Monday, 7 December 2015

Cyphophthalmus solentiensis: A new species of Mite Harvestman from the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia.

Mite Harvestmen, Cyphophthalmi, are a distinctive group of Harvestmen, Opiliones, which are thought to form a sister group to all other Harvestmen. They are typically very small, no more than 6 mm in length, with very short legs compared to other Harvestmen, and are typically found living in soil, leaf litter or caves. Consequently they have very low distribution rates, making them particularly interesting to biogeographers. Mite Harvestmen are not found on oceanic islands, but are found on all continents except Antarctica (where they were probably present in the past), they have a fossil record dating back to the Cretaceous, with the oldest known members of the group being found in Burmese Amber.

In a paper published in the journal Brevoria on 9 February 2015, Taras Dreszer of the Museum of Comparative Zoology and Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, Tonći Raða of the Spiljar Speleological Society and Gonzalo Giribet, also of the Museum of Comparative Zoology and Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, describe a new species of Mite Harvestman from the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia.

The new species is placed in the genus Cyphophthalmus, which is found from Austria to Turkey, and is thought to have originated on the Adriatic Microplate, when this was a separate island between Europe and Africa, and is given the specific name solentiensis, meaning 'from Šolta' (Solent is the Latin name for Šolta Island on the Dalmatian coast, as the species was first discovered in Bratska jama cave on Šolta Island, though it was subsequently found at Podaspilje village on the Dalmatian mainland. Cyphophthalmus solentiensis is a small Harvestman, males reaching 2.09 mm and females 2.22 mm, brown-orange in colour with a granular texture to its cuticle (skin) and short, slender legs.


Cyphophthalmus solentiensis, male specimen in dorsal view. Dreszer et al. (2015).

A genetic analysis of the genus suggests that Cyphophthalmus solentiensis is closely related to Cyphophthalmus gjorgjevici, a species known from Skopje in Macedonia, 500 km southeast of the Dalmatian Coast, though the species are clearly distinct with Cyphophthalmus gjorgjevici having much coarser granulation of its cuticle among other features. Modern taxonomists use careful examination of the genitalia when describing species of Harvestmen (and many other invertebrate groups), as these tend to be distinctive at the species level. This was not the case when Cyphophthalmus gjorgjevici was described in 1933, and such a description is not available for the species, leaving an avenue for future research,

See also...

http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/iandumoema-smeagol-new-species-of.htmlIandumoema smeagol: A new species of Harvestman from caves in Minas Gerais State, Brazil.                                        Harvestmen, Opiliones, are carnivorous Arachnids resembling Spiders, though they are not closely related and are incapable of producing silk...
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