Undescribed species

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NACairns
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Joined: December 30th, 2013, 7:27 am

Undescribed species

Post by NACairns » February 20th, 2017, 8:43 pm

I was wondering what stories folks here have about interacting with undescribed species? I've run into critters outside of their ranges and species I couldn't identify but I've only had one experience where I knew (unfortunately after the fact) that the animal was unknown/unnamed. In early April 2009 I was driving about 50 km south of Denham Western Australia when I stopped for a DOR on the side of the road. It was a ~50 cm Ramphotyphlops with an olive dorsum and a strongly hooked rostral scale. I noted it and assumed it was R. waitii but I was not permitted to collect salvages so I tossed it well off the road where it wouldn't attract a scavengers into harms way. When I got back south I was ID'ing photos and noticed R. waitii doesn't come near Shark Bay. I checked with the folks at the museum and they confirmed that there had been one other report of medium sized Ramphotyphlops from that area that is similar to R. waitii but had not yet been able to describe a type. Anyways, that was my experience finding, then throwing away an undescribed species; what sort of experiences do others on this forum have?

Best,
Nick

I apologise for the photos, my camera was messed up in a bike accident so often over saturated blues and reds my attempts to only made them worse.
ImageRamphotyphlops sp. (Undiscribed) by N Cairns, on Flickr
ImageRamphotyphlops sp. (Undiscribed) by N Cairns, on Flickr

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Antonsrkn
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Re: Undescribed species

Post by Antonsrkn » February 21st, 2017, 10:47 am

I've been lucky to run across a fair number of undescribed species, many of which I didn't realize were undescribed until after the fact. A couple I have seen I knew were something new, but held of on collecting either because of permit issues or the fact that I wasn't entirely sure that I had the know how to describe the species myself.

Here are two I didn't realize were new when I saw them, just assumed it was a lapse in my knowledge. However after the fact I have been contacted by Ecuadorian herpetologists who believe that these represent new species.

ImageUnidentified Atractus by Anton, on Flickr

ImageWet Saphenophis by Anton, on Flickr

I don't have the photo uploaded to a photo sharing site but I also found a species of Pristimantis in the area, that I knew was something new and different, I photographed it and released it where found. About a year later it was described as Pristimantis buenaventura. Not too tough to find new species in the area as there is a lot of surveying left to do.

This one here from Borneo, may or may not be undescribed, not entirely sure.
ImageMystery Frog by Anton, on Flickr

Its a Philautus sp. closely related to bunnitus & kerangae. When I contacted herpetologists working in Borneo about it I was told it was indeed a bit of a mystery and that a similar one had been collected recently nearby and genetic work was being done to see if it was indeed a new species or not. Don't know what the result of that was.

I recently found a semi arboreal toad (Rhinella sp.) in a fairly remote portion of Peru, I knew right away it was something special. I really struggled with the idea of collecting it for a species description but in the end left it well and happily hopping away. As it turns out someone is already working on describing it.

There is lots to find out there still!

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Muchobirdnerd
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Re: Undescribed species

Post by Muchobirdnerd » February 22nd, 2017, 9:34 am

Anton, then I had to spend 3 days looking for that snake so the biologist could collect it hahaha. Tons of work to be done.

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Antonsrkn
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Re: Undescribed species

Post by Antonsrkn » February 23rd, 2017, 5:55 pm

Muchobirdnerd wrote:Anton, then I had to spend 3 days looking for that snake so the biologist could collect it hahaha. Tons of work to be done.
Haha yeah, have to admit that was my fault that I just didn't recognize the snakes as new the first time around. Otherwise I would have held onto them and contacted TH. At that point my South American snake ID skills were pretty poor. Still not as good as they could be, but they've improved.

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intermedius
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Re: Undescribed species

Post by intermedius » February 23rd, 2017, 6:05 pm

That's a really cool Ramphotyphlops. I remember reading up on some of the species they have in Australia.

There's one (R. longissimus) discovered on Barrow Island that was pulled out from a well-casing probably from a deep karstic cavern. It's only known from a single specimen and it may be one of the few "troglobytic" reptiles.

Here's the paper:

http://museum.wa.gov.au/sites/default/f ... TRALIA.pdf

- Justin

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