Zoosphaerium silens, Wesener & Sagorny, 2021

Wesener, Thomas & Sagorny, Christina, 2021, Seven new giant pill-millipede species and numerous new records of the genus Zoosphaerium from Madagascar (Diplopoda, Sphaerotheriida, Arthrosphaeridae), European Journal of Taxonomy 758 (1), pp. 1-48: 15-17

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Zoosphaerium silens

sp. nov.

Zoosphaerium silens   sp. nov.


Figs 2B View Fig , 3 View Fig , 5B View Fig , 6 View Fig


The posterior telopods ( Fig. 6H–I View Fig ) identify Z. silens   sp. nov. as a member of the Z. libidinosum   speciesgroup. Zoosphaerium silens   sp. nov. shares the absence of locking carinae with a number of spiny forest species. It differs from all other species except Z. libidinosum   in the color of the tergites, the glabrous anal shield and the presence of at least two rows of very long endotergal bristles. Zoosphaerium silens   sp. nov. differs from Z. libidinosum   in the wider tarsus (3.5 versus 3.8 times as long as wide), the presence of only two rows of endotergal bristles (three rows in Z. libidinosum   ) and the absence of a lateral triangular projection on the third podomere of the anterior telopods (present in Z. libidinosum   ).

Z. silens   sp. nov. differs by more than 14% uncorrected p-distance in the COI gene from Z. album   and Z. libidinosum   .


‘Silens’ (= ‘quiet’), noun in apposition, after the reduced stridulation ribs in the male.

Material examined

Holotype MADAGASCAR – Toliara • ♂; Parc National de Kirindy Mite , 25.6 km SW of Belo sur Mer; 20°56.6′ S, 43°52.3′ E; alt. 10 m; dry deciduous forest; 9 Mar. 2007; V. Soarimalala leg.; coll. no. VS- 1348; FMNH-INS 3119887. GoogleMaps  

Paratype MADAGASCAR – Toliara • ♀; same collection data as for holotype; FMNH-INS 3119887 GoogleMaps   .

Other material

MADAGASCAR – Toliara • 4 ♂♂; Rèserve Spéciale dʼAndranomena ; 20°10′31″ S, 44°28′25″ E; alt. 18 m; dry deciduous forest; 12 Mar. 2010; V. Soarimalala leg.; coll. no. VS-1815; FMNH-INS 3119875 GoogleMaps   1 ♂; same collection data as for preceding; ZFMK MYR11137 View Materials GoogleMaps   .


BODY LENGTH. Largest female (paratype): length ca 27.2 mm, width of thoracic shield 14.3 mm, of tergite 8 14.8 mm (widest), height of thoracic shield 8.2 mm, of tergite 8 10.1 mm (highest).

COLORATION. Some discoloration may have occurred because of preservation in ethanol. Tergites dorsally orange to brown, especially at posterior margin, laterally green except for paratergite depressions which are yellow. Anal shield light brown to yellowish dorsally as well as posteriorly, laterally green. Thoracic shield green, but grooves and margins yellow-brownish ( Fig. 2B View Fig ). Head and antennae green, legs basally light brown, apically green.

HEAD. Wide and short. Eyes with>75 ommatidia. Aberrant ocellus located in antennal groove. Antennae short, with cylindrical joints, protruding posteriorly to leg pair 3. Length of antennomeres 1= 2=3= 4=5<6. A shallow groove present on antennomere 1. Male apical disc with 11 or 12 apical sensory cones. Organ of Tömösváry located in antennal groove.


STIGMATIC PLATES. First plate triangular, apex well rounded, nearly as wide as at base. Mesal margin slightly curved towards coxa. Hairs most abundant on apical margin, very few hairs on basal and lateral margins ( Fig. 6B View Fig ).

PLEURITES. First pleurite weakly modified, slightly extending posteriorly. Other pleurites well-rounded.

COLLUM. Glabrous with very sparse setae around margins, mostly located at corners on either side of head.

THORACIC SHIELD. Smooth and glabrous, without protuberances.

TERGITES. Surface glabrous and matte, lacking small pits. Tips of paratergites of midbody tergites projecting posteriorly.

ENDOTERGUM. Inner section with numerous short triangular spines and very few longer setae. Middle area above spines with a single row of sparse elliptical cuticular impressions slightly varying in size. Apically two rows of dense marginal bristles, every second bristle strongly protruding above tergite margin ( Fig. 5B View Fig ). Bristles with numerous small spines.

ANAL SHIELD. Large and well-rounded. In both sexes glabrous. Underside lacking locking carinae.

LEGS. Leg 1 with 1 ventral spine, leg 2 with 1, leg 3 with 5 or 6. First two leg pairs without an apical spine, spine present on leg 3. Leg pairs 4–21 with 8–10 ventral spines and an apical spine. On leg 9, femur 1.7 and tarsus 3.5 times as long as wide. All podomeres with setae ( Fig. 6C View Fig ).

Male sexual characters

GONOPORE. Covered with a single undivided, rounded membranous plate, very wide, located on basal half of coxa ( Fig. 6A View Fig ).

ANTERIOR TELOPODS. Harp with two weak stridulation ribs ( Fig. 6E View Fig ). First podomere with numerous setae mainly at lateral margin, as wide as long. Process of second podomere as long as basal fifth of third podomere, not visible in anterior view, with apical mound of a few sclerotized spots juxtaposed to third podomere. Third podomere with an apical sclerotized spot and a lateral crenulated tooth, mesally with an elevated area carrying sclerotized spots ( Fig. 6D, F View Fig ); lower area carrying 4 spines ( Fig. 6D, F View Fig ). Second and third podomeres sparsely setose.

POSTERIOR TELOPODS.Movable finger weakly curved; hollowed-out inner margin with two non-sclerotized lobes and ca five smaller sclerotized spines, posterior aspect with ca 15 large crenulated teeth. Fixed finger wider than movable finger, with slightly curved tip; basally with single membranous lobe, on inner margin covered with a few sclerotized spots. Second and third podomeres lacking long hair, almost completely glabrous. First podomere glabrous except for a few setae at mesal margin.

Female sexual characters

Washboard with two short interrupted stridulation ribs on each half ( Fig. 6G View Fig ). Vulva covering more than ⅔ of coxa surface. Operculum large, ending before coxal margin. Apical margin of operculum wellrounded, reaching apicalmost point medially. Mesal plate reaching up to half of operculumʼs height ( Fig. 6J View Fig ).

Distribution and ecology

Zoosphaerium silens   sp. nov. is currently known from the western dry forest of Kirindy-Mite as well as from the dry forest of Andranomena further north ( Fig. 3 View Fig ). These populations differ by an uncorrected p-distance of 2.8% ( Table 2 View Table 2 ).


Germany, Bonn, Zoologische Forschungsinstitut und Museum "Alexander Koenig"


Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig