Monthly Archives: June 2016

New Species: June last week

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here is a list of species described from June 22 to June 30. It certainly does not include all described species. Most information comes from the journals Mycokeys, Phytokeys, Zookeys, Phytotaxa, Zootaxa, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, and Systematic and Applied Microbiology, as well as journals restricted to certain taxa.

Bagauda ernstmayiri Kulkarni & Ghate (top left) is a new assassin bug species named in honor of the evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr (bottom left), and Kankuamo marquezi Perafán, Galvis & Gutiérrez (top right) is a new spider species whose name honors the Colombian writer and Nobel-prize winner Gabriel García Márquez (bottom right). Credits to University of Konstanz (E. Mayr photo) and Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara (G. G. Marquez photo). Photos of the new species are credits to their respective authors.

Bagauda ernstmayri Kulkarni & Ghate (top left) is a new assassin bug species named in honor of the evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr (bottom left), and Kankuamo marquezi Perafán, Galvis & Gutiérrez (top right) is a new spider species whose name honors the Colombian writer and Nobel-prize winner Gabriel García Márquez (bottom right). Credits to University of Konstanz (E. Mayr photo) and Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara (G. G. Marquez photo). Photos of the new species are credits to their respective authors.*

SARs

Plants

Fungi

Sponges

Flatworms

Mollusks

Roundworms

Arachnids

Myriapods

Crustaceans

Insects

Tunicates

Cartilaginous fishes

Ray-finned fishes

Lissamphibians

Reptiles

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The history of Systematics: Plants in Systema Naturae, 1758 (Part 4)

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here comes the forth part of the classification of plants proposed by Linnaeus. See here parts 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6.

12. Icosandria (“twenty males”)

“Twenty husbands in each marriage”, i.e., twenty stamens in a hermaphrodite flower:

12.1 Icosandria Monogynia (“twenty males and one female”), twenty stamens and one pistil in a hermaphrodite flower: Cactus (cactuses), Philadephus (mock-oranges), Psidium (guavas), Eugenia (surinam cherry, mango pine, malay apples), Myrtus (myrtles, Brazil cherry, allspice etc), Punica (pomegranate), Amygdalus (almonds and peaches), Prunus (apricots, cherries, plum, etc).

Linnaeus’ order Icosandria Monogynia included (from left to right, top to bottom): wooly nipple cactus (Cactus mammillaris, now Mammillaria mammillaris), sweet mock-orange (Philadelphus coronaries), common guava tree (Psidium guajava), Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora), common myrtle (Myrtus communis), pomegranate tree (Punica granatum), almond tree (Amygdalus communis, now Prunus dulcis), plum tree (Prunus domestica). Credits to Isidre Blanc (mock-orange), Zeynel Cebeci (Surinam cherry), Forest & Kim Starr (myrtle), Mzelle Laure (almond), flickr users Lourdes (cactus), mauroguanandi (guava), and Wikimedia user Rasbak (plum).

Linnaeus’ order Icosandria Monogynia included (from left to right, top to bottom): wooly nipple cactus (Cactus mammillaris, now Mammillaria mammillaris), sweet mock-orange (Philadelphus coronaries), common guava tree (Psidium guajava), Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora), common myrtle (Myrtus communis), pomegranate tree (Punica granatum), almond tree (Amygdalus communis, now Prunus dulcis), plum tree (Prunus domestica). Credits to Isidre Blanc (mock-orange), Zeynel Cebeci (Surinam cherry), Forest & Kim Starr (myrtle), Mzelle Laure (almond), flickr users Lourdes (cactus), mauroguanandi (guava), and Wikimedia user Rasbak (plum).

12.2 Icosandria Digynia (“twenty males and two females”), twenty stamens and two pistils in a hermaphrodite flower: Crataegus (hawthorns and rowans).

12.3 Icosandria Trigynia (“twenty males and three females”), twenty stamens and two pistils in a hermaphrodite flower: Sorbus (more rowans), Sesuvium (sea-purslane).

The scarlet hawthorn (Crataegus coccinea, left) was in the order Icosandria Digynia, while the European rowan (Sorbus aucuparia, center) and the shoreline purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum, right) were in the order Icosandria Trigynia. Credits to Eric Guinther (shoreline purslane) and Wikimedia user VoDeTan2 (hawthorn).

The scarlet hawthorn (Crataegus coccinea, left) was in the order Icosandria Digynia, while the European rowan (Sorbus aucuparia, center) and the shoreline purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum, right) were in the order Icosandria Trigynia. Credits to Eric Guinther (shoreline purslane) and Wikimedia user VoDeTan2 (hawthorn).

12.4 Icosandria Pentagynia (“twenty males and five females”), twenty stamens and five pistils in a hermaphrodite flower: Mespilus (medlar, firethorn, shadbush, etc), Pyrus (pears, apples, quince), Tetragonia (tetragonias), Mesembryanthemum (iceplants), Aizoon (immortals), Spiraea (meadowsweets), Dalibarda (dewdrop).

The order Icosandria Pentagynia included (from left to right, top to bottom) the medlar (Mespilus germanica), common pear tree (Pyrus communis), common iceplant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum), Canary Island immortal (Aizoon canariense), common meadowsweet (Spiraea tomentosa), and dewdrop (Dalibarda repens). Credits to H. Zell (medlar), Hans Bernhard (iceplant), Gabrielle Kothe-Heinrich (immortal), Steven G. Johnson (meadowsweet), and Wikimedia user Jomegat (dewdrop).

The order Icosandria Pentagynia included (from left to right, top to bottom) the medlar (Mespilus germanica), common pear tree (Pyrus communis), common iceplant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum), Canary Island immortal (Aizoon canariense), common meadowsweet (Spiraea tomentosa), and dewdrop (Dalibarda repens). Credits to H. Zell (medlar), Hans Bernhard (iceplant), Gabrielle Kothe-Heinrich (immortal), Steven G. Johnson (meadowsweet), and Wikimedia user Jomegat (dewdrop).

12.5 Icosandria Polygynia (“twenty males and many females”), twenty stamens and many pistils in a hermaphrodite flower: Rosa (roses), Rubus (blackberries and raspberries), Fragaria (strawberries), Potentilla (cinquefoils), Tormentilla (more cinquefoils), Geum (avens), Dryas (dryads), Comarum (marsh cinquefoil), Calycanthus (sweetbrush).

The order Icosandria Polygynia included (from left to right, top to bottom) the French rose (Rosa gallica), red raspberry (Rubus idaeus), wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca), sulphur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta), European cinquefoil (Tormentilla reptans, now Potentilla reptans), wood avens (Geum urbanum), white dryad (Dryas octopetala), marsh cinquefoil (Comarum palustre), and sweetbrush (Calycanthus floridus). Credits to Bogdan Giuşcă (rose), Sander van der Molen (strawberry), Enrico Blasutto (European cinquefoil), Randy A. Nonemacher (avens), Isidre Blanc (dryad), and Wikimedia users Wo st 01 (raspberry), AnRo0002 (sulphur cinquefoil), Beentree (marsh cinquefoil), Phyzome (sweetbrush).

The order Icosandria Polygynia included (from left to right, top to bottom) the French rose (Rosa gallica), red raspberry (Rubus idaeus), wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca), sulphur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta), European cinquefoil (Tormentilla reptans, now Potentilla reptans), wood avens (Geum urbanum), white dryad (Dryas octopetala), marsh cinquefoil (Comarum palustre), and sweetbrush (Calycanthus floridus). Credits to Bogdan Giuşcă (rose), Sander van der Molen (strawberry), Enrico Blasutto (European cinquefoil), Randy A. Nonemacher (avens), Isidre Blanc (dryad), and Wikimedia users Wo st 01 (raspberry), AnRo0002 (sulphur cinquefoil), Beentree (marsh cinquefoil), Phyzome (sweetbrush).

13. Polyandria (“many males”)

“Many husbands in each marriage”, i.e., many stamens in a hermaphrodite flower.

13.1 Polyandria Monogynia (“many males and one female”), many stamens and one pistil in a hermaphrodite flower: Lecythis (monkey pots), Marcgravia (monkey-paws vine), Morisonia (morisonias), Capparis (capers), Actaea (bugbanes), Bocconia (tree poppy), Sanguinaria (bloodroot), Podophyllum (mayapple), Chelidonium (celandines), Papaver (poppies), Argemone (prickly poppies), Cambogia (gamboge), Muntingia (calabur tree), Sarracenia (trumpet pitchers), Nymphaea (water lilies), Bixa (achiote), Sloanea (carrabeens), Prockia (guasimilla), Laetia (laetia), Seguieria (forest lemon), Mammea (mammee and fish poison tree), Grias (anchovy pear), Ochna (ochnas), Chrysobalanus (coco plum), Calophyllum (tamanus), Tilia (basswoods), Microcos (shiral), Elaeocarpus (Ceylon olive), Elima (an unknown species), Mesua (Sri Lankan ironwood), Vateria (white dammar), Lagerstroemia (crape myrtle), Thea (tea), Caryophyllus (clove), Mentzelia (blazing stars), Plinia (grapetrees), Cistus (cistuses), Corchorus (jutes).

The diverse order Polyandria Monogynia included (from left to right, top to bottom): common monkey pot (Lecythis ollaria), common monkey-paws vine (Marcgravia umbellata), common caper (Capparis spinosa), baneberry (Actaea spicata), tree poppy (Bocconia frutescens), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), Mexican prickly poppy (Argemone Mexicana), calabur tree (Muntingia calabura), purple pitcher (Sarracenia purpurea), white water-lily (Nymphaea alba), achiote (Bixa orellana), mammee (Mammea Americana), coco plum (Chrysobalanus icaco), tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum), American basswood (Tilia americana), Ceylon olive (Elaeocarpus serratus), Sri Lankan ironwood (Mesua ferrea), white dammar (Vateria indica), crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), tea (Thea sinensis, now Camellia sinensis), clove (Caryophyllus aromaticus, now Syzygium aromaticum), narrow-leaved cistus (Cistus monspeliensis), common jute (Corchorus olitorius). Credits to Pau Cabot (caper), H. Zell (baneberry), Forest & Kim Starr (tree poppy, coco plum, tamanu), Nicholas A. Tonelli (bloodroot), Hedwig Storch (mayapple, water lily), Angie Harms (poppy), Bruno Navez (prickly poppy), Denis Conrado (achiote), Fritz Flohr Reynolds (basswood), Lionel Allorge (crape myrtle), Meneerke Bloem (clove), Joaquim Alves Gaspar (cistus), and Wikimedia users Nvivas (monkey pot), Marcoarbo (mammee), Vinayaraj (Ceylon olive, Sri Lankan ironwood), Forestowlet (white dammar), apple2000 (jute).

The diverse order Polyandria Monogynia included (from left to right, top to bottom): common monkey pot (Lecythis ollaria), common monkey-paws vine (Marcgravia umbellata), common caper (Capparis spinosa), baneberry (Actaea spicata), tree poppy (Bocconia frutescens), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), Mexican prickly poppy (Argemone Mexicana), calabur tree (Muntingia calabura), purple pitcher (Sarracenia purpurea), white water-lily (Nymphaea alba), achiote (Bixa orellana), mammee (Mammea Americana), coco plum (Chrysobalanus icaco), tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum), American basswood (Tilia americana), Ceylon olive (Elaeocarpus serratus), Sri Lankan ironwood (Mesua ferrea), white dammar (Vateria indica), crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), tea (Thea sinensis, now Camellia sinensis), clove (Caryophyllus aromaticus, now Syzygium aromaticum), narrow-leaved cistus (Cistus monspeliensis), common jute (Corchorus olitorius). Credits to Pau Cabot (caper), H. Zell (baneberry), Forest & Kim Starr (tree poppy, coco plum, tamanu), Nicholas A. Tonelli (bloodroot), Hedwig Storch (mayapple, water lily), Angie Harms (poppy), Bruno Navez (prickly poppy), Denis Conrado (achiote), Fritz Flohr Reynolds (basswood), Lionel Allorge (crape myrtle), Meneerke Bloem (clove), Joaquim Alves Gaspar (cistus), and Wikimedia users Nvivas (monkey pot), Marcoarbo (mammee), Vinayaraj (Ceylon olive, Sri Lankan ironwood), Forestowlet (white dammar), apple2000 (jute).

13.2 Polyandria Digynia (“many males and two females”), many stamens and two pistils in a hermaphrodite flower: Paeonia (peônia), Curatella (curatellas), Calligonum (orta).

13.3 Polyandria Trigynia (“many males and three females”), many stamens and three pistils in a hermaphrodite flower: Delphinium (larkspurs), Aconitum (wolfsbanes).

The common peony (Paeonia officinalis, left) and the orta (Calligonum polygonoides, center-left) were in the order Polyandria Digynia, while the candle larkspur (Delphinium elatum, center-right) and the northern wolfsbane (Aconitum lycoctonum, right) were in the order Polyandria Trigynia. Credits to H. Zell (peony), Antti Bilund (wolfsbane) and Wikimedia users LRBurdak (orta) and Bff (larkspur).

The common peony (Paeonia officinalis, left) and the orta (Calligonum polygonoides, center-left) were in the order Polyandria Digynia, while the candle larkspur (Delphinium elatum, center-right) and the northern wolfsbane (Aconitum lycoctonum, right) were in the order Polyandria Trigynia. Credits to H. Zell (peony), Antti Bilund (wolfsbane) and Wikimedia users LRBurdak (orta) and Bff (larkspur).

13.4 Polyandria Tetragynia (“many males and four females”), many stamens and four pistils in a hermaphrodite flower: Tetracera (hornvines).

13.5 Polyandria Pentagynia (“many males and five females”), many stamens and five pistils in a hermaphrodite flower: Aquilegia (granny’s bonnet), Nigella (love-in-a-mists), Reaumuria (reaumurias).

13.6 Polyndria Hexagynia (“many males and six females”), many stamens and six pistils in a hermaphrodite flower: Stratiotes (water soldier).

The common hornvine (Tetracera volubilis, left) was the only species in the order Polyandria Tetragynia; the common granny’s bonnet (Aquilegia vulgaris, center-left) and the love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena, center-right) were in the order Polyandria Pentagynia; and the water soldier (Stratiotes aloides, right) was the only species in the order Polyandria Hexagynia. Credits to Daniel H. Janzen (hornvine), Isidre Blanc (granny’s bonnet), Christian Fischer (water soldier).

The common hornvine (Tetracera volubilis, left) was the only species in the order Polyandria Tetragynia; the common granny’s bonnet (Aquilegia vulgaris, center-left) and the love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena, center-right) were in the order Polyandria Pentagynia; and the water soldier (Stratiotes aloides, right) was the only species in the order Polyandria Hexagynia. Credits to Daniel H. Janzen (hornvine), Isidre Blanc (granny’s bonnet), Christian Fischer (water soldier).

13.7 Polyandria Polygynia (“many males and many females”), many stamens and many pistils in a hermaphrodite flower: Dillenia (elephant apple), Liriodendron (tulip tree), Magnolia (magnolias), Michelia (champak), Uvaria (uvaria and kadsura), Annona (sugar apples), Anemone (anemones), Atragene (clematises and anemones), Clematis (clematises), Thalictrum (meadow-rues), Adonis (adonises), Ranunculus (buttercups and water crowfoots), Trollius (globeflowers), Isopyrum (isopyrums), Helleborus (hellebores), Caltha (marsh-marigold), Hydrastis (goldenseal).

The heterogeneous order Polyandria Polygynia included (from left to right, top to bottom): elephant apple (Dillenia indica), tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), champak (Michelia champacca, now Magnolia champaca), custard apple (Annona squamosal), poppy anemone (Anemone coronaria), Alpine clematis (Atragene alpina, now Clematis alpina), purple clematis (Clematis viticella), early meadow-rue (Thalictrum dioicum), pheasant’s eye (Adonis annua), Persian buttercup (Ranunculus asiaticus), European globeflower (Trollius europaeus), common isopyrum (Isopyrum thalictroides), black hellebore (Helleborus niger), marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Credits to Shamim Munshi (elephant apple), Bruce Marlin (tulip tree), Anna Anichkova (magnolia), Denis Conrado (champak), Meneerke Bloem (custard apple), Zachi Evenor (anemone, buttercup), Enrico Blasutto (Alpine clematis), Frank Liebig (purple clematis), Alberto Salguero (pheasant’s eye), H. Zell (globeflower), Isidre Blanc (marsh-marigold), Ryan Hagerty (goldenseal), and Wikimedia users Cbaile19 (meadow-rue) and Wildfeuer (hellebore).

The heterogeneous order Polyandria Polygynia included (from left to right, top to bottom): elephant apple (Dillenia indica), tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), champak (Michelia champacca, now Magnolia champaca), custard apple (Annona squamosal), poppy anemone (Anemone coronaria), Alpine clematis (Atragene alpina, now Clematis alpina), purple clematis (Clematis viticella), early meadow-rue (Thalictrum dioicum), pheasant’s eye (Adonis annua), Persian buttercup (Ranunculus asiaticus), European globeflower (Trollius europaeus), common isopyrum (Isopyrum thalictroides), black hellebore (Helleborus niger), marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Credits to Shamim Munshi (elephant apple), Bruce Marlin (tulip tree), Anna Anichkova (magnolia), Denis Conrado (champak), Meneerke Bloem (custard apple), Zachi Evenor (anemone, buttercup), Enrico Blasutto (Alpine clematis), Frank Liebig (purple clematis), Alberto Salguero (pheasant’s eye), H. Zell (globeflower), Isidre Blanc (marsh-marigold), Ryan Hagerty (goldenseal), and Wikimedia users Cbaile19 (meadow-rue) and Wildfeuer (hellebore).

So we conclude the first load of plants. From the next post on, we will enter in the world of the less regular flowers.

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References:

Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae…

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Friday Fellow: Darwin’s Orchid

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Orchids comprise one of the most numerous families of plants, so it is more than time to have an orchid Friday Fellow. And what could be a better choice than the Darwin’s orchid, Angraecum sesquipedale?

Native from Madagascar, the Darwin’s orchid has nice star-like white flowers with a waxy appearance that are produced in the wild from June to September. It is an epiphytic orchid, growing on trees, and its roots may reach several meters in length around the tree trunks.

The white waxy flowers of the Darwin's orchid. Notice the long spurs hanging from the flowers.

The white waxy flowers of the Darwin’s orchid. Notice the long spurs hanging from the flowers. Photo by Wilfred Duckitt*.

The most distinct feature of this species is the presence of a very long spur, a tube up to 43 cm long that contains the nectar. The epithet “sesquipedale” is given after that feature, meaning “one and a half foot long” in Latin, referring to the length from the end of the spur to the tip of the dorsal sepal. After examining several flowers, the naturalist Charles Darwin predicted the existence of a pollinator with a proboscis that was long enough to reach the nectar at the end of the spur. Later, Alfred Wallace noticed that the Morgan’s sphix moth (Xanthopan morganii), found in East Africa, had a proboscis almost long enough to reach the nectar and suggested that naturalists should look for similar species in Madagascar. In fact, some time later, specimens of the Morgan’s sphinx moth with a very long proboscis, long enough to reach the end of the spur, were found in Madagascar, confirming Darwin’s prediction. Unfortunately it happened only after Darwin’s death, so that he never became aware of the discovery…

Currently there are many cultivars and hybrids of the Darwin’s orchid all around the world.

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References:

Nilsson, L. A. 1988. The evolution of flowers with deep corolla tubes. Nature, 333: 147-149. DOI: 10.1038/334147a0

Wikipedia. Angraecum sesquipedale. Availabe at: < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angraecum_sesquipedale >. Access on June 18, 2016.

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Biological fight: Should we bring mammoths back?

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Everybody knows the amazing large animals that are found in Africa and Southeast Asia. Elephants, giraffes, rhinos, hippos, horses, lions, tigers… such large creatures, mostly mammals, are usually called megafauna, the “large fauna”.

Mammals as big as the African bush elephant once roamed the Americas. Photo by flickr user nickmandel2006*.

Mammals as big as the African bush elephant once roamed the Americas. Photo by flickr user nickmandel2006*.

The Americas once had an astonishing megafauna too, full of mastodons, mammoths, giant sloths, giant armadillos and sabertooth tigers. Nowadays it is restricted to some bears and jaguars. What happened to the rest of them? Well, most went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene, around 11,ooo years ago.

South America once had mammals as big as an African bush elephant. Picture by Dmitry Bogdanov** (dibgd.deviantart.com)

South America once had mammals as big as an African bush elephant, such as the giant sloth. Picture by Dmitry Bogdanov** (dibgd.deviantart.com)

As humans already inhabited the Americas by this time, it was always speculated if humans had something to do with their extinction. It is true that nowadays hundreds, thousands of species are endangered due to human activities, so it is easy to think that humans are the best explanation for their extinction, but 10 thousands years ago the number of humans on the planet was thousands of times smaller than today and our technology was still very primitive, so it is unlikely that we could hunt a species to extinction by that period… if we were working alone.

No, I’m not talking about humans cooperating with aliens! Our sidekick was the famous climate change. Periods of extreme warming during the pleistocene seem to have had a strong impact on the populations of many large mammals and, with the aid of humans hunting them down and spreading like an invasive species, the poor giants perished.

Le Mammouth by Paul Jamin

Le Mammouth by Paul Jamin

This happened more than 10 thousand years ago, TEN THOUSAND YEARS.

In Africa, elephants and large carnivores are well known for their importance in structuring communities, especially due to their trophic interactions that shape other populations. The extinct American megafauna most likely had the same impact on the ecosystem. As a result, suggestions to restore this extinct megafauna has been proposed, either by cloning some of the extinct species or, more plausibly, by introduced extant species with a similar ecological role.

Svenning et al. (2015) review the subject and argue in favor of the reintroduction of megafauna to restore ecological roles lost in the Pleistocene, an idea called “Pleistocene rewilding” or “trophic rewilding”, as they prefer. They present some maps showing the current distribution of large mammals and their historical distribution in the Pleistocene, which they call “natural”. They also propose some species to be introduced to substitute the ones extinct, including replacements for species extinct as long as 30 thousand years ago. Now is this a good idea? They think it is and one of the examples used is the reintroduction of wolves in the Yellowstone National Park. But wolves were not extinct for millenia there, neither are they a different species that would replace the role of an extinct one.

A wolf pack in Yellowstone National Park

A wolf pack in Yellowstone National Park

Rubenstein & Rubenstein (2016) criticized the idea, arguing that we should focus on protecting the remaining ecosystems and not trying to restore those that were corrupted thousands of years ago. They also argue that using similar species may have unintended consequences. Svenning et al. answered that this is mere opinion and that a systematic research program on trophic rewilding should be developed. The reintroduction of horses in the New World and its non-catastrophic consequences is another point used to respond to the critiques.

So what’s your opinion? Should we bring mammoths, mastodonts, giant sloths and sabertooth tigers back? Should we introduce elephants and lions in the Americas to play the role that mastodonts and smilodonts had?

My opinion is no. The idea may seem beautiful, but I think it is actually fantastic, too fabulous and sensational. Horses may have come back to the Americas without bringing destruction, but we cannot be sure with anything, even with several theoretical and small-scale studies. We all know how often introducing species goes wrong, very wrong. Look at poor Australia and Hawaii, for instance. Furthermore, those giant mammals went extinct TEN THOUSAND YEARS AGO. Certainly ecosystems have adapted to their extinction. Life always finds a way. There are worse threats to those ecosystems to be addressed, such as their eminent destruction to build more cities and raise more cattle and crops.

Get over it. Mammoths are gone. Let’s try to save the elephants instead, but without bringing them to the Brazilian cerrado. They don’t belong there. They belong in the African savannah.

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References:

Rubenstein, D. R.; Rubenstein, D. I. From Pleistocene to trophic rewilding: A wolf in sheep’s clothing. PNAS, 113(1): E1. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1521757113

Svenning, J-C.; Pedersen, P. B. M.; Donlan, C. J.; Ejrnæs, R.; Faurby, S.; Galetti, M.; Hansen, D. M.; Sandel, B.; Sandom, C. J.; Terborgh, J. W.; Vera, F. W. M. 2016. Science for a wilder Anthropocene: Synthesis and future directions for trophic rewilding research. PNAS, 113(4): 898-906. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.150255611

Svenning, J-C.; Pedersen, P. B. M.; Donlan, C. J.; Ejrnæs, R.; Faurby, S.; Galetti, M.; Hansen, D. M.; Sandel, B.; Sandom, C. J.; Terborgh, J. W.; Vera, F. W. M. 2016. Time to move on from ideological debates on rewilding. PNAS, 113(1): E2-E3. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1521891113

Wade, L. 2016. Giant jaguars, colossal bears done in by deadly combo of humans and heat. Science News. DOI: 10.1126/science.aag0623

Wade, L. 2016. Humans spread through South America like an invasive species. Science News. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf9881

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New Species: June 3rd week

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here is a list of species described from June 15 to June 21. It certainly does not include all described species. Most information comes from the journals Mycokeys, Phytokeys, Zookeys, Phytotaxa, Zootaxa, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, and Systematic and Applied Microbiology.

Microplecostomus forestii Silva, Roxo, Orrego & Oliveira, a new catfish from Brazil.

Microplecostomus forestii Silva, Roxo, Orrego & Oliveira, a new catfish from Brazil.

SARs

Plants

Fungi

Sponges

Mollusks

Roundworms

Waterbears

Arachnids

Crustaceans

Hexapods

Ray-finned fishes

Lissamphibians

Reptiles

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The fabulous taxonomic adventure of the genus Geoplana

by Piter Kehoma Boll
ResearchBlogging.org

Freshwater planarians are relatively well-known as those cute arrow-shaped cockeyed animals. Land planarians are far away from having all the fame of their aquatic cousins and most people do not even know that they exist. Maybe in part it is because deeper studies of the natural world began in Europe, a continent were land planarians are almost non-existent. The first of those little animals to be known was described in 1774 by the Danish naturalist Otto Friedrich Müller. He named the small worm Fasciola terrestris, because he thought it was a terrestrial version of the parasitic worm. It was a small cyllindrical worm with a dark back and two small eyes at the anterior region.

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In 1788, the naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin transfered the species to the genus Planaria, described in 1776 by Müller. The worm was, therefore, now called Planaria terrestris. The genus, at this time, included everything that is currently known as planarian: worms with a ventrally located mouth, close to the middle part of the bod. The term most likely became popular by this time and so it continues until today as a general name for these animals.

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Planarians with many eyes were transfered in 1831 by the naturalist Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg to a new genus, Polycelis. The term means “many dots” and refers to the dark dots that the eyes represent on the body.

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During Charles Darwin’s voyage around the world aboard the Beagle, he spent some time in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest and found several species of land planarians. He classified them in the genus Planaria, but highlighted that they formed a section within the genus because of their terrestrial habits, convex bodies and often colorful stripes. The first new species listed by him was called Planaria vaginuloides and was collected in the forests of Rio de Janeiro. The epithet vaginuloides was chosen because Darwin found them to be similar to slugs of the genus Vaginulus.

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One year later, in 1845, the naturalist Émil Blanchard found a species in Chile and named it Polycladus gayi. The name of the genus, Polycladus, refers to the highly branched gut of these animals, while the epithet gayi honors the naturalist Claudio Gay. But Blanchard made a terrible mistake: he mistook the anterior end for the posterior end and so thought that the genital opening was in front of the mouth!

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In 1850, the naturalist Karl Moriz Diesing transferred Darwin’s land planarians to the genus Polycelis because they have many eyes. Planaria vaginuloides was now Polycelis vaginuloides.

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In 18851, the zoologist Joseph Leidy found another land planarian species in Europe that was also small, cylindrical and with two eyes. He named it Rhynchodemus sylvaticus. The term Rhynchodemus means something like “bill-shaped body”. He also suggested the transference of Planaria terrestris to the new genus, so that it was now Rhynchodemus terrestris. Darwin and Blanchard’s species remained as Polycelis and Polycladus.

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Then in 1857 something funny happened. A new revision of land planarians was done by William Stimpson. He, for the first time, separated land planarians from freshwater ones and divided them in two families:

  1. Polycladidae: having a single genus, Polycladus, because it was still thought, at this time, that the genital opening was before the mouth.
  2. Geoplanidae: the rest of land planarians. Species in this family were divided into three genera:
  • Rhynchodemus: species with two eyes;
  • Bipalium: a genus for recently discovered species that have a hammer- or crescent-shaped head. The name comes from Latin bi-, two and pala, shovel.
  • Geoplana: species with many eyes. The name comes from geo, earth, and plana, flat, because of the flat body of those animals, as well as a direct reference to the genus Planaria, now restricted to aquatic species. The species Polycelis vaginuloides became Geoplana vaginuloides. So we arrive to the central genus of this story.
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By a huge coincidence, in this very same year of 1857, the naturalist Max Schultze, based on information from literature and new species collected in Brazil by the naturalist Fritz Müller, also decided to separate land planarians into another genus and also chose the name Geoplana! What are the chances? The papers of Stimpson and Schultze had only some weeks between them and everything seems to indicate that Schultze was unaware of Stimpson’s paper. The main difference between both papers is that Schultze ignored the discovery of the species classified as Bipalium. He also transfered all land planarians to Geoplana, so that Polycladus gayi, Rhynchodemus sylvaticus and Rhynchodemus terrestris were now Geoplana gayi, Geoplana sylvatica and Geoplana terrestris.

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Stimpson’s system, however, prevailed, and the four genera remained in use: Rhynchodemus, Bipalium, Geoplana and Polycladus. Among the species described by Schultze and Müller was Geoplana subterranea, an albine and eyeless species found underground and that feeds on earthworms. In 1861, Diesing decided to put this species into its own genus, Geobia. We had now 5 genera: Rhynchodemus, Bipalium, Geoplana, Geobia and Polycladus.

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In 1877, Henry Nottidge Moseley described a series of species from Australia, the Pacific and southeast Asia. A good amount of them were included in the genus Geoplana, but some of them were put in two new genera:

  1. Dolichoplana (“long flat”): very long and narrow species with two eyes as in Rhynchodemus;
  2. Caenoplana (“recent flat”): species considered by him to be intermediate between Geoplana and Dolichoplana because the body was longer and the eyes were restricted to the sides of the body.
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Ten years later, in 1887, J. J. Fletcher and A. G. Hamilton studied Australian land planarians and concluded that there was no need for the species named Caenoplana by MOseley to be in a separate genus and united them to Geoplana.

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During the following decade, the naturalist Arthur Dendy described several new species from Australia and New Zealand, classifying all in the genus Geoplana. The genus was growing, having tenths of species. In the last years of the 19th century, several new genera were created, many of them in the works of the zoologist Ludwig von Graff. These new genera were erected to species with very peculiar anatomical features, such as a differentiated head, for example. Anyway, the genus Geoplana kept growing. Any flat and many-eyed land planarian without a distinct feature was thrown into this genus. This system continued throughout most of the 20th century. Tenths of new species were described by the zoologist Libbie Hyman and by two zoologist couples: the Marcuses – Ernst Marcus and Eveline du Bois-Reymond Marcus – and the Froehlichs — Claudio Gilberto Froehlich and Eudóxia Maria Froehlich. These new species were mostly put in Geoplana. At that time the genus was widely distributed in South America and Australia.

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During this time, E. M. Froehlich determined that Geoplana vaginuloides should be the type species of the genus Geoplana. Perhaps you are now asking yourself “what is a type species?”. Well, in taxonomy, when a new genus is created, one of its species has to be considered the type species, the species that serves as a “model” to the genus. It is the type species that defines what the genus is. Once a species becomes the type species of the genus, it can never pass to another genus, except if the entire genus ceases to exist. Afterall, it is the species in which the existence of the genus is based. The fact is that in the 18th and 19th centuries there was no policy of type species, which was only later introduced in the rules to give names to organisms. Therefore Stimpson, when he created the genus Geoplana, did not define a type speciees. E. M. Froehlich chose Geoplana vaginuloides as the type-species because it was the first species listed by Stimpson and the proposal was accepted by the scientific community.

Let’s go back to the main subject. As it was said, the genus Geoplana was gathering more and more species throughout the 20th century, becoming huge. Then in 1990 the zoologists Robert Ogren and Masaharu Kawakatsu decided to clean the mess. By examining the inner anatomy of land planarians, they excluded from Geoplana all species from Australia and nearby areas because they have testes placed in the ventral region of the body, diferently from South American species, that have them in the dorsal region. However, letting all the South American pack inside Geoplana would still be a mess. So, they broke the genus into several smaller genera. The four main genera were defined based on two features of the copulatory apparatus: 1) the presence or absence of a penis papilla, i.e., a penis. Some planarians have a penis and some don’t. 2) The position of the oviducts, i.e., the canals that carry the eggs from the ovaries to a cavity named female atrium. The oviducts may enter the female atrium at the dorsal side or the ventral side. The classification of this two features allows four combinations:

  1. Species with a penis papilla and with oviducts entering dorsally. These species continued in the genus Geoplana, because this is the combination that occurs in Geoplana vaginuloides.
  2. Species with a penis papilla and with oviducts entering ventrally. These species passed to the genus Gigantea.
  3. Species without a penis papilla and with oviducts entering dorsally. These species were named Notogynaphallia.
  4. Species without a penis panilla and with oviducts entering ventrally. This is the opposite of what is found in Geoplana. These species were transfered to a genus named Pasipha.
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Things were starting to get more organized. Despite still having more than a hundred species, the genus Geoplana was a little more homogeneous now. But by the beginning of the 21th century, more detailed studies on the internal anatomy of planarians demonstrated that other parts of the body also had taxonomic importance. Furthermore, molecular studies were now available and the genus was challenged by the molecular phylogeny. The already expected result was confirmed. A study of molecular phylogeny by Fernando Carbayo and colleagues in 2013 revealed that the genus Geoplana, as defined by Ogren and Kawakatsu, was still a mess. Species were separated in several groups that needed to received their own genera. These new genera created from Geoplana were: Barreirana, Cratera, Matuxia, Obama and Paraba.

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At the end the type species, Geoplana vaginuloides, remained almost alone. The only other species that grouped with it was Geoplana chita. The genus Geoplana, once with hundreds of species throughout the whole world, now has only two species restriced to the Atlantic Forest between the Brazilian states of Rio de Janeiro and Paraná. And guess which of the new genera received most of the species one in Geoplana?

 

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Yes, we can!

Yes, we can!

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References:

Carbayo, F., Álvarez-Presas, M., Olivares, C., Marques, F., Froehlich, E., & Riutort, M. (2013). Molecular phylogeny of Geoplaninae (Platyhelminthes) challenges current classification: proposal of taxonomic actions Zoologica Scripta, 42 (5), 508-528 DOI: 10.1111/zsc.12019

Darwin, C. 1844. Brief description of several terrestrial planariae, and of some remarkable marine species, with an account of their habits. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Annales de Sciences Naturelles, 14: 241-251.

Diesing. K. M. 1850. Systema helminthum. Academia Caesareae Scientiarium.

Fletcher, J. J.; Hamilton, A. G. 1887. Notes on Australian land-planarians, with descriptions of some new species. Part I. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, 2: 349-374.

Froehlich, E. M. 1955. Sôbre espécies brasileiras do gênero GeoplanaBoletim da Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras da Universidade de São Paulo, Série Zoologia, 19: 289-339.

Gay, Claudio. 1849. Historia fisica y politica de Chile. Vol. 3.

Gmelin, O. F. 1788. Systema Naturae. Moseley, H. N. 1877. Notes on the structure of several forms of land planarians with a description of two new genera and several new species, and a list of all species at present known. Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Sciences, 17: 274-292.

Ogren, R.; Kawakatsu, M. 1990. Index to the species of the family Geoplanidae (Turbellaria, Tricladida, Terricola) Part I: Geoplaninae. Bulletin of Fuji Women’s College, 28: 79-166.

Schultze, M.; Müller, F. 1857. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Landplanarien. Abhandlungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft zu Halle, 4: 61-74.

Stimpson, W. 1857. Prodromus descriptionis animalium evertebratorum quae in expeditione ad Oceanum, Pacificum Septentrionalem a Republica Federata missa Johanne Rodgers Duce, observavit et descripsit. Pars I. Turbellaria Dendrocoela. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 19-31.

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Filed under Molecular Biology, Systematics, taxonomy, worms, Zoology

Friday Fellow: Hitler’s Beetle

by Piter Kehoma Boll

There are so many beetles in this world that they are the most frequent Friday Fellows. There are also so many of them that even Adolf Hitler has one for himself and this poor animal is going to be presented here today. Its name is Anophthalmus hitleri, the Hitler’s beetle.

This poor fellow was named in 1937 when Hitler had just become Chancellor of Germany. Despite the bad taste, there are no rules in zoological nomenclature that would allow this name to be changed just because the homage was to one of the most atrocious humans in history.

The Hitler's beetle is dull and boring and to make its life worse, it was named in honor of Hitler. Photo by Michael Munich.

The Hitler’s beetle is dull and boring and, to make its life worse, it was named in honor of Hitler. Photo by Michael Munich*.

Now what else can we say about this doomed insect? Not much, I’m afraid. It is found in the cave systems of Slovenia and is considered a troglobiont, i.e., a species fully adapted to live underground. As with most such species, the Hitler’s beetle is eyeless, as vision is useless in the permanent darkness of caves. Little, if nothing, is known about its ecology. It is a carabid beetle, so it probably feeds on other invertebrates, hunting them.

Spending its whole life inside a cave, the Hitler’s beetle is not colorful and has no extravagant structures, but its lame name made it famous. At least the poor animal will never know.

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References:

Novak, T.; Perc, M.; Lipovšek, S.; Janžekovič, F. 2012. Duality of terrestrial subterranean fauna. International Journal of Speleology, 41(2): 181–188.

Wikipedia. Anophthalmus hitleri. Available at: < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anophthalmus_hitleri >. Access on June 17, 2016.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Filed under Entomology, Friday Fellow, taxonomy