19 February, 2018

Two new speciec of Tityus from Haiti and The Dominican Republic

Rolando Teruel and Gabriel de los Santos have recently published a new article presenting two new species of Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Buthidae) from Hispaniola, Greater Antilles.

Tityus haetianus Teruel & Santos, 2018 (Haiti)

Tityus schrammi Teruel & Santos, 2018 (The Dominican Republic)

Two new species of Buthidae scorpions of the genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 are herein described from the Greater Antillean island of Hispaniola. One of them belongs to the "crassimanus" species-group and is known from an adult pair collected at Massif de la Hotte, in southwestern Haiti. The other belongs to the "quisqueyanus" species-group and is known from a single adult female from a high peak in the Central Range (= Cordillera Central), in northwestern Dominican Republic. Moreover, two fossil taxa from this island are retained as junior synonyms of Tityus geratus Santiago-Blay, 1988†.

Teruel R, de los Santos G. Two New Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) From Hispaniola, Greater Antilles. Euscorpius. 2018;257:1-16. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

14 February, 2018

A new species of Hottentotta from Somalia

Frantisek Kovarik has recently published a new species of Hottentotta Birula, 1908 (Buthidae) from Somalia.

Hottentotta somalicus Kovarik, 2018

Hottentotta somalicus sp. n. from Somalia is described and fully complemented with color photos. Morphologically it is similar to H. polystictus (Pocock, 1896). These two species have very narrow metasomal segments (1.63–1.73 in both sexes versus 1.31–1.61 in both sexes of other Hottentotta species from the Horn of Africa). H. polystictus and H. somalicus sp. n. occur in separate areas (Somaliland versus Somalia) and can be differentiated by color.

Kovarik F. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida, Scorpiones). Part XIV. Hottentotta somalicus sp. n. (Buthidae) from Somalia. Euscorpius. 2018(256):1-8. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

08 February, 2018

The Scorpion Files Newsblog 10 Year Anniversary

Dear All!

Today it is 10 year since I started The Scorpion Files Newsblog.

The Scorpion Files started a couple of year before this, but I soon realized that I needed a way of telling you when new stuff was added to the species lists and when new interesting research on scorpions were published. In the old day we had a couple of mailing lists for scorpion researchers and enthusiasts, but when web 2.0 with its social media platforms emerged, it was clear that a news blog could be a good thing.

And I think that the Scorpion Files has been quite a success. Since the beginning the blog has received 500 467 page views, a number I feel is good for such a small topic as scorpions. Hopefully, this indicates that the news blog and The Scorpion Files are useful information resources both for scorpion scientists and enthusiasts. I'm happy to see that in the last years The Scorpion Files have been cited in an increasing number of scientific papers as a source for the taxonomic status for a species, genus or a family.

I couldn't have done this all by myself. I big thanks to all the researchers and enthusiasts who send me articles or inform me about new research! The Scorpion Files would be possible without your help!

Best wishes

Jan Ove Rein
Editor of The Scorpion Files & The Scorpion Files Newsblog

A revision of the Mesobuthus caucasicus complex with 10 new or restored species from Central Asia

Victor Fet and several co-workers have recently published a major review of the widespread Central Asian species complex Mesobuthus caucasicus (Nordmann, 1840) (Buthidae). Here are the main taxonomical conclusions:

Mesobuthus caucasicus (Nordmann, 1840), s.str. is now restricted to the Caucasus Moutnains. Its is distributed in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia (northern Caucasus), Turkey, Ukraine (unclear if this population is native or introduced).

New species:

Mesobuthus brutus Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein, Kaiser, Stewart & Graham, 2018 (Iran),
Mesobuthus elenae Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein, Kaiser, Stewart & Graham, 2018 (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan)
Mesobuthus gorelovi Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein, Kaiser, Stewart & Graham, 2018 (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan)
Mesobuthus kreuzbergi Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein, Kaiser, Stewart & Graham, 2018 (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan)
Mesobuthus mischi Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein, Kaiser, Stewart & Graham, 2018 (Afghanistan)
Mesobuthus nenilini Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein, Kaiser, Stewart & Graham, 2018 (Uzbekistan).

Species status after restoration from synonymy:

Mesobuthus fuscus (Birula, 1897) (Tajikistan)
Mesobuthus intermedius (Birula, 1897) (Tajikistan)
Mesobuthus kaznakovi (Birula, 1904) (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan)
Mesobuthus parthorum (Pocock, 1889) (Afghanistan, Iran, Turkmenistan).


Afghanobuthus Lourenço, 2005 is synonymized with Mesobuthus Vachon, 1950
Afghanobuthus naumanni Lourenço, 2005 is synonymized with Mesobuthus parthorum (Pocock, 1889)

The article has an identification key to the Mesobuthus complexes and species (excluding taxa from China, Mongolia and Korea).

A widespread Mesobuthus caucasicus complex, which includes some of the most common scorpions found from the Caucasus to China, is revised for the first time based on new extensive collections from Central Asia, using both morphological and DNA marker data. Mesobuthus caucasicus (Nordmann, 1840), s.str. is restricted to the Caucasus Mts. Four taxa are elevated to species rank: M. fuscus (Birula, 1897) (Tajikistan), M. intermedius (Birula, 1897) (Tajikistan), M. kaznakovi (Birula, 1904) (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan), and M. parthorum (Pocock, 1889) (Afghanistan, Iran, Turkmenistan). Six new species are described: M. brutus sp. n. (Iran), M. elenae sp. n. (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan), M.gorelovi sp. n. (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), M. kreuzbergi sp. n. (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan), M. mischi sp. n. (Afghanistan), and M. nenilini sp. n. (Uzbekistan). The most common species in Central Asia is a psammophilic Mesobuthus gorelovi sp. n., widespread through lowland sand deserts across Turkmenistan (Karakum),Uzbekistan (Kizylkum), and Kazakhstan (north to Baigakum and Moyinkum). A key to all studied species isprovided. A DNA phylogeny based on COI and 16S rRNA markers is presented including nine Central Asian species (M. elenae sp. n., M. fuscus, M. gorelovi sp. n., M. intermedius, M. kaznakovi, M. kreuzbergi sp. n., M.mischi sp. n., M. nenilini sp. n., and M. parthorum) and M. caucasicus from Turkey. A deep phylogenetic diversity across Central Asia is revealed. Historical biogeographic scenarios for this scorpion group are discussed, including fragmentation in mountain valleys and expansion across sand deserts in Central Asia. The monotypic scorpion genus Afghanobuthus Lourenço, 2005 and its single species A. naumanni Lourenço, 2005, from Afghanistan, are demonstrated to be junior synonyms, respectively, of Mesobuthus Vachon, 1950, and M. parthorum (Pocock, 1889) from the same area.

Fet V, Kovarik F, Gantenbein B, Kaiser RC, Stewart AK, Graham MR. Revision of the Mesobuthus caucasicus Complex from Central Asia, with Descriptions of Six New Species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2018(255):1-77. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

25 January, 2018

The effect of habitat loss and habitat restoration on scorpions in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

Andre Lira and co-workers have recently published a study on the effects of habitat loss in scorpions in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. The study also looks at the status on the populations after the original habitat is being restored and what other factors may affect the populations.

Habitat loss due to forest degradation can induce changes in species richness due to variation in species susceptibility to environmental stress. This is particularly important for species with highly specific microhabitats, such as scorpions that inhabit forest habitats. In this study, the richness and abundance of these arachnids were compared between an old-growth (mature) and secondary (65 years under natural restoration) forests. Seasonal influence was also evaluated by comparing diversity between dry and wet seasons. The animals were collected through nocturnal active search using UV lamps and pitfall traps in both areas (old-growth and secondary). Both environments showed similar breast heights of trees, litter depth, litter dry mass, and understory density, indicating a high level of restoration. Scorpion diversity (characterized by Tityus pusillus, T. neglectus, T. brazilae, Bothriurus asper, and Ananteris mauryi) and abundance were not influenced by the different historical usage of both areas. In contrast, the abundance of these arachnids was highly affected by rain regimes, and increased during the dry season. These results suggest that 65 years was a sufficient time period for restoration, making it possible to maintain similar scorpion assemblages in both environments.

de Araujo Lira AF, Damasceno EM, Silva-Filho AAC, Albuquerque CMRd. Linking scorpion (Arachnida: Scorpiones) assemblage with fragment restoration in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment. 2017:1-6. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andre Lira for sending me their paper!

23 January, 2018

On the distribution of the genus Opisthacanthus and a new species

Wilson Lourenco has recently published an updated review of the geographic distribution and the biogeography of the genus Opisthacanthus Peters, 1861 (Hormuridae). This interesting genus is found both in parts of Africa, Madagascar and in South America.

A new species from Madagascar is also described.

Opisthacanthus titanus Lourenco, 2018

In this article I discovered an valid Opisthacanthus species that was not listed in The Scorpion Files.

Opisthacanthus heurtaultae Lourenco, 1980

This species was previously synonymized, but restored in 1995 by Lourenco. This was not mentioned in the sources that I used to build The Scorpion Files. The species is now listed as valid.

New comments are proposed on the geographic distribution of genus Opisthacanthus, and the Gondwanian model is further supported. The diversity of the genus is extraordinary in Madagascar, with the same number of species as in continental Africa, but sub-Saharan Africa is home to six out of the nine groups currently recognized of Opisthacanthus. Given the affinities of the Opisthacanthus groups and their current distribution, a center of origin in Africa could be favored for these ancient scorpions. The proposed Gondwana model suggests that the Madagascar Opisthacanthus are closer to those of the New World, which is consistent with the affinities observed in morphological characters. A new species, Opisthacanthus titanus sp. n., is described from the Torotorofotsy Forest, located in Eastern Madagascar. The new species shows affinities with both Opisthacanthus madagascariensis Kraepelin, 1894 known from dry regions in the western portion of the island and Opisthacanthus lavasoa Lourenc¸o, Wilme´ & Waeber, 2016 only known from the extreme southeast of the island. The new species and O. madagascariensis have similar external morphologies but the morphometric values are markedly distinct. Moreover, O. madagascariensis is exclusively found in spiny forest thickets and open woodlands, whereas the new species was found in the humid forest of Torotorofotsy. The total number of species in Madagascar is now raised to twelve. Biogeographical scenarios are also proposed to infer the origin of the Opisthacanthus and better understand its distribution in the New World, in Africa and Madagascar.

Lourenco WR, Wilme L, Waeber PO. The genus Opisthacanthus Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones: Hormuridae), a remarkable Gondwanian group of scorpions. C R Biol. 2018, In Press. [Subscription required for full text]

Lourenco WR. Nouvelles considérations sur la classification et la biogéographie des Opisthacanthus néotropicaux (Scorpiones, Ischnuridae). Biogeographica. 1995;71(2):75-82.

Family Hormuridae

17 January, 2018

A new species of Tityus from Ecuador

A new species of Tityus C. L. Koch, 1876 (Buthidae) has recently been described from Ecuador by Wilson Lourenco and Eric Ythier.

Tityus cisandinus Lourenço & Ythier, 2017

I have only read the abstract of this article as authors publishing in Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana are not allowed to send pdfs/copies of their article to other scientists (contrary to the practice of most other scientific journals) and my library's interlending department are not able to get copies either.

The status of the enigmatic buthid scorpion Tityus asthenes Pocock, 1893 is once more discussed. Described from Poruru in Peru, the species remains known by the female holotype only. A reanalysis of the several characteristics of the holotype demonstrates that the species is valid, but not a member of the subgenus Atreus (group Tityus americanus as suggested by Pocock) but rather belongs to the subgenus Tityus and to the group of Tityus bolivianus, consequently distinct from all other populations of Tityus (Atreus) distributed from Ecuador to Costa Rica. Previous suggestions that T. asthenes could represent a senior synonym of several other Tityus (Atreus) species were due to inadequate interpretations of their biogeographic pattern of distribution. Although the validity of Tityus asthenes is unquestionable, its precise range of distribution remains enigmatic since its type locality Poruru is not known from Peru and no further details are available about the collection of this species. A new species of Tityus (Atreus) is described from the cis-Andean rainforests of Ecuador and some taxonomic considerations are proposed for some related species within the subgenus Atreus.

Lourenco WR, Ythier E. Another new species from the rainforests of Ecuador (Tityus cisandinus Lourenço & Ythier, 2017). Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2017;3(15):18-34.

Thanks to Eric Ythier for informing me about their article and for allowing me to use a picture from the article.

Family Buthidae