28 September, 2012

Euscorpius sicanus in Tunisia is natural and not recently introduced

Euscorpius sicanus from Italy. Photo: Jan Ove Rein (C)
The presence of Euscorpius (Euscorpiidae) in some areas in North Africa has been known for many years. These populations have been regarded of many as introduced by humans, but some have raised the questions if they represented isolated relict populations.

Matt Graham and co-workers have now published a DNA barcoding study of Euscorpius sicanus (C. L. Koch, 1837) from Tunisia. By comparing specimens from Tunisia with conspecifics from Malta, Sardinia and Greece, they have showed that the North African populations of this species were probably not recently introduced and instead represent an ancient and isolated natural population. Interestingly, analysis of the data suggests that the isolation between the African and European populations happened in the timeframe when scientists think that the Mediterranean basin was refilled after the "Messinan salinity crisis" (late Miocene).

We used a DNA barcoding marker (mitochondrial cox1) to investigate the controversial natural occurrence of Euscorpius sicanus (C.L. Koch) in North Africa. We tested this hypothesis by comparing a sample collected from a mountain in Tunisia to disjunct populations in Sardinia, Malta, and Greece. Using these samples, and a few additional Euscorpius spp. from southern Europe as outgroups, we reconstructed the maternal phylogeny. We then used a molecular clock to place the phylogeny in a temporal context. The Tunisian sample grouped closest to a specimen from Sardinia, with both being more distantly related to E. sicanus from Malta, which is known to be genetically similar to samples from Sicily. Molecular clock estimates suggest an ancient disjunction across the Mediterranean Sea, with the divergence between samples from Sardinia and Tunisia estimated to have occurred between the Late Miocene and late Pliocene. The divergence date (mean = 5.56 Mya) closely corresponds with the timing of a sudden refilling of the Mediterranean Sea after it had evaporated during the Messinian salinity crisis. This rapid influx of water, in conjunction with tectonic activity, could have sundered connections between Euscorpius in North Africa and what is now the island of Sardinia. These results provide yet another case in which DNA barcodes have proven useful for more than just identifying and discovering species.

Graham MR, Stoev P, Akkari N, Blagoev G, Fet V. Euscorpius sicanus (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) from Tunisia: DNA barcoding confirms ancient disjunctions across the Mediterranean Sea. Serket. 2012;13(1/2):16-26.

Thanks to Matt Graham for sending me their paper!

27 September, 2012

New genus and species from Cuba

Cryptoiclus rodriguezi Teruel & Kovarik, 2012 female from Cuba. Photo: Rolando Teruel (C)

I just got my hands on Kovarik and Teruel's wonderful book "Scorpions of Cuba", previously mentioned in this blog. This is a very informative book covering all known scorpions described from Cuba (with color pictures of all species and many habitat pictures too), but a new genus and couple of new species was also discovered by the authors while researching for the book:


Cryptoiclus Teruel &Kovarik, 2012 - A new genus endemic for eastern Cuba.
Cryptoiclus rodriguezi Teruel & Kovarik, 2012 - Only known species in the genus.

Cryptoiclus seems to be a very rare taxa. Only four specimens have been collected during 25 years of intensive searching.


Microtityus pusillus Teruel & Kovarik, 2012 (new species)
Microtityus flaviscens Teruel, 2001 (new status - previously M. fundorai flaviscens Teruel, 2001)

You will find updated identification keys to all scorpion taxa known so far from Cuba.

The "Scorpions of Cuba" book is a must for all scorpion researchers and enthusiasts interested in the scorpion fauna of Cuba, Caribbean and Central America!

Teruel R, Kovarik F. Scorpions of Cuba. Jakub Rolcik - Clarion Production; 2012. ISBN 978-80-904340-1-1.

Thanks to Rolando Teruel for sharing a picture of the new species Cryptoiclus rodriguezi!

Family Scorpionidae
Family Buthidae

25 September, 2012

Redescription of Mesobuthus vesiculatus from Iran

Aysegül Karatas and Muhammed Mouradi Gharkheloo have recently published a redescription of Mesobuthus vesiculatus (Pocock, 1899) (Buthidae) from Iran.

The scorpion Mesobuthus vesiculatus (Pocock, 1899) was briefly described from northwestern Iran based on only one male with a picture indicating the dorsal habitus of the holotype; the author pointed out that it has a large and globular telson with a short aculeus. This species, with very distinct morphological features, is now redescribed based on new specimens (3 ♂♂, 3 ♀♀) collected from West Azerbaijan and East Azerbaijan (Iran). Detailed figures and measurements are presented and the trichobotrial pattern and paraxial organ are illustrated for the first time. The morphological differences of M. vesiculatus from similar species M. caucasicus, M. eupeus, and Sassanidotus gracilis are discussed.

Karataş A, Gharkheloo MM. Redescription of Mesobuthus vesiculatus (Pocock, 1899) (Scorpiones: Buthidae) based on specimens from Iran. Turkish Journal of Zoology. 2012;36(5):576-84. [Free full text]

Family Buthidae

Scorpion envenomation in a region in Morocco

Oulaid Touloun and co-workers have recently published a very interesting and informative study on scorpion envenomation in the region of Marrakesh Tensift Alhaouz in western Morocco.

In addition to typical epidemiological data, the paper also present data on the different species' habitat preferences. This makes the paper especially interesting as this explains why some species are more involved in sting incidents than others (and how they are involved). For example, all sting cases involving the burrowing species of Scorpio was caused by children playing with the scorpions after dislodging them from their caves.

Two species have caused fatalities between 1996 and 2006: Androctonus mauritanicus (22) and Hottentotta gentili (10). The latter species has not been mention often (or at all) in the medical literature as a potent species, and should be noted herafter. Interestingly, no fatalities involved Buthus spp., which has been considered medical important for north Africa (and of course still can be).

Morocco is a country in northwest Africa on the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean which presents an extremely diversified and rich scorpion fauna. In the Marrakesh Tensift Alhaouz region, scorpions have great medical importance where scorpionism remains a genuine public health problem for local populations. Scientific expeditions in this region, carried out since 1994, allowed us to record 11 species and subspecies that represent 28% of Moroccan scorpion fauna, including ten that are endemic to the country. The distribution maps of all these species had already been established and then updated, which allowed us to specify new factors affecting their distribution modes. The present epidemiological study on scorpionism through prospective investigation has shown the severity of this problem. Of 724 scorpion sting cases, 32 deaths were reported between 1996 and 2006. Androctonus mauritanicus (Pocock, 1902) is the most medically important scorpion species in the study area (responsible for 53% of cases). Respective elevated morbidity and mortality rates of 30% and 48% have been recorded from accidents occurring in dwelling interiors. Limb extremities comprise the body areas that most exposed to stings (59%) which occurred predominantly during the summer period (53%). The age group most affected ranged from 16 to 30 years old (42%). This study determined some epidemiological characteristics of these envenomations and established their causes, origins and consequences.

Touloun O, Boumezzough A, Slimani T. Scorpion envenomation in the region of Marrakesh Tensift Alhaouz (Morocco): epidemiological characterization and therapeutic approaches. Serket. 2012;13(1/2):38-50.

Thanks to Dr. Touloun for sending me this paper!

24 September, 2012

Scorpion diversity in Northeastern Algeria

Salah Eddine Sadine and co-workers have recently published a paper on the diversity and ecological distribution of scorpions in the Natiornal Park of Belezma in northeastern Algeria.

Three species were found (see abstract below for details). The authors report of Buthus occitanus (Amoreux, 1789), but this species is now limited to Europe only and the African subspecies and forms were elevated to species level. It is not clear from the paper which species of Buthus that actually occur in the study area.

This study refers to the observations and collections of scorpions at National Park of Belezma (NPB), in Batna, Northeast Algeria. During the summer of 2006, the investigations conducted in the forests of Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica M.), of Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis L.) and Holm oak (Quercus ilex L.) resulted in collecting a total of 103 scorpion specimens representing three species, belonging to two different families. The family Buthidae is represented by Androctonus bicolor (relative abundance “RA” = 1.9%) and Buthus occitanus (RA = 82.5%). The family Scorpionidae is represented only by Scorpio maurus (RA = 15.5%). According to the canonical correspondence analysis (CCA), two groups with more or less homogeneous distribution are distinguished: A. bicolor and S. maurus frequent foothills dominated by the herbaceous layer between 900 to 1100 meters of altitude, while B. occitanus was found in high mountain habitats at more than 1300 meters of altitude where the covering of woody vegetation is high. The main habitats colonized by these species are discussed according to their orographic characteristics, general appearance of the substrate and the structure of vegetation cover.

Sadine SE, Alioua Y, Chenchouni H. First data on scorpion diversity and ecological distribution in the National Park of Belezma, Northeast Algeria. Serket. 2012;13(1/2):27-37.

Thanks to Dr. Sadine for sending me this paper!

14 September, 2012

Euscorpius italicus found in Cyrpus

Euscorpius italicus Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) is known from several Europan countries, but introduced populations have also been reported from Algeria, Morocco,Yemen and Iraq. In addition, I've seen many reports of accidental findings of single E. italicus specimens from many northern European countries (stowaways).

Ersen Yagmur has now published a finding of a specimen of Euscorpius italicus in a house in Northern Cyprus. This is clearly an introduced specimen, but it is not clear if it represent an introduced population or if it is just a single introduced stowaway.

The scorpion species Euscorpius italicus (Herbst, 1800) is recorded for first time from Cyprus. This represents a new scorpion family, genus and species record for the country. Besides, this is first insular record from Mediterranean Sea. The characteristic morphological features, zoogeographical remarks and ecological notes on the species are presented in this study.

Yagmur EA. First Record of the Genus Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) in Cyprus. Acta Zoologica Bulgarica. 2012;64(3):329-30.

Thanks to Ersen for sending me this article!

13 September, 2012

The scorpions of Sint Eustatius, Lesser Antilles

Rolando Teruel and Hannah Madden have published an interesting paper describing the scorpion fauna of Sint Eustatius, Lesser Antilles. Three species from three genera and two families were found on the island. The paper has information about the habitat of the species present, and also an identification key for the taxa on the island.

In the present note, we revise the scorpion fauna of the small island of Sint Eustatius, in the Lesser Antilles. A total of two families, three genera and three species are confirmed to occur there: the buthids Centruroides barbudensis (Pocock, 1898) and Isometrus maculatus (DeGeer, 1778), and the scorpionid Oiclus purvesii (Becker, 1880). These include the first record of the occurrence in Sint Eustatius of the family Scorpionidae and the genus Oiclus Simon, 1880, as well as the first published findings of I. maculatus since 1942. A key to the easy identification of all three species is provided.

Teruel R, Madden H. The Scorpions (Arachnida: Scorpiones) of Sint Eustatius, Lesser Antilles. Euscorpius. 2012 (145):1-9. [Free full text]

06 September, 2012

Scorpion fauna of Hatila Valley National Park, northeastern Turkey

For those interested in the scorpion fauna of Turkey, Ersen Yagmur and co-workers have published a paper on the scorpion fauna of Hatila Valley National Park in northeastern Turkey.

During 2008‐2011, we studied scorpion fauna of Hatila Valley National Park in Artvin Province. A total of 40 specimens were collected from five different localities, and three species belong to three families were identified: Mesobuthus eupeus eupeus (C. L. Koch, 1838) (Buthidae) Euscorpius mingrelicus (Kessler, 1874) (Euscorpiidae) and Calchas nordmanni Birula, 1899 (Iuridae). This is the first study of the scorpion species of Hatila Valley.

Yagmur EA, Koc H, Tropea G, Yesilyurt F. Scorpion fauna of Hatila Valley National Park (Artvin, Turkey). Anadolu Doga Bilimeri Dergisi. 2012;3(1):15-22.

Thanks to Ersen Yagmur for sending me this paper!

04 September, 2012

A new Euscorpius from Turkey

Gioele Tropea and co-workers have recently described a new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) from the Dilek Peninsula in western Turkey. This is another "hidden" Euscorpius species from the "Euscorpius carpathicus species complex".

Euscorpius avcii Tropea, Yagmur, Koc, Yesilyurt & Rossi, 2012

I'm expecting more new Euscorpius species in the future as there are still many unresolved populations that now are being under investigation.

A new species of the genus Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 is described based on specimens collected from Dilek Peninsula (Davutlar, Aydın) in Turkey. It is characterized by an oligotrichous trichobothrial pattern (Pv= 7, et= 5/6, eb= 4) and small size. Euscorpius (Euscorpius) avcii sp. n. is the first named species of the subgenus Euscorpius from Turkey.

Tropea G, Yagmur EA, Koc H, Yesilyurt F, Rossi A. A new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Scorpiones, Euscorpiidae) from Turkey. ZooKeys. 2012;219:63-80. [Free full text]

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me this paper!

Family Euscorpiidae

03 September, 2012

Scorpions of India - a review

Bastawade and co-workers have published a small review of scorpions reported in India and their distribution.113 species from 25 genera is reported from India.

No abstract.

Bastawade DB, Jadhav SS, Sharma RM. Scorpionida. Zoological Survey in India. 2012;4(6):1-16. [Free full text]

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me this paper and to Pedro Coelho for informing me about the link to the online pdf!