Friday, December 23, 2011

Top 10 New Species For 2011

Darwin's Bark Spider

(Images © Matjaž Kuntner)

Name: Caerostris darwini
Common Name: Darwin's bark spider
Family: Araneidae
How it made the Top 10: This orb-weaving spider builds the largest orb-style webs that are known to science. Webs of this species have been found spanning rivers, streams and lakes with “bridgelines” reaching up to 25m in length and total web size reaching up to 2.8m2. The silk spun by these spiders has an average toughness of 250MJ/m3 with the highest measured at 520MJ/ m3. This makes it, “the toughest biological material ever studied, over ten times stronger than a similarly-sized piece of Kevlar” and more than two times stronger than any other known spider silk. The unusual behaviors of this new species will allow us to understand size dimorphism, mate guarding, and self castration (among others). Also discovered in association with Darwin's bark spider was an undescribed symbiotic fly species.
Reference: Kuntner, M. and I. Agnarsson. 2010. Web gigantism in Darwin's bark spider, a new species from Madagascar (Araneidae: Caerostris). The Journal of Arachnology 38(2):346-356.
Type Material: Holotype and paratypes – National Museum of Natural History (USNM), Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA.
Type Locality: Madagascar, Fianarantsoa Province, Ranomafana NP, Research station at Namorona River and surrounding forest, 21°15’S, 47°25’E.
Etymology: The species description was prepared on 24 November 2009, precisely the 150th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species. The species is thus named in honor of Charles R. Darwin, 200 years after his birth.

Bioluminescent Mushroom

(Some fruiting bodies of Mycena luxaeterna growing on a rotten branch. © Cassius V. Stevani/IQ-USP, Brazil)

Name: Mycena luxaeterna
Common Name: Eternal light mushroom
Family: Mycenaceae
How it made the Top 10: This new species, collected from some of the last remaining Atlantic forest habitat near São Paulo, Brazil, emits very bright yellowish green light 24 hours per day from its gel-covered stems. DNA sequences of this species (from 5 gene regions) are helping us to understand the origin and evolution of bioluminescence in the fungi. Of the estimated 1.5 million species of fungi on earth, only 71 species are known to be bioluminescence and Mycena luxaeterna is one of the most visually striking species.
Reference: Desjardin, D.E., B.A. Perry, D.J. Lodge, C.V. Stevani, and E. Nagasawa. 2010. Luminescent Mycena: new and noteworthy species. Mycologia102(2):459- 477.
Type Material: Holotype – Instituto de Botânica Herbário (SP), São Paulo, Brazil. Isotype – San Francisco State University Thiers Herbarium (SFSU), San Francisco, California, USA. Paratypes – SP and SFSU.
Type Locality: Brazil, São Paulo state, Iporanga, Parque Estadual Turístico do Alto Ribeira, Poço da Viúva, 24°35.220'S, 48°37.840'W.
Etymology: lux = light (L.), aeterna = eternal (L.), referring to the constant light emitted by the basidiomes. The epithet was inspired by and borrowed from Mozart’s Requiem (Communio).


(Electron micrograph (negative staining) of Halomonas titanicae (with permission from the Society for General Microbiology); Closer view of rusticles formed on RMS Titanic wreck (courtesy of RMS Titanic Inc.); ESEM showing stacked mineralized individual bacterium in the form of a stalagmite shape occurring inside a rusticle (courtesy of Dr. Henrietta Mann).

Name:  Halomonas titanicae
Common Name:  None
Family:  Halomonadaceae
How it made the Top 10:  This new species of iron-oxide consuming bacteria was discovered on a rusticle from the RMS Titanic.  Studies show that it sticks to steel surfaces creating knob-like mounds of corrosion products that have contributed, along with other microorganisms, to the deterioration process of the Titanic's metal.  This will eventually lead to the Titanic's disappearance.  This bacterium could be useful to perform studies related to the disposal of old naval and merchant ships that have sunk in the deep ocean.
Reference:  Sanchez-Porro, C., B. Kaur, H. Mann and A. Ventosa. 2010. Halomonas titanicae sp. nov., a halophilic bacterium isolated from the RMS Titanic. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 60(12):2768-2774.
Type Material:  The type strain is BH1T (=ATCC BAA-1257T =CECT 7585T =JCM 16411T =LMG 25388T).
Type Locality:  None provided.
Etymology:  titanicae (ti.ta´ni.cae. N.L. fem. n. titanica the ship Titanic; N.L. fem. gen. n. titanicae of or from the ship Titanic).

Monitor Lizard

(Holotype, adult male, taken by J. Brown; paratype, juvenile male, taken by A.C. Diesmos)

Name:  Varanus bitatawa
Common Name:  Sierra Madre Forest Monitor or Golden Spotted Monitor
Family:  Varanidae
How it made the Top 10:  This is a large arboreal frugivorous lizard of the genus Varanus and can only be found in the Northern Sierra Madre Forest, Luzon Island, Philippines.  The forest monitor lizard can grow to more than 2 meters (6.6ft) in length but weighs only about 10 kilograms (22lb).  It is brightly colored with stripes of gold flecks.  Its scaly body and legs are a blue-black mottled with pale yellow-green dots and its tail is marked in alternating segments of black and green.  It is quite astounding to think that something this size has eluded biologists that surveyed the area possibly because it spent most of its time in trees.  However, it was known to the local hunters and is already a flagship for conservation in the Philippines.
Reference:  Welton, L.J., C.D. Siler, D. Bennett, A. Diesmos, M.R. Duya, R. Dugay, E.L.B. Rico, M. van Weerd and R.M. Brown. 2010. A spectacular new Philippine monitor lizard reveals a hidden biogeographic boundary and a novel flagship species for conservation. Biology Letters 6(5):654-658.
Type Material:  Holotype – Philippine National Museum (PNM), Manila, Luzon, Philippines. Paratypes – PNM and University of Kansas (KU), Lawrence, Kansas, USA.
Type Locality:  Philippines, Luzon, Aurora Province, Municipality of Casiguran, Barangay Casiguran, Sitio Casapsipan, San Ildefonso Peninsula, 16.286667°N, 122.185833°E.
Etymology:  The specific epithet is derived from bitatawa, the Agta tribespeoples’ common name for the new species.

Pollinating Cricket

(Cricket image courtesy of Sylvain Hugel; image of orchid courtesy of C. Micheneau)

Name:  Glomeremus orchidophilus
Common Name:  None
Family:  Gryllacrididae
How it made the Top 10:  This species is the only pollinator of the rare/endangered orchid Angraecum cadetii on Réunion island (South Western Indian Ocean), representing the first clearly-supported case of orthopteran-mediated pollination in flowering plants.
Reference:  Hugel, S., C. Micheneau, J. Fournel, B.H. Warren, A. Gauvin-Bialecki, T. Pailler, M.W. Chase and D. Strasberg. 2010. Glomeremus species from the Mascarene islands (Orthoptera, Gryllacrididae) with the description of the pollinator of an endemic orchid from the island of Réunion. Zootaxa2545:58-68.
Type Material:  Holotype and allotype - Muséum National d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN), Paris, France. Paratypes – MNHN; Natural History Museum (BMNH), London, UK; Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI), Reduit, Mauritius; Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD), Saint-Denis, Réunion and Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de la Réunion (MHNR), Saint-Denis, Réunion.
Type Locality:  Indian Ocean, Mascarene Archipelago, la Réunion, Saint Philippe, hauts de Mare Longue, 21°20’47’’S, 55°44’22’’E.
Etymology:  None provided.
Click here to see video of the cricket pollinating the orchid provided by the BBC.


(Drawing courtesy of Yann Le Bris)

Name:  Philantomba walteri
Common Name:  Walter's Duiker
Family:  Bovidae
How it made the Top 10:  This new duiker from West Africa was first encountered at a bushmeat market. It is a surprising find because, “The discovery of a new species from a well-studied group of animals in the context of bushmeat exploitation is a sobering reminder of the mammalian species that remain to be described, even within those that are being exploited on a daily basis for food or ritual activities.”  The taxonomic description of Philantomba walteri should facilitate research into its ecology and behaviour, as well as its conservation.
Reference:  Colyn, M., J. Hulselmans, G. Sonet, P. Oudé, J. de Winter, A. Natta, Z.T. Nagy and E. Verheyen. 2010. Discovery of a new duiker species (Bovidae: Cephalophinae) from the Dahomey Gap, West Africa. Zootaxa 2637:1-30.
Type Material:  Holotype and paratype – Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA), Tervuren, Belgium.
Type Locality:  Benin, Forêt Protégée de Wari-Maro (328 m altitude), near the Ecological Center of Manigri, Igbere, 08°59’N, 01°5 7’E.
Etymology:  The species is named Walter’s Duiker in honor of the late Walter N. Verheyen (1932–2005), in recognition of his work on African mammals. Moreover, he collected the first specimen at Badou (Togo) in 1968.


(Images courtesy of PLoS ONE)

Name:  Tyrannobdella rex
Common Name:  None
Family:  Praobdellidae
How it made the Top 10:  This T. rex leech was discovered feeding from the nasal mucous membrane of a little girl in Perú. It is unusual because it is the only known species of leech with a “single armed jaw with such large teeth.”
Reference:  Phillips, A.J., R. Arauco-Brown, A. Oceguera-Figueroa, G.P. Gomez, M. Beltran, Y.-T. Lai and M.E. Siddall. 2010. Tyrannobdella rex n. gen. n. sp. and the evolutionary origins of mucosal leech infestations. PLoS ONE 5(4):e10057.
Type Material:  Holotype – Museum of Natural History of San Marcos University (MUSM), Lima, Perú. Paratypes – MUSM and Peruvian Health Institute, Lima, Perú.
Type Locality:  Perú, Chanchamayo Province, Chanchamayo Province, La Merced.
Etymology:  Tyrannobdella: tyrannos (G.) – ‘‘tyrant’’ + bdella (G.) – ‘‘leech’’; rex: rex (G.) – ‘‘king’’.

Underwater Mushroom


(Headwaters of the Rogue River; three specimens braving the current; two specimens braving the current - photographs © Robert Coffan)

Name:  Psathyrella aquatica
Common Name:  Rogue mushroom
Family:  Psathyrellaceae
How it made the Top 10:  First report of a mushroom species fruiting underwater.
Reference:  Frank, J.L., R.A. Coffan and D. Southworth. 2010. Aquatic gilled mushrooms: Psathyrella fruiting in the Rogue River in southern Oregon.Mycologia 102(1):93-107.
Type Material:  Holotype – University of Michigan Fungus Collection (MICH), Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
Type Locality:  USA, Oregon, Jackson County, north of Prospect.
Etymology:  In reference to the aquatic habitat.
Click here to see video of the mushroom.

Jumping Cockroach

(Male Saltoblattella montistabularis prior to take off; male; female - images courtesy of Mike Picker)

Name: Saltoblattella montistabularis
Common Name:  Leaproach
Family:  Blattellidae
How it made the Top 10:  This new species of cockroach exhibits unusual morphology.  It has legs that are highly modified for jumping. Prior to its discovery jumping cockroaches were only known from the Late Jurassic. This extant cockroach has jumping ability that is on par with grasshoppers. In addition to the leg modifications, it has hemispherical shaped eyes that protrude from the sides of the head instead of kidney shaped and the antennae have an additional fixation point to help stabilize them during jumping.
Reference:  Bohn, H., M. Picker, K.-D. Klass and J. Colville. 2010. A jumping cockroach from South Africa, Saltoblattella montistabularis, gen. nov., spec. nov. (Blattodea: Blattellidae). Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny 68(1):53-39.
Type Material:  Holotype - South African Museum (SAM), Cape Town, Republic of South Africa. Paratypes – SAM; Natural History Museum (BMNH), London, UK; Museum für Tierkunde (MTD), Senckenberg Naturhistorische Sammlungen, Dresden, Germany and Zoologische Staatssammlung München (ZSM), München, Germany.
Type Locality:  South Africa, Western Cape Province, Table Mountain National Park, Silvermine Nature Reserve, 34°04′30″S 18°23′55″E.
Etymology:  Saltoblattella is the Latin translation of “jumping small cockroach”. The species name refers to “Mons tabularis”, the old Latin name of Table Mountain near Cape Town where the species has been found; montistabularis is the genitive of “Mons tabularis” and therefore indeclinable.

Pancake Batfish

(An image of Halieutichthys intermedius taken by one of its discoverers, Prosanta Chakrabarty)

Name:  Halieutichthys intermedius
Common Name:  The Louisiana Pancake Batfish
Family:  Ogcocephalidae
How it made the Top 10:  This species was discovered just before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010 and its entire known distribution is in the region of the spill. It is also a remarkably hideous (in a good way) animal. It is flat like a pancake, spikey, hops on its fins and has huge bulging eyes. Its discovery and precarious existence due to the oil spill was the lead article on and a number of other outlets.
Reference:  Ho, H.-C., P. Chakrabarty and J.S. Sparks. 2010. Review of the Halieutichthys aculeatus species complex (Lophiiformes: Ogcocephalidae), with descriptions of two new species. Journal of Fish Biology 77(4):841-869.
Type Material:  Holotype – American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), New York, USA.  Paratypes – AMNH; California Academy of Sciences (CAS), San Francisco, California, USA; Louisiana State University, Museum of Zoology (LSUMZ), Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA and National Museum of Natural History (USNM), Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA.
Type Locality:  Gulf of Mexico, U.S.A., Florida, 29°31’N, 87°37’45”W.
Etymology:  The specific epithet, intermedius, refers to ‘intermediate’ character states observed in this taxon when compared to H. aculeatus and H. bispinosus in the complex.

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