Sunday, 20 September 2020

San Antonio Zoo unveils new Chupacabra exhibit

Well, some people claim to have seen it. The zoo on Thursday announced its new Chupacabra exhibit will open Saturday in an effort to get patrons' ...

Friday, 18 September 2020

NOVATAXA: A New Gecko Species (Squamata: Eublepharidae) from Guangxi, China


[Herpetology • 2020] Goniurosaurus gezhi • A New Gecko Species (Squamata: Eublepharidae) from Guangxi, China

Goniurosaurus gezhi Zhu, He & Li

in  Zhu, Chen, ... et He, 2020. 

Five species of geckos in the genus Goniurosaurus had been recorded from Guangxi, China. Here we describe a new species, Goniurosaurus gezhi sp. nov. Zhu, He & Li. The new species is similar to those found in Guangxi and Guizhou provinces of China and Northern Vietnam, but unique in a combination of the following characters: (1) three body bands between limb insertions; (2) precloacal pores 18–20; (3) body small (SVL=70.6–83.8 mm); (4) body color orange to yellow. We evaluated the phylogenetic position of this new species based on the 16S mitochondrial gene. Molecular phylogenies validate this new species as distinct to currently described lineages within Goniurosaurus. The type specimens are deposited in the Museum of Biology, East China Normal University (ECNU).

Keywords: Reptilia, Gekkota, taxonomy, 16S, karst, Guangxi, China

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NOVATAXA: A New Species of the Melanorivulus pictus Species-group (Cyprinodontiformes: Rivulidae) from the Rio Paraná Basin in Brazil


[Ichthyology • 2020] Melanorivulus larissae • A New Species of the Melanorivulus pictus Species-group (Cyprinodontiformes: Rivulidae) from the Rio Paraná Basin in Brazil

Melanorivulus larissae 
Ywamoto, Nielsen & Oliveira, 2020

A new species of the genus Melanorivulus belonging to the Melanorivulus pictus species group is herein described, from a tributary of the Rio Grande, Rio Paraná basin, São Paulo State, Brazil. The new species can be distinguished from all other species of the Melanorivulus pictus species group by the unique presence of sides of body of males light bluish gray with 10–12 oblique red bars, 8 of which chevron-like, bifurcated and complete, i.e., running from dorsum to ventral area, and 2–4 incomplete, with vertices of the chevron-like bars along midbody, pointing forward. Comments on the putative relationships of the new species, as well as concerning its conservation status, are presented.

Keywords: Cyprinodontiformes, Rio Grande basin, RivulusMelanorivulus apiamiciMelanorivulus leali, Cerrado, Killifishes

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NOVATAXA: Rediscovery of the Enigmatic Andean Frog Telmatobius halli


[Herpetology • 2020] Rediscovery of the Enigmatic Andean Frog Telmatobius halli Noble (Anura: Telmatobiidae), Re-description of the Tadpole and Comments on New Adult’s Characters, Type Locality and Conservation Status

Telmatobius halli Noble, 1938

in Cuevas, Formas, Alvarado-Rybak, Peñafiel-Ricaurte & Azat, 2020. 

We report the rediscovery of Telmatobius halli (Hall’s water frog), which had not been found since its description (over 80 years) since its type locality was not clearly established. “Aguas Calientes” near Ollagüe is hypothesized as the original type locality where Frank Gregory Hall collected the type material in 1935. The tadpole is re-described, and new data on the external and internal morphology of adults is provided. These new morphological data are compared with Telmatobius spp. inhabiting geographically close to T. halli in Chile and Bolivia. In addition, comments on its ecology, conservation, and taxonomic status in relation with other Telmatobius spp. inhabiting nearby areas in Ascotán and Carcote salt pans are provided. No evidence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Ranavirus infection was found in T. halli and a sympatric amphibian species. Our work supports the validity of T. halli and suggests this species should be considered as Data Deficient in the IUCN Red List assessment until taxonomic issues are resolved.

Keywords: Amphibia, Taxonomy, Telmatobius, aquatic frog, type locality, Northern Chile

Type locality of Telmatobius halli, near Ollagüe, Chile.
(C) Close up view of the warm spring. 

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NOVATAXA: Diminutive Hemiphyllodactylus Bleeker, 1860 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from A Sacred Grove in Odisha, eastern India


[Herpetology • 2020] Hemiphyllodactylus minimus • A Novel, Diminutive Hemiphyllodactylus Bleeker, 1860 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from A Sacred Grove in Odisha, eastern India

Hemiphyllodactylus minimus 
Mohapatra, Khandekar, Dutta, Mahapatra & Agarwal, 2020

We describe distinct new species of Hemiphyllodactylus from a sacred grove near Humma in Ganjam District of Odisha state, eastern India. Hemiphyllodactylus minimus sp. nov. is the smallest member of the genus and can be diagnosed from all peninsular Indian congeners by its small body size (SVL ≤32.2 mm, n=11), having 15–18 dorsal scales and eight or nine ventral scales at mid-body contained within one longitudinal eye diameter, nine or ten precloacal pores separated by 4–6 poreless scales from a series of six or seven femoral pores on each thigh in males, lamellar formula of manus 2222 and of pes 2332 & 2333, as well as subtle colour pattern differences. Additionally, the new species is 16.0–22.7 % divergent from all other peninsular Indian Hemiphyllodactylus in uncorrected ND2 sequence data. The new species is the first member of the genus described from Odisha state and also the first Hemiphyllodactylus known from < 100 m asl. The discovery of Hemiphyllodactylus minimus sp. nov. from a low elevation coastal locality in the Eastern Ghats open ups the possibilities that the genus could be more widespread than currently understood and potentially harbour many more distinct undescribed lineages. Therefore, dedicated fine-scale sampling efforts are needed to uncover the true diversity and distribution of Hemiphyllodactylus in the region.

Keywords: Reptilia, Biogeography, conservation, northern Eastern Ghats, taxonomy

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NOVATAXA: Abronia morenica • A New Species of Abronia (Squamata: Anguidae) from a Protected Area in Chiapas, Mexico


[Herpetology • 2020] Abronia morenica • A New Species of Abronia (Squamata: Anguidae) from a Protected Area in Chiapas, Mexico

Abronia morenica  
Clause, Luna-Reyes & De Oca, 2020


We describe a new species of the genus Abronia from the La Sepultura Biosphere Reserve in western Chiapas, México. The new species is known only from the vicinity of the type locality in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas. It is readily distinguished from all congeners by the following combination of characters: lack of protuberant or spine-like supra-auricular scales, lack of protuberant or casque-like posterolateral head scales, 30–35 transverse dorsal scale rows, lateralmost row of ventral scales enlarged relative to adjacent medial row, dorsum brown with 8–10 transverse dark crossbands, and dark lateral bar on the neck extending from the shoulder to near the auricular opening. We tentatively assign the new species to the subgenus Lissabronia pending the availability of a robust, comprehensive molecular phylogeny for the genus. We discuss regional Abronia biogeography and comment on the conservation implications of our discovery for the imperiled highland forests of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, a globally important center of endemism.

KEYWORDS: Alligator lizard, biosphere reserve, conservation, Gerrhonotinae, morphology, Sierra Madre de Chiapas, systematics, taxonomy

NOVATAXA: Distinct Species Status of A Microhyla (Anura, Microhylidae) from the Yaeyama Group of the Southern Ryukyus, Japan


[Herpetology • 2020] Microhyla kuramotoi • Distinct Species Status of A Microhyla (Anura, Microhylidae) from the Yaeyama Group of the Southern Ryukyus, Japan

Microhyla kuramotoi 
Matsui & Tominaga, 2020

A Japanese microhylid, Microhyla okinavensis, originally described from Okinawajima Island, middle Ryukyus, was long synonymized with M. ornata from India. However, molecular phylogenetic studies revealed its distinct species status from M. ornata, and more recent phylogenetic study revealed the population from the Yaeyama Group of the southern Ryukyus to be a sister taxon to Chinese M. mixtura and not to populations from the remaining group of the Ryukyus, that are sister to another Chinese species, M. beilunensis. The Yaeyama and the remaining Ryukyu populations greatly differ phylogenetically, although less clearly morphologically. From these data, we consider the Yaeyama population as a species distinct from M. okinavensis from the middle Ryukyus.

KEYWORDS: Microhyla beilunensisMicrohyla fanjingshanensis, Microhyla mixtura, Microhyla okinavensis, new species, Yaeyama Group

Dorsal (A) and ventral (B) views of male holotype of Microhyla kuramotoi sp. nov. (RUMF-ZH-01017). Scale bar = 5 mm.

Microhyla kuramotoi sp. nov.
[Japanese name: Yaeyama-Himeama-Gaeru]
[English name: Yaeyama Narrow-Mouthed Toad]

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NOVATAXA: A New Species of Noblella (Anura: Strabomantidae) from the Río Manduriacu Reserve on the Pacific slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes


[Herpetology • 2020] Noblella worleyae • A New Species of Noblella (Anura: Strabomantidae) from the Río Manduriacu Reserve on the Pacific slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes

 Noblella worleyae 
Reyes-Puig, Maynard, Trageser, Vieira, Hamilton, Lynch, Culebras, Kohn, Brito & Guayasamin, 2020

With the third most biodiverse amphibian fauna in the world, Ecuador has bolstered this claim with a particularly high rate of species descriptions in recent years. Many of the species being described are already facing anthropogenic threats despite being discovered within privately protected reserves in areas previously not sampled. Herein we describe a new species of terrestrial frog in the genus Noblella from the recently established Río Manduriacu Reserve, Imbabura, Ecuador.  Noblella worleyae sp. nov. differs from its congeners by having a dorsum finely shagreen; tips of Fingers I and IV slightly acuminate, Fingers II and III acuminate, without papillae; distal phalanges of the hand slightly T-shaped; absence of distinctive suprainguinal marks; venter yellowish-cream with minute speckling and throat with irregular brown marks to homogeneously brown. We provide a detailed description of the advertisement call of the new species and present an updated phylogeny of the genus Noblella. In addition, we emphasize the importance of the Río Manduriacu Reserve as a conservation area to threatened fauna.

KEYWORDS: Western Andean slopes, terrestrial frog, phylogeny, conservation

USA, NY STATE: Unlikely chupacabras


Ran across my yard in Buffalo, New York. All I have in mind is a Chupacabra.
313 votes, 44 comments. 130k members in the Whatisthis community. For Identification Of Unknown Objects, i.e., Weird Creatures, Ancient Kitchen …

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Modigliani’s lizard rediscovered


It’s now known that a Modigliani’s lizard, first found in 1891 in Indonesia, is bright green but can shift shades like a chameleon.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Killer whales on the rampage


A pod of 'crazy' killer whales is launching coordinated attacks on boats, terrifying the sailors and baffling scientists (Sophia Ankel)
  • A series of orca attacks on sailboats along the coast of Spain and Portugal has left scientists baffled.

  • Many sailors have sent distress calls after orca attacks have left their boats seriously damaged and crew members injured in the last two months.

  • In one instance, a 46-foot delivery boat was surrounded by nine orcas that were all ramming the boat for one hour, causing it to spin 180 degrees and the engine to shut down.

  • While it is not unusual for orcas to follow boats or even interact with the rudder as a form of play, researchers say it is unnatural for them to become aggressive.

    Read on...

Extinction: Urgent change needed to save species, says UN


Golden snub-nosed monkey (c) Joel SartoreImage copyrightJOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK
Image captionMany primates, including the endangered gold snub-nosed monkey, are in decline due to loss of habitat

Humanity is at a crossroads and we have to take action now to make space for nature to recover and slow its "accelerating decline".

This is according to a report by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. 

It sets out a bullet point list of eight major transitions that could help stop the ongoing decline in nature. 

"Things have to change," said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the convention's executive secretary.

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Big ol’ Tank Puppy excited to see his keeper (via Louis)


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Scientists Rediscover Rare ‘Singing’ Dogs Thought to Have Gone Extinct (via Richard Muirhead)

 New Guinea "singing" dogs were thought to have gone extinct in the wild. But new research has located an “ancestral dog population” on the Indonesian island.

singing dog

A rare “singing” dog native to New Guinea was rediscovered in the wild after scientists had believed the breed had gone extinct for over 50 years.

The breed—known for its unique vocalizations similar to the song of the humpback whale—was first studied in 1897.

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Hong Kong's dolphins make pandemic comeback (via Richard Muirhead)

Hong Kong's dolphins make pandemic comeback Close Restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic mean there are hardly any boats and ferries around Hong Kong.  The vulnerable Chinese white dolphin is making a comeback as a result, with sightings up about 30%.

Pine marten and grey squirrel interaction (via Bob Skinner)

Monday, 14 September 2020

BBC: Is there life floating in the clouds of Venus? (Via Louis)


Is there life floating in the clouds of Venus?

Image captionPlanet Venus: The phosphine is detected at mid-latitudes

It's an extraordinary possibility - the idea that living organisms are floating in the clouds of Planet Venus.

But this is what astronomers are now considering after detecting a gas in the atmosphere they can't explain.

That gas is phosphine - a molecule made up of one phosphorus atom and three hydrogen atoms.

Read on...

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