Friday, July 3, 2015

Discoveries of the week #44

A new genus and species of octocoral with a calcium-carbonate skeleton, Nanipora kamurai sp. n., is described from a shallow coral reef in Okinawa, Japan. Contrary to most octocorals, the skeleton is composed of crystalline aragonite as in blue coral Heliopora. The results of molecular phylogenetic analyses of sequences of mtMutS, COI, and ITS1-5.8s-ITS2-28S region suggest Nanipora gen. n. specimens should be included in order Helioporacea. Based on morphological results compared with other Helioporacea including the genus Epiphaxum (family Lithotelestidae), we establish the new genus Nanipora within Lithotelestidae. This is the first time that a close molecular phylogenetic relationship between Heliopora and a related genus within Helioporacea has been revealed.

Octocorals comprise about 3,000 species including the blue coral, soft corals, sea pens, and gorgonians. They have a characteristic internal skeleton and polyps with eight tentacles. The name of this new genus refers to the Japanese ‘nani’ which means ‘what is this?’, as the genus is highly unusual in having an aragonitic skeleton; ‘pora’ means ‘pore’. The name is used for many anthozoan (especially scleractinian) species with porous skeleton. The species name honors the Jazz pianist Hidefumi Kamura,who has continued playing classic style be-bop jazz since Okinawa was ruled by U.S. forces, and who can now be considered as a ‘relict’ classical be-bop jazz musician.

A new species of the order Amphipoda and the family Niphargidae is described. Niphargus cvetkovi sp. n. was found in groundwaters from Bulgaria. The new species can be attributed to the aquilex-tauri species group and undoubtedly to the tauri sub-group. It resembles some species of this group, such as N. tauri Shellenberg, 1933; N. jurinaci S. Karaman, 1950; N. kragujevensis S. Karaman, 1950; N. remus G. Karaman, 1992 and N. osogovensis S. Karaman, 1959. The main morphological characteristics of the new species are discussed and compared with the species of tauri sub-group.

A new cave-dwelling Amphipod species named after the Bulgarian groundwater scientist Lyubomir Cvetkov. 
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A new geophilomorph centipede, Geophilus hadesi sp. n., is described from caves in the Velebit Mountain, central Croatia. Together with Geophilus persephones Foddai & Minelli, 1999, described from Pierre Saint-Martin cave in France, they are the only two remarkably troglomorphic geophilomorphs hitherto known. The new species apparently belongs to a group of Geophilus species inhabiting mainly Western and Southern Europe, with a uniquely modified pretarsus in the second maxillae. G. hadesi sp. n. shows unusual traits, some of which commonly found in troglobitic arthropods, including exceptionally elongated antennae, trunk segments and leg claws. The species is described upon specimens found in two caves at a depth below -250 m. Another two specimens apparently belonging to the same species have been recorded in another deep vertical cave at -980 m and -1100 m. The latter represents the world’s deepest record of Chilopoda as a whole.

The species name is derived from Hades, god of the underworld in the Greek mythology and husband of Persephone, in analogy with the name of the only other known troglobite in the genus.
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A previously unknown species of the North American leafhopper genus Flexamia, F. whitcombi sp. n., is described from pinebarren smokegrass (Muhlenbergia torreyana (Schult.) Hitchc.), a state-listed threatened grass in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The serrata species group, to which it belongs, is redefined and a key to the species of the group is provided. This is the first reported insect association with M. torreyana.

The new leafhopper species occurs in the most densely populated state in the US where its host , the pinebarren smokegrass (Muhlenbergia torreyana) grows, The species name honors the mentor of the author, the late Dr. Robert Whitcomb.
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Tumidusternus gen. n., along with T. fujianensis sp. n. (Coleoptera, Coccinellidae, Aspidimerini) from China is described and illustrated. A key to the tribe Aspidimerini is given.

The genus name is a combination of the Latin words tumidus and sternum, referring to its tumid (swollen) sternum. The species name refers to the holotype locality, Fujian, China.
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Recent molecular studies indicate that the Pyropia lanceolata species complex on the west coast of North America is more speciose than previously thought. Based on extensive rbcL gene sequencing of representative specimens we recognize seven species in the complex, three of which are newly described: Py. montereyensis sp. nov., Py. columbiensis sp. nov., and Py. protolanceolata sp. nov. The new species are all lanceolate, at least when young, and occur in the upper mid to high intertidal zone primarily in winter and early spring. Pyropia montereyensis and Py. columbiensis are sister taxa that are distributed south and north of Cape Mendocino, respectively, and both occur slightly lower on the shore than Py. lanceolata or Py. pseudolanceolata. Pyropia protolanceolata is known thus far only from Morro Rock and the Monterey Peninsula, California; it occurs basally to the other species in the complex in the molecular phylogeny. A fourth newly described species, Pyropia bajacaliforniensis sp. nov., is more closely related to Py. nereocystis than to species in this complex proper. It is a thin species with undulate margins known only from Moss Landing, Monterey Bay, California, and northern Baja California; it also occurs in the high intertidal in spring. Porphyra mumfordii, a high intertidal winter species that has frequently been confused with species in the Py. lanceolata complex, has now been confirmed to occur from Calvert Island, British Columbia, to Pescadero State Park, California.

Three of the four new marine red algae species were named after their respective type locality, one (P. protolanceolata) after its position in a phylogenetic tree.

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