Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Time filter

Source Type

Discovery of a new species of assassin flies led to the redescription of its genus. This group of curious predatory flies live exclusively in South Africa, preferring relatively dry habitats. Following the revisit, authors Drs Jason Londt, KwaZulu-Natal Museum, South Africa, and Torsten Dikow, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, USA, publish updated information about all species within the genus, now counting a total of seven species, and also establish a new tribe. Their study is published in the open access journal African Invertebrates. The family of assassin flies (Asilidae), also known as robber flies, are curious insects, which have received their common name due to their extremely predatory behavior. The assassin flies prey on a great variety of insects, including beetles, moths, butterflies, wasps, other flies, as well as some spiders, as early as their juvenile stage of development. When hunting, they would ambush their prey and catch it in flight. Then, they would pierce the victim with a short and strong proboscis, while injecting venom. Once in the body of the prey, it quickly dissolves the insides, so that the assassin fly can suck them out. The published study was spawned by the collection of new specimens of previously described assassin flies of the species Trichoura tankwa by the junior author in December 2015. These specimens could not be easily identified and so the authors started to look at all available specimens in natural history museums. The new species, called Trichoura pardeos, was discovered in Tierberg Nature Reserve by the authors in 2004, a small conservation area located on the north banks of the Gariep River in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. The habitat comprises almost entirely a large rocky hill, where the vegetation is scarce and dominated by drought-resistant plants, such as aloes. The fly is predominantly red-brown in colour, with silvery, white and yellowish markings. Having noted morphological variation between the species inhabiting areas with differently timed yearly rainfalls, the entomologists suggest that two groups within the studied genus have adapted to these different patterns in western and eastern South Africa. They also expect that species representing Trichoura could be also dwelling in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and possibly Zimbabwe. Londt J, Dikow T (2016) A review of the genus Trichoura Londt, 1994 with the description of a new species from the Northern Cape Province of South Africa and a key to world Willistonininae (Diptera, Asilidae). African Invertebrates 57(2): 119-135. https:/


Female assassin fly of the species Trichoura tankwa are perching on a low, dry branch. Credit: Torsten Dikow Discovery of a new species of assassin flies led to the redescription of its genus. This group of curious predatory flies live exclusively in South Africa, preferring relatively dry habitats. Following the revisit, authors Drs Jason Londt, KwaZulu-Natal Museum, South Africa, and Torsten Dikow, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, USA, publish updated information about all species within the genus, now counting a total of seven species, and also establish a new tribe. Their study is published in the open access journal African Invertebrates. The family of assassin flies (Asilidae), also known as robber flies, are curious insects, which have received their common name due to their extremely predatory behavior. The assassin flies prey on a great variety of insects, including beetles, moths, butterflies, wasps, other flies, as well as some spiders, as early as their juvenile stage of development. When hunting, they would ambush their prey and catch it in flight. Then, they would pierce the victim with a short and strong proboscis, while injecting venom. Once in the body of the prey, it quickly dissolves the insides, so that the assassin fly can suck them out. The published study was spawned by the collection of new specimens of previously described assassin flies of the species Trichoura tankwa by the junior author in December 2015. These specimens could not be easily identified and so the authors started to look at all available specimens in natural history museums. The new species, called Trichoura pardeos, was discovered in Tierberg Nature Reserve by the authors in 2004, a small conservation area located on the north banks of the Gariep River in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. The habitat comprises almost entirely a large rocky hill, where the vegetation is scarce and dominated by drought-resistant plants, such as aloes. The fly is predominantly red-brown in colour, with silvery, white and yellowish markings. Having noted morphological variation between the species inhabiting areas with differently timed yearly rainfalls, the entomologists suggest that two groups within the studied genus have adapted to these different patterns in western and eastern South Africa. They also expect that species representing Trichoura could be also dwelling in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and possibly Zimbabwe. More information: Jason G.H. Londt et al, A review of the genus Trichoura Londt, 1994 with the description of a new species from the Northern Cape Province of South Africa and a key to world Willistonininae (Diptera, Asilidae), African Invertebrates (2016). DOI: 10.3897/AfrInvertebr.57.10772


Wagner R.,University of Kassel | Stuckenberg B.,Natal Museum
Zootaxa | Year: 2016

Subfamily Bruchomyiinae is comprised of 60 species and has been referred to as the most primitive within the Psychodidae. The assumed sister-group relationship with Phlebotominae is based on ecological constraints of their environment. A cladistics analysis based on 29 characters and 52 species revealed the distinction of an Old World clade characterized by males with elongate, narrow vasa deferentia, and a New World clade with males having shorter and basally widened vasa deferentia. The Old World clade consists of the genera Nemopalpus Macquart (9 species), and Eutonnoiria Alexander (1 species). The New World clade includes Bruchomyia Alexander (10 species), Boreofairchildia genus nov. (13 species), Laurenceomyia genus nov. (5 species), and Notofairchildia genus nov. (15 species). Parsimony and Bayesian analyses resulted in trees that generally support this generic classification; however, with some species groups less resolved. Diagnostic features for genera are provided. In contrast to the other New World genera, Notofairchildia is paraphyletic with the provisional inclusion of at least the Australasian taxa. Copyright © 2016 Magnolia Press.


Herbert D.G.,Natal Museum | Herbert D.G.,University of KwaZulu - Natal | Moussalli A.,University of KwaZulu - Natal
African Invertebrates | Year: 2010

Natalina sensu lato includes some of the largest carnivorous snails in the world and represents an important African radiation of the Gondwanan land snail family Rhytididae. It comprises the taxa Natalina, Afrorhytida and Capitina, all three of which we treat as full genera. We provide a comprehensive revision of each genus, and update the species-level taxonomy extensively in the light of new molecular and morphological data. Detailed comparative morphological observations are provided for the distal reproductive tract (including spermatophores for the first time in this family), pulmonary cavity, mantle edge, radula and suprapedal gland. In addition, we present a summary of biological and ecological data including information on habitat preferences, feeding, prey and mating behaviour. Although the genera are well circumscribed in terms of both morphological and molecular data, morphology is usually highly conserved within genera. Yet surprising cryptic diversity is evident within the described species and restricted-range endemism is more frequent than was previously thought, with significant implications for conservation. The widespread common cannibal snail, Natalina cafra (Férussac, 1821), is shown to comprise four cryptic, allopatric lineages. For the most part, we recognise this cryptic diversity at the level of subspecies. In some cases where populations from disjunct, lime-rich habitats exhibit a significantly different shell morphology, it is difficult to evaluate whether and to what extent this is genetically or environmentally determined. Spermatophores exhibit considerable phylogenetically consistent morphological variation and may eventually prove to be an important source of new taxonomic characters. The geographic distributions of the respective lineages are interpreted in the light of phylogenetic data, current regional vegetation patterns, and historical environmental phenomena, so as to identify biogeographic trends. Some lineages are clearly forest-associated specialists and have fragmented, narrowly-endemic distributions resulting from cyclical changes in forest cover during the Plio-Pleistocene, but there is also strong evidence for regional endemism associated with other vegetation types, notably Albany Thicket. Observations on the conservation status of all taxa are provided. New subgenus: Natalina (Tongalina). New species: Afrorhytida burseyae, Capitina calcicola. New subspecies: Afrorhytida kraussi oraria, Natalina cafra amathole, Natalina cafra natalensis, Natalina quekettiana dracomontana, Natalina quekettiana lucaris, Natalina quekettiana montistempli. New synonyms: Natalina compacta Connolly, 1939 = Natalina cafra cafra (Férussac, 1821); Natalina coerneyensis Melvill & Ponsonby, 1894 and Natalina insignis Melvill & Ponsonby, 1907 = Afrorhytida knysnaensis (Pfeiffer, 1846); Natalina liliacea Preston, 1912 = Afrorhytida kraussi kraussi (Pfeiffer, 1846); Natalina arguta Melvill & Ponsonby, 1907= Afrorhytida trimeni Melvill & Ponsonby, 1892. Revised status: Helix (Aerope) eumacta Melvill & Ponsonby, 1892 is considered a subspecies of Natalina cafra (Férussac, 1821). Lectotypes designated for Aerope beyrichi Martens, 1890 [= Natalina] and Helix schärfiae Pfeiffer, 1861 [= Capitina schaerfiae].


Londt J.G.H.,Natal Museum | Londt J.G.H.,University of KwaZulu - Natal
African Entomology | Year: 2010

A remarkable collection of 298 Gambian Asilidae collected by William F. Snow between 1974 and 1977 and housed in the collections of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is reported upon. Before this study only 19 catalogued species were known from this tiny West African country. Snow's collection has representatives of 55 species and apart from a new genus (Antiscylaticus) and five new species (Hippomachus snowi, Robertomyia snowi, Pegesimallus snowi, Storthyngomerus snowi, Antiscylaticus snowi), described in this paper, there are other species that will probably prove to be new to science. Three previously established Afrotropical genera (Hippomachus, Robertomyia, Scylaticus) are reported for the first time from West Africa. In addition, representatives of eight other genera, known to occur in West Africa, but never before recorded from Senegal or Gambia, are represented in Snow's collection (Ancylorhynchus, Gonioscelis, Habropogon, Leptogaster, Nusa, Oligopogon, Rhabdogaster, Stichopogon).


Londt J.G.H.,Natal Museum | Londt J.G.H.,University of KwaZulu - Natal
African Invertebrates | Year: 2010

Microstylum vespertilio Engel, 1932 is redescribed from the Northern Cape Province of South Africa and transferred to Daspletis Loew, 1858, a genus closely related to Microstylum Macquart, 1838, that now incorporates eight southern African species. Knowledge of the species is updated and a new identification key is provided.


Londt J.G.H.,Natal Museum | Londt J.G.H.,University of KwaZulu - Natal
African Entomology | Year: 2012

A remarkable collection of 298 Gambian Asilidae collected by William F. Snow between 1974 and 1977 and housed in the collections of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History was recently reported upon (Londt 2010). Another collection comprising 196 specimens, collected by Snow from 1969 to 1973, became available for study and the results are reported here. A new species, Sphagomyia gambia, is described and many new records for previously listed species supplied. Nine species are recorded for the first time and a complete list of Gambian Asilidae is provided. With 68 species, The Gambia has West Africa's richest recorded asilid fauna.


The occurrence of 50 earthworm species of 22 genera from six families, namely Acanthodrilidae (Acanthodrilinae, Benhamiinae), Eudrilidae (Eudrilinae, Pareudrilinae), Glossoscolecidae, Lumbricidae, Megascolecidae, and Ocnerodrilidae, not native to South African soils, is reported. Some of the species of Pareudrilinae may be listed temporarily, possibly being indigenous to South Africa. Brief information on family status, species origin and broader distribution is included. Various laboratory and field experiments conducted in South Africa on some species are selectively indicated.


Muratov I.V.,Natal Museum
African Invertebrates | Year: 2010

Nineteen stations were surveyed and 46 species of terrestrial molluscs were recorded from an 18×55 km area in the north-eastern corner of Mozambique. Three stations on Cabo Delgado (a peninsula at the northern extremity of the Quirimbas Archipelago) yielded 19 species that were not found on the inlandsampled area and 18 species that occur inland were not found on Cabo Delgado, with nine species inhabiting both areas. geographical distribution as well as colour photographs are provided for each recorded species. One new species of Gulella (Pulmonata: Streptaxidae) is described from Cabo Delgado.


Kilburn R.N.,Natal Museum | Fedosov A.E.,RAS A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution | Olivera B.M.,University of Utah
Zootaxa | Year: 2012

The taxonomy of the genus Turris Batsch, 1789, type genus of the family Turridae, widespread in shallow-water habitats of tropic Indo-Pacific, is revised. A total of 31 species of Turris, are here recognized as valid. New species described: Turris chaldaea, Turris clausifossata, Turris guidopoppei, Turris intercancellata, Turris kantori, T. kathiewayae. Homonym renamed: Turris bipartita nom. nov. for Pleurotoma variegata Kiener, 1839 (non Philippi, 1836). New synonymies: Turris ankaramanyensis Bozzetti, 2006 = Turris tanyspira Kilburn, 1975; Turris imperfecti, T. nobilis, T. pulchra and T. tornatum Röding, 1798, and Turris assyria Olivera, Seronay and Fedosov, 2010 = T. babylonia; Turris dollyae Olivera, 2000 = Pleurotoma crispa Lamarck, 1816; Turris totiphyllis Olivera, 2000 = Turris hidalgoi Vera-Peláez, Vega-Luz and Lozano-Francisco, 2000; Turris kilburni Vera-Peláez, Vega-Luz and Lozano-Francisco, 2000 = Turris pagasa Olivera, 2000; Turris (Annulaturris) munizi Vera-Peláez, Vega-Luz and Lozano-Francisco, 2000 = Gemmula lululimi Olivera, 2000. Revised status: Turris intricata Powell, 1964, Pleurotoma variegata Kiener, 1839 (non Philippi, 1836) and Pleurotoma yeddoensis Jousseaume, 1883, are regarded as full species (not subspecies of Turris crispa). Neotype designated: For Pleurotoma garnonsii Reeve, 1843, to distinguish it from Turris garnonsii of recent authors, type locality emended to Zanzibar. New combination: Turris orthopleura Kilburn, 1983, is transferred to genus Makiyamaia, family Clavatulidae. Copyright © 2012 Magnolia Press.

Loading Natal Museum collaborators
Loading Natal Museum collaborators