Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Zoological nomenclature


The gecko genus Geckolepis, endemic to Madagascar and the Comoro archipelago, is taxonomically challenging. One reason is its members ability to autotomize a large portion of their scales when grasped or touched, most likely to escape predation. Based on an integrative taxonomic approach including external morphology, morphometrics, genetics, pholidosis, and osteology, we here describe the first new species from this genus in 75 years: Geckolepis megalepissp. nov. from the limestone karst of Ankarana in northern Madagascar. The new species has the largest known body scales of any gecko (both relatively and absolutely), which come off with exceptional ease. We provide a detailed description of the skeleton of the genus Geckolepis based on micro-Computed Tomography (micro-CT) analysis of the new species, the holotype of G. maculata, the recently resurrected G. humbloti, and a specimen belonging to an operational taxonomic unit (OTU) recently suggested to represent G. maculata. Geckolepis is characterized by highly mineralized, imbricated scales, paired frontals, and unfused subolfactory processes of the frontals, among other features. We identify diagnostic characters in the osteology of these geckos that help define our new species and show that the OTU assigned to G. maculata is probably not conspecific with it, leaving the taxonomic identity of this species unclear. We discuss possible reasons for the extremely enlarged scales of G. megalepis in the context of an anti-predator defence mechanism, and the future of Geckolepis taxonomy.

Concepts: Biology, Taxonomy, Reptile, Gecko, Madagascar, Taxonomic rank, Zoological nomenclature, Gekkonidae


Historically serving as repositories for morphologically-based taxonomic research, natural history collections are now increasingly being targeted in studies utilizing DNA data. The development of advanced molecular techniques has facilitated extraction of useable DNA from old specimens, including type material. Sequencing diagnostic molecular markers from type material enables accurate species designation, especially where modern taxonomic hypotheses confirm morphologically cryptic species complexes. One such example is Chrysoperla carnea (Stephens), which belongs to a complex of about 20 cryptic species, most of which can only be reliably distinguished by their pre-mating courtship songs or by DNA analysis. The subtle morphological variation in the group has led to disagreement over the previous designation of the lectotype for C. carnea, an issue that has been further compounded because Chrysoperla carnea is a highly valued biological control agent in arable crops. Archival DNA extraction and sequencing from the 180 year old lectotype specimen, combined with Bayesian and Likelihood based phylogenetic analyses of modern specimens from the entire complex, were used to establish unambiguously the true identity of Chrysoperla carnea.

Concepts: DNA, Molecular biology, Biology, Organism, Species, Taxonomy, Cryptic species complex, Zoological nomenclature


Exosphaeromaamplicauda (Stimpson, 1857) from the west coast of North America is reviewed and redescribed and revealed to be a group of closely related species. A neotype is designated and the species redescribed based on the neotype and topotypic specimens. Exosphaeromaamplicauda is known only from the coast of California, at Marin, Sonoma and San Mateo Counties. Exosphaeromaaphrodita (Boone, 1923), type locality La Jolla, California and previously considered nomen dubium is taken out of synonymy and re-validated. A further three species: Exosphaeromapaydenae sp. n., Exosphaeromarussellhansoni sp. n., and Exosphaeromapentcheffi sp. n. are described herein. Sphaeromaoctonctum Richardson, 1899 is placed into junior synonymy with Exosphaeromaamplicauda. A key to the Pacific West Coast Exosphaeroma is provided.

Concepts: United States, California, North America, Los Angeles, San Diego, Zoological nomenclature, San Francisco, Nomen dubium


The black-faced uacaris are a poorly known group of platyrrhine monkeys from the Rio Negro basin in northwestern Amazonia. Originally described as two distinct species-Cacajao melanocephalus (Humboldt 1812) and Cacajao ouakary (Spix 1823)-from opposite banks of the Negro, they were treated as a single species until the end of the twentieth century, when molecular studies reconfirmed their status as true species. One of these studies not only nominated a third (northern) species, Cacajao ayresi Boubli et al. 2008, but also identified C. ouakary as a junior synonym of C. melanocephalus, resulting in the introduction of a new nomen, Cacajao hosomi Boubli et al. 2008. In the present study, additional evidence on morphological and zoogeographic variables is analyzed, which indicates that C. ouakary should be reinstated, and supports the nomination of a neotype of C. melanocephalus. The molecular and zoogeographic data on the species status of the ayresi form are also re-assessed, leading to the conclusion that, on the basis of the evidence available at the present time, this form should be considered a subspecies of C. melanocephalus. A new taxonomic arrangement is proposed, which recognizes two species, C. ouakary and C. melanocephalus, the latter with two subspecies, C. m. melanocephalus and C. m. ayresi.

Concepts: Present, Time, Modern history, Taxonomic rank, Pitheciidae, Zoological nomenclature, Sakis and uakaris


An updated list of Issidae known from Vietnam is provided. Two new species, one from the genus Darwallia Gnezdilov, 2010, and another one from a new genus are described from the Hòn Bà massif in Central Vietnam. A key to species of the genus Darwallia is provided. Gelastyrella hainanensis Ran et Liang, 2006 is placed in synonymy under Thabena litaoensis Yang, 1994. This last taxon and the genus Gergithoides Schumacher, 1915 are recorded for the first time for Vietnamese fauna. New records in Vietnam are given for Tetrica philo Fennah, 1978 and Gergithus iguchii Matsumura, 1916. 

Concepts: Class, Scientific classification, International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, Zoological nomenclature, Botanical nomenclature, Chresonym, March 10, March 14


The genus Pseudaethria Schaus is revised and redescribed based on morphological characters of male and female adults. Its type species, Pseudaethria cessogae Schaus, was found out to be a junior subjective synonym of Heliura cosmosomodes Dognin. Therefore, the new combination Pseudaethria cosmosomodes is proposed along with another one: Pseudaethria analis Gaede new combination. A lectotype is designated to P. cessogae, which was described from an undetermined number of specimens. The distribution of the species is discussed as well as its systematic placement.

Concepts: Human, Male, Biology, Order, Zoological nomenclature, Botanical nomenclature, Systematics, Name-bearing type


The history of usage of the name Cetonia floricola fausti Kraatz, 1891 (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Cetoniinae) is discussed. In recent publications, the name Protaetia (Potosia) fausti was applied to a taxon that is not conspecific with Kraatz’s holotype. We therefore reassign the name Cetonia fausti Kraatz, 1891 as a junior synonym of Protaetia splendidula (Faldermann, 1835) and discuss the justification for this synonymy. The taxon that was erroneously called Protaetia fausti in recent papers actually includes two distinct species: Protaetia jelineki (Petrovitz, 1981) and a species described in this paper as Protaetia (Potosia) haiastanica new species from northwestern and central Armenia and southwestern Georgia.

Concepts: Zoological nomenclature, Botanical nomenclature, Scarabaeidae, Chresonym, Nomen oblitum


We explore the potential of x-ray micro computed tomography (μCT) for the field of ant taxonomy by using it to enhance the descriptions of two remarkable new species of the ant genus Terataner: T. balrog sp. n. and T. nymeria sp. n.. We provide an illustrated worker-based species identification key for all species found on Madagascar, as well as detailed taxonomic descriptions, which include diagnoses, discussions, measurements, natural history data, high-quality montage images and distribution maps for both new species. In addition to conventional morphological examination, we have used virtual reconstructions based on volumetric μCT scanning data for the species descriptions. We also include 3D PDFs, still images of virtual reconstructions, and 3D rotation videos for both holotype workers and one paratype queen. The complete μCT datasets have been made available online (Dryad, and represent the first cybertypes in ants (and insects). We discuss the potential of μCT scanning and critically assess the usefulness of cybertypes for ant taxonomy.

Concepts: Insect, Medical imaging, Taxonomy, Identification, Taxonomic rank, Ant, Hymenoptera, Zoological nomenclature


Two strains of aerobic, non-motile, Gram-positive cocci were independently isolated from geographically distinct spacecraft assembly clean room facilities (Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA and Centre Spatial Guyanais, Kourou, French Guiana). A polyphasic study was carried out to delineate the taxonomic identity of these two isolates (1PO5MAT and KO_PS43). The 16S rRNA gene sequences exhibited a high similarity when compared to each other (100%) and lower than 96.7 % relatedness with Arthrobacter crystallopoietes ATCC 15481T, Arthrobacter luteolus ATCC BAA-272T, Arthrobacter tumbae DSM 16406T and Arthrobacter subterraneus DSM 17585T. In contrast to previously described Arthrobacter species, the novel isolates maintained their coccidal morphology throughout their growth and did not exhibit the rod-coccus life cycle typically observed in nearly all Arthrobacter species, except A. agilis. The distinct taxonomic identity of the novel isolates was confirmed based on their unique cell-wall peptidoglycan type (A.11.20; Lys-Ser-Ala2) and polar lipid profile (presence of phosphatidylglycerol, diphosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylinositol, an unkown phospholipid and two unknown glycolipids). The G+C content of the genomic DNA was 70.6 mol%. The novel strains revealed MK-9(H2) and MK-8(H2) as dominant menaquinones and exhibited fatty acid profiles consisting of major amounts of anteiso-C15:0 and anteiso-C17:0 and moderate amounts of iso-C15:0 discriminating them again from closely related Arthrobacter species. Based on these observations, the authors propose that strains 1PO5MAT and KO_PS43 be assigned into a separate genus Tersicoccus gen. nov. For this new taxon, comprising strains 1PO5MAT and KO_PS43, we propose the name Tersicoccus phoenicis gen. nov., sp. nov. (the type species of Tersicoccus), represented by the type strain Tersicoccus phoenicis 1PO5MAT (=NRRL B-59547T= DSM 30849T).

Concepts: Bacteria, Biology, Ribosomal RNA, 16S ribosomal RNA, Zoological nomenclature, Botanical nomenclature, French Guiana, Kennedy Space Center


The European bone-skippers (Diptera: Piophilidae: Thyreophorina), long considered extinct, have recently been the object of much interest by dipterists after their unexpected rediscovery. Considerable faunistic work has been done on these flies in recent years. However, some nomenclatural and taxonomic issues still require attention. A neotype is designated for Thyreophora anthropophaga Robineau-Desvoidy, 1830 (now in the genus Centrophlebomyia Hendel, 1903) to fix the identity of this nominal species. Centrophlebomyia anthropophaga is recognized as a valid species. It is described and illustrated in detail, and information on its preimaginal instars is provided for the first time. Four Palaearctic species of Centrophlebomyia are recognized and reviewed and a key is provided for their identification. Centrophlebomyia orientalis Hendel, 1907 from northern India, is removed from synonymy with Centrophlebomyia anthropophaga and recognized as a valid species of Centrophlebomyia, stat. r. The nominal genus Protothyreophora Ozerov, 1984 is considered a junior synonym of Centrophlebomyia, syn. n.

Concepts: Taxonomy, Order, Flies, Fly, Zoological nomenclature, Chresonym, Nomen oblitum