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ramonmercadoOnline
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PostPosted: 08-03-2012 00:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

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New species of deep-sea catshark described from the Galapagos
http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-03-species-deep-sea-catshark-galapagos.html
March 7th, 2012 in Biology / Plants & Animals

Bythaelurus giddingsi is a new species of deep-sea catshark from the Galapagos. Credit: California Academy of Sciences

Scientists conducting deep-sea research in the Galapagos have described a new species of catshark, Bythaelurus giddingsi, in the March 5 issue of the journal Zootaxa. The new shark is approximately a foot long and has a chocolate-brown coloration with pale, irregularly distributed spots on its body. The spotted patterns appear to be unique to each individual. John McCosker of the California Academy of Sciences collected the first specimens of this new catshark while diving to depths of 1,400 - 1,900 feet aboard the Johnson Sea-Link submersible.

"The discovery of a new shark species is always interesting, particularly at this time when sharks are facing such incredible human pressure," said McCosker, Chair of Aquatic Biology at the Academy and lead author on the paper. "Many species have become locally rare and others verge on extinction due to their capture for shark-fin soup. The damage to food webs is dramatic, since sharks provide valuable ecological services as top-level predators—when they disappear, their niche is often filled by other species that further imbalance ecosystems. Most deepwater shark species are not very susceptible to overfishing; however, since this catshark's range is restricted to the Galapagos, its population is likely limited in size, making it more susceptible than more widely distributed species."

This photo shows Dr. John McCosker climbing into the Johnson Sea-Link submersible in the 1990s during a Galapagos expedition. Credit: California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences sent its first scientific expedition to the Galapagos Islands in 1905 and has since organized dozens of return trips. As a result, the Academy is now home to the world's most comprehensive collection of scientific specimens from these famous islands. Most Academy field work in the Galapagos today focuses on the marine environment, where dozens of new species have been discovered in recent decades. In the 1990s, McCosker made a series of dives inside the submersible Johnson Sea-Link to explore the marine life on the islands' steep volcanic slopes and sandy bottoms. Submersibles allow scientists to explore a vast part of the Galapagos that was not accessible to Charles Darwin or earlier Academy scientists. It was during two such dives in 1995 and 1998 that McCosker collected the seven specimens used to describe B. giddingsi. Using research collections at the Academy and elsewhere as a basis for comparison, Academy Research Associate Douglas Long and Smithsonian Institution scientist Carole Baldwin worked with McCosker to confirm that the specimens did indeed represent a new species.

More information: McCosker JE, Long DJ, Baldwin CC. 2012. Description of a new species of deepwater catshark, Bythaelurus giddingsi sp. nov., from the Galapagos Islands (Chondrichthyes: Carcharhiniformes: Scyliorhinidae). Zootaxa 3221: 48-59.

Provided by California Academy of Sciences
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PostPosted: 22-03-2012 23:58    Post subject: Reply with quote

A new species of whale albeit extinct. Maybe its still swimming around in the depths though.

Quote:
Ancient whale species sheds new light on its modern relatives
http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-03-ancient-whale-species-modern-relatives.html
March 22nd, 2012 in Other Sciences / Archaeology & Fossils

This is an artist's conception of Bohaskaia monodontoides, foreground. Behind and above are a modern-day beluga whale and narwhal. Credit: Carl Buell

Beluga whales and narwhals live solely in the cold waters of the Arctic and sub-arctic. Smithsonian scientists, however, found that this may not have always been the case. They recently described a new species of toothed whale and close relative to today's belugas and narwhals that lived some 3-4 million years ago during the Pliocene in warm water regions.

Why and when its modern-day relatives evolved to live only in northern latitudes remains a mystery. The team's research was recently described in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

This new species, Bohaskaia monodontoides, is known only from a nearly complete skull found in 1969 in a mine near Hampton, Va.

Since its discovery, the skull has been housed in the paleontology collections of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. It was loosely identified as belonging to a beluga whale but it had never been closely studied.

Smithsonian scientists (left to right) Jorge Velez-Juarbe holds the skull of beluga whale; Dave Bohaska holds the skull of Bohaskaia monodontoides; and Nicholas Pyenson with the skull and tusk of a narwhal. They are standing in the marine mammal collections area of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Credit: Jorge Velez-Juarbe

In 2010, Jorge Velez-Juarbe, Smithsonian predoctoral fellow from Howard University, and Nicholas Pyenson, research geologist of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History began a close anatomical comparison of the fossil skull with the skeletons of belugas and narwhals in the Smithsonian's collection.

Their study confirmed that the fossil skull was that of a new toothed whale species?one that shared features of the snout and face with belugas and narwhals. The fossil skull contained enough unique features however, to merit its placement as a new genus and species.

"Fossils referred to as belugas have been known from fragmentary bits, but skulls are so revealing because they contain so many informative features," Pyenson says. "We realized this skull was not something assignable to a beluga, and when we sat down, comparing the fossil side by side with the actual skulls of belugas and narwhals, we found it was a very different animal."

As Bohaskaia monodontoides was found in the temperate climate of Virginia, and a second extinct beluga-related toothed whale, Denebola branchycephala is known from a fossil found in Baja California, Velez-Juarbe and Pyenson surmise that the cold-climate adaptations of narwhals and beluga, which today live and breed only in the Arctic and sub-arctic, must have evolved only recently.

This is the fossil skull of a Bohaskaia monodontoides. Credit: Jorge Velez-Juarbe

"The fact is that living belugas and narwhals are found only in the Arctic and subarctic, yet the early fossil record of the monodontids extends well into temperate and tropical regions," Pyenson says. "For evidence of how and when the Arctic adaptations of belugas and narwhals arose we will have to look more recently in time."

The change may be "related to oceanographic changes during or after the Pliocene affecting the marine food chain," Velez-Juarbe says, "then competition or dietary preferences drove monodontids further north."

Provided by Smithsonian
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PostPosted: 23-03-2012 21:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another new but extinct species.

Quote:
An Extinct Species of Scops Owl Has Been Discovered in Madeira
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120323134533.htm

Illustration of the common European scops owl and the extinct Otus mauli species from Madeira. (Credit: Pau Oliver)

ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2012) — An international team of scientists, including some from Majorca and the Canary Islands, have described a new type of fossil scops owl, the first extinct bird on the archipelago of Madeira (Portugal). Otus mauli, which was also the first nocturnal bird of prey described in the area, lived on land and became extinct as a result of humans arriving on the island.

Twenty years ago, the German researcher Harald Pieper discovered fossil remains of a small nocturnal bird of prey in Madeira, which, until now, had not been studied in depth. The international team of palaeontologists has shown that the remains belong to a previously unknown extinct species of scops owl, which they have called Otus mauli.

"It has long legs and wings slightly shorter than the continental European scops owl from which it derives" Josep Antoni Alcover, one of the authors of the study and researcher at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA), a mixed centre of the university of the Balearic Islands and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), said.

The result of the analysis of the proportions of the remains found, which has been published in the journal Zootaxa, reveals that Otus mauli could be a land inhabiting species that ate invertebrates and "occasionally lizards or birds."

"It is likely that their extinction is linked to the arrival of humans and the fauna they brought with them," Alcover explains. He also points out that their disappearance formed part of a pattern of extinction of the island's species, which occurred in virtually all the islands of the world.

According to researchers, amongst the causes of extinction of this scops owl, the destruction of its habitat is highlighted, as Madeira had a lot of serious fires during the seven years that followed the Portuguese arrival. Furthermore, humans brought new birds with diseases that were unfamiliar to the native species, as well as rats and mice that could prey on eggs of animals that had nests close to the ground.

Exclusive to Madeira?

The same or a similar species has been investigated in Porto Santo, another island of the archipelago of Madeira. "This is extremely interesting" the researcher says, "but difficult to assess because the materials found are limited and fragmented."

"If the scops owls of Madeira and Porto Santo were different species, it would mean that the Otus' flying ability is much more limited than continental scops owls. The distance between the two islands would be enough to isolate them" Alcover points out.

The homogeneity of the scops owls' measurements on the two islands, as well as the differences compared to European scops owls suggests that they were genetically isolated from the European populations. The distance between the continent and the island was enough to explain the difference in the species.

On this island they expect to discover new species of birds in the near future "which will report a world that disappeared just a few hundred years ago." "The same thing will happen in the Azores islands where there is already evidence that a scops owl different to the ones in Madeira and Europe that is also extinct" the scientist says.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Plataforma SINC, via AlphaGalileo.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

Rando J.C.; Pieper H.; Alcover J.A.; Olson S.L. A new species of extinct fossil Scops owl (Aves: Strigiformes: Strigidae: Otus) from the Archipelago of Madeira (North Atlantic Ocean). Zootaxa, 2012
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PostPosted: 24-03-2012 21:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anew species of scorpion, aargh!

Quote:
An elusive new scorpion species from California lives underground
http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-03-elusive-scorpion-species-california-underground.html
March 23rd, 2012 in Biology / Plants & Animals

This is a scorpion glowing under ultraviolet light. This specimen is a Northern Scorpion, a broadly distributed species that was also found in the Inyo Mountains. Credit: Michael Webber

Even in places as seemly well-studied as the national parks of North America, new species are still being discovered. Using ultraviolet light that cause scorpions to fluoresce a ghostly glow, researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) have discovered an intriguing new scorpion in Death Valley National Park. They named the species Wernerius inyoensis, after the Inyo Mountains where it was found. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

This new species is small, only 16 mm in length. "We almost overlooked this one during the survey" said Matthew Graham, a PhD Candidate with the School of Life Sciences at UNLV. Matt discovered the scorpion along with his father who was volunteering that night. "Only a single male individual was found, but the physical uniqueness was enough to identify it as a new species", said Michael Webber, another PhD Candidate from UNLV who described the specimen. This new scorpion appears to be closely related to two other species found over 400 kilometers away at Joshua Tree National Park and along the lower Colorado River. This group of scorpions is most easily identified by the presence of a conspicuous spine at the base of the stinger, the function of which, if any, is unknown.

The previously known species are also rarely observed in the wild, and this elusive nature has led to speculation that these scorpions occur at very low densities or have only sporadic surface activity. However, the rocky terrain in which the previous species were found and the discovery of the new species at the base of a talus slope, hint at the possibility that these scorpions are subterrestrial, spending their lives deep in rock crevices or in the interstitial spaces among piles of loose rock.

This is a drawing of the tail segment of Wernerius inyoensis, displaying the unique spine above the stinger. Credit: Michael Webber

Scorpions are quite common within arid regions where they can comprise a large component of biological diversity. The new species was discovered during field surveys funded by the National Park Service as part of efforts to develop better inventories for all organisms occurring within the parks.

"In North America, inventories for mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are pretty well developed, and we have a good handle on higher-order plants, but for many groups of smaller organisms taxonomic inventories will no doubt lead to numerous new discoveries" said Dr. Jef Jaeger, a Research Assistant Professor at UNLV who initiated and oversaw the scorpion surveys.
In the face of regional environmental changes brought about by human actions and the potential for larger changes that global warming may bring, many scientists and resource managers place new importance on efforts to document and catalog species diversity.

More information: Webber MM, Graham MR, Jaeger JR (2012) Wernerius inyoensis, an elusive new scorpion from the Inyo Mountains of California (Scorpiones, Vaejovidae). ZooKeys 177: 1-13. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.177.2562

Provided by Pensoft Publishers
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PostPosted: 25-04-2012 10:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Limbless amphibian species found
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17827350
By Sivaramakrishnan Parameswaran
BBC Tamil Service

The caecilians are an enigmatic group of limbless amphibians

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A UK-Indian team of scientists have announced the discovery of a new species of limbless amphibian.

The animal was identified by accident in the Western Ghats area in the state of Kerala, South India.

The specimens were found inside moist soil after digging the shrub-covered bank of a mountain stream.

The creature - about 168mm in length and pink in colour - belongs to an enigmatic, limbless group of amphibians known as the caecilians.

Ramachandran Kotharambath, lead author of the report, told the BBC Tamil Service that the animal was identified as a new species following extensive comparisons with other, similar examples from this amphibian group.

According to the researchers, specimens of the novel caecilian - named Gegeneophis primus - were collected during field works in two consecutive monsoons, first in October 2010 and then in August 2011.

They were discovered at a valley on a plantation in the Wynad district of Kerala.

Active collaboration
The new finding was made as part of a longstanding research collaboration between the department of zoology at the University of Kerala and London's Natural History Museum. The Central University at Kasargod in Kerala also contributed to of the discovery.

The finding has been reported in the latest edition of the academic journal Zootaxa.

Continue reading the main story

Caecilian facts and videos at BBC Nature
The wider distribution, natural history and habitat preferences of the species are yet to be determined.

The discovery of this species indicates that the caecilian amphibians might have great diversity all along the Western Ghats area said Mr Ramachandran.

"The discovery on a plantation points out that these elusive animals are very vulnerable to anthropogenic activities and are living silently right under our feet," he explained

The new species do not face any immediate threat as long as the habitat structure is maintained, according to the scientists.

They also say that they need to know how far and wide this species is distributed and what are the habitat requirements.

Though these tiny amphibians are at least safe now, any major modification in the plantation structure could dangerously affect the species survival, said Mr Ramachandran

Co-author Dr Oommen says the discovery was significant since the finding ended a hiatus of almost half-a-century. "It highlights the fact that the knowledge of caecilian amphibians of the Western Ghats remains incomplete and in need of further study."
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PostPosted: 20-05-2012 19:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

The place is hopping with them.

Quote:
Malaysia scientist says found new Borneo frog
http://phys.org/news/2012-05-malaysia-scientist-borneo-frog.html
May 19th, 2012 in Biology / Plants & Animals

This photo taken in 2010 and released on May 18 by the University Malaysia Sarawak shows a new species of Frog. A Malaysian researcher known for finding new amphibian species said Friday his team had discovered at least one new species of frog in studies he said highlight Borneo's rich biodiversity.

A Malaysian researcher known for finding new amphibian species said Friday his team had discovered at least one new species of frog in studies he said highlight Borneo's rich biodiversity.

Indraneil Das of the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak said the brown frog is just 4-5 centimetres (1.6-2.0 inches) long and makes a distinctive high-pitched chirp.

His team discovered the frog during an expedition to the rainforests of Mount Singai in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo island in September 2010. They later found another of the same species in nearby Kubah National Park.

Ascertaining whether a species is new is a lengthy scientific process and his discovery remains to be peer-reviewed, he said.

"We heard a call we hadn't heard before. It called from under the leaf litter. That's probably why no one saw it before," Das told AFP.

"It's the call that is very distinctive. It was high-pitched, loud and repeated."
Das said his team had also found several other species of frog that could be previously unknown and was currently investigating them.

He now hopes to publish his findings to draw attention to Borneo's amazing biodiversity and help promote conservation efforts of its rainforests, currently threatened by logging and other development.

Last year, Das made headlines for rediscovering a spindly-legged toad species, the Sambas Stream Toad or Borneo Rainbow Toad, almost 90 years after it was last sighted in the Borneo jungle.

The toad was listed as one of the "World's Top 10 Most Wanted Lost Frogs" in a campaign by Conservation International and another group to encourage scientists worldwide to seek out amphibians not seen for a decade or more.

Das has also previously discovered Asia's tiniest frog, the size of a pea, in Kubah National Park.

The Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah occupy the northern portion of Borneo island, which is also shared with Indonesia and Brunei.
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PostPosted: 21-06-2012 11:16    Post subject: Reply with quote

ramonmercado wrote:
Quote:
Giant prehistoric marsupial found in Northern Australia
July 5th, 2011 in Other Sciences / Archaeology & Fossils
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-giant-prehistoric-marsupial-northern-australia.html

Diprotodon optatum - giant marsupial from Pleistocene of Australia. Image: Dmitry Bogdanov/Wikipedia.

(PhysOrg.com) -- In what paleontologists are describing as a major find, researchers have dug up the remains of a creature that lived some 50,000 to two million years ago. The diprotodon as it's known, has been described as somewhat akin to a giant wombat, and is a marsupial, meaning it carried it’s young in a pouch the way kangaroos do.


Quote:
'Giant wombat' grave found in Queensland, Australia
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18533038

Diprotodon inhabited forests and open woodland

Scientists have unearthed the biggest find yet of pre-historic "giant wombat" skeletons, revealing clues to the reasons for the species' extinction.

The find, in Queensland, Australia, of about 50 diprotodons - the largest marsupial that ever lived - has been called a "palaeontologists' goldmine".

The plant-eating giants, the size of a rhinoceros, had backward-facing pouches big enough to carry an adult human.

The fossils are believed to be between 100,000 and 200,000 years old.

Lead scientist Scott Hocknull, from the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, said: "When we did the initial survey I was just completely blown away by the concentrations of these fragments.

"It's a palaeontologists' goldmine where we can really see what these megafauna were doing, how they actually behaved, what their ecology was.

"With so many fossils it gives us a unique opportunity to see these animals in their environment, basically, so we can reconstruct it."

Ancient crocodile
The "mega-wombats" appeared to have been trapped in boggy conditions while taking refuge from dry conditions, Mr Hocknull added.

The pigeon-toed animals were widespread across Australia about 50,000 years ago, when the fist indigenous people are believed to have lived, but they first appeared about 1.6 million years ago.

It is unclear how or why they became extinct, but it could have been due to hunting by humans or, more likely, a changing climate.

The remote desert site contains one huge specimen, nicknamed Kenny, which is one of the best preserved and biggest examples ever discovered. Its jawbone alone is 70cm (28in) long.

The site is also home to an array of other prehistoric species, including the teeth of a 6m (20ft) lizard called megalania and the teeth and bony back-plates of an enormous pre-historic crocodile.

Mr Hocknull said: "We're almost certain that most of these carcasses of diprotodon have been torn apart by both the crocodiles and the lizards, because we've found shed teeth within their skeletons from both animals."

A relative of the modern-day wombat, the diprotodon inhabited forests, open woodland and scrub.

It was just one of several "megafauna" to roam pre-historic Australia.
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PostPosted: 16-07-2012 21:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
New scarlet snake found in Cambodia
July 16th, 2012 in Biology / Plants & Animals

Enlarge

A new species of snake pictured in Cambodia's southwest Cardamom Mountains, in a picture taken on January 27, 2011 and released by conservation group Fauna and Flora International (FFI) on July 16, 2012.

The new species of snake was discovered in Cambodia's rainforest, conservationists announced Monday.

A new species of snake which is scarlet with black and white rings has been discovered in Cambodia's rainforest, conservationists announced on Monday.

The reptile, which has been named the Cambodian Kukri, was found in the southwest Cardamom Mountains, an area under threat from habitat loss, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) said in a statement.

Kukri snakes are so named because their curved rear fangs -- designed to puncture eggs -- are similar in shape to the Nepalese kukri knife, FFI said.

"Most kukri snakes are dull-coloured," said Neang Thy, one of the herpetologists who discovered the new species. "But this one is dark red with black and white rings, making it a beautiful snake."
(c) 2012 AFP

"New scarlet snake found in Cambodia." July 16th, 2012. http://phys.org/news/2012-07-scarlet-snake-cambodia.html
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PostPosted: 18-07-2012 19:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I'm not mistaken there were a good handful of new creatures found and photographed in the Laos jungle fairly recently. I'll try to research and post it later on..
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PostPosted: 21-07-2012 21:08    Post subject: Reply with quote

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'First' 50-eyed flatworm discovered in Cambridgeshire
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-18859489

The flatworm could be a new species, experts believe

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A tiny flatworm with between 50 and 60 eyes, discovered on a Cambridgeshire nature reserve, is believed to be a new species.

The 12mm (0.5in) creature was found by Brian Eversham, chief executive of the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

Biologist Dr Hugh Jones, an expert in the field, believed it was a "completely new, undescribed species".

He is currently studying the worm to determine its origins.

It was found at Shepreth L-Moor, an area of ancient grass and chalkland near Cambridge.

Copulatory apparatus
The flatworm is thought to be of antipodean descent, but also a close relative of a species found in Northern Ireland called Kontikia andersoni.

"New Zealand seems to be the centre of diversity for land flatworms worldwide, and its climate is very similar to Britain," Mr Eversham said.

He said it was not uncommon for worms to be accidentally transported to the UK in horticultural freight.

"Whereas there are millions of undescribed species in the tropics and other poorly-known parts of the world, Britain is the best-documented place on the planet, and it's quite unusual to find a species here which has not been seen before."

Dr Jones, a scientific associate of the Natural History Museum, said he had only seen one other example of a similar worm, a single specimen discovered in the Netherlands in April.

He hopes to be able to identify the species by studying its copulatory apparatus.

"That's the best diagnostic tool when identifying flatworms," he said.
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PostPosted: 06-08-2012 23:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
New bird species discovered in 'cloud forest' of Peru
August 6th, 2012 in Biology / Plants & Animals

The Sira Barbet, Capito fitzpatricki, has been discovered and named by Cornell University graduates following an expedition to the remote Peruvian Andes. Credit: Cornell University

A colorful, fruit-eating bird with a black mask, pale belly and scarlet breast – never before described by science – has been discovered and named by Cornell University graduates following an expedition to the remote Peruvian Andes.
The Sira Barbet, Capito fitzpatricki, is described in a paper published in the July 2012 issue of The Auk, the official publication of the American Ornithologists' Union.

The new species was discovered during a 2008 expedition led by Michael G. Harvey, Glenn Seeholzer and Ben Winger, young ornithologists who had recently graduated from Cornell at the time. They were accompanied by co-author Daniel Cáceres, a graduate of the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín in Arequipa, Peru, and local Ashéninka guides. The team discovered the barbet on a ridge of montane cloud forest in the Cerros del Sira range in the eastern Andes. Steep ridges and deep river gorges in the Andes produce many isolated habitats and microclimates that give rise to uniquely evolved species.

Though clearly a sister species of the Scarlet-banded Barbet, the Sira Barbet is readily distinguished by differences in color on the bird's flanks, lower back and thighs, and a wider, darker scarlet breast band. By comparing mitochondrial DNA sequences of the new barbet to DNA sequences of its close relatives in the genus Capito, the team secured genetic evidence that this is a new species in the barbet family. The genetic work was done by co-author Jason Weckstein at The Field Museum in Chicago.

The team chose the scientific name of the new species Capito fitzpatricki in honor of Cornell Lab of Ornithology executive director John W. Fitzpatrick, who discovered and named seven new bird species in Peru during the 1970s and '80s.
"Fitz has inspired generations of young ornithologists in scientific discovery and conservation," said Winger. "He was behind us all the way when we presented our plan for this expedition."

More information: A copy of the July 2012 Auk paper outlining the find can be downloaded from: bit.ly/OL0SkW

Provided by Cornell University

"New bird species discovered in 'cloud forest' of Peru." August 6th, 2012. http://phys.org/news/2012-08-bird-species-cloud-forest-peru.html
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PostPosted: 31-08-2012 22:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you beelieve it?

Quote:
Five New Species of Cuckoo Bees from the Cape Verde Islands
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120830105419.htm

ScienceDaily (Aug. 30, 2012) — The biota of island archipelagos is of considerable interest to biologists. These isolated areas often act as 'evolutionary laboratories', spawning biological diversity rapidly and permitting many mechanisms to be observed and studied over relatively short periods of time. Such islands are often the places of new discoveries, including the documentation of new species.

The Republic of Cape Verde comprises 10 inhabited islands about 570 kilometers off the coast of West Africa and have been known since at least 1456. Although the bee fauna of the islands was thought to be moderately well known, research by Dr. Jakub Straka of Charles University in Prague and Dr. Michael S. Engel of the University of Kansas have shown that this is not the case. A recent study published in the Open Access journal ZooKeys documents the cuckoo bee fauna of the islands, revealing that their entire fauna of cuckoo bee species is in fact new to science.

These bees, like the more widely known cuckoo birds, invade the nests of other host bee species. While the host is out collecting pollen for its brood, the cuckoo bee female enters the nest and deposits her eggs on the food resource. The cuckoo bee egg hatches and the immature promptly dispatches the host egg, leaving the pollen and nectar reserves for itself.

The Cape Verde cuckoos are mostly large, black-and-white species, almost zebra-like in their appearance. However, one species, Chiasmognathus batelkai, is quite small, merely 3.2 -- 4.2 millimeters in length. Despite its small proportions, C. batelkai is still the largest species of its genus, a group which otherwise comprises even more diminutive species. It appears as though at slightly less than 5 mm, C. batelkai is a remarkable case of island 'gigantism', whereby founder effects or genetic drift lead to an increased body size in isolated populations during the initial stages of species origination and differentiation.

The researchers are now attempting to explore the diversity of the cuckoo bees' hosts and also to understand their evolutionary diversification across the archipelago.

Story Source:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Pensoft Publishers, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:
Jakub Straka, Michael Engel. The apid cuckoo bees of the Cape Verde Islands (Hymenoptera, Apidae). ZooKeys, 2012; 218 (0): 77 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.218.3683
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ramonmercadoOnline
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PostPosted: 02-09-2012 23:02    Post subject: Reply with quote

A whole new meaning for giving head.

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'Penis-head' fish discovered in Vietnam
August 29th, 2012 in Biology / Plants & Animals

A preserved specimen of Phallostethus cuulong, a new species of fish with a penis on its head that has been identified in the Mekong delta in Vietnam. Researchers said Wednesday that Phallostethus cuulong is the newest member of the Phallostethidae family—small fish found in Southeast Asian waters that are distinguished primarily by the positioning of the male sexual organ.

A new species of fish with a penis on its head has been identified in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, researchers said on Wednesday.

Phallostethus cuulong is the newest member of the Phallostethidae family—small fish found in Southeast Asian waters that are distinguished primarily by the positioning of the male sexual organ.

Male phallostethids have a copulatory organ, termed the priapium, under the throat for holding or clasping onto females and fertilising their eggs internally, according to conservationists.

"We have scientifically identified a new penis-head fish in Vietnam," researcher Tran Dac Dinh from Can Tho University told AFP.

The fish was known to Vietnamese people in the Mekong Delta but had not been described scientifically before a team identified the species last year, he said.
(c) 2012 AFP

"'Penis-head' fish discovered in Vietnam." August 29th, 2012. http://phys.org/news/2012-08-penis-head-fish-vietnam.html
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PostPosted: 03-09-2012 13:54    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the fishy playground of his spawn-hood Phallostethus cuulong would weep as the hurtful shouts of 'Oi knob head' echoed around him.
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PostPosted: 04-09-2012 07:35    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bit whiffy

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A mysterious new species of stick insect has been discovered living in the Philippines by scientists.
The stick insect is wingless, lives on the ground rather than in trees, and is spectacularly coloured, having a green-blue head and orange body. The insect also vents a foul-smelling spray to deter predators. The stick insect is so unique that scientists have given it its own genus and do not yet know its relationship to other stick and leaf insects.

"Recently a colleague, entomologist Oskar Conle, showed us some museum specimens of a strange-looking stick insect found several years ago on Mount Halcon, a remote locality in the Philippine island of Mindoro," explains Marco Gottardo, who is studying for a PhD at the University of Siena, Italy.

The insect was found on the third highest mountain in the archipelago, which is considered one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. "We were baffled. It looked so different from any other known stick insect in the world that we immediately realised it was something very special."

Mr Gottardo and colleague Philipp Heller carefully examined the specimen. "We concluded that it represented an unknown genus and species of stick insect," Mr Gottardo told BBC Nature. The scientists have published details of the discovery in the journal Comptes Rendus Biologies.

The scientists think these features are likely to be special adaptations for living in the low-growing vegetation of a montane rainforest. Most tree-dwelling stick insects that live in the forest canopy have slender and elongated bodies and legs, thought to provide good camouflage among stick and leaves. "Another unique characteristic is the spectacular colour pattern. [A male] has dark bluish-green head and legs, and a bright orange body with distinctive bluish-black triangle-shaped spots on its back," he adds.

It is more likely that the insect uses these striking colours to warn off predators, rather than as a form of camouflage. "In fact we have discovered that the new stick insect has the ability to release a potent defensive spray from glands located behind its head. "The defensive substance is sprayed when the insect feels threatened, and has a strong distasteful smell, which likely functions to repel potential predators in a similar way to skunks," says Mr Gottardo.

Enigmatic origin
The scientists have named the insect Conlephasma enigma.

"We have named the new stick insect with the specific epithet "enigma" because its systematic position in the tree of life of stick and leaf insects remains a mystery," says Mr Gottardo. Many of the stick insect's distinctive features are unlike those recorded on other stick insects.

One feature, however, has been seen before. The microstructures of Conlephasma enigma's mouthparts are strikingly similar to those held by another group of stick insects. The problem is that these stick insects live in tropical America, on the other side of the world, raising the question of how two insects so far apart might share a similar trait.
The researchers hope that a more detailed molecular analysis of the stick insect's genetics may shed light on its true identity.
"We also hope that the discovery of this particular new insect species may draw attention into the problem of rainforest conservation in the Philippines, which are home to unique and still poorly known wildlife," Mr Gottardo says.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/19399735
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