Category Archives: taxonomy

The hammerhead flatworms: once a mess, now even messier

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Few people know that land planarians exist, but when they do, they most likely know the hammerhead flatworms, which comprise the subfamily Bipaliinae.

The hammerhead flatworms, or simply hammerhead worms, have this name because their head has lateral expansions that make them resemble a hammer, a shovel or a pickaxe. Take a look:

Bipalium_vagum

The “wandering hammerhead worm”, Bipalium vagum. Notice the peculiar head. Photo by flickr user budak.*

The Chinese knew the hammerhead worms at least since the 10th century, which is understandable, since they are distributed from Japan to Madagascar, including all southern and southeast Asia, as well as Indonesia, the Philippines and other archipelagos. The western world, however, first heard of them in 1857, when William Stimpson described the first species and put them in a genus called Bipalium, from Latin bi- (two) + pala (shovel), due to the head shape. One of them was the species Bipalium fuscatum, a Japanese species that is currently considered the type species of the genus.

800px-bipalium_fuscatum_by_head

Anterior region of Bipalium fuscatum, the “brownish hammerhead worm”. Photo by Wikimedia user 根川大橋.**

Two years later, in 1859, Ludwig K. Schmarda described one more species, this one from Sri Lanka, and, unaware of Stimpson’s paper, called the species Sphyrocephalus dendrophilus, erecting the new genus for it from Greek sphȳra (hammer) + kephalē (head).

Sphyrocephalus_dendrophilus

Drawings by Schmarda of Sphyrocephalus dendrophilus.

In the next year, 1860, Edward P. Wright did something similar and described some hammerhead worms from India and China, creating a new genus, Dunlopea, for them. The name was a homage to his friend A. Dunlop (whoever he was).

Dunlopea_grayia

Wright’s Drawing of Dunlopea grayia (now Diversibipalium grayi) from China.

Eventually those errors were perceived and all species were put in the genus Bipalium, along with several others described in the following years. All hammerhead worms were part of the genus Bipalium until 1896, when Ludwig von Graff decided to improve the classification and divided them into three genera:

1. Bipalium: With a head having long “ears”, a well developed head.
2. Placocephalus (“plate head”): With a more semicircular head.
3. Perocephalus (“mutilated head”): With a shorter, rudimentary head, almost as if it had been cut off.

Bipaliids

Compare the heads of typical species of Bipalium (left), Placocephalus (center) and Perocephalus (right), according to Graff.

This system, however, was soon abandoned and everything went back to be simply Bipalium and continued that way for almost a century, changing again only in 1998, when Kawakatsu and his friends started to mess with the penises of the hammerhead worms.

First, in 1998, they erected the genus Novibipalium (“new Bipalium“) for species with a reduced or absent penis papilla, and retained in Bipalium those with a “well”-developed penis papilla. It is worth noticing though that this well-developed papilla is not much bigger than a reduced papilla in Novibipalium. In both genera the actual, functional penis is formed by a set of folds in the male atrium and not by the penis papilla itself as in other land planarians that have a penis papilla.

Later, in 2001, Ogren & Sluys separated some more species of Bipalium in a new genus called Humbertium (after Aloïs Humbert, who described most species of this new genus). They were separated from Bipalium because the ovovitelloducts (the ducts that conduct the eggs and vitellocites) enter the female atrium from ahead, and not from behind as in the typical Bipalium. This separation is, in my opinion, more reasonable than the previous one.

Now we had three genera of hammerhead worms based on their internal anatomy, but several species were described without any knowledge of their sexual organs. Thus, in 2002, Kawakatsu and his friends created one more genus, Diversibipalium (the “diverse Bipalium“) to include all species whose anatomy of the sexual organs was unknown. In other words, it is a “wastebasket” genus to place them until they are better studied.

Are these three genera, Bipalium, Novibipalium and Humbertium, as now defined, natural? We still don’t know, but I bet they are not. A good way to check it would be by using molecular phylogeny, but we don’t have people working with these animals in their natural habitats, so we do not have available material for that. Another thing that can give us a hint is to look at their geographical distribution. We can assume that genetically similar species, especially of organisms with such a low dispersal ability as land planarians, all occur in the same geographical region, right? So where do we find species of each genus? Let’s see:

Bipalium: Indonesia, Japan, China, Korea, India.

Novibipalium: Japan.

Humbertium: Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Southern India, Indonesia.

Weird, right? They are completely mixed and covering a huge area of the planet, especially when we consider Humbertium. We can see a tendency, but nothing very clear.

Fortunately, some molecular analyses were published (see Mazza et al. (2016) in the references). One, which included the species Bipalium kewense, B. nobile, B. adventitium, Novibipalium venosum and Diversibipalium multilineatum placed Diversibipalium multilineatum very close to Bipalium nobile, and they are in fact very similar, so I guess that we can transfer it from Diversibipalium to Bipalium, right? Similary, Novibipalium venosum appears mixed with the species of Bipalium. I guess this is kind of messing things up one more time.

681px-bipalia_invasive

Head of some species of Bipalium, including the ones used in the study cited above. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a photo or drawing of Novibipalium venosum. Image by myself, Piter Kehoma Boll.**

Interestingly, among the analyzed species, the most divergent was Bipalium adventitium, whose head is “blunter” than that of the other ones. Could the head be the answer, afterall? Let’s hope that someone with the necessary resources is willing to solve this mess soon.

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See also:

Once found and then forgotten: the not-so-bright side of taxonomy.

The lack of taxonomists and its consequences on ecology.

They only care if you are cute. How charisma harms biodiversity.

The faboulous taxonomic adventure of the genus Geoplana.

Darwin’s Planaria elegans: hidden, extinct or misidentified?

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References:

Graff, L. v. (1896) Über das System und die geographische Verbreitung der Landplanarien. Verhandlungen der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft6: 61–75.

Graff, L. v. (1899) Monographie der Turbellarien. II. Tricladida Terricola (Landplanarien). Engelmann, Leipzig.

Kawakatsu, M.; Ogren, R. E.; Froehlich, E. M. (1998) The taxonomic revision of several homonyms in the genus Bipalium, family Bipaliidae (Turbellaria, Seriata, Tricladida, Terricola). The Bulletin of Fuji Women’s College Series 236: 83–93.

Kawakatsu, M.; Ogren, R. E.; Froehlich, E. M., Sasaki, G.-Y. (2002) Additions and corrections of the previous land planarians indices of the world (Turbellaria, Seriata, Tricladida, Terricola). The bulletin of Fuji Women’s University. Ser. II40: 162–177.

Mazza, G.; Menchetti, M.; Sluys, R.; Solà, E.; Riutort, M.; Tricarico, E.; Justine, J.-L.; Cavigioli, L.; Mori, E. (2016) First report of the land planarian Diversibipalium multilineatum (Makino & Shirasawa, 1983) (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida, Continenticola) in Europe. Zootaxa4067(5): 577–580.

Ogren, R. E.; Sluys, R. (2001) The genus Humbertium gen. nov., a new taxon of the land planarian family Bipaliidae (Tricladida, Terricola). Belgian Journal of Zoology131: 201–204.

Schmarda, L. K. (1859) Neue Wirbellose Thiere beobachtet und gesammelt auf einer Reise um die Erde 1853 bis 1857 1. Turbellarien, Rotatorien und Anneliden. Erste Hälfte. Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig.

Stimpson, W. (1857) Prodromus descriptionis animalium evertebratorum quæ in Expeditione ad Oceanum, Pacificum Septentrionalem a Republica Federata missa, Johanne Rodgers Duce, observavit er descripsit. Pars I. Turbellaria Dendrocœla. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia9: 19–31.

Wright, E. P. (1860) Notes on Dunlopea. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 3rd ser.6: 54–56.

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The history of Systematics: Plants in Systema Naturae, 1758 (Part 6)

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Finally a new post in the History of Systematic series. This is the sixth part of Linnaeus’ classification of plants. See parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Here, I’ll present two more classes which are characterized by having the stamens arising from a common base in the flower.

16. Monadelphia (“single brothers”)

“Husbands, or brothers, arising from one base”, i.e., the filaments of the stamens are fused in a single body.

16.1 Monadelphia Pentandria (“single brothers, five males”), five stamens fused into a single structure: Waltheria (gray mallows), Hermannia (hermannias), Bombax (cotton trees), Melochia (melochias).

1758Linnaeus_monadelphia_pentandria

These 5 species belonged Linnaeus’ Monadelphia Pentandria (from left to right): sleepy morning (Waltheria indica), three-leaved hermannia (Hermannia trifoliata), chocolateweed (Melochia corchorifolia), red cotton tree (Bombax aculeatum, now Bombax ceiba). Credits to J. M. Garg (sleepy morning), C. E. Timothy Paine (hermannia), Jeevan Jose (chocolatewed), Dinesh Valke (cotton tree).

16.2 Monadelphia Decandria (“single brothers, ten males”), ten stamens fused into a single structure: Connarus (Indian zebrawood), Geranium (geraniums), Hugonia (a species of doubtful identity).

1758Linnaeus_monadelphia_decandria

The above species were put by Linnaeus in the order Monadelphia Decandria: Indian zebrawood (Connarus monocarpus, left) and bigroot geranium (Geranium macrorhizum, right). Credits to Dinesh Valke (zebrawood) and Wikipedia user Hardyplants (geranium).

16.3 Monadelphia Polyandria (“single brothers, many males”), many stamens fused into a single structure: Stewartia (silky camellia), Napaea (glade mallow), Sida (fanpetals), Adansonia (baobabs), Pentapetes (gojikas), Gossypium (cottons), Lavatera (tree mallows), Malva (mallows), Malope (mallow worts), Urena (caesarweeds), Alcea (hollyhocks), Hibiscus (hibiscuses), Althaea (marshmallows), Camellia (camélia).

1758Linnaeus_monadelphia_polyandria

Linnaeus classified the above species as Monadelphia Polyandria (from left to right, top to bottom): common baobab (Adansonia digitata), arrowleaf fanpetal (Sida rhombifolia), glade mallow (Napaea dioica), common marshmallow (Althaea officinalis), common hollyhock (Alcea rosea), common mallow (Malva sylvestris), garden tree mallow (Lavatera thuringiaca), common caesarweed (Urena lobata), Levant cotton (Gossypium herbaceum), Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), gojika (Pentapetes phoenicea), silky camellia (Stewartia malacodendron), common camellia (Camellia japonica). Credits to Jeevan Jose (fanpetal), Pablo Alberto Salguero Quiles (marshmallow), Stan Shebs (hollyhock), Joanna Voulgaraki (mallow), Bob Peterson (caesarweed), H. Zell (cotton), Andrew Fogg (hibiscus), Frank Vicentz (camellia), Wikimedia users Atamari (baobab), Botaurus stellaris (tree mallow), Melburnian (silky camellia), flickr users peganum (glade mallow), Lalithamba (gojika).

17. Diadelphia (“two brothers”)

“Husbands originating from a double base, as well as a double mother”, i.e., the filaments of the stamens are gathered in two bodies.

17.1 Diadelphia Pentandria (“two brothers, five males”), two structures formed of five fused stamens: Monnieria (monnieria).

17.2 Diadelphia Hexandria (“two brothers, six males”), two structures formed of six fused stamens: Fumaria (fumitories).

17.3 Diadelphia Octandria (“two brothers, eight males”), two structures formed of eight fused stamens: Polygala (milkworts), Securidaca (safeworts).

1758Linnaeus_diadelphia_hexandria_octandria

The plant to the left, the common fumitory (Fumaria officinalis) was in the order Diadelphia Hexandria, while the plant to the right, the common milkwort (Polygala vulgaris), was in the order Diadelphia Octandria. Credits to Isidre Blanc (fumitory) e Radio Tonreg (milkwort).

17.4 Diadelphia Decandria (“two brothers, ten males”), two structures formed of ten fused stamens: Amorpha (false indigo), Ebenus (ebonies), Erythrina (coral trees), Spartium (brooms), Genista (more brooms), Lupinus (lupins), Anthyllis (kidney vetches), Aeschynomene (jointvetches), Piscidia (), Borbonia (cape gorses), Aspalathus (more cape gorses), Ononis (restharrows), Crotalaria (rattlepods), Colutea (bladder sennas), Phaseolus (beans), Dolichos (longbeans, lablab bean), Orobus (vetchlings), Pisum (peas), Lathyrus (more vetchlings), Vicia (vetches), Astragalus (milkvetches), Biserrula (more milkvetches), Phaca (even more milkvetches), Psoralea (some trefoils), Trifolium (clovers or trefoils), Glycyrrhiza (licorices), Hedysarum (sweetvetches), Coronilla (more vetches), Ornithopus (bird’s-foot), Scorpiurus (scorpion’s-tails), Hippocrepis (horseshoe vetches), Medicago (alfalfas), Trigonella (fenugreek and allies), Glycine (soybeans), Clitoria (pigeonwings), Robinia (locusts, caraganes, riverhemps), Indigofera (indigos), Ulex (gorses), Cicer (chickpea), Ervum (lentils, vetches), Cytisus (laburnums and even more brooms), Galega (galegas), Lotus (bird’s-foot-trefoils), Arachis (peanut).

1758Linnaeus_diadelphia_decandria

These 36 plants were included in the order Diadelphia Decandria (from left to right, top to bottom): coral bean (Erythrina herbacea), fishfuddle (Piscidia erythrina, now Piscidia piscipula), heart-shaped capegorse (Borbonia cordata, now Aspalathus cordata), weaver’s broom (Spartium junceum), dyer’s broom (Genista tinctoria), desert false-indigo (Amorpha fruticosa), Indian jointvetch (Aeschynomeme indica), blue rattlepod (Crotalaria verrucosa), field restharrow (Ononis arvensis), common kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), white lupin (Lupinus albus), bladder senna (Colutea arborescens), common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), lablab bean (Dolichos lablab, now Lablab purpureus), common pea (Pisum sativum), hairy vetchling (Orobus hirsutus, now Lathyrus hirsutus), grass vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia), common vetch (Vicia sativa), Chickpea (Cicer arietinum), lentil (Ervum lens, now Lens culinaris), common laburnum (Cytisus laburnum, now Laburnum anagyroides), common gorse (Ulex europaeus), peanut (Arachis hypogaea), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), scorpion vetch (Coronilla glauca), little white bird’s-foot (Ornithopus perpusillus), horseshoe vetch (Hippocrepis comosa), prickly scorpion’s-tail (Scorpiurus muricatus), alpine sweetvetch (Hedysarum alpinum), indigo (Indigofera tinctoria), common galega (Galega officinalis), Asian pigeonwing (Clitoria ternatea), common soybean (Glycine max), alpine milkvetch (Astragalus alpinus), white clover (Trifolium repens), Cretan ebony (Ebenus cretica). Credits to Everglades NPS (coral bean), Jon Richfield (capegorse), Bernd Haynold (dyer’s broom), Dinesh Valke (jointvetch), J. M. Garg (rattlepod), Kristian Peters (restharrow, vetch, bird’s-foot), Massimiliano Marcelli (lupin), Mauricio Laurente (bean), Bogdan Giuşcă (hairy vetchling), Carl Davies-CSIRO (chickpea), Christian Kooyman (lentil), Jean François Gaffard (laburnum), H. Zell (peanut), Carsten Niehaus (scorpion vetch), Isidre Blanc (horseshoe vetch), Hans Hillewaert (scorpion’s-tail, clover), Nicola Cocchia (galega), Tusli Bhagat (pigeonwing), Jörg Hempel (milkvetch), Rüdiger Kratz (ebony), flickr users jayeshpatil912 (fishfuddle) and Eskimo Potato (sweetvetch), Wikimedia users Hectonichus (weaver’s broom), AnRo0002 (false indigo, kidney vetch, bladder senna), Dalgial (lablab), Rasbak (pea), Sannse (grass vetchling), Rosser1954 (gorse), Pharaoh han (liquorice), Pancrat (indigo), vegetalist (soybean).

18. Polyadelphia (“many brothers”)

Husbands originating from more than two mothers, i.e., stamens are gathered in three or many bodies.

18.1 Polyadelphia Pentandria (“many brothers, five males”), more than two structures of five fused stamens: Theobroma (cacao and bay cedar).

18.2 Polyadelphia Icosandria (“many brothers, twenty males”), more than two structures of twenty fused stamens: Citrus (citrus fruits trees).

18.3 Polyadelphia Polyandria (“many brothers, many males”), more than two structures of many fused stamens: Hypericum (St. Johnswort), Ascyrum (St. Andrew’s cross).

1758Linnaeus_polyadelphia

The cacao tree (Theobroma cacao, left) was one of the members of the order Polyadelphia Pentandria; the citron (Citrus medica, middle left) was a member of the order Polyadelphia Icosandria; and the Balearic St. Johnswort (Hypericum balearicum, middle right) and the St. Andrew’s cross (Ascyrum hypericoides, now Hypericum hypericoides) were members of the order Polyadelphia Polyandria. Credits to H. Zell (cacao tree), Christer T Johansson (citron), Wikimedia user Eric in SF (St. Johnswort), Bob Peterson (St. Andrew’s cross).

With a few exceptions, most of the plants in these classes currently belong to the families Malvaceae and Fabaceae (Leguminosae) of flowering plants. I guess we still need three more posts on the plants and then we are done! I hope the next part won’t take so long.

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References:

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

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Darwin’s Planaria elegans: hidden, extinct or misidentified?

by Piter Kehoma Boll

During his epic voyage on the Beagle, Charles Darwin visited Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and collected some amazing land planarians, a group that until then was very little known. One of the species he found was Geoplana vaginuloides, the type-species of the genus Geoplana, at that time named Planaria vaginuloides.

f6387-vaginuloides-pedrabranca40

Geoplana vaginuloides (Darwin, 1844), the first Brazilian land planarian species to be described. Photo by Fernando Carbayo.*

The second species described by Darwin was named Planaria elegans. Darwin’s description is as it follows:

“Position of the orifices as in P. vaginuloides. Anterior part of the body little elongated. Ocelli absent on the anterior extremity, and only a few round the margin of the foot. Colours beautiful; back snow-white, with two approximate lines of reddish brown; near the sides with several very fine parallel lines of the same tint; foot white, exteriorly clouded, together with the margin of the body, with pale blackish purple: body crossed by three colourless rings, in the two posterior of which the orifices are situated. Length 1 inch; breadth more uniform, and greater in proportion to length of the body, than in last species.
Hab. Same as in P. vaginuloides. [Rio de Janeiro]”

And this is all we know about this species. Darwin did not provide any drawing and later researchers did not report this species again, except when mentioning Darwin’s publication. As you can see by the description, it is not very accurate. He does not say what is the breadth of each line or band, neither how many of the “several fine parallel lines of the same tint” there are. Here is a quick drawing I did of how I imagine the creature would be:

image description

My idea of what Darwin’s Planaria elegans may have looked like. Head to the left. Credits to myself, Piter Kehoma Boll.**

In 1938, Albert Riester described a land planarian from Barreira, a district in the city of Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro, naming it Geoplana barreirana. He described it as it follows (translated from the original in German):

“Land planarian found on a leaf after a rain; greatest lenght ca. 20 mm. Middle of the back white with two fine purple-red (atropurpureus light) parallel stripes. Outside of the white also limitted by pale red, then follows (on both sides) a black band and laterally a black-brown marmorate pattern over brown background. The middle stripe ends at the rear [end]. Head spotted, marked with transversal spotted bands (regenerate?). Underside gray, bordered by black-brown. Anterior end is arched backwards.”

Fortunately, Riester provided a drawing, which you can see below:

Barreirana_barreirana_Riester

Geoplana barreirana drawn by Riester (1938).

They look a bit alike, right? Fortunately Geoplana barreirana (currently named Barreirana barreirana) was found by later researchers and we have photographs! See one specimen below:

f6284_barreiranatijuca3

A specimen of Barreirana barreirana found in the Tijuca National Park, Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Fernando Carbayo.*

Riester did not describe any transversal marks on his specimens, but he may have mistaken them for color loss in preserved specimens or something like that. Otherwise the specimen looks very similar to Riester’s drawing, and the internal anatomy, which Riester provided as well, is also compatible.

Now let’s try to fit Darwin’s description of Planaria elegans in this photograph. White background, two reddish brown stripes and several fine parallel stripes of the same tint. He likely described the animals from preserved specimens, even though he have seen them alive and collected them. Perhaps the colors had already faded a little and the black stripes, which internally touch two of the reddish stripes, may have been considered a single purple-red stripe? It is not clear, in his description, whether there is white between the “reddish brown” stripes and the “pale blackish-purple” sides, as I did in my drawing, or not, as in Barreirana barreiranabut certainly the dark gray sides of B. barreirana could be the same as the pale blackish purple sides of Planaria elegans, don’t you think? And B. barreirana HAS three white “rings” crossing the body. You can see the first and the second very clearly on the specimen above. The third one is not very well marked, but you can see a third white mark interrupting the gray sides. And the second and almost third marks seem to be quite where one would expect the two orifices (mouth and gonopore) of the planarian to be!

And what about the ventral side? Darwin described P. elegan‘s as being white with a pale blackish purple border as the sides of the dorsum. Riester described G. barreirana‘s as being gray bordered by black-brown. Here is Barreirana barreirana‘s ventral side:

Barreirana barreirana from below

Ventral side of Barreirana barreirana from the Tijuca National Park, Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Fernando Carbayo.*

It is white, or pale gray perhaps, and the borders are of the same color as the sides of the dorsum!

I think it is very, very likely that Darwin’s Planaria elegans and Riester’s Geoplana barreirana are the same species. The fact that no one but Darwin has ever seen a specimen of Planaria elegans makes it even more likely.

What do you think?

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See also:

How are little flatworms colored? A Geoplana vaginuloides analysis.

The fabulous taxonomic adventure of the genus Geoplana.

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References:

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 14, 241–251.

Riester, A. (1938) Beiträge zur Geoplaniden-Fauna Brasiliens. Abhandlungen der senkenbergischen naturforschenden Gesellschaft 441, 1–88.

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They only care if you are cute: how charisma harms biodiversity

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Which of the two species shown below is more charismatic?

Tangara_chilensis

Tangara chilensis (Paradise Tanager). Photo by flickr user ucumari.*

854px-apocrypta_guineensis2c_volw-wyfie_op_f_sur2c_manie_vd_schijff_bt2c_f

Apocrypta guineensis (a fig wasp). Photo by Wikimedia user JMK.**

You probably would pick the first one. And if I’d ask you which one deserves more attention and efforts to be preserved, you would likely choose the bird as well, or at least most people would. But what is the problem with that? That’s what I am going to show you now.

As we all know, the protection of biological diversity is an important subject in the current world. Fortunately, there is an increase in campaigns promoting the preservation of biodiversity, but unfortunately they are almost always directed to a small subset of species. You may find organizations seeking to protect sea turtles, tigers, eagles or giant pandas, but can you think of anyone wanting to protect beetles? Most preservation programs target large and charismatic creatures, such as mammals, birds and flowering plants, while smaller and not-so-cute organisms remain neglected. And this is not only true in environments that included non-biologist people, but in all fields of research. And more than only leading to a bias in the protection of ecosystems, this preference leads to thousands of understudied species that could bring biotechnological revolutions to humandkind.

In an interesting study published this week in Nature’s Scientific Reports (see reference below), Troudet et al. analyzed the taxonomic bias in biodiversity data by comparing the occurrence of data on several taxonomic groups to those groups’ diversity. The conclusions are astonishing, although not that much surprising. The most charismatic groups, such as birds, are, one could say, overstudied, with an excess of records, while other, such as insects, are highly understudied. While birds have about 200 million occurences above the ideal record, insects have about 200 million below the ideal number. And the situation does not seem to have improved very much along the years.

41598_2017_9084_fig1_html

The bias in interest is clear. The vertical line indicates the “ideal” number of occurrences of each group. A green bar indicates an excess of occurrences, while a red bar indicates a lack of occurrences. Birds and Insects are on the opposite extremes, but certainly the insect bias is much worse. Figure extracted from Troudet et al. (2017).***

Aditionally, the study concluded that the main reason for such disparity is simply societal preference, i.e., the most studied groups are the most loved ones by people in general. The issue is really a simple matter of charisma and has little to do with scientific or viability reasons.

The only way to change this scenario is if we find a way to raise awareness and interest of the general public on the less charismatic groups. We must make them interesting to the lay audience in order to receive their support and increase the number of future biologists that will choose to work with these neglected but very important creatures.

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See also:

Once found and then forgotten: the not so bright side of taxonomy

The lack of taxonomists and its consequences on ecology

Unknown whereabouts: the lack of biogeographic references of species

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Reference:

Troudet, J.; Grandcolas, P.; Blin, A,; Vignes-Lebbe, R.; Legendre, F. (2017) Taxonomic bias in biodiversity data and societal preferences. Scientific Report 7: 9132. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-09084-6

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Greek Gods as genus names

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Although I’m not much of a taxonomist, I really love taxonomy and the way it can be used to add some sort of literary art to biology. So here I am going to present a list of genera named after some Greek gods. I hope you enjoy it!

Zeus_faber

The genus of fish Zeus is named after the king of the Greek gods. The photo shows the species Zeus faber. Photo by Wikimedia user Kleines.Opossum.*

Zeus_olympius

The genus of fungi Zeus is also named after the king of the Greek gods. The photo shows the species Zeus olympius. Photo by Rossen Aleksov.*

Lineus_ruber

Named after the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon used to be a genus of ribbon worms (nemerteans), but this name is currently a synonym of Lineus. The photo shows a specimen of Lineus ruber, formerly known as Poseidon ruber. Photo by Eduardo Zattara.**

Hades_noctula

The name of the god of the underworld, Hades, was given to a genus of butterflies. Here you can see an individual of the species Hades noctula. Photo by Dan Wade.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The plant genus Hestia, with a single species, Hestia longifolia, was named after the Greek goddess of the hearth. Photo by Michael Lo.

800px-aphrodita_aculeata_28sea_mouse29

The sea mouse genus Aphrodita was so named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, sex and beauty. The photo shows the species Aphrodita aculeata. Photo by Michael Maggs.*

hetul_u0

The fish genus Hephaestus, including the species Hephaestus tulliensis seen above, is named after the Greek god of fire and forgery. Photo by Glynn Aland.

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The greek goddess of wisdom, Athena, was honored in the owl genus Athene, which includes the borrowing owl Athene cunicularia seen above. Photo by flickr user travelwayoflife.***

Ares_mexicoensis

Ares, named after the Greek god of war, is a genus of fossil radiolarians that includes the species Ares mexicoensis shown above. Photo extracted from Whalen & Carter, 2002.

800px-dosinia_coerulea_003

Artemis, the greek Goddess of hunt, used to be the name of a genus of clams, but currently it is a synonym of Dosinia. The species seen above, Dosinia coerulea, used to be in the genus Artemis.

399px-nussatella1

The Greek god of travelers and messenger of the gods, Hermes, was honored in a genus of sea snails. Currently, it is regarded as a subgenus of the genus Conus and includes the species Conus (Hermes) nussatella seen above. Photo by Nick Zantop.*

 

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

**Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

***Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.

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New Species: March 11 to 20, 2017

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here is a list of species described from March 11 to March 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.

Cherax_warsamsonicus

Cherax warsamsonicus is a new crayfish from Indonesia.

SARs

Plants

Fungi

Flatworms

Annelids

Rotifers

Tardigrades

Arachnids

Myriapods

Crustaceans

Insects

Cartilaginous fishes

Ray-finned fishes

Lissamphibians

Reptiles

Mammals

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New Species: March 1 to 10

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here is a list of species described from March 1 to March 10. 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.

Pristimantis_attenboroughi

Pristimantis attenboroughi is a new frog species described in the past 10 days and named in honor of Sir David Attenborough.

SARs

Plants

Fungi

Sponges

Entoprocts

Annelids

Kinorhynchs

Nematomorphs

Nematodes

Arachnids

Myriapods

Crustaceans

Hexapods

Ray-finned fishes

Lissamphibians

Reptiles

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