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New species from the drawers of UCMP
by Pat Holroyd

A frequent question we get at the museum is whether all our fossils are described. We can assure you there are many, many left to be described, and every year many scientists describe new species and do new research based on fossils they find in our drawers. In 2012, UCMP vertebrate fossils were used in 81 published studies by scientists from around the world, and 13 new taxa were named from previously undescribed specimens. Here's the new taxa roundup for 2012.

JANUARY — UC alum Samantha Hopkins and her student Jonathan Calede1 described Hesperogaulus shotwelli, a new species of horned rodent from Nevada in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. See photos of the specimen on CalPhotos.

MARCH — Recent UC graduate Brian Swartz2 named Tinirau clackae, a stem tetrapod from Nevada Devonian in PLoS One. Stephen Chester and Chris Beard3 named two tiny new primates from the late Paleocene of Wyoming, Dryomomys dulcifer and Tinimomys tribos, in the Annals of the Carnegie Museum.

<i>Tinirau clackae</i>

Slab containing the skeleton of Tinirau clackae, a sarcopterygian fish, UCMP specimen 118605.

AUGUST — Hans-Peter Schultz and UC alum John W. Reed4 described the sarcopterygian fish Bruehnopteron murphyi from the middle Devonian, from the Northern Simpson Park Range in central Nevada in the journal Historical Biology.

SEPTEMBER — Carl David Frailey and Kenneth E. Campbell, Jr.,5 named Sylvochoerus woodburnei, a new peccary from the Miocene of the Amazon in the Journal of Paleontology. The specific epithet is for Mike Woodburne, UC alum and UC Riverside emeritus professor.

September also saw a slew of new turtles described by UCMP's Howard Hutchison6: a new snapping turtle Tullochelys montanus and a new soft-shelled turtle Atoposemys entopteros from the Paleocene of Montana; three new Eocene turtles from Wyoming — a pond turtle, Psilosemys wyomingensis; a "big headed" turtle Cardichelyon rogerwoodi, and a relative of soft-shelled turtles so distantly related that it merits its own new family, Planetochelys dithyros, in the family Planetochelyidae. All these new names appear in the edited volume Morphology and Evolution of Turtles.

DECEMBER — Nick Longrich, Bhart-Anjan Bhullar, and UC alum Jacques Gauthier7 end the year with the description of two new Late Cretaceous taxa from the Hell Creek Formation in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Cerberophis robustus, a snake, and Obamadon gracilis, a lizard named in honor of our president.

Who knows what new things will be described from the drawers of UCMP in 2013!

1 Calede, J.J.M., and S.S.B. Hopkins. 2012. Intraspecific versus interspecific variation in Miocene Great Basin mylagaulids: Implications for systematics and evolutionary history. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 164(2):427450. doi: 10.1111/j.1096-3642.2011.00765.x
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2 Swartz, B. 2012. A marine stem-tetrapod from the Devonian of Western North America. PLoS ONE 7(3):e33683. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033683
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3 Chester, S.G.B., and K.C. Beard. 2012. New micromomyid plesiadapiforms (Mammalia, Euarchonta) from the Late Paleocene of Big Multi Quarry, Washakie Basin, Wyoming. Annals of the Carnegie Museum 80(2):159172. doi: 10.2992/007.080.0204
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4 Schultze, H.-P., and J.W. Reed. 2012. A tristichopterid sarcopterygian fish from the upper Middle Devonian of Nevada. Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology 24(4):425440. doi: 10.1080/08912963.2012.673599
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5 Frailey, C.D., and K.E. Campbell, Jr. 2012. Two new genera of peccaries (Mammalia, Artiodactyla, Tayassuidae) from Upper Miocene deposits of the Amazon Basin. Journal of Paleontology 86(5):852877. doi: 10.1666/12-012.1
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6 Hutchison, J.H. 2012. New turtles from the Paleogene of North America. Pp. 477497 in D.B. Brinkman, P.A. Holroyd, and J.D. Gardner (eds.), Morphology and Evolution of Turtles. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-4309-0_26
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7 Longrich, N.R., B.-A.S. Bhullar, and J.A. Gauthier. 2012. Mass extinction of lizards and snakes at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1211526110
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Tinirau clackae photo by Brian Swartz