Monthly Archives: July 2016

New Species: July 21 to July 31

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here is a list of species described from July 11 to July 20. 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.

Scorpaenodes barrybrowny Pitassy & Baldwin is a new scorpionfish described in the last 11 days.

Scorpaenodes barrybrowny Pitassy & Baldwin is a new scorpionfish described during the last 11 days.

Plants

Amoebozoans

Fungi

Sponges

Cnidarians

Annelids

Mollusks

Roundworms

Arachnids

Crustaceans

Insects

Cartilaginous fishes

Ray-finned fishes

Lissamphibians

Mammals

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Filed under Systematics, taxonomy

Friday Fellow: Royal sea star

ResearchBlogging.orgby Piter Kehoma Boll

In order to celebrate the 5oth Friday Fellow, which was posted today, I decided to bring you an extra Friday Fellow! Afterall, there are plenty of interesting lifeforms to be shown.

As I have never presented you any echinoderm, I thought it would be interesting to start the second group of 50 FFs with one of them. So I’ve chosen the royal sea star (Astropecten articulatus).

Beautiful colors, don't you think? Photo by Mark Walz.*

Beautiful colors, don’t you think? Photo by Mark Walz.*

Found in waters from 0 to 200 m deep the West Atlantic coast from New Jersey to Uruguay, the royal sea star may reach around 20 cm in diameter and is easily identified by its color. Dorsally it has a series of dark blue to purple granulose papilae and is lined by orange marginal plates with supermarginal white spines that give it a comb-like appearence, hence the name “Astropecten“, meaning “star-comb”.

As most starfishes, the royal starfish is a predator. It feeds mainly on small and medium-sized mussels and ingests the prey intact, digesting it inside its mouth. As it is unable to digest food extraorally (outside its mouth) it cannot feed on anything that cannot be ingested whole.

Most of its activity occurs at dawn and dusk, which may be inversely related to the activity of predatory fish, as those are usually more active during the day.

Being a considerably common starfish, you may easily find one while walking on the beach, provided that the beach is at the right place.

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References:

Beddingfield, S., & McClintock, J. (1993). Feeding behavior of the sea star Astropecten articulatus (Echinodermata: Asteroidea): an evaluation of energy-efficient foraging in a soft-bottom predator Marine Biology, 115 (4), 669-676 DOI: 10.1007/BF00349375

Wikipedia. Astropecten articulatus. Availabe at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astropecten_articulatus >. Access on July 28, 2016.

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Friday Fellow: Cute bee fly

ResearchBlogging.orgby Piter Kehoma Boll

Recently the appearance of a new pokémon, Cutiefly, has brought a lot of attention to the real world species in which it is based. So why not bring it to Friday Fellow so that you may know a little more about this creature? Its name is Anastoechus nitidulus, which I will call here “cute bee fly”, as most people find it very cute.

The cute bee fly is indeed very cute. Photo extracted from modernhorse.tumblr.com

The cute bee fly is indeed very cute. Photo extracted from modernhorse.tumblr.com

The cute bee fly belongs to the family of flies called Bombyliidae and commonly known as bee flies. The name comes from the fact that adults usually feed on nectar and polen, just like bees, and some of them are important pollinators.

Feeding. Photo extracted from reddit, posted by usar AnanasJonas.

Feeding. Photo extracted from reddit, posted by user AnanasJonas.

Unfortunately, just as many species, the cute bee fly may be very popular among laypeople and you find a lot of nice pictures of it on the web, just as the one above. However, scientifically, very little is known about its ecology.

Nevertheless, on thing is certain: despite its cuteness, it is not such a lovely creature. Its adult life flying from flower to flower hides a dark and evil past. During their period as larvae, bee flies are predators or parasitoids, meaning that they grow up by eating another animal alive, from inside out, in something that is certainly very horrible for the poor victim.

In the case of the cute bee fly, things are not that terrible. They feed on the egg-pods of grasshoppers, especially of the genus Calliptamus, so we can say that they are parasitoids of eggs instead of adults, but then you realize that eggs have embryos, so they are actually baby-eaters!

O_O

O_O

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References:

Brooks, A. (2012). Identification of Bombyliid Parasites and Hyperparasites of Phalaenidae of the Prairie Provinces of Canada, with Descriptions of Six Other Bombyliid Pupae (Diptera) The Canadian Entomologist, 84 (12), 357-373 DOI: 10.4039/Ent84357-12

Jazykov (Zakhvatkin), A. (2009). Parasites and Hyperparasites of the Egg-pods of injurious Locusts (Acridodea) of Turkestan Bulletin of Entomological Research, 22 (03) DOI: 10.1017/S0007485300029904

Wikipedia. Bombyliidae. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombyliidae >. Access on July 26, 2016.

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Filed under Entomology, Friday Fellow, Parasites, Zoology

The coolest species names

by Piter Kehoma Boll

This is a list of species names that I find particularly beautiful, funny or interesting in any other way.

1. Tyrannus melancholicus, the melancholic tyrant. A severe ruler with a gloomy look.

Tyrannus melancholicus, the melancholic tyrant. Photo by Francesco Veronesi.*

Photo by Francesco Veronesi.*

 

2. Gloriosa superba, the superb glorious one. Beautiful and proud of it.

Gloriosa superba, the superb glorious one. Photo by Guérin Nicolas.***

Photo by Guérin Nicolas.**

 

3. Narcissus poeticus, the poetic narcissus. Writing sweet words about its own reflection.

Narcissus poeticus, the poetic narcissus. Photo by Uoaei1, Wikimedia user.****

Photo by Uoaei1, Wikimedia user.***

 

4. Arca noae, Noah’s Ark. Now try to put all those animals in it.

Arca noae, Noah's Ark. Photo by M. Violante.***

Photo by M. Violante.**

 

5. Phallus impudicus, the shameless phallus. Sort of pornographic.

Phallus impudicus, the shameless phallus.

Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont.**

 

6. Draco volans, the flying dragon. Not quite the Daenerys type.

Photo by Charles J. Sharp.****

Photo by Charles J. Sharp.***

 

7. Claudea elegans, the elegant Claudia. An elegant lady indeed.

Photo by Robert Ricker.

Photo by Robert Ricker.

 

Do you have any species name that you particularly like? Tell us in the comments!

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Friday Fellow: Giant red velvet mite

by Piter Kehoma Boll

While walking through an Indian market, you may end up finding something like this being sold as food:

Hmm, it looks like some sort of chips or dried seeds. Photo by Pankaj Oudhia.*

Hmm, it looks like some sort of chips or dried seeds. Photo by Pankaj Oudhia.*

It may look as some sort of crispy seed or dried fruit, some local chips, maybe? But they are actually giant mites… edible mites! They are used in India as a medicine, especially to treat paralysis and allegedly to increase sexual drive, a reason for the popular expression “Indian Viagra”.

But this edible arachnids are actually quite cute when alive. Known cientifically as Trombidium grandissimum and popularly as giant red velvet mite, they are fluffy like a piece of velvet, have a strong red color and reach up to 2 cm in length, a record for mites, which usually measure way less than a milimeter.

I would love to raise them as a pet. Wouldn't you? Photo by Brian Gratwicke.**

I would love to raise them as a pet. Wouldn’t you? Photo by Brian Gratwicke.**

As adults, the giant red velvet mites live freely and prey on small animals, mainly insects, and their eggs. The larvae, on the other hand, start their life as a parasite, attaching themselves to another invertebrate, usually an insect, but sometimes an arachnid, and suck their hemolymph (“blood”). Later, this parasitic larva develops into a free-living nymph that abandons the host and begins to live more like an adult.

The genus Trombidium has many species in the Palearctic Ecozone, so if you are wandering in a forest in Europe or Asia, you may find the giant red velvet mite or one of its cousins.

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References:

Southcott, R. V.  1986. Studies on the taxonomy and biology of the subfamily Trombidiinae (Acarina: Trombidiidae) with a critical revision of the genera. Australian Journal of Zoology, 123: 1-116.

Wikipedia. Trombidium. Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trombidium&gt;. Access on July 21, 2016.

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New Species: July 11 to July 20

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here is a list of species described from July 11 to July 20. 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.

Pseudoechthistatus sinicus(top) and P. pufujiae are two of the more than 40 new species of beetles described in the last 10 days.

Pseudoechthistatus sinicus (top) and P. pufujiae (bottom) are two of the 40 new species of beetles described in the last 10 days.

Archaea

Bacteria

SARs

Plants

Excavates

Fungi

Sponges

Flatworms

Annelids

Mollusks

Roundworms

Arachnids

Myriapods

Crustaceans

Hexapods

Cartilaginous fishes

Ray-finned fishes

Reptiles

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Friday Fellow: Elegant sunburst lichen

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Bipolar and Alpine in distribution, occurring in both Arctic and Antarctic regions, as well as on the Alps and nearby temperate areas, the elegant sunburst lichen (Xanthoria elegans) is a beautiful and interesting creature. As all lichens, it is formed by a fungus associated with an alga.

An elegant sunburst lichen growing on a rock in the Alps. Photo by flickr user Björn S...*

An elegant sunburst lichen growing on a rock in the Alps. Photo by flickr user Björn S…*

The elegant sunburst lichen grows on rocks and usually has a circular form and a red or orange color. Growing very slowly, at a rate of about 0.5 mm per year, they are useful to estimate the age of a rock face by a technique called lichenometry. By knowing the growth rate of a lichen, one can assume the lichen’s age by its diameter and so determine the minimal time that the rock has ben exposed, as a lichen cannot grow on a rock if it is not there yet, right? This growth rate is not that regular among all populations. Lichens growing closer to the poles usually grow quickly because they seem to have higher metabolic rates to help them survive in the colder climates.

Beside its use to determine the age of a rock surface, the elegant sunburst lichen is a model organism in experiments related to resistance to the extreme environments of outer space. It has showed the ability to survive and recover from exposures to vacuum, UV radiation, cosmic rays and varying temperatures for as long as 18 months!

Maybe when we finally reach a new inhabitable planet, we will find out that the elegant sunburst lichen had arrived centuries before us!

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References:

Murtagh, G. J.; Dyer, P. S.; Furneaux, P. A.; Critteden, P. D. 2002. Molecular and physiological diversity in the bipolar lichen-forming fungus Xanthoria elegans. Mycological Research, 106(11): 1277–1286. DOI: 10.1017/S0953756202006615

Wikipedia. Xanthoria elegans. Available at: < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanthoria_elegans >. Access on June 30, 2016.

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Filed under Algae, Botany, Ecology, Evolution, Friday Fellow, Fungi