Museum names record number of species in Memoirs honouring Leichhardt

24 October 2013

The translucent Leichhardt’s vanishing thrip, Leichhardtithrips evanidus, is a new genus and a new species. Highly appropriate considering the mysterious disappearance of Ludwig Leichhardt.A computed tomography scan of Leichhardt's Velvetfish

Jelly-bean goblin spiders, vanishing thrips, land snails and a dung beetle are just a handful of the record number of new species Queensland Museum scientists have named in the latest volume of the Memoirs of the Queensland Museum launched on the 200th anniversary of the birth of German explorer Ludwig Leichhardt.

This is one of three volumes of the Memoirs the Queensland Museum has produced to mark the Leichhardt bicentennial on 23 October.

Two of the Memoirs dedicated to Leichhardt describe his exploits and achievements through his diaries, while the third is dedicated to Leichhardt as a natural historian.

Of the 155 species described in the Memoirs, 123 are entirely new to science and 16 have been named after Leichhardt including thrips, spiders, fish, beetles, a leafhopper, millipede, pseudoscorpion, snails, weavers and worms.

Queensland Museum Network CEO Professor Suzanne Miller said the sheer volume of new species described is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Queensland Museum’s scientists and collaborative partners.

“With about 70 per cent of Australia’s invertebrate fauna still undescribed, we are at the beginning of a golden age of exploration and discovery, just like Ludwig Leichhardt,” Professor Miller said.

“In the space of 12 months, Queensland Museum scientists and international collaborators have named nine new genera and 123 new species.

“This is a phenomenal achievement and a significant milestone for the Queensland Museum as it is the most new species and genera described in a single volume of the Memoirs in its 101 year history.”

Ludwig Leichhardt was a man who loved to explore frontier country outback and pushed the limits of established knowledge, offering scientific insights into wildlife and biodiversity.

All the Leichhardt-inspired species were discovered in Australia and are predominantly found in Queensland where the explorer conducted his most successful expedition from Brisbane to Port Essington in the Northern Territory in 1844-1845.

For more information about the Memoirs of the Queensland Museum visit qm.qld.gov.au

The newly described taxa include:

Seven new genera (groups of species) from Queensland of which 2 genera are named after Leichhardt:

1 new Thrips Genus Leichhardtithrips gen nov.(Leichhardt’s vanishing thrips)
1 new Swift Spider Genus Leichhardteus gen. nov.

2 new Millipede Genera
1 new Snail Genus
2 new Checkered Beetle Genera

16 new species named after Ludwig Leichhardt including:

Kanekonialeichhardti (Velvet fish) seems to be rare and endemic to the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria

Coptoglossusleichhardti (Carabid Beetle) a new type of ground beetle found in Queensland.

Hautenerusleichhardti(Clerid Beetle) part of two new genera of checkered beetles (Cleridae).

Onthophagusleichhardti(Dung Beetle)five new species of the scarabaeine dung beetle genus OnthophagusLatreille 1802, are described in the Onthophagusposticus-group, from Queensland and New South Wales and includes Onthophagusleichhardti.

Hishimonusleichhardti (Leafhopper) Leafhoppers are small jumping insects feeding on plant sap.

Leichhardtithripsevanidus (Thrips) The rare, translucent vanishing thrips are a wingless, fungus-feeding species from the D’Aguilar National Park in Brisbane.

Eungellosomaleichhardti (millipede)part of two new genera of millipeds.

Pseudotyrannochthoniusleichhardti (Pseudoscorpion) is endemic to the Warrumbungle Range in New South Wales. This species is particularly important as it is discovered in the same area where the young Ludwig Leichhardt came through on his trip from Newcastle to Brisbane.

Cavisternumleichhardti (hollow chested Goblin Spiders) one of two new species of the hollow chested goblin spider genus Cavisternum from tropical Australia.

Opopaealeichhardti (jelly-bean Goblin Spiders) one of 71 new species for Australia within the jelly-bean Goblin spiders, with this particular species named after Leichhardt.

Mysmenaleichhardti (Minute Clasping Weavers),the first description of a Mysmenid spiderfrom mainland Australia.

Wydundraleichhardti (Long Spinneret Ground Spiders); one of five new species of the long spinneret bark spider genus Wydundra (Prodidomidae) from northern Queensland, and Northern Territory.

Denhamianaleichhardti (Land Snail) a new species of camaenid land snails from inland mid-eastern Queensland.

Terrisswalkeriusleichhardti (Earthworm) found in the wet tropics of Queensland.

Paradiscogasterleichhardtisp. nov. (Flatworm)The new species is distinguished by its elongate, spindle-shaped body.

Stewartiscthyslecichhardtsp. nov.(Late Cretaceous fossil fish).

2 mite species are named in honour of Leichhardt’s colleagues Adolph Classen and Andrew Hume.
Fedrizziaclasseni - This species is named for Adolph Classen, who was second-in-charge during Leichhardt’s final expedition, but may have survived and lived out his life with the aboriginal people of central Australia.
Fedrizziahumei - This species is named for Andrew Hume, who probably met Adolph Classen after Ludwig Leichhardt’s final expedition failed. Andrew Hume died during his second attempt to relocate the man he thought was Adolph Classen.