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Glaw F.,Zoologische Staatssammlung Munich | Kohler J.,Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt | Townsend T.M.,San Diego State University | Vences M.,TU Braunschweig
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Background: One clade of Malagasy leaf chameleons, the Brookesia minima group, is known to contain species that rank among the smallest amniotes in the world. We report on a previously unrecognized radiation of these miniaturized lizards comprising four new species described herein. Methodology/Principal Findings: The newly discovered species appear to be restricted to single, mostly karstic, localities in extreme northern Madagascar: Brookesia confidens sp. n. from Ankarana, B. desperata sp. n. from Forêt d'Ambre, B. micra sp. n. from the islet Nosy Hara, and B. tristis sp. n. from Montagne des Français. Molecular phylogenetic analyses based on one mitochondrial and two nuclear genes of all nominal species in the B. minima group congruently support that the four new species, together with B. tuberculata from Montagne d'Ambre in northern Madagascar, form a strongly supported clade. This suggests that these species have diversified in geographical proximity in this small area. All species of the B. minima group, including the four newly described ones, are characterized by very deep genetic divergences of 18-32% in the ND2 gene and >6% in the 16S rRNA gene. Despite superficial similarities among all species of this group, their status as separate evolutionary lineages is also supported by moderate to strong differences in external morphology, and by clear differences in hemipenis structure. Conclusion/Significance: The newly discovered dwarf chameleon species represent striking cases of miniaturization and microendemism and suggest the possibility of a range size-body size relationship in Malagasy reptiles. The newly described Brookesia micra reaches a maximum snout-vent length in males of 16 mm, and its total length in both sexes is less than 30 mm, ranking it among the smallest amniote vertebrates in the world. With a distribution limited to a very small islet, this species may represent an extreme case of island dwarfism. © 2012 Glaw et al.


Kohler J.,Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt | Vences M.,TU Braunschweig | D'Cruze N.,The World Society for the Protection of Animals | Glaw F.,Zoologische Staatssammlung Munich
Journal of Zoology | Year: 2010

The endemic Malagasy microhylid genus Stumpffia usually comprises small-bodied terrestrial frogs with snout-vent lengths of 16 mm or less, with some miniaturized species as small as 10 mm in their adult stage, and only two described species reaching over 20 mm in snout-vent length. Previous studies have provided evidence for parallel miniaturization in Malagasy microhylids, with several species and candidate species previously assigned to Stumpffia probably belonging to other, still undescribed genera. Here, conversely, we report on the discovery of four new species of microhylids from northern Madagascar, of which two are larger than all previously known Stumpffia, but all clearly belong to this genus based on molecular phylogenetic relationships. All four species have fully developed digits, are closely related and occur in karstic limestone environments, with most specimens collected in caves, a habitat formerly unknown for cophylines. This newly discovered radiation of large-bodied and supposedly cave-dwelling Stumpffia contains one species from Nosy Hara, one from Ankarana, one from Ampombofofo and one from Montagne des Français, respectively. In the latter species, specimens can reach up to 28 mm snout-vent length. These new species are genetically differentiated from each other by 3.8-8.6% pairwise divergence in the 16S rRNA gene and furthermore by differences in coloration, extension of terminal finger discs, relative eye diameter and relative head width. We discuss the status of Stumpffia madagascariensis Mocquard, 1895 and consider it a valid species referable to one of the two small-bodied species identified from Montagne d'Ambre National Park. Furthermore, our results support that cophylines are highly microendemic and we provide support for a miniaturized ancestor of the large-bodied species described here, thus demonstrating that miniaturization is evolutionarily reversible. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 The Zoological Society of London.


Mayr G.,Senckenberg Institute | Micklich N.,Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt
Palaontologische Zeitschrift | Year: 2010

We describe new specimens of stem group representatives of Trochilidae (hummingbirds) and Todidae (todies) from the Rupelian of Frauenweiler in southern Germany. The hummingbird fossil constitutes the fourth record of Eurotrochilus inexpectatus. It consists only of wing and pectoral girdle elements, but shows the previously unknown crista deltopectoralis of the humerus, whose shape differs from modern hummingbirds. The carpometacarpus bears a well-developed processus intermetacarpalis, which is a further synapomorphy of Eurotrochilus and crown group Trochilidae. The disarticulated partial skeleton of the tody allows a definitive taxonomic assignment of the Frauenweiler species to Palaeotodus itardiensis Mourer-Chauviré, and likewise exhibits so far unknown osteological details, including the morphologies of the quadrate and scapula. We further comment on the exceptional taphonomy and preservation of avian fossils from the Frauenweiler clay pit, where terrestrial birds are represented only by small to very small species, whose skeletons are always strongly disarticulated. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.


Kaffenberger N.,Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt | Kaffenberger N.,TU Braunschweig | Wollenberg K.C.,Harvard University | Kohler J.,Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt | And 3 more authors.
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution | Year: 2012

The genus Gephyromantis is a clade within the Malagasy-Comoroan family Mantellidae composed of rainforest frogs that live and breed to varying degrees independently from water. Based on DNA sequences of five mitochondrial and five nuclear genes we inferred the phylogeny of these frogs with full taxon coverage at the species level. Our preferred consensus tree from a partitioned Bayesian analysis of 5843 base pairs of 51 nominal and candidate species supports various major clades within the genus although the basal relationships among these remain unresolved. The data provide strong evidence for the monophyly of the subgenera Gephyromantis (after exclusion of Gephyromantis klemmeri), Laurentomantis, Vatomantis, and Phylacomantis. Species assigned to the subgenus Duboimantis belong to two strongly supported clades of uncertain relationships. G. klemmeri, previously in the subgenus Gephyromantis, was placed with high support sister to the Laurentomantis clade, and the Laurentomantis+. G. klemmeri clade was sister to Vatomantis. A reconstruction of ancestral distribution areas indicates a diversification of several subgenera in the northern biogeographic regions of Madagascar and the dispersal out of northern Madagascar for several clades. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.


Micklich N.,Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt
Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments | Year: 2012

General aspects and some peculiarities of the Lake Messel fish fauna are presented and discussed with special focus on the palaeoenvironmental framework. The overall composition of that fauna is analysed including details such as age and growth. Palaeopathological information is derived from scale regeneration, and selected aspects of mortality and taphonomy are also investigated. Special emphasis is placed on analyses of the horizontal and vertical distribution patterns of the fishes in comparison with those of plant and arthropod records on the one hand and the orientation patterns of fish carcasses on the other hand. In this context, long- and shortterm, and also local, differences and modifications are discussed. All results indicate a very particular environmental scenario. LakeMessel cannot have been steadily isolated from external water bodies during the period of time that is represented by the investigated fossils. There must instead have been various opportunities for a renovation of the lake's fish fauna. Probably, the peculiarities of that fauna were predominantly triggered by a selective influx, which also changed during more extended periods of time. The selection could have taken place during active immigration events and by modified interactions with different types of external catchment areas. There need not necessarily have been locally fixed inlets and outlets. It is probable that there were more flexible control mechanisms, like an exchange of water with other bodies of water during occasional high water periods, and in places with a partial (or complete) erosion of the tephra wall shelter. The latter may also have varied as a function of the intensity of the respective high water events. © Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer 2012.


Joyce W.G.,University of Tübingen | Micklich N.,Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt | Schaal S.F.K.,Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum | Scheyer T.M.,University of Zürich
Biology Letters | Year: 2012

The behaviour of fossil organisms can typically be inferred only indirectly, but rare fossil finds can provide surprising insights. Here, we report from the Eocene Messel Pit Fossil Site between Darmstadt and Frankfurt, Germany numerous pairs of the fossil carettochelyid turtle Allaeochelys crassesculpta that represent for the first time among fossil vertebrates couples that perished during copulation. Females of this taxon can be distinguished from males by their relatively shorter tails and development of plastral kinesis. The preservation of mating pairs has important taphonomic implications for the Messel Pit Fossil Site, as it is unlikely that the turtles would mate in poisonous surface waters. Instead, the turtles initiated copulation in habitable surface waters, but perished when their skin absorbed poisons while sinking into toxic layers. The mating pairs from Messel are therefore more consistent with a stratified, volcanicmaar lake with inhabitable surface waters and a deadly abyss. © 2012 The Royal Society.


Wetterer J.K.,Florida Atlantic University | Garcia F.H.,Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt
Myrmecological News | Year: 2015

Tetramorium caldarium (ROGER, 1857) is a tramp ant species originally from Africa that has dispersed around the world through human commerce. From 1862 to 1979, T. caldarium was considered a junior synonym of T. simillimum (SMITH, 1851). To document the worldwide spread of T. caldarium, we compiled > 300 published and unpublished specimen site records. In addition, in order to assess their species boundaries, we examined the type specimens of T. caldarium and T. simillimum. We documented Tetramorium caldarium records from 67 geographic areas (countries, island groups, major Caribbean islands, and US states), including several for which there are no previously published records: Austral Islands, Australia, Benin, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Congo (Republic), Curaçao, Dubai, El Salvador, Gabon, Guadeloupe, Indonesia, Jamaica, Martinique, Namibia, Panama, Scotland, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Tetramorium caldarium is truly cosmopolitan, with records spread across seven of the world's eight bioregions (all except the Antarctic, which has no ants). Tetramorium caldarium records are particularly common on Atlantic islands and from greenhouses and heated buildings in temperate Europe.


Kohler J.,Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt | Vences M.,TU Braunschweig | Erbacher M.,Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt | Glaw F.,Zoologische Staatssammlung Munich
Organisms Diversity and Evolution | Year: 2010

We report on the rediscovery of two limbless scincid species, Paracontias rothschildi Mocquard, 1905 and Paracontias minimus (Mocquard, 1906), after more than a century. The two species were found in syntopy in sandy soils of Forêt d'Orangea, Antsiranana Province, northern Madagascar, which probably constitutes the respective type locality and confirms the species' Malagasy origin. Both taxa are redescribed based on newly collected material, and compared to other Malagasy species. In addition, Paracontias fasika n. sp. is described from the same locality and habitat. We discuss the taxonomy and origin of all three species and provide preliminary data on their natural history. Molecular relationships among seven Paracontias species are compared to external morphological characters formerly used in skink systematics. Our results indicate that morphology in fossorial skinks is well suited to distinguish species, but is of rather limited value to elucidate phylogenetic relationships. Similarities between these skinks in external characters apparently are the result of convergent evolution due to parallel selective pressures. © Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2010.


Vences M.,TU Braunschweig | Gehara M.,TU Braunschweig | Kohler J.,Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt | Glaw F.,Zoologische Staatssammlung Munich
Amphibia Reptilia | Year: 2012

Based on concordant differences in male advertisement call, tadpole morphology, and absence of haplotype sharing in mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers, we describe a new species of treefrog from Ranomafana National Park in the southern central east of Madagascar. In its adult stage Boophis narinsi sp. n. is highly similar to its sister species, Boophis majori, but appears to differ in having longer hindlimbs. The genetic divergences between these two species (2.5-3.3% in a fragment of the 16S rRNA gene, depending on fragment length and individual haplotype analyzed) are below the threshold typically characterizing distinct species of anurans. Together with their relatively small and largely overlapping ranges and their sympatric occurrence in Ranomafana National Park, this indicates that they potentially could have originated rather recently by adaptive spéciation under parapatric or sympatric conditions. Most studies on amphibian spéciation have so far by default assumed vicariant spéciation. We suggest that alternative spéciation scenarios should be considered in future works and characterize settings in which more reliable assessments of adaptive parapatric or sympatric spéciation could be carried out. © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2012.


Glaw F.,Zoologische Staatssammlung Munich | Kohler J.,Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt | De La Riva I.,CSIC - National Museum of Natural Sciences | Vieites D.R.,CSIC - National Museum of Natural Sciences | Vences M.,TU Braunschweig
Zootaxa | Year: 2010

We describe ten new species of treefrogs assigned to the genus Boophis (Anura: Mantellidae) and resurrect two species from synonymy, based on materials collected during fieldwork in Madagascar, carried out mainly between 2000 and 2007. Our comparative database assembled over the past years comprises fresh material for molecular analysis from all 58 nominal Boophis species, and advertisement call recordings from all except three species. We follow an integrative approach and combine molecular, bioacoustic and morphological evidence to diagnose the new species. In most cases, the new species have uncorrected molecular divergences of over 4-5% in the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene to their closest relatives. In some cases the divergences are lower (2-2.5%) but are then accompanied by distinct differences in advertisement calls or morphology. Boophis piperatus sp. nov. from Ranomafana National Park is a small brown species assigned to the B. majori group that is similar to B. miniatus but differs in morphology and advertisement calls. Boophis arcanus sp. nov. is assigned to the B. majori group as well and is known from only two female specimens from a site close to Ranomafana; it is described mainly based on its strong genetic differentiation (> 7.2% to all other species). Boophis entingae sp. nov. is a species of the Boophis goudoti group occurring in northern Madagascar, similar to and sympatric with B. brachychir, but with a strongly different advertisement call. Boophis roseipalmatus sp. nov. belongs to the B. goudoti group, is similar to B. madagascariensis, and appears to replace this species in most of northern Madagascar, with possible areas of sympatry in the north east. Boophis spinophis sp. nov. is an enigmatic, morphologically highly divergent species from Ranomafana National Park that belongs into the B. goudoti group but differs from all other spe- cies in the group by having distinct dermal tubercles along the lateral parts of the shank and around the elbow. Boophis praedictus sp. nov. is a sibling species of B. albilabris in the B. albilabris group, diagnosable by its red iris periphery and distributed in rainforest along the east coast. Boophis sandrae sp. nov. belongs to the B. luteus group and is superficially similar to the sympatric B. elenae, but has a faster call and smaller body size. Boophis miadana sp. nov. and B. haingana sp. nov., both in the B. albipunctatus group and syntopically occurring at Andohahela National Park, are related to B. ankaratra and B. schuboeae and differ mainly by their advertisement calls. Boophis luciae sp. nov., also in the B. albipunctatus group, differs from the sympatric B. albipunctatus and B. sibilans by having slightly smaller body size and different advertisement calls. We furthermore resurrect Rhacophorus obscurus Boettger, 1913 (as Boophis obscurus in the B. goudoti group) from the synonymy of Boophis goudoti as well as Rhacophorus andrangoloaka Ahl, 1928 (as Boophis andrangoloaka in the B. microtympanum group) from the synonymy of Boophis rhodoscelis, and propose to consider Rhacophorus brevirostris Ahl, 1928 as junior synonym of Boophis andrangoloaka. We discuss our integrative methodological approach and the different lines of evidence used to delimitate the species described or resurrected herein. By applying IUCN Redlist criteria, we evaluate the threat status of the species considered: six species are classified Data Deficient (B. arcanus, B. haingana, B. miadana, B. piperatus, B. praedictus, B. spinophis), four Vulnerable (B. andrangoloaka, B. entingae, B. roseipalmatus, B. sandrae), and two Least Concern (B. luciae, B. obscurus). Copyright © 2010 Magnolia Press.

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