|April 10th, 2014||#201|
New Species: Pink-and-Yellow Frog With Spikes
Posted by Carrie Arnold in Weird & Wild on April 3, 2014
High in the remote mountains of Vietnam, scientists have found a “striking” new species of pink-and-yellow frog covered with sharp spikes.
Jodi Rowley, an expert on Southeast Asian amphibians, had never seen a frog with such spiny skin, and neither had her colleagues.
That’s because thorny tree frogs (Gracixalus lumarius), as they’re named in a new study published April 2 in the journal Zootaxa, are found only on Mount Ngoc Linh and surrounding peaks above 5,900 feet (1,800 meters). (Also see “‘Strange’ New Frog Found in Swimming Pool.”)
“Almost every tree hole we looked in had these frogs. They seem to be only from the tops of mountains in this one area in Vietnam, and this region is known to be home to a bunch of species that are found nowhere else,” said Rowley, a biologist at the Australian Museum Research Institute in Sydney. Although her and her colleagues didn’t spot that many tree holes, nearly every one they did find had a frog.
Rowley and colleagues regularly explore Vietnam’s mountains, home to the world’s most diverse group of amphibians. In 2013, the team revealed a new flying frog with flappy forearms, which lives not far from Ho Chi Minh City.
The high peaks of central Vietnam might not seem the most logical place to go hunting for amphibians—the terrain is steep and rocky, and has almost no standing water in which the frogs can live. But Vietnam’s mountain frogs, Rowley and her team found, make do by hanging out in small tree hollows filled with water. (See National Geographic’s Vietnam photos.)
It was on one such tree that Rowley spotted the roughly two-inch-long (five-centimeter-long) thorny tree frog.
The animal’s most distinctive feature is a layer of spikes, which cover the backs and heads of male frogs. “They feel just like sandpaper,” said Rowley, who has received funding from the National Geographic Committee on Research and Exploration. The spikes are made of keratin, the same protein that makes up your fingernails and rhinoceros horns.
Although little is known about the frog’s ecology and natural history, Rowley believes that the spikes—which get bigger during mating season—help females identify males.
Frog’s Uncertain Future
But this impressive armor won’t help the frog endure the many threats to its future.
Southeast Asia has the highest deforestation rate on the planet, and because the frog’s habitat is limited to just a few mountains, it’s particularly vulnerable to habitat loss and climate change, which will likely alter mountaintop climates drastically, Rowley said on her blog. (See “7 Species Hit Hard by Climate Change—Including One That’s Already Extinct.”)
“Now that we know the species exists,” she said, “we hope to ensure its continued survival.”
|April 10th, 2014||#202|
A new species of horseshoe worm discovered in Japan after a 62-year gap
IMAGE: This is Phoronis emigi, preserved in formalin.
The horseshoe worm is a worm-like marine invertebrate inhabiting both hard and soft substrates such as rock, bivalve shells, and sandy bottom. The name "horseshoe" refers to the U-shaped crown of tentacles which is called "lophophore." Horseshoe worms comprise a small phylum Phoronida, which contains only ten species decorating the bottom of the oceans.
The new species Phoronis emigi, the eleventh member of the group described in the open access journal ZooKeys, comes after a long 62 year gap of new discoveries in the phylum. It is unique in the number and arrangement of body-wall muscle bundles and the position of the nephridia which is the excretory organ of some invertebrates. The new species is morphologically similar to sand-dwelling species Phoronis psammophila and it is also closely related to Phoronis hippocrepia, which inhabits hard substrate.
The morphology of the topotypes for Phoronis ijimai is also described in this study after 117 years since its original description. The combination of a detailed observation of the internal morphologies and the molecular phylogenetic analyses including the topotypes ensure a synonymy between P. ijimai and the northeastern pacific species Phoronis vancouverensis that has long been disputed.
"It is necessary to use both internal anatomy and molecular data for reveal the global diversity of horseshoe worm. The known phoronid diversity still remains low, with all specimens reported from limited habitats and the localities by the limited reports. Investigations at new localities or habitats may yield add
|April 10th, 2014||#203|
“Strange” New Frog Found in Swimming Pool
Posted by Carrie Arnold in Weird & Wild on March 26, 2014
A few weeks ago, a boy in eastern Colombia found more than just fun in his swimming pool—he discovered a new species of frog.
The 1.5-inch-long (4-centimeter-long) frog “is rather strange-looking—it’s quite fat with short legs and bright orange spots on its sides,” said Luis German Naranjo, WWF Colombia‘s conservation director.
Naranjo and a team of scientists were surveying wildlife in eastern Colombia’s Orinoco savanna, including animals found on a small farm.
Expecting to find little more than livestock, the team was surprised when the farmer’s seven-year-old son, whose name was given only as Camilito, called the group over to a pool. There, in the water, was the small spotted frog. (Also see “World’s Smallest Frog Found—Fly-Size Beast Is Tiniest Vertebrate.”)
The team’s herpetologist, Daniel Cuentas, had never seen anything like it, and immediately set out looking for other examples.
Nearby, where the savanna met a small forested riverbank, Cuentas found two more of these frogs. He quickly identified them as burrowing frogs in the Microhylidae family.
Frogs in this little-understood group bury themselves in the ground to survive the dry season. When it rains, the frogs like to hide out in local termite mounds, some of their favorite sources of food.
Naranjo explained that the species still needs to be formally named and described in the research literature before scientists can say for certain that it is a new species. But the herpetologists who saw the amphibian strongly believe that it is. (More Colombia discoveries: “Pictures: ‘Mr. Burns’ Toad, More New Amphibians Found.”)
Frog’s Future Uncertain
Another question is what will happen to the frog as its habitat is converted to agriculture.
The Orinoco savanna, a large area of tropical grasslands that connects the humid Amazon with the drier Andes Mountains, has long been written off by many as a wasteland, according to Naranjo.
But an upsurge in agricultural development and infrastructure in neighboring Brazil has recently made the region more attractive for palm oil plantations.
Before planting started, however, Naranjo and team decided to conduct an extensive survey of the little-studied region to pinpoint biodiversity hot spots. (Read more about palm oil agriculture.)
“We wanted to identify areas that are suitable for cultivation, but won’t have negative impacts on the region’s biodiversity,” Naranjo said.
As for the frog, “we want to use this discovery,” he said, “to help protect areas of high biodiversity that might otherwise be lost.”
|April 10th, 2014||#204|
New stingray species found in Indonesian waters
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Archipelago | Fri, April 04 2014, 9:01 AM
The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) announced on Thursday it had discovered a new species of stingray — the fine-spotted whipray (Himantura tutul) — in four different areas in the Western Indo-Pacific.
Irma Shita Arlyza, a stingray molecular researcher from the LIPI oceanography research center, said she had collected samples from the Java Sea; the Sunda Strait; the waters off Singaraja, North Bali; and waters off the coast of South Java between 2006 and 2008 to analyze the species’ DNA.
Irma and other researchers decided to declare it a new species in 2012 due to the differences found with existing species in the region — the leopard whipray and the reticulate whipray.
“The identification of this new species is important as we can use the information for conservation efforts,” Irma told reporters on Thursday.
The fine-spotted whipray, named after the spots on its back, can grow as wide as one-and-a-half meters and only reproduces between the ages of 5 and 10 years, resulting in very few pups.
During her research, Irma said she discovered an estimated 29 fine-spotted whiprays in Indonesian waters. Due to this, LIPI has categorized fine-spotted whiprays as “vulnerable”.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), vulnerable species are likely to become endangered unless circumstances threatening their survival and reproduction improve.
This may include setting a quota on how many fine-spotted whiprays are allowed to be caught as well as creating a regulation that prohibits the fishing of the species.
So far, some species of stingray, such as the reef manta ray and the oceanic manta ray, are protected by law. Indonesia is the world’s largest protected area for manta rays.
On Jan. 28, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry passed ministerial decree No. 4/2014 on manta ray protection. LIPI oceanography research center head Zainal Arifin said LIPI had yet to approach the ministry about the discovery.
“Today is the first time we’ve announced our findings, so we haven’t had the chance to meet with the ministry’s officials to discuss how we can protect this species,” Zainal said.
He added that the identification was only the first step as more research should be carried out to find out about the breeding habits and migration patterns.
Separately, the ministry’s data, statistics and information center head, Anang Nugroho, agreed accumulating as much information as possible was crucial in deciding whether they would pass a ministerial decree or not.
According to Anang, the ministry should consider three important factors before deciding on a policy, namely the population, the relevance to the ecosystem and the influence of human activity on the species.
“We need to consider whether these [fine-spotted whiprays] are considered protected species by the international community before we set any policies. It may take some time, but we need scientific proof [to support our future policies],” Anang said.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, a quarter of the world’s sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, with ray species found to be at a higher risk than sharks. (fss)
|April 22nd, 2014||#205|
Stunning New Orchid Species Discovered
LiveScience.com By Agata Blaszczak Boxe
April 21, 2014
Stunning New Orchid Species Discovered .
A gorgeous species of orchid in Panama has a new name — it was named after the family of the researcher who discovered the flower.
The orchid, which belongs to the Lophiaris genus, was named Lophiaris silverarum after Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father, who discovered the plant about eight years ago while they were hiking in a mountainous area of central Panama.
"I have always liked orchids, since I was a kid," said Silvera, who grew up surrounded by orchids because her parents own a commercial orchid business in Panama. "That got me into studying biology," Silvera said.
She and her father had gone out looking for potential new plant species. When they found the orchid, they contacted orchid expert German Carnevali.
"After looking at the plant for a while, he informed us that it was a new species, and that it was very rare," Silvera told Live Science.
However, the new species was not actually named until recently, as describing a new plant species tends to be a long process. Researchers usually have to study the plant's structures and examine its biochemistry to determine whether it is indeed a species that has not been described before, Silvera said.
Researchers estimate that about 30,000 known orchid species exist worldwide, and there are likely many others that have not been discovered. In Panama, there are about 1,100 known orchid species, whereas the United States hosts about 200 described species.
"Discovering a new [orchid] species is a rare thing," Silvera said, partially because the plants tend to grow in areas that are difficult to access. Human development of land also interferes with such discoveries.
"The diversity of orchids is best seen in the tropics, where, unfortunately, habitat is being destroyed very fast," Silvera said in a statement. "As a result, we are rapidly losing the diversity of orchid species."
The study describing Lophiaris silverarum was published March 13 in the journal Phytotaxa.
|April 23rd, 2014||#206|
Scientists Discover New Electric Knifefish Genus And Species In Brazil’s Rio Negro
April 22, 2014
This image shows Procerusternarchus pixuna, the new species collected in shallow tributaries of the upper Negro river, a tributary of in Amazon River in Brazil.
Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA), Brazil, this week report that they have discovered a new genus and species of electric knifefish in several tributaries of the Negro River in the Amazonia State of Brazil.
Professor Cristina Cox Fernandes at UMass Amherst, with Adília Nogueira and José Antônio Alves-Gomes of INPA, describe the new bluntnose knifefish in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.
Their paper offers details about the new genus and species’ anatomy, range, relationship to other fish, salient features of its skeleton, coloration, electric organs and patterns of electric organ discharge (EOD). True to their name, these fish produce electric discharges in distinct pulses that can be detected by some other fish.
Cox-Fernandes says the discovery of this species is leading to a new interpretation of classifications and interrelationships among closely related groups. She adds that as the diversity of electric fishes becomes more thoroughly documented, researchers will be able to explore possible causes of this group’s adaptive radiation over evolutionary time.
Last year, with colleagues including ichthyologist John Lundberg at the Academy of Science in Philadelphia and others at Cornell University and INPA, the UMass Amherst fish biologist co-authored a description of three other electric fishes. The authors provided details about the most abundant species of apteronotid, so-called “ghost knife fishes,” another family of electric fish very common in the Amazon River and its large tributaries.
In the early 1990s, Cox-Fernandes recalls, when she began her studies of the communities and diversity of electric fishes, fewer than 100 species were then scientifically described. But with the current journal article and studies by herself and others, the number has roughly doubled today. Electric fishes are of little commercial importance, but in her opinion fishes of the Neotropics, especially in the Amazon, are still “under studied,” and more taxonomic studies such as the one are needed.
She adds, “As environmental changes affect rivers worldwide and in the Amazon region, freshwater fauna are under many different pressures. Fish populations are dwindling due to the pollution, climate change, the construction of hydroelectric plants and other factors that result in habitat loss and modification. As such the need to document the current fish fauna has become all the more pressing.”
Read more at http://www.redorbit.com/news/science...gSAKdYrRQE1.99
|April 23rd, 2014||#207|
New Species Related to ‘Penis Snake’ Discovered in Burma
By SAMANTHA MICHAELS / THE IRRAWADDY| Wednesday, April 23, 2014
RANGOON — A new species of a strange order of limbless amphibian has been discovered in Burma, according to a report in a scientific journal for animal taxonomists.
The Ichthyophis multicolor, or the “colorful ich,” was discovered in Burma’s Irrawaddy Division, according to a report published in Zootaxa journal this month. It is a new species of caecilian amphibians, an order of amphibians which superficially resemble earthworms or snakes, and scientists say it stands out because of its distinct coloring.
Caecilians are among the least studied amphibians in the world because they typically burrow in the soil underground. They live in tropical climates, with about 200 species recognized by scientists. The largest and most famous of these species, known as the “penis snake” (Atretochoana eiselti), was discovered in Brazil near the mouth of the Amazon.
Burma’s colorful ich belongs to the a family of caecilians known as Ichthyophis, which are found in Sri Lanka and India through mainland China, as well as Sundaland and islands including the Philippines that are west of the Wallace Line, an imaginary boundary line that runs through Indonesia and separates animal species of Asian and Australian descent.
“Although multiple species and specimens of Ichthyophis have been documented from Thailand and from Northeast India, including some recently described species, there are only a few old literature records of any caecilians from [Burma], and the caecilian fauna of that country must be considered essentially unexplored and unknown,” a team of scientists from the United Kingdom, United States and New Zealand wrote in the report.
The scientists described 14 specimens of striped caecilians that were obtained in 2000 from a single location in Irrawaddy Division by the California Academy of Sciences. The specimens were collected on the surface of sandy, hard packed soil following a period of heavy rain.
“The species is unusual among Ichthyophis in having a dark ventrolateral stripe … bordering a much paler ventral coloration, a feature found elsewhere only in I. tricolor from peninsular India. Numerous other features distinguish the [Burma] population from I. tricolor, indicating the former to be a new species,” the scientists wrote.
The specimens from Burma were described as having more vertebrae than the similarly colored I. tricolor of India, and their tentacular apertures were nearly or more than twice as far from their nostrils than from their eyes.
Other striped caecilians have been reported in Burma in the past. However, these were described as I. glutinosus, a species which scientists now believe to be restricted to Sri Lanka.
“Thus the historical reports of caecilians from [Burma] may well be of as yet undescribed species,” the scientists wrote.
The report was co-authored by Mark Wilkinson from the zoology department of the Natural History Museum in London, along with scientists from Harvard University and the University of Michigan in the United States as well as the University of Otago in New Zealand.
They said that like most caecilian species, very little is known about the colorful ich’s geographic range or environmental requirements. “That specimens were found in areas of human disturbances gives some hope that they are not immediately threatened, but this depends foremost on a reasonable range size,” they wrote, recommending further fieldwork and systematic research to develop a more accurate inventory of the caecilian fauna in the country.
According to the Natural History Museum in London, caecilians are known for certain bizarre properties, such as a sensitive tentacle that likely evolved from unused components of the eye, as well as scales that form underneath the skin.
“When there’s not a lot known about the group, sometimes people make the mistake of thinking there’s not a lot to know about them,” Wilkinson was quoted as saying on the museum’s website.
“They have a lot of strange features, and because they are a poorly known group the adaptive significance of those features is not well understood.”
|April 23rd, 2014||#208|
Extinct species of assassin fly found in amber
By Megan GannonPublished April 22, 2014
An extinct species of assassin fly that lived during the age of the dinosaurs has been discovered inside a translucent tomb of amber.
A male and a female of the newfound species, now called Burmapogon bruckschi, were preserved in pieces of Burmese amber from Myanmar's Hukawng Valley. The specimens measure less than an inch in length and are about 100 million years old, researchers say.
B. bruckschi joins more than 7,500 species of assassin flies that are alive today. The insects get their name from their precise and gruesome way of killing: After a mid-flight ambush, assassin flies stab their prey's exoskeleton and inject digestive juices so that they can suck out the liquefied insides like a milkshake, leaving an empty hull behind.
But apparently, these two tiny predators weren't immune to oozing droplets of resin. Insects can become trapped in amber when they are engulfed in resin flowing from trees. Hardened amber droplets can thus provide rare snapshots of prehistoric life and some of them are surprisingly rich scenes, like a spider attacking a wasp caught in its web.
Previously, the history of assassin flies had been recorded only in limestone fossils. The amber-encased B. bruckschi specimens provide a rare 3D view of the ancient creatures' bodies.
"The transparency of these amber fossils gives researchers a new window into the ecology of the Cretaceous Period, and sheds light on the evolutionary history of a family of flies that has withstood the test of time for millions of years," Torsten Dikow, a scientist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History who discovered the species, said in a statement. "The fossils of these ancient flies are so well preserved that you can almost imagine them flying around in our world today."
Dikow identified a few features that set B. bruckschi apart from its living cousins: flattened antennae, a V-shaped eye structure, spiny hind legs and bristles covering its piercing mouthparts.
The species, along with another type of ancient assassin fly, Cretagaster raritanensis, was described in Monday's edition of the journal American Museum Novitates. This second creature was only recently identified as a new species; it was originally found in a chunk of amber in New Jersey in 1999.
|April 23rd, 2014||#209|
New critter discovered on whale carcass
23 hours ago by Alex Peel
A new species of bug, similar in appearance to the common woodlouse, has been found plastered all over a whale carcass on the floor of the deep Southern Ocean.
Scientists say that Jaera tyleri is the first in its genus to be found in the southern hemisphere, and may be unique to the whale bone habitat.
The bones themselves are a remarkable chance discovery. They were spotted on a live video feed, beamed to scientists aboard the RRS James Cook from a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) on the sea floor.
The UK researchers were searching the depths for hydrothermal vents, or 'black smokers', when they stumbled upon the remains.
'It was a complete surprise,' says Dr Katrin Linse of NERC's British Antarctic Survey, who led the study . 'We were all really thrilled. You could never hope to find a whale fall on purpose - it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.'
'It gave us a rare opportunity to look at the ecology of these unique habitats, and which sorts of species settle on them.'
'After spotting them on the cameras, we used the robotic arm of the ROV to pull a few of the bones up to the ship to examine them more closely.'
'They were absolutely covered in these little critters - there were 500 to 6,000 specimens per square metre.'
Although the isopod looks similar to a woodlouse, it is smaller, measuring up to just 3.7 millimetres in length. Genetic tests confirmed that the species is new to science.
Its close relations can be found throughout shallower waters in the North Sea but, intriguingly, this is the only species of Jaera ever to be found south of the equator.
'We looked on the rocks and on the sea floor surrounding the bones, but we couldn't find them anywhere else,' says Linse. 'It is possible that they are unique to the whale bone habitat.'
'What would be really interesting to find out, is whether this animal has come from the
deep ocean into the shallows, or whether it was the other way round.'
'At the moment it is impossible to say. There could be an awful lot of missing distribution - there is so much of the ocean floor yet to be explored. Maybe somebody else will stumble across a whale fall and that can help us to piece the puzzle together.'
|April 23rd, 2014||#210|
[Annual Ant Control Issue] ‘Nightmare-Looking’ Ants Identified in Central America
The ants, such as Eurhopalothrix zipacna, are named after a vicious, crocodile-like demon of Mayan mythology and have a menacing appearance, according to a University of Utah biologist who identified the 33 new species.
PCT MAGAZINE | April 22, 2014
University of Utah biologist has identified 33 new species of predatory ants in Central America and the Caribbean, and named about a third of the tiny but monstrous-looking insects after ancient Mayan lords and demons.
“These new ant species are the stuff of nightmares” when viewed under a microscope, says entomologist Jack Longino, a professor of biology. “Their faces are broad shields, the eyes reduced to tiny points at the edges and the fierce jaws bristling with sharp teeth.
“They look a little like the monster in ‘Alien.’ They’re horrifying to look at up close. That’s sort of what makes them fun.”
In a study published on July 29 in the journal Zootaxa, Longino identified and named 14 new species of the ant genus Eurhopalothrix and distinguished them from 14 other previously known species. The genus name is Greek and refers to the club-shaped hairs on many Eurhopalothrix (pronounced you-row-pal-oh-thrix) species.
In another upcoming study accepted for publication in the same journal, Longino identified 19 new ant species from the genus Octostruma (pronounced oct-oh-strew-ma) and described differences from 15 other previously known species. The genus name means “eight swellings” for the ants’ eight-segmented antennae.
“The new species were found mostly in small patches of forest that remain in a largely agricultural landscape, highlighting the importance of forest conservation efforts in Central America,” Longino says.
The new ant species are less than one-twelfth to one-twenty-fifth of an inch long – much smaller than a rice grain or common half-inch-long household ants – and live in the rotting wood and dead leaves that litter the forest floors in Central America.
“They are nearly eyeless and crawl around in leaf litter,” using primitive compound eyes to detect light but not form images. No one knows how they find their prey, presumed to be soft-bodied insects, spiders, millipedes and centipedes. But the ants are known to coat themselves with a thin layer of clay, believed to serve as camouflage.
Ant Lords of the Litter.
Among the newly discovered and named species from forest-floor leaf litter:
Eurhopalothrix zipacna, named for a violent, crocodile-like Mayan demon and found in Guatemala and Honduras.
Eurhopalothrix xibalba, or a “place of fear,” for the underworld ruled by death gods in certain Mayan mythology. It lives from Honduras to Costa Rica.
Eurhopalothrix hunhau, for a major Mayan death god and a lord of the underworld. This species lives in Mexico and Guatemala.
Some of the scary looking new species have more mundane names, such as Eurhopalothrix semicapillum, named for partial patches of hair on its face, and Octostruma convallis, named after the curved groove across its face.
Longino named one species Eurhopalothrix ortizae, after Patricia Ortiz, a Costa Rican naturalist who died in a rock-fall accident this year.
The horror-show faces of some of the new species feature what is known as the labrum, which is like an upper lip, and jaws that open and close sideways instead of up and down as teeth on the jaws clamp down on prey.
“If you really want a movie monster that freaks people out, have the jaws go side to side,” Longino says.
“Ants are everywhere,” Longino says. “They are one of the big elements of ecosystems, like birds and trees. They are major movers of stuff. Some act as predators and influence the population sizes of other insects by eating them. They gather a lot of dead insects and eat them, so they are like vultures at a microscale. They move seeds around and have a big impact on what kind of plants grow where. They aerate soil and do a lot of excavation. Having aerated soil is good for plants — it lets oxygen get into the soil and water percolate through it better.”
Many tramp ant species have developed symbiotic relationships with hemipteran plant pests. These insects produce ‘honeydew,’ a nutrient-rich liquid food source for the ant colony. In return, the ant provides protection from predators.
Liquid baits that mimic honeydew give food to foragers in a form that they can take back to the colony. This strategy is only effective if the toxic agent in the bait works slowly; this means that using baits with a low toxicity is essential, IPCP reports. The foraging ants will bring the bait back to the nest before the toxin takes effect. This will ultimately impact the entire colony, especially by killing the queen and larvae.
So far, there are about 15,000 known species of ants worldwide, based largely on differences in body structure, and perhaps as many as 30,000. But as geneticists analyze more and more ants, new genetic differences are becoming apparent, and so “there could be 100,000 ant species,” Longino said.
The world has some 700,000 known insect species, but that number likely will climb much higher as more are discovered. Longino says “70 percent to 80 percent of all known species are insects.”
The 33 new species bring the number of ant species Longino has discovered during his career to 131.
The adult ants eat only liquids, not solid food. So they bring their prey back to the nest, where it is eaten by ant larvae, which regurgitate it so it can be consumed by the adults, Longino says.
Most modern ants no longer are predators, some of which use venoms to sting their prey, but instead are scavengers like those that pick up crumbs off kitchen floors, and spray formic acid to fight off other ants.
Sifting for Ants.
Longino collected about 90 percent of the ants in his new studies during the past 30 years working on a series of projects to inventory insects, spiders and other arthropods in Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras. Many of the species also are in the Caribbean and South America.
Longino says that his job as a taxonomist is not only to discover and describe new species, but to “map” all species, old and new, to shed light on Earth’s biodiversity and identify possible pest species and other species that might be used to control pests. (The new ant species are not agricultural pests.)
To collect insects, Longino and his students use sifting devices that look somewhat like a pair of tennis rackets with canvas bags beneath them. The researchers use machetes to chop up dead wood and leaf litter and pour it through sifters, which have wire mesh with third-inch-wide openings. The tiny ants end up in the collection bags with what looks like potting soil. This mixture then is placed in mesh bags suspended over funnels that, in turn, are above plastic bags containing alcohol to kill and preserve the ants that pass through the mesh bags. The ants then are brought home for analysis.
Taxonomy, or classification of living things, is in frequent flux. Longino says he thinks of species as hypotheses, not definite, never-changing labels. He is seeking funding for genetics research to better analyze and perhaps redefine classifications for ants in four or five ant genuses or genera. Some species are likely to end up in a different genus after such research is done, he says.
Longino’s ant lab web page is at: https://sites.google.com/site/longinoantlab/
|May 15th, 2014||#211|
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Already in accordance with the future Repulsive Tapir Avatar Mandate
"Pinocchio Rex" discovered in China
Last edited by Samuel Toothgold; May 16th, 2014 at 03:59 AM.
|May 15th, 2014||#212|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Weeks worth of porn there for myrmecophiles. High quality head, profile, and dorsal photos for each species. Scale marks.
The genus comparison lists are fun.
http://www.antweb.org/getComparison....ntwebants&pr=d Eurhopalothrix list
Octostruma ("indeterminate" species)
exactly where and when he was found(all the species at that site have an info pic like this)
Those pics are not the latest found species mentioned in article posted by Linder, but they're relatively new and from the same genera. The new ones are in those genus lists though.
No time for the old in 'n out, love. I've just come to read the meter.
|May 16th, 2014||#213|
Musa arunachalensis: New Species of Wild Banana Discovered in India
May 15, 2014 by Natali Anderson
Botanists from the University of Calicut in Kerala, India, have described a new species in the genus Musa.
Musa, a plant genus native to the Indo-Malesian, Asian, and Australian tropics, produces the fourth most important food in the world.
The species in this genus are large, perennial herbs, up to 9 m in height. Fruits are generally elongate-cylindrical, straight to strongly curved, up to 40 cm long, and up to 8 cm in diameter.
There are five subgenera in the genus Musa – Australimusa, Callimusa, Musa, Rhodochlamys and Ingentimusa, two of which contain edible bananas.
The newly discovered species, named Musa arunachalensis, belongs to the subgenus Rhodochlamys.
Rhodochlamys bananas are characterized by having erect or drooping inflorescences with fruit pointing towards the apex of the inflorescence.
Most of them have relatively few fruits and are best known for their brightly colored bracts (small leaf at the base of a flower), a feature that makes them popular as ornamental plants.
Musa arunachalensis is known from specimens found in West Kameng District, Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India.
This species flowers and fruits from January to May and differs from other Musa species in the nature of its inflorescence. The color of the bract is reddish orange with a yellow tip.
The description of Musa arunachalensis has been published online in the journal Phytotaxa (abstract in .pdf).
|May 16th, 2014||#214|
New species of metal-munching plant found in Philippines
May 12, 2014
Scientists in the Philippines have discovered a plant that can absorb large amounts of metal without itself being poisoned, a species called the Rinorea niccolifera, that can be used to clean up polluted soils and harvest commercially viable metals.
The plant is one of only 450 species, known as hyperaccumulator plants, of 300,000 known vascular plants that can absorb significant amounts of metal though their roots.
The lead researcher and author of a new study on the plant, Professor Edwino Fernando, from the University of the Philippines, said the leaves of the Rinorea niccolifera can absorb up to 18,000 parts per million of nickel, 1,000 times more than can be safely absorbed by any other known plant. No! All plants are equal in their nickel-absorbing ability! It says so in the Bible!
Fernando along with Dr. Marilyn Quimado and their team laid out the details of their discovery in the open access journal PhytoKeys.
“The new species was discovered on the western part of Luzon Island in the Philippines, an area known for soils rich in heavy metals,” the researchers said in a press release announcing their discovery.
As well as being an exciting new scientific discovery, the plant also has important environmental credentials. Rinorea niccolifera can remove large amounts of dangerous metallic metals from polluted ecosystems, and subsequently it is likely to find supporters in the mining industry. Not only can the plants absorb large amounts of nickel, they can also then be harvested for the metal they have absorbed.
"Hyperaccumulator plants have great potentials for the development of green technologies, for example, 'phytoremediation' and 'phytomining',” Augustine Doronila, of the University of Melbourne, who co-authored the study, said.
‘Phytoremediation’ is a term used to describe how hyperaccumulator plants remove heavy metals from contaminated soils.
‘Phytomining’ refers to the process where hyperaccumulator plants are used to grow and harvest commercially viable metals in plant shoots from metal rich soils.
|May 16th, 2014||#215|
Scientists discover over 100 species in drive to document biodiversity
May 15, 2014 by Stephenie Livingston
(Phys.org) —A 5-million-year-old saber-toothed cat, the world's oldest grape and a bizarre hermit crab were among more than 100 new species discovered by University of Florida scientists last year.
Driven in part by the urgency to document new species as natural habitats and fossil sites decline due to human influences, researchers from the Florida Museum of Natural History, located on the UF campus, described 16 new genera and 103 new species of plants and animals in 2013, with some research divisions anticipating higher numbers for 2014.
An online search shows the only other major research institution reporting similar information is the California Academy of the Sciences, which described 91 new species in 2013 and has averaged 115 per year since 2009.
"Traditionally this isn't a number many research institutions have tracked," said Florida Museum Director Douglas Jones. "But the extra emphasis on biodiversity due to degradation of natural habitats and accelerating extinction rate of plants and animals worldwide has placed a higher emphasis on researchers documenting and describing new species before they disappear."
UF researchers discovered species from more than 25 countries on four continents, including 35 fossil crustaceans, 24 Lepidoptera, 17 plants (11 fossils), eight mollusks, two fossil mammals and one fossil bird, among others. Thirty-one additional species were identified in the museum's collections by visiting researchers.
Don Davis, curator of Lepidoptera at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, said the Florida Museum has actively pursued the goals of all natural history museums, including discovering new organisms to better understand the current distributions and history of all life.
"The scientists there are providing not only new knowledge for a broad range of organisms, but also an excellent, well-documented specimen database for all future researchers in natural history," Davis said.
Scientists often happen upon new species while working in museum collections or exploring in the field, but recent museum biodiversity projects and collaborations have focused on discovering as many new species as possible.
Museum scientists utilized advanced taxonomic methods during recent biodiversity survey projects, including DNA bar coding, a process that uses a genetic marker to identify if an organism belongs to a particular species. Some of the new species discovered during these surveys prove rare discoveries still occur.
For example, during an international effort to document all animals and plants living on and in the waters surrounding the island of Moorea in French Polynesia, Florida Museum invertebrate zoology curator Gustav Paulay dredged from the deep sea a new hermit crab that exemplifies a rarely documented process in which hermit crabs move out of their shells and harden their bodies to resemble true crabs. Patagurus rex has a broad, armored body with pointy spines and long legs connected to large claws—making it one of the most distinctive hermit crabs discovered in decades, Paulay said.
"There is this idea that we can grab a field guide and work out there as scientists," Paulay said. "But for large chunks of the world, those resources don't exist and the science that would support those resources is just not there."
This is especially true for museum scientists studying some of Earth's smallest species in remote jungles of the Congo and isolated areas of Hawaii.
Florida Museum assistant curator of Lepidoptera Akito Kawahara said new species of insects sometimes lead to powerful discoveries that affect other fields, including agriculture and medicine.
"Future research will include the investigation of a potential new species of moth in Hawaii that appears to delay plant aging by altering the process of plant senescence (aging) in leaves," he said. "This moth could have potential for improving agriculture and extending the shelf life of some foods."
Last year, many scientists looked for new species from the past. Museum scientists described 56 new species of fossil plants and animals. Among these, the world's oldest-known grape species, Indovitis chitaleyae, discovered in 2005 and described in 2013, pushed the record of the Vitaceae (grape) family into the Late Cretaceous, about 66 million years ago.
Florida Museum vertebrate paleontology collections manager Richard Hulbert described the 5-million-year-old fossils of Rhizosmilidon, a carnivorous saber-toothed cat from the same lineage as the famous Smilodon fatalis from the La Brea Tar Pits of Los Angeles.
"Today's species represent only about 1 percent of life that ever existed," said Bruce MacFadden, Florida Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology. "It is important to understand the other 99 percent of biodiversity that once inhabited the planet, because knowledge of the kinds of plants and animals that lived here in the past provide us with a framework for understanding today's ecosystems."
|May 16th, 2014||#216|
Dancing frog species discovered in Indian jungle mountains
14 species of acrobatic amphibians found in Western Ghats, a region expected to be hit by changing rainfall patterns
8 May 2014
One of the 14 new species of so-called dancing frogs discovered by a team headed by University of Delhi professor Sathyabhama Das Biju in the jungle mountains of southern India
Scientists have discovered 14 new species of so-called dancing frogs in the jungle mountains of southern India.
Indian biologists say they found the tiny acrobatic amphibians, which earned their name with the unusual kicks they use to attract mates, declining dramatically in number during the 12 years in which they chronicled the species through morphological descriptions and molecular DNA markers. They breed after the yearly monsoon in fast-rushing streams, but their habitat appears to be becoming increasingly dry.
"It's like a Hollywood movie, both joyful and sad. On the one hand, we have brought these beautiful frogs into public knowledge. But about 80% are outside protected areas, and in some places, it was as if nature itself was crying," said the project's lead scientist, University of Delhi professor Sathyabhama Das Biju.
Biju said that, as researchers tracked frog populations, forest soils lost moisture and perennial streams ran inexplicably dry. He acknowledged his team's observations about forest conditions were only anecdotal; the scientists did not have time or resources to collect data demonstrating the declining habitat trends they believed they were witnessing.
The study listing the new species published Thursday in the Ceylon Journal of Science brings the number of known Indian dancing frog species to 24. They're found exclusively in the Western Ghats, a lush mountain range that stretches 1,600 kilometers (990 miles) from the western state of Maharashtra down to the country's southern tip.
One of the 14 new species of so-called dancing frogs
Only the males dance it's actually a unique breeding behavior called foot-flagging. They stretch, extend and whip their legs out to the side to draw the attention of females who might have trouble hearing mating croaks over the sound of water flowing through perennial hill streams.
They bigger the frog, the more they dance. They also use those leg extensions to smack away other males an important feature considering the sex ratio for the amphibians is usually around 100 males to one female.
"They need to perform and prove, 'Hey, I'm the best man for you,'" said Biju, a botanist-turned-herpetologist now celebrated as India's "Frogman" for discovering dozens of new species in his four-decade career.
There are other dancing frogs in Central America and Southeast Asia, but the Indian family, known by the scientific name Micrixalidae, evolved separately about 85 million years ago.
Biju and his team had long been baffled about the frogs' mating patterns, after searching years around the forest floor for egg clutches without success. But one late October day in 2011 they witnessed a rare tryst, and saw the female immediately bury her eggs once fertilized. This confirmed the frogs were indeed breeding only after stream levels had come down, and underlined how vulnerable they might be to changes in rainfall or water availability.
These are tiny, delicate frogs no bigger than a walnut and can easily be swept away in a gushing mountain stream. So breeding happens only once the level of a stream levels drops to the point where the water babbles over boulders and stones, he explained. If streams hold less water or dry out too early, the frogs get caught without the right conditions to breed.
"Compared with other frogs, these are so sensitive to this habitat that any change might be devastating for them," Biju said. "Back in 2006, we saw maybe 400 to 500 hopping around during the egg-laying season. But each year there were less, and in the end even if you worked very hard it was difficult to catch even 100."
The Western Ghats, older than the Himalayas, is among the world's most biologically exciting regions, holding at least a quarter of all Indian species. Yet in recent decades, the region has faced a constant assault by iron and bauxite mining, water pollution, unregulated farming and loss of habitat to human settlements.
A 2010 report by India's Environment Ministry also said the Ghats were likely to be hard-hit by changing rainfall patterns due to climate change, and more recent scientific studies have also suggested monsoon patterns will grow increasingly erratic.
India's government has been working to establish a vast environmental protection zone across the Ghats to limit polluting industrial activities and human encroachment, but it put the latest proposal on hold earlier this year.
Meanwhile, as India's population has grown to a staggering 1.2bn, at least 25% of the forests have vanished from the Ghats, which is now home to more than 325 of the world's threatened species of plants, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish.
Many of these newly discovered frogs could soon be joining them, Biju said. Many of the 24 known Indian dancing frog species lives only in a single, small area. Seven were in what Biju described as highly degraded habitats where logging or new plantations were taking over, while another 12 species were in areas that appeared in ecological decline.
Biju's determination, or even obsession, with documenting as many new frog species as possible stems from his fear that many will vanish as "unnamed extinctions" before scientists ever learn they exist. Scientists believe Earth has about 8.7m distinct plant and animal species, but they have documented only 1.5m.
Amphibians are particularly vulnerable. At least one-third of the world's known 6,000 frog species are threatened with extinction from habitat loss, pollution, changing temperatures or exotic diseases spread by invasive animals and pests, according to Global Wildlife Conservation.
Sonali Garg one of the study's co-authors, said her family initially thought she was crazy for wanting to study frogs. "But slowly, they're becoming aware of how important and special frogs are," she said. "Slowly, I'm converting them."
|May 16th, 2014||#217|
New Species of Catfish Found in India
MAY 12, 2014 12:15 PM ET // BY DISCOVERY NEWS
The waters of the river Yomgo joins the river Siang in India. The Yomgo is where the latest species of catfish was discovered.
Current members of the catfish species, look out: There's a new fish in town.
Ichthyologists -- zoologists who study fish -- from Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) in India announced they have discovered a new species of catfish, only the second species belonging to the genus Creteuchiloglanis.
The new catfish -- dubbed Creteuchiloglanis payjab -- was found in the Yomgo River, at an altitude of about 6,558 feet, in the state of West Siang district of the state of Arunchal Pradesh.
The holotype and paratype for the fish were sent to the Rajiv Gandhi University Museum of Fishes and the Zoological Survey of India. The name "payjab" comes from the local name for the fish.
|May 16th, 2014||#218|
Mother and child reunion.
Sea bass new species discovered
Friday, May 16, 2014
Smithsonian scientists have managed to match fish larva collected in the Florida Straits and adults of a new species of sea bass discovered off the coast of Curacao.
These researchers, who had their study results published in the journal PLOS ONE, found this larva in a photograph without identification in another research paper and recognized it as a member of the sea bass family Serranidae. However, they were intrigued by its seven very elongate dorsal-fin spines.
"This feature isn't known in any Atlantic sea bass larvae, but it is similar to one species of Indo-Pacific sea bass," said David Johnson, a zoologist at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
Nevertheless, the team detected the DNA sequence did not match any known fish species and, this fact along with its unique morphological features, led the scientists to begin describing the larva as a new species despite the absence of adults.
Combining this new genetic information with available DNA barcoding data for all western Atlantic sea bass specimens yielded an unexpected discovery: The larva from the Florida Straits is the pelagic stage of a cryptic new species of Liopropoma from southern Caribbean deep reefs.
It was concluded that a new species of sea bass—now known as Liopropoma olneyi—was discovered and the team named the new species in honour of a deceased colleague, John E. Olney, who studied and taught courses about marine fish larvae.
"Science has largely missed the deep-reef zone, and it appears to be home to a lot of life that we didn't know about," stressed Carole Baldwin, a zoologist at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
Researchers are now able to study deep reefs in the southern Caribbean because of the availability of the Curasub submersible, a privately owned, manned submersible capable of descending to 1,000 feet.
The work off Curacao resulting in the discovery of L. olneyi is part of the Smithsonian's Deep Reef Observation Project.
Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last ten years documenting life above and below water in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. He is currently working with the Smithsonian Institution documenting new Caribbean deep-water species and building a one of a kind database. His underwater images can regularly be seen in Sport Diver, Scuba Diver and on the Ikelite website. His image of a "Collage of Corals" seen under blue-light at night recently placed in the TOP 10 images for the 2014 NANPA (North American Nature Photographers Association) photo contest.
Good morning from WET CURACAO!!!! Yes, you read that right, it’s finally raining!! We woke up at around 2:45am to the sound of rain-drops hitting the bedroom window and immediately jumped out of bed and went outside to see if this was a dream or if it was for real!! Our island like so many places around the World needed this very badly and just last night we were again outside desperately trying to save our thirsty plants. We ended up staying up for around 30 minutes just watching it pour and listening to all the excited little frogs, it was a gift from God!! The downside to all the rain was that it made one of our giant flower trees in the backyard fall over but after an hour of trimming this morning we pushed it back up and it should be alright now!!
For all of you out there asking about our mini-sub which we call “The Curasub” I put together this chart just for you!! Actually, my co-worker Tico was a major part of making this photo happen as he pushed the sub all the way out to the edge of the property yesterday just for me so I could have a clean background to work with! My weekly questions usually are, “how deep will it go”, ” how long can you stay there”, “how many people will it hold”, “how fast can it go” and my personal favorite, “is there a restroom on board”?? No restroom folks, but we do have a nice pee-bag and a throw-up bag if nessasary and yes, both have already been used!! The Curasub can safely explore at depths of 1000 feet and can stay out on a single charge for over 8 hours! The sub holds 5 people including the pilot who sits in the middle and can reach speeds of up to 3 nautical miles per hour!! The sub also has many safety percausions built into it and contains enough food and water for 5 days! As of today we have done 730 dives, more than any other sub of it’s type, that alone is a remarkable fact!! The cost is $650 per person, the price includes an underwater photo shoot by yours truly, all photos on a Substation flash drive, T-shirt and an hour and a half underwater on the coolest ride you will ever take!! Here is the website for more info, www.substation-curacao.com
I just got out of the water from my first dive and I have to go again in 30 minutes!! Have a wonderful day!!
|May 20th, 2014||#219|
'Vicious' New Praying Mantis Discovered in Rwanda
On a cool and rainy night in a dense, mountainous forest in Rwanda, insect-surveying scientists discovered a new species of praying mantis, one whose wingless females are "vicious hunters" that prowl for prey as if they were marauding tigers.
The researchers have named the newfound praying mantis species — which was discovered in Nyungwe National Park — Dystacta tigrifrutex, or "bush tiger mantis."
"The new species is amazing, because the fairly small female prowls through the underbrush searching for prey, while the male flies appear to live higher in the vegetation," stated Riley Tedrow, a Case Western Reserve University evolutionary biology student who led the research.
Researchers found out about the species after a winged male was attracted to a light trap the scientists had set up to study the local insects. After fortuitously trapping a female from the leaf litter, the scientists got another lucky break: She laid an egg case (called an ootheca). This allowed the scientists to study the nymphs and adults in one three-week field session, which is a rarity in insect science for one field trip.
The researchers compared the new specimens with those found in museums and described in scientific papers; the scientists also looked at various measurements of the bush tiger mantis' bodies, such as color and length. Through these analyses, the researchers concluded the species belongs to the genus Dystacta; until now, this genus had consisted of just one species, D. alticeps, which is spread all over Africa.
One feature could have provided a big help in identifying the species, the male genitalia. This, however, was missing, as ants had gobbled up these vital parts while the male dried up in the Rwandan heat, the researchers noted.
The scientists also tracked down a dozen species that were previously not known to live in Rwanda, and urged that conservation authorities place the park under protection so as not to endanger the new finds. A follow-up expedition is planned in June to gauge the size of the bush tiger's habitat.
A study based on the research will be published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.
|May 21st, 2014||#220|
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