Posts Tagged ‘new species’

Up To 14 New Species of Snail Discovered in Australia

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Between 10 and 14 new species of land snail have been discovered in Northern Australia in the Katherine and Victoria River District (VRD).

The discovery was part of a project that involved scientists from the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport (NRETAS) along with rangers from the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Service spending 12 days searching for snails in the area. 

A total of 61 sites, mostly in remote areas, were surveyed between Katherine and Kununurra.

The findings will help determine the snails’ distribution and habitat preferences and will identify potential threats. The scientists will now be able to develop recovery plans, monitoring programs and conservation management.  

“Although we won’t know the exact number of species sampled for some time, there are somewhere between 10 and 14 species new to science and many species appearing to have only very small distributions” said Dr Michael Braby, NRETAS Biodiversity Conservation research scientist.

“Land snails are an important part of a complex food chain – they provide food for other animals such as birds and other vertebrates – and cycle nutrients such as nitrates and calcium back into the soil” he added.

Your Chance to Name a New Species

Friday, October 31st, 2008

A new website was launched ealier this year that enables any member of the public to name a newly discovered species.

The website, called Name a Species, enables you to pay for the right to name a species. Half of the proceeds go directly to the researchers who describe the species. Another portion of the proceeds goes to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as part of Name a Species’ mission to protect and celebrate the world’s biological diversity.

As Name a Species points out, it’s not the first time members of the public have been given the opportunity to name a species. Last year, $2 million dollars was raised at an auction for the rights to name 10 newly discovered fish species. And In 2005 a casino paid $650,000 to name a species of monkey. 

But scientists often name a species after friends, family, or even famous people. East Carolina University biologist Jason Bond recently named a new spider species after Neil Young. In 2005 U.S. President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld each had a new species of slime-mold beetle named after them.

The idea behind the Name a Species website is to make naming a species more accessible for the general public and to support the scientific community. 

“While species names have been sold before, never before has naming new species been more accessible or benefited the responsible scientist so directly” says Name a Species founder, Hunter A. Williams.

 ”While our efforts raise awareness of the biological diversity on planet Earth, we also hope to democratize support for scientific research, and help the public to develop a closer relationship with the scientific community. When you name a species, in addition to a frame-ready certificate you will also receive a note of gratitude from the researcher who discovered the species and a copy of the peer-reviewed scientific publication that declares the new species name to the world,”

The Name a Species website contains a list of yet to be named species as well as a price for purchasing the naming rights for each species. If you’re interested in naming a species, check out nameaspecies.com.

2 New Species of Gecko Discovered

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Two rare species of gecko have been discovered and identified as new species in Australia.

Scientists discovered the geckos recently during expeditions to Northwest Cape and the southern deserts of Western Australia and South Australia.

Geckos are small to medium sized lizards which are found in warm climates around the world. They are known for their ability to stick to vertical surfaces, and for their high pitched “chirping” sounds during interactions with other geckos.

The newly described species are known as the Cape Range Gecko (scientific name: Diplodactylus capensis) and the Southern Sandplain Gecko (scientific name: Lucasium bungabinna).

Cape Range Gecko

Cape Range Gecko - Male

Cape Range Gecko - Male. Photo: Western Australian Museum

The Cape Range Gecko was named after Cape Range in the north-western part of Australia. It had previously been mistaken for a Pilbara species, but it is more closely related to another species - the closest of which is 600 kilometers to the south of Cape Range.

WA Museum curator of herpetology Dr Paul Doughty said ”The Cape Range is made up of an ancient block of limestone which has created a unique habitat to which the species has adapted”

The Cape Range Gecko is characterised by a distinctive broken stripe on its back, larger head and reddish coloration which matches the color of the rocks on the Cape Range.

“Little is known of this new species and we are still in the process of describing other new species of reptiles from this special area of Western Australia.” said Dr Doughty.

Southern Sandplain Gecko

Southern Sandplain Gecko - Male. Photo: Western Australian Museum

Southern Sandplain Gecko - Male. Photo: Western Australian Museum

The Southern Sandplain Gecko occurs in the southern deserts in Western Australia and South Australia, north of the Nullarbor Plain. 

The species has smaller toe pads than other geckos, and it has been observed climbing low shrubs.

The scientific name ‘bungabinna’ is derived from the Bungalbin Sandplain in Western Australia and the Yellabinna Sandplain in South Australia where it occurs.

The Research

The research was carried out by scientists from the Western Australian Museum and South Australian Museum. The project was funded by a grant from the Australia and Pacific Science Foundation.

Is this Mystery Cat a New Species?

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Is this a new species of cat? Or is it the rare Andean Cat or the Pampas Cat?

Is this a new species of cat? Or is it the rare Andean Cat or the Pampas Cat?

World Land Trust (WLT) has reported a possible new species of cat in Fundación Jocotoco (FJ), Ecuador.

The cat is thought to be of the same (yet to be described) species as one seen two years ago in Peru. 

The cat was seen and photographed by Aldo Sornoza of FJ, who was helping with the construction of a new visitors’ lodge on the Jorupe Reserve. 

If this is the same cat as seen in Peru, it would be the first known sighting in Ecuador.

It’s quite possible however, that it is not a new species. 

Andean Cat?

One possibility is that it’s an Andean Cat (Oreailurus jacobita), which is one of the most endangered wild cats on Earth. Also known as the “Andean Mountain Cat” and “Mountain Cat”, this species has been listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) since 2002.  

Lou Jost of Fundación EcoMinga, an Ecuadorian partner of the WLT has seen the Andean Cat twice. When presented with Sornoza’s photo of the new cat, Jost commented:

“The ground color is very similar. However I didn’t see any strong patterns on the legs, like this one has, though I would not have seen that from the angles I had (just the back and sides of the animal running through dense vegetation, both times). The elevations of my sightings were very high, around 2800-3000 m, and very wet, completely different from Jorupe. I could easily imagine that there is a new species of cat endemic to the Tumbesian zone of SW Ecuador and NW Peru.”

Pampas Cat?

But according to Mongabay.com, ecologist Jim Sanderson, who has spent years studying the Andean Cat, doesn’t think this is one. Instead, Sanderson believes that it is a Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocolo), another cat species he has studied for years.

“The cat shown in the photograph…is the lovely Pampas cat found in this region. Pampas cats show a variety of morphs depending upon where they occur. In Brazil they are all brown for instance and in the Andes they are spotted, have a pink nose, and striking black lines across the forelegs” he said.

The Pampas Cat, also known as the Chilean Pampa Cat, has been listed by IUCN as “Near Threatened” by IUCN since 2002.

Regardless, it’s Still a Significant Find

Whether it’s the Andean Cat, the Pampas Cat, or a new species, this is still a significant find. So, as WLT said… “we are awaiting with anticipation further news on this sighting.”

Three New Species of Scorpion

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

The Journal of Arachnology has published descriptions of three new species of scorpion in its latest edition online.

The three new species are:

  • Microtityus franckei: Described by Ricardo Botero-Trujillo and Jorge Ari Noriega
  • Ananteris arcadioi: Described by Ricardo Botero-Trujillo
  • Ananteris dorae: Described by Ricardo Botero-Trujillo

Microtityus franckei 

The male and female Microtityus franckei specimens were collected from Kalache Kalabria private reserve at Tayrona Natural National Park in the Caribbean region of Colombia by Noriega. 

It inhabits the inhabits the Santa Marta Montane Forests ecoregion. National Geographic Society’s 2001 description of this ecoregion:

 

…rises from very different habitat of xeric scrub and dry forest that surround it. This ecoregion is a mountain massif whose northern edge runs just off the coast of the Caribbean Sea. Due to both plant and animal endemism it is considered a Pleistocene refuge, although its diversity is relatively low and limited in comparison with other Neotropical ecoregions

 

This discovery marks the first scorpion of the Microtityus genus to be found in Columbia.

Microtityus franckei is a very small scorpion. The specimens are around 10mm in length.

Ananteris arcadioi

The male Ananteris arcadioi specimen was found at Altamira, Puerto Gaitan, Meta Department near the center of Columbia. 

It inhabits the Llanos ecoregion, which extends from the foothills of the Eastern Andes of Colombia through almost the entire course of the Orinoco River.

With a total length of 18.25mm, it’s a small scorpion, but much larger than the M. franckei specimens.

Ananteris dorae

The female Ananteris dorae specimen was found at Reserva Natural La Planada, Nariño Department in west Columbia (near the Ecuador border and the Pacific Ocean). 

It inhabits the Northwestern Andean Montane Forests ecoregion, which is among the most diverse ecoregions on the planet.

This specimen was measured at a total length of 16.20mm.

Legless Lizard Identified as New Species

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Officially recognized as a new species, this lizard could almost pass for a snake.

Officially recognized as a new species, this lizard could almost pass for a snake. Photo: Agustin Camacho

A legless lizard discovered earlier this year in Brazil’s Cerrado grasslands has been given a scientific name, officially making it a new species.

The scientific name, Bachia oxyrhina, is derived from the Latin oxy (sharp) and rhinos (nose).

The lizard was recently described for the first time, in a study published in September by the scientific journal Zootaxa.

To an untrained eye, the lizard could easily pass for a snake. It’s very long and thin, and doesn’t appear to have any legs.

However, although it appears legless, the lizard does have small limbs. It’s just that, they don’t really do much. As a result, the lizard moves about by slithering like a snake. 

Apart from having legs (albiet, undeveloped), there are other factors that differentiate ”legless” lizards from snakes. One factor is the lack of extreme modifications in cranial morphology that enables snakes to ingest large prey. 

In fact, all you’re likely to see this legless lizard munching on is small bugs, termites and ants.

Recognition Happened Very Quickly 

The name Bachia oxyrhina was named after the lizards sharp nose. Photo: Miguel Trefaut Rodrigues

The name Bachia oxyrhina was named after the lizard's sharp nose. Photo: Agustin Camacho

Given the species was only discovered in January this year, the recognition of the lizard as a new species has happened relatively quickly. The process of recognition for new species often takes many years. This depends on the accumulation of basic of scientific knowledge about the group to which it belongs.

“Recent research with lizards of the same genus, together with the large amount of data collected on the diversity of lizards living in the Cerrado and the experience of the team of herpetologists (zoologists who study reptiles and amphibians) involved in this project, contributed to the quickness of the recognition process,” said Miguel Trefaut Rodrigues Leading Brazilian zoologist from the Universidade de São Paulo, and first author of the description of the lizard.

13 Suspected New Species

The lizard is one of 13 suspected new species that were found during an expedition to Cerrado in Brazil. Out of the 13, this is the first species to be officially identified.

“It’s very exciting to find new species and data on the richness, abundance, and distribution of wildlife in one of the most extensive, complex, and unknown regions of the Cerrado,” said the expedition leader  CI biologist Cristiano Nogueira at the time of the expedition.

The wooded grassland once covered an area half the size of Europe, but is now being converted to cropland and ranchland at twice the rate of the neighboring Amazon rainforest, resulting in the loss of native vegetation and unique species.

Hundreds of New Marine Species Discovered in Australia

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Australian scientists have made an exciting discovery in the oceans, just off southern Australia.

The CSIRO scientists have discovered 338 marine species previously unknown to science in the southern ocean, just off southern Australia. 

They also found 86 species previously unknown in Australian waters and 242 previously studied species.

The discovery resulted from a project to monitor the Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network off southern Tasmania, Australia. 

The CSIRO scientists worked with Geoscience Australia, Museum Victoria, and the Queensland Museum to analyze the findings.

The research also resulted in the discovery of a further 80 seamounts (underwater mountains). This brings the total number of known seamounts in the region to 144, which makes it the highest concentration of seamounts in Australian waters.

Most of the seamounts are actually extinct volcanoes. Some are up to 25 kilometers across at the base, and rise 200 to 500 meters from the seabed.

They also discovered 145 under sea canyons, bringing the total in the region to at least 276.

So, in summary, they discovered:

  • 338 marine species previously unknown to science
  • 86 species previously unknown in Australian waters
  • 80 previously undiscovered seamounts
  • 145 under sea canyons

The discovery is a result of seafloor sampling, taken in November 2006 and April 2007, as well as two surveys undertaken using multibeam sonar and underwater video transects.