An integrative description of Mesobiotus ethiopicus sp. nov. (Tardigrada: Eutardigrada: Parachela: Macrobiotidae: harmsworthi group) from the northern Afrotropic region


Abstract: A new species of the Mesobiotus harmsworthi group is described from Ethiopia. An integrative taxonomy approach was applied by combining morphological and morphometric analyses-imaging under phase contrast and scanning electron microscopy with molecular analysis (18S rRNA, 28S rRNA and COI markers)-to cross-verify the status of the population as a new species. The specimens of Mesobiotus ethiopicus sp. nov. are most similar to two taxa of the harmsworthi complex: M. harmsworthi obscurus (Dastych, 1985) and M. peterseni (Maucci, 1991). Nevertheless, the new species can be easily distinguished from the first of these taxa by the absence of additional teeth in the oral cavity and by a different accessory point morphology on the claws, and it can be distinguished from the second species mostly by a completely different egg process anatomy. Mesobiotus ethiopicus sp. nov. is only the second tardigrade species formally described as new for science from Ethiopia so far.

Keywords: Africa, 18S rRNA, 28S rRNA, COI, Ethiopia, integrative taxonomy

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