluding chelicerae length. All legs bearing three claws, superior tarsal claws with a single row of sigmoid dentition and inferior tarsal claw with three dentitions. Scopulae absent. Two pairs of spinnerets and the posterior lateral spinneret long and widely spaced. Apical segment of posterior lateral spinnerets entire, no pseudosegmentation seen. Metatarsi of all legs with distal preening combs. Chelicerae with 13 promarginal teeth in a row of teeth and with 28 basosomal teeth. Maxillary and labial cuspules present. Labio-sternal collar well developed. Sternum cordate and the posterior edge nearly separating coxa IV. Carapace smooth, glabrous, with soft golden setae. Caput low. Fovea transverse, short. Spermathecae consists of two elongate stalks with bulbous receptacles at their tips which are bent inwards. Spigots on posterior lateral spinnerets fused and flagelliform. Base of spigot smooth with undulating grooved surface. Filiform trichobothria 13–20 present in a row on tarsi of all legs and palp. Spines present on all legs including tarsi of all legs.

Distribution. Presently known from borders of Tripura and Mizoram in northeast India

Comparisons. The new genus cannot be placed in the known subfamilies following diagnosis provided by Raven (1985). However, with an amended diagnosis by Drolshagen and Bäckstam (2009) the new genus may be placed in the subfamily Diplurinae in bearing the synapomorphy of a single row of teeth on chelicerae. Within Diplurinae the Orientothele gen. nov. differs from Metriura in bearing a single row of teeth on superior tarsal claws (vs. 2 in Metriura), from Diplura, Trechona, and Harmonicon in lacking prolateral maxillary lyra (vs. absent in Diplura, Trechona, and Harmonicon).

Etymology. The proposed generic name is a compound work formed by the word ‘Oriento’ = Oriental referring to the location of the type locality and the later word is a term assigned to members of the family Dipluridae. The sex of the proposed name is masculine.

Orientothele alyratus sp. nov.

Type. Holotype:♀, NCBS AR142 collected from Belianchip, Jampui Hills in North Tripura district, Tripura, India (23.968854°, 92.277980°; elevation 644 m). Collected by Rajesh Sanap and Zeeshan Mirza on November 30, 2014.

Diagnosis. As for the genus

Description of holotype female NCBS AR142 ( Figure 1). Holotype in general good condition with an exposed ventral cavity from a dissection to retrieve spermathecae. The abdomen is laterally compressed likely an artifact of preservation. The posterior lateral spinnerets lack the apical segment which has been removed for scanning electron imaging.

Etymology. The specific epithet is a Latinized compound word for “alyrate” with a Latin suffix ‘us’ referring to the absence of lyra on the prolateral face of maxilla.

Zeeshan A. Mirza, Rajesh V. Sanap and Krushnamegh Kunte. 2016. A New Genus and New Species of Diplurid Spider (Araneae: Mygalomorphae: Dipluridae) from northeast India. Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity.  DOI:  10.1016/j.japb.2016.03.013

Saturday, April 30, 2016

[Ornithology • 2016] Reproductive Biology of the Sapayoa Sapayoa aenigma, the “Old World suboscine” of the New World

A Sapayoa Sapayoa aenigma emerges from its nest in the Panamanian rainforest.  

photos: J.M. Hite
  DOI: 10.1642/AUK-16-5.1 

The Sapayoa (Sapayoa aenigma), a low-density resident of Chocó rainforests from Panama to Ecuador, has long perplexed ornithologists. It was originally described as a manakin (Pipridae), but molecular work has revealed its closest living relatives to be Old World suboscines (Eurylaimides) and supported its placement in the monotypic family of Sapayoidae. Despite such phylogenetic intrigue, little is known about the Sapayoa's general life history or reproductive biology; only one nest has been described. We present information on 2 actively attended and 13 inactive Sapayoa nests in Darién National Park, Panama. We provide the first detailed description of individual effort at an active nest, family group dynamics during the nesting period, the plumage of immature birds, and the range of vocalizations produced. We also present the first documentation of cooperative breeding and compile several recent nesting observations, extending the published Sapayoa breeding period by several months. Furthermore, we describe unusual behaviors among provisioning birds, including mounting between individuals of the same sex and mounting of a female by immature male helpers during chick provisioning. The receiving individual gave a conspicuous solicitation display before each mounting. Finally, we highlight elements of the Sapayoa's natural history that echo its Old World relatives and contrast with members of the New World Tyranni. For example, the Sapayoa resembles the eurylaimid broadbills—and differs starkly from the manakins—in diet, nest structure, breeding system, and mode of parental care.

Keywords: cooperative breeding, helpers, mounting, Old World suboscines, Sapayoa aenigma, Sapayoidae

Sapayoa aenigma, Nusagandi, Panama 
photo: Jan Axel 

Sarah A. Dzielski, Benjamin M. Van Doren, Jack P. Hruska, and Justin M. Hite. 2016. Reproductive Biology of the Sapayoa (Sapayoa aenigma), the “Old World suboscine” of the New World [Biología reproductiva de Sapayoa aenigma, el “suboscín del Viejo Mundo” que habita el Nuevo Mundo]. The Auk. 133(3); 347-363. DOI: 10.1642/AUK-16-5.1

Field Study Helps Confirm The Sapayoa Is Like No Other Bird In The New World
An Old World bird in a New World rainforest via @physorg_com

The Sapayoa, a rainforest bird from Central and South America, is an evolutionary enigma—genetic analysis shows that its closest relatives are bird species living across the ocean in Asia and Africa. Now, new research in The Auk: Ornithological Advances demonstrates for the first time that its natural history links it to its evolutionary relatives thousands of miles away.

How the Sapayoa ended up so far from other members of its lineage remains a mystery, and little is known about its reproductive biology or social behavior. However, new field work in Panama by Sarah Dzielski and Benjamin Van Doren of Cornell University and their colleagues reveals that Sapayoas consistently build nests that hang over the water along ravine-bottom streams. One of the active nests they observed was attended by a family group comprised of an adult male and female and two immature males, all four of which brought food to the two chicks. The researchers were surprised by the social behavior they observed, which included mounting between individuals of the same sex, possibly to establish dominance and maintain social cohesion.
These are the first extended observations of Sapayoa breeding behavior, and they provide hints at how this unusual bird is connected with its roots. Many of the Sapayoa's Old World relatives are cooperative breeders, getting help from family groups, and the pear-shaped hanging nest also is consistent with Old World "suboscines," the group of birds to which Sapayoas belong.
Dzielski, Van Doren, and their colleagues Jack Hruska and Justin Hite searched for Sapayoa nests as part of an expedition to Panama's Darién National Park in summer 2014, observing the family group at their focal nest for more than 70 hours over ten days. "Nest searching was always an adventure," says Dzielski. "We found countless abandoned nests, and while checking inside for eggs or evidence that the nest was active, we found all sorts of surprises. In a few instances, a large grasshopper the size of a mouse hopped out from under the flap and scared the daylights out of us!"
"The Sapayoa is so different from other passerine birds that it is currently placed in its own family, Sapayoidae, but relatively little is known about its natural history," adds Van Doren. "This gap in scientific knowledge was the reason we traveled to eastern Panama to learn about this enigmatic species. We hoped that more information about the Sapayoa's natural history would cast its surprising evolutionary relationships in a new and clearer light."
"The Sapayoa has long been a mystery bird. When my colleagues and I identified it as the only Old World suboscine in the New World in 2003, it only became more mysterious," says Jon Fjeldså of the University of Copenhagen, who led the research team that first identified the Sapayoa's unusual origins. "How did it arrive in South America? Why does it resemble a manakin? And does it still behave like an Old World suboscine? I am excited to learn that it indeed does!"

Sapayoa aenigma, un ave residente en bajas densidades en los bosques húmedos del Chocó desde Panamá hasta Ecuador, ha confundido a los ornitólogos por bastante tiempo. Aunque la especie originalmente fue descrita como un saltarín (Pipridae), estudios moleculares recientes revelaron que sus parientes más cercanos son los suboscinos del viejo mundo (Eurylaimides) y sustentan su ubicación en la familia monotípica Sapayoidae. A pesar de esta intriga filogenética se sabe muy poco sobre la historia de vida o la biología reproductiva de Sapayoa; sólo se ha descrito un nido. En este trabajo presentamos información de 2 nidos activos y 13 nidos inactivos de Sapayoa encontrados en el Parque Nacional Darién, Panamá. Presentamos la primera descripción detallada del esfuerzo individual en un nido activo, la dinámica del grupo familiar durante el periodo de anidación, el plumaje de las aves inmaduras y el repertorio de vocalizaciones. También presentamos la primera evidencia de cría cooperativa y recopilamos varias observaciones recientes de anidación que extienden el periodo reproductivo conocido de Sapayoa en varios meses. Además describimos comportamientos inusuales entre las aves que proveen alimento a sus crías, incluyendo la monta entre individuos del mismo sexo y entre un individuo joven y una hembra adulta durante la alimentación de los polluelos. El individuo que recibía la monta ejecutaba antes un despliegue para solicitarla. Finalmente, resaltamos elementos de la historia natural de Sapayoa que se asemejan a las de sus parientes del Viejo Mundo y contrastan con las de miembros de Tyranni en el Nuevo Mundo. Por ejemplo, Sapayoa se asemeja a los Eurylaimidae (y difiere drásticamente de los Pipridae) en dieta, estructura de los nidos, sistema reproductivo y modo de cuidado parental.

Palabras clave: ayudantes del nido, cría cooperativa, monta, Sapayoa aenigma, Sapayoidae, suboscines del viejo mundo

[Paleontology • 2016] Sarmientosaurus musacchioi • A Basal Lithostrotian Titanosaur (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) with a Complete Skull: Implications for the Evolution and Paleobiology of Titanosauria

Sarmientosaurus musacchioi
Martínez, Lamanna, Novas, Ridgely, Casal, Martínez, Vita & Witmer, 2016
 Life reconstruction of two individuals of the new titanosaurian dinosaur species Sarmientosaurus musacchioi in their ~95 million-year-old habitat in southern Chubut Province, central Patagonia, Argentina, with a digital rendering of the skull in the same position as the head of the foreground individual.

life reconstruction & skull by Mark A. Klingler, Carnegie Museum of Natural History and WitmerLab, Ohio University   DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151661


We describe Sarmientosaurus musacchioi gen. et sp. nov., a titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian—Turonian) Lower Member of the Bajo Barreal Formation of southern Chubut Province in central Patagonia, Argentina. The holotypic and only known specimen consists of an articulated, virtually complete skull and part of the cranial and middle cervical series. Sarmientosaurus exhibits the following distinctive features that we interpret as autapomorphies: (1) maximum diameter of orbit nearly 40% rostrocaudal length of cranium; (2) complex maxilla—lacrimal articulation, in which the lacrimal clasps the ascending ramus of the maxilla; (3) medial edge of caudal sector of maxillary ascending ramus bordering bony nasal aperture with low but distinct ridge; (4) ‘tongue-like’ ventral process of quadratojugal that overlaps quadrate caudally; (5) separate foramina for all three branches of the trigeminal nerve; (6) absence of median venous canal connecting infundibular region to ventral part of brainstem; (7) subvertical premaxillary, procumbent maxillary, and recumbent dentary teeth; (8) cervical vertebrae with ‘strut-like’ centroprezygapophyseal laminae; (9) extremely elongate and slender ossified tendon positioned ventrolateral to cervical vertebrae and ribs. The cranial endocast of Sarmientosaurus preserves some of the most complete information obtained to date regarding the brain and sensory systems of sauropods. Phylogenetic analysis recovers the new taxon as a basal member of Lithostrotia, as the most plesiomorphic titanosaurian to be preserved with a complete skull. Sarmientosaurus provides a wealth of new cranial evidence that reaffirms the close relationship of titanosaurs to Brachiosauridae. Moreover, the presence of the relatively derived lithostrotian Tapuiasaurus in Aptian deposits indicates that the new Patagonian genus represents a ‘ghost lineage’ with a comparatively plesiomorphic craniodental form, the evolutionary history of which is missing for at least 13 million years of the Cretaceous. The skull anatomy of Sarmientosaurus suggests that multiple titanosaurian species with dissimilar cranial structures coexisted in the early Late Cretaceous of southern South America. Furthermore, the new taxon possesses a number of distinctive morphologies—such as the ossified cervical tendon, extremely pneumatized cervical vertebrae, and a habitually downward-facing snout—that have rarely, if ever, been documented in other titanosaurs, thus broadening our understanding of the anatomical diversity of this remarkable sauropod clade. The latter two features were convergently acquired by at least one penecontemporaneous diplodocoid, and may represent mutual specializations for consuming low-growing vegetation.

Systematic Paleontology

Saurischia Seeley 1887 
Sauropodomorpha Huene 1932 

Sauropoda Marsh 1878 
Titanosauriformes Salgado, Coria, and Calvo 1997 

Titanosauria Bonaparte and Coria 1993 
Lithostrotia Upchurch, Barrett, and Dodson 2004 

Sarmientosaurus gen. nov.

Sarmientosaurus musacchioi sp. nov.

Sarmientosaurus head posture, brain & eye: Digital renderings of the skull and reconstructed brain endocast and eye of the new titanosaurian dinosaur species Sarmientosaurus musacchioi.
At left is the skull rendered semi-transparent in left side view, showing the relative size and position of the brain endocast (in blue, pink, yellow, and red) and the inferred habitual head posture. At center is the isolated brain endocast in left side view, and at right is a left/front view of the skull showing the reconstructed eyeball and its associated musculature. Scale bar equals five centimeters.
Credit: WitmerLab, Ohio University.  

Holotype. MDT-PV 2, an originally articulated cranial and cervical skeleton consisting of the nearly complete skull, the partial axis associated with its rib from the right side and articulated with the cranial part of the third cervical vertebra, a fragment of the fifth cervical vertebra, the nearly complete sixth cervical vertebra and its right rib, the partial seventh cervical vertebra, and a section of ossified cervical tendon.

Diagnosis.  Basal lithostrotian titanosaurian sauropod diagnosed by the following autapomorphies: (1) maximum (rostroventral—caudodorsal) diameter of orbit nearly 40% rostrocaudal length of cranium (as measured from tip of snout to occipital condyle); (2) complex maxilla—lacrimal articulation, with ascending ramus of maxilla embedded in and bordered laterally and medially by lacrimal dorsal process; (3) medial edge of caudal sector of maxillary ascending ramus bordering bony nasal aperture with low but well-defined ridge; (4) ‘tongue-like’ ventral process of quadratojugal that overlaps quadrate caudally; (5) separate foramina for all three branches of the trigeminal nerve; (6) absence of median venous canal connecting infundibular region to ventral part of brainstem; (7) premaxillary teeth subvertical, maxillary teeth procumbent, and dentary teeth recumbent; (8) middle cervical vertebrae with ‘strut-like’ (as opposed to ‘sheet-like’) centroprezygapophyseal laminae; (9) extremely elongate and slender ossified tendon extending along cervical series ventrolateral to vertebrae and ribs.

Etymology. Sarmiento, for the Patagonian town and the administrative department in which it is located, the latter of which has yielded numerous Cretaceous dinosaur fossils; saurus, Greek, ‘lizard.’ The specific name honors the late Dr. Eduardo Musacchio, a model scientist and educator at the Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco in Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina.

Locality and horizon. Estancia Laguna Palacios (44°54'11.6'' S, 69°22'56.7'' W), Sierra Nevada Anticline, Golfo San Jorge Basin, south-central Chubut Province, central Patagonia, Argentina (Fig 1). Uppermost section of the Lower Member of the Upper Cretaceous Bajo Barreal Formation, Chubut Group. The specimen was found in situ in a tuffaceous sandstone that is regarded as Cenomanian—Turonian in age.

Fig 33. Comparison of titanosauriform sauropod dinosaur skulls in right lateral view.
(A) Giraffatitan brancai (redrawn and modified from Wilson and Sereno [103]). (B) Abydosaurus mcintoshi (redrawn and modified from Chure et al. [98]). (C) Sarmientosaurus musacchioi gen. et sp. nov. (D) Nemegtosaurus mongoliensis (redrawn and modified from Wilson [11]). (E) Rapetosaurus krausei (redrawn from Curry Rogers and Forster [13]). (F) Tapuiasaurus macedoi (redrawn from Zaher et al. [14]). Not to scale.

Sarmientosaurus musacchioi is the first titanosaurian sauropod from southern South America for which an articulated, virtually complete adult skull has been discovered. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that the new taxon is an archaic member of the titanosaurian subclade Lithostrotia, occupying a position more derived than Malawisaurus but more basal than taxa frequently regarded as nemegtosaurids (Nemegtosaurus, Rapetosaurus, and Tapuiasaurus) and saltasaurid titanosaurs such as Alamosaurus, Neuquensaurus, and Saltasaurus. As such, Sarmientosaurus is the most basal known titanosaur to be represented by a well-preserved skull. The new taxon exhibits a previously-undocumented cranial form that consists of an amalgam of plesiomorphic titanosauriform features such as a comparatively broad snout with a large narial fossa and a deep mandibular adductor chamber with more derived morphologies such as an elongate rostral process of the prefrontal (Figs 33 and 34). These characters offer novel cranial support for the phylogenetic hypothesis that titanosaurians are closely related to Brachiosauridae and other titanosauriforms—a hypothesis that, although now well-established, had previously been based primarily on evidence from the postcranial skeleton. Furthermore, the occurrence of the more derived lithostrotian Tapuiasaurus in the Aptian of Brazil raises the possibility that the new Patagonian taxon represents a titanosaurian ‘ghost lineage,’ the evolutionary history of which remains undocumented for almost all of the mid-Cretaceous.

Rubén D. F. Martínez , Matthew C. Lamanna, Fernando E. Novas, Ryan C. Ridgely, Gabriel A. Casal, Javier E. Martínez, Javier R. Vita and Lawrence M. Witmer. 2016. A Basal Lithostrotian Titanosaur (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) with a Complete Skull: Implications for the Evolution and Paleobiology of Titanosauria.  PLoS ONE. 11(4): e0151661. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151661

Newly discovered titanosaurian dinosaur from Argentina, Sarmientosaurus via @physorg_com
Intact skull sheds light on Sarmientosaurus | The London Free Press

[Primatology • 2016] Phylogeny and Divergence Times of Lemurs inferred with Recent and Ancient Fossils in the Tree


Paleontological and neontological systematics seek to answer evolutionary questions with different datasets. Phylogenies inferred for combined extant and extinct taxa provide novel insights into the evolutionary history of life. Primates have an extensive, diverse fossil record and molecular data for living and extinct taxa are rapidly becoming available. We used two models to infer the phylogeny and divergence times for living and fossil primates, the tip-dating (TD) and fossilized birth-death process (FBD). We collected new morphological data, especially on the living and extinct endemic lemurs of Madagascar. We combined the morphological data with published DNA sequences to infer near-complete (88% of lemurs) time-calibrated phylogenies. The results suggest that primates originated around the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, slightly earlier than indicated by the fossil record and later than previously inferred from molecular data alone. We infer novel relationships among extinct lemurs, and strong support for relationships that were previously unresolved. Dates inferred with TD were significantly older than those inferred with FBD, most likely related to an assumption of a uniform branching process in the TD compared to a birth-death process assumed in the FBD. This is the first study to combine morphological and DNA sequence data from extinct and extant primates to infer evolutionary relationships and divergence times, and our results shed new light on the tempo of lemur evolution and the efficacy of combined phylogenetic analyses.

Key words: total evidence; primatology; Bayesian phylogenetics; calibration; chronogram

James P. Herrera and Liliana M. Dávalos. 2016. Phylogeny and Divergence Times of Lemurs inferred with Recent and Ancient Fossils in the Tree. Syst Biol. (2016). DOI:  10.1093/sysbio/syw035
An exhaustive lemur family tree sheds new light on these threatened primates via @HuffPostScience

[Botany • 2014] สายน้ำค้าง | The Genus Rhynchoglossum Blume (Gesneriaceae) in Thailand

สายน้ำหยด | Rhynchoglossum mirabilis Patthar. 


The genus Rhynchoglossum Blume in Thailand is revised. Three species are recognised, R. obliquum Blume, R. mirabilis Patthar. and R. saccatum Patthar., the latter two newly described here and endemic to Thailand. A key to the species and illustrations are provided.

Keywords: Taxonomy; Rhynchoglossum; new species; Thailand

Nannapat Pattharahirantricin. 2014. The Genus Rhynchoglossum Blume (Gesneriaceae) in Thailand.
Thai Forest Bulletin (Botany). 42: 24–34.