Fabulous ZooKeys New Species

This is a collection of interesting animal species described in ZooKeys.


  • A study shows that the desert tortoise, thought to be one species for the past 150 years, now includes two separate and distinct species, based on DNA evidence and biological and geographical distinctions. The originally recognized species, the Agassiz’s desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is listed as threatened under the USA federal Endangered Species Act. The newly recognized species (Gopherus morafkai) represents populations naturally found east and south of the Colorado River, from Arizona extending into Mexico. The new species is a patronym for the late Professor David Joseph Morafka in recognition of his many contributions to the biology and conservation of the species of Gopherus. Desert tortoises were first described in 1861 by an Army physician, J.G. Cooper. But two of the original specimens were lost, possibly as a result of the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. Fortunately, Cooper had sent a third specimen to the Smithsonian — and its DNA helped researchers in their analysis 150 years later. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=60">here</a>
  • This is one of the smallest ever cave-dwelling ground beetles which was described as <i>Paralovricia beroni</i> gen. & sp. n. It has been discovered in two caves in the Rhodopi Mountains, Bulgaria. After a careful study of its closest relatives <i>Lovricia</i> and <i>Neolovricia</i>, discovered in caves of the Dinaric Alps of Croatia, authors came to the conclusion that the three genera belong to a new subtribe – Lovriciina, which was also described in the paper. The species of this group are extremely rare and are known only from a few specimens. The paleogeographic event that could be placed at the origins of the separation of <i>Paralovricia</i> (in the Rhodopes) from a common ancestor - which then enabled a further differentiation of Lovricia and Neolovricia in the Dinarides - may be identified in the Early Miocene (20.5-19 Ma) when a strip of lowlands, covered with freshwater lakes and marshes seems to have divided the Dinarides from the Rhodopes. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=62">here</a>.
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    This small parasitoid wasp (no larger than 2.0 mm in size) shows unusual oviposition behavior. It was filmed to attack ant workers of <i>Cataglyphis ibericus</i> (Emery, 1906) from the air and to oviposit in their body. The eggs develop inside the adult ants. When the wasp approaches, the ant is often aware of its presence, aggressively turning around with opened mandibles, or extending the hind or middle legs to hit the wasp even if it comes from behind. This defensive behaviour is very common and sometimes prevents the wasp from alighting and ovipositing. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=73">here</a>.
  • This remarkable silky lacewing insect from the Mesozoic of China was found by a team of researchers from the Capital Normal University in Beijing (China) and the Institute of Biology and Soil Sciences in Vladivostok (Russia). Today the extant silky lacewings (the family Psychopsidae) are known from southern Africa, southeastern Asia and Australia, but in the Mesozoic, they were much more widely distributed. The new fossil named <i>Undulopsychopsis alexi</i> was found from in the Yixian Formation of western Liaoning Province, one of the most productive Mesozoic fossil-bearing horizons in China. The species is characterized by the undulate wing margin, a unique condition amongst known Psychopsidae, and a number of unusual characters of the wing venation. The most important trait of this fossil is that it shares the features of two different families of neuropteran insects, the extant Psychopsidae (known also from the Mesozoic) and the extinct Mesozoic Osmylopsychopidae. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=78">here</a>
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    . <i>Palerasnitsynus ohlhoffi</i> sp. n. constitute the first record of the living family Psychomyiidae in Burmese amber and the oldest known member of this family in the fossil record. Burmese amber is 100 million years old, from the Cretaceous Period, so this discovery adds to our understanding of the caddisfly fauna in that part of the world at that time. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=79">here</a>.
  • . A new family of wasps named Plumalexiidae, comprising one new species, <i>Plumalexius rasnitsyni</i> Brothers, was recently found in North American amber. <i>Plumalexius rasnitsyni</i> was found in Late Cretaceous amber from New Jersey, USA, dating from over 90 million years ago. A detailed analysis has shown that the new family is most closely related to the family Plumariidae, now found only in the arid areas of South America and southern Africa and not known from any fossils. Although the new family shares a few features with the Plumariidae, it also looks very different. The dissimilar habitats involved also indicate that their lifestyles and habits must have been different. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=77">here</a>.
  • . Two new species of cichlid fish from Lake Victoria are described by biologists from Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Research Department Marine Zoology) and the Institute of Biology Leiden (Section Integrative Zoology), the Netherlands. One of these species is named in honour of Tijs Goldschmidt, author of Darwin's Dreampond. This book, published in nine languages, describes the dramatic extinction of hundreds of cichlid species in Lake Victoria in the 1980s due to the introduced Nile perch and other human induced environmental changes. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=188">here</a>.
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    . Since in 2006 an unknown leafmining moth was found in North Italian vineyards by Mario Baldessari and colleagues, often in great numbers, scientists have tried to put a name to this apparently new invader. Italian scientists from the Fondazione Edmund Mach di San Michele all'Adige and the Università di Padova turned for help to taxonomists in the Netherlands and United States. The new species occurs in eastern North America from Georgia north to Ontario, and feeds as larva on several species of wild grapes. In this area it seems to be the commonest species of this family on wild grapes. The larva eats out typical leafmines, and cuts out a shield at the end of the mine, leaving a characteristic hole in the leaf behind when it walks down the plant in search for a pupation site. The moth only measures about 5-6 mm wingspan, or 3 mm length at rest, and is blackish, with shining silvery spots and head. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=120">here</a>.
  • . Many plant lice species feed only on one type (or even species) of plant; the diet of the newly described plant lice species consists (based on current data), for example, solely of a type of bamboo (<i>Chusquea tomentosa</i>). A molecular analysis was used to determine to which taxonomic genus it belongs (<i>Rhopalosiphum</i>). Its description is based also on molecular information of fragments of the mitochondrial DNA (COI), and on nuclear gene coding, in addition to morphologic external characteristics. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=113">here</a>.
  • . This is the only member of the genus known to live at high altitudes (1,600-2,100 m). It is yet unknown what biological mechanisms help the lizard to survive in environment, much colder than what it's relatives in the genus prefer. Scientists also believe the lizard may be nocturnal, which raises the question of how it maintains its body temperature during night time. In some cases, individuals were observed swimming in streams, which is rather unusual behavior for the members this genus. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=117">here</a>.
  • . The new insect is the first representative of it's family ever to be found in Belize. Just less than 5 mm long, the insect is a tiny, black, white and orange coloured, grasshopper-like species that uses its large jumping hind legs to escape predators. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=118">here</a>.
  • . The wing pattern is its most distinctive feature. Yet, this discovery could have been missed by scientists, as the only documented evidence that the new species existed was an exquisite series of images posted online in Flickr® after the insect was released. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=150">here</a>.
  • . Researchers at Auburn University have reported the discovery a new trapdoor spider species from a well-developed housing subdivision in the heart of the city of Auburn, Alabama. Myrmekiaphila tigris, affectionately referred to as the Auburn Tiger Trapdoor spider, is named in honor of Auburn University's costumed Tiger mascot, Aubie. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=134">here</a>.
  • . The new genus has been named Loureedia in a whimsical salute to the musician who began his distinguished career leading the 60s rock band "The Velvet Underground. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=139">here</a>.
  • . A new bright yellow frog species has been found in the mountains of western Panama. The frog belongs to a species-rich group of frogs, the so called rainfrogs that lack a tadpole stage, but develop directly as little frogs inside the egg. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=137">here</a>.
  • . These bees, like the more widely known cuckoo birds, invade the nests of other host bee species. While the host is out collecting pollen for its brood, the cuckoo bee female enters the nest and deposits her eggs on the food resource. The cuckoo bee egg hatches and the immature promptly dispatches the host egg, leaving the pollen and nectar reserves for itself. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=159">here</a>.
  • . Named Pegomastax africanus, or "thick jaw from Africa", the new species has a short parrot-shaped beak up front, a pair of stabbing canines, and tall teeth tucked behind for slicing plants. The tall teeth in upper and lower jaws operated like self-sharpening scissors, with shearing wear facets that slid past one another when the jaws closed. The parrot-shaped skull, less than three inches long, may have been adapted to plucking fruit. "Very rare", admits Sereno, "that a plant-eater like Pegomastax would sport sharp-edged, enlarged canines" like that of a vampire. More information can be found <a target="_blank" href="http://www.pensoft.net/news.php?n=167">here</a>.

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