25 April, 2013

Rhopalurus caribensis is synonymized with R. laticauda

Eudardo Florez has recently published a paper synonymizing Rhopalurus caribensis Teruel & Roncallo, 2008 (Buthidae) with Rhopalurus laticauda Thorell, 1876.

Abstract: Rhopalurus caribensis Teruel & Roncallo, 2008 (n. syn.) is synonymized with R. laticauda Thorell, 1876, based on a review of morphological variations of characters listed by Roncallo and Teruel (2008). The biogeographic assumption presented by Teruel & Roncallo (2008) as an argument to justify the description of R. caribensis is refuted. 

Florez E. Rhopalurus caribensis, is a synonym of Rhopalurus laticauda (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Revista Colombiana De Entomologia. 2012 Jul-Dec;38(2):365-7.

Family Buthidae

23 April, 2013

Two new species of Calchas from Turkey and a new genus

In 2009, Fet et al studied the rare genus Calchas Birula, 1899 (Iuridae) from Greece and Turkey and described two new species. Ersen Yagmur has now sampled specimens from many new populations in Turkey, especially from locations in southeastern Turkey. In Yagmur et al., 2013, the new material is described and a new genus and two new species are presented.

Neocalchas Yagmur, Soleglad, Fet & Kovarik, 2013: New genus distributed in Antalya and Mersin provinces in Turkey and on the islands of Megisti and Samos in Greece.

Neocalchas gruberi (Fet, Soleglad & Kovarik, 2009): New combination. Previous name Calchas gruberi  Fet, Soleglad & Kovarik, 2009. Distributed in Antalya and Mersin provinces in Turkey and on the islands of Megisti and Samos in Greece.

Calchas anlasi  Yagmur, Soleglad, Fet & Kovarik, 2013: Turkey: Hakkari Province; Iraq: Arbil Prov-ince (not verified).

Calchas kosswigi  Yagmur, Soleglad, Fet & Kovarik, 2013:Turkey: Siirt and Şırnak Provinces.

The paper has an updated identification key for Neocalchas and Calchas.

This paper is a feast for the eye having some beautiful color pictures showing the described taxas natural habitats, which are stunning!

Several new Calchas populations are studied from Turkey, including specimens from Hakkari Province, which borders the northern edge of Iraq. A new genus, Neocalchas, gen. nov., and two new species, Calchas anlasi, sp. nov. and C. kosswigi, sp. nov., are described. The two genera, Calchas and Neocalchas, are diagnosed by their hemispermatophore structure, chelal finger dentition, telson morphometrics and setation, and trichobothrial topology of the pedipalp chela. Genus Calchas Birula, 1899 includes four species: C. anlasi, sp. nov., C. birulai, C. kosswigi, sp. nov., and C. nordmanni; genus Neocalchas, gen. nov., includes one species, N. gruberi, comb. nov. New diagnoses for genera Calchas and Neocalchas are provided as well as a key to the species of Calchas.

Yagmur EA, Soleglad ME, Fet V, Kovarik F. Etudes on iurids, vi. Further revision of Calchas birula, 1899 (Scorpiones: Iuridae), with a description of a new genus and two new species. Euscorpius. 2013 (159):1-37. [Free full text]

Family Iuridae

22 April, 2013

The impact on Rhopalurus junecus populations in Cuba due to the "miracle drug"

The dark morph of Cubas blue scorpion, Rhopalurus junceus. Photo: Roland Teruel (C).

Last week I blogged about a newspaper article discussing the venom of the Cuban scorpion Rhopalurus junceus (Herbst, 1800) as a miracle drug for some serious cancer forms. After reading the article I thought about how the demand for this new drug has impacted on the populations of this (so far) common scorpion in Cuba. I asked Cuban scorpion expert Rolando Teruel about this and here is his answer:

"Starting about a decade ago, a government research program on the medical potential of the venom of R. junceus has spread all over Cuba. In order to obtain the amounts of venom needed, intensive captures of thousands of individuals are made all across the entire distribution area of the scorpion. But further, in several localities the native people collect indiscriminately as many scorpions as they can for personal use or illegal sale in the black market. The sum of both factors has impacted negatively on the abundance of this species and has depleted its populations drastically in many places of Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo provinces, becoming a death threat to their survival (Cao, 2002; R. Teruel & L. F. de Armas, unpublished data)".

This is a quote from Teruel & Armas (2012), translated from Spanish by Rolando Teruel. As you can see, the large demand for Rhopalurus venom is now a threat to the species on Cuba. Hopefully, there will be measures controlling the exploitation of wild caught Rhopalurus on Cuba. 

Teruel R, de Armas LF. Redescripcion de Rhopalurus junceus (Herbst 1800) (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Boletin de la SEA. 2012 (50):153-74.

Thanks to Dr. Rolando Teruel for sharing his insight with The Scorpion Files! 

17 April, 2013

Is the venom of Rhopalurus junceus Cuba's miracle drug?

The dark morph of Cubas blue scorpion, Rhopalurus junceus. Photo: Roland Teruel (C).

I guess a lot of you have heard about the alleged anti-cancer abilities of the Cuaban buthid Rhopalurus junecus (Herbst, 1800). Miami New Times journalist Jean Friedman-Rudokvsky has traveled to Cuba and looked into the history of Cuba's miracle drug against cancer.

This is an interesting article worth reading. The article doesn't claim that the drug made from the venom of the "Blue scorpion" does cure cancer, but it presents several interesting cases making you wonder if there is something in the drug having a positive effect in some cancer cases.

Personally, I'm a skeptic that want research and scientific proof before believing that something is true (especially in relation to health and medicine). But at the same time I know that many medicines today originally came from plants and animals and that traditional medicine has been around since the dawn of man. So I will not rule out that there might be something in the venom of Rhopalurus junecus that can have anti-cancer abilities, but hopefully future research will let us learn more about this.

Read the article and make up your own mind.

Friedman-Rudovsky J. Blue scorpion venom: Cuba's miracle drug. Miami New Times; 2013 [cited 2013 April 17]. Available from: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2013-04-18/news/blue-scorpion-escozul-cancer-treatment-cuba/full/. [Free full text]

12 April, 2013

Scorpions and scorpionism in Panama

Adolfo Borges is the editor of a the book entitled "Los escorpiones y el escorpionismo en Panamá. Volumen I". Co-authors of the book are Roberto Miranda and Hildaura A. de Patino. The book is written in Spanish and was published in the end of 2011, but I didn't know about it until now.

If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the book you can contact Science National Secretariat of Panama (SENACYT), The University of Panama, or The Gorgas Memorial Institut. To get a copy of the chapter "Scorpions and their Venoms; Why scorpion venoms can be lethal to humans" it is possible to contact Dr. Adolfo Borges via email: borges.adolfo@gmail.com.

Borges A, editor. Los escorpiones y el escorpionismo en Panamá. Volumen I. Panama: Universidad de Panamá (UP), Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas de Estudios de la Salud (IGNES), Secretaria Nacional de Ciencias, Tecnología e Innovación (SENACYT); 2011.

Thanks to Dr. Borges for sending me a copy of the book!

11 April, 2013

A redescription of Diplocentrus zacatecanus and a discussion of the taxonomic use of the male hemispermatophore

Carlos Santibanez Lopez and Oscar Francke have recently published a redescription of Diplocentrus zacatecanus Hoffmann, 1931 (Scorpionidae). The paper also discuss the limitations of using the male hemispermatophore as a diagnostic character for the genus Diplocentrus.

The scorpion Diplocentrus zacatecanus Hoffmann (1931) was originally described as a subspecies of Diplocentrus keyserlingi Karsch 1880 on the basis of six syntypes and was later elevated to species level. We designate a male lectotype and redescribe the species, including illustrations of the hemispermatophore of a male collected near the type locality. In this genus, the hemispermatophore is poorly sclerotized and lacks elaborate capsular structures, which are taxonomically useful in other genera. We review the variability in the hemispermatophores of males from one population, including five comparisons of the right and left hemispermatophores of the same males. Our results showed asymmetry in the length of the right and left hemispermatophores of the same individual. We also observed the presence of ‘‘crenulations’’ or ‘‘spines’’ in two different hemispermatophores (not complementary ones). We conclude that caution should be used when describing the hemispermatophore of only one male and considering it as diagnostic for the species, because of the high levels of intraspecific variation.

Santibanez Lopez C, Francke OF. Redescription of Diplocentrus zacatecanus (Scorpiones: Diplocentridae) and limitations of the hemispermatophore as a diagnostic trait for genus Diplocentrus. Journal of Arachnology. 2013;41:1-10. [Subscritpion required for full text, but free full text after 12 months]

Thanks to Carlos Santibanez Lopez for sending me his paper!

09 April, 2013

A new Centruroides from Mexico

Jose Baldazo-Monsivaiz and co-workers have recently published a new species of Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Buthidae) from Mexico.

Centruroides villegasi Baldazo-Monsivaiz, Ponce-Saavedra & Flores-Moreno, 2013

The new species is considered medical important.

Centruroides villegasi sp. nov. from the municipality of Chilapa de Álvarez, Guerrero, Mexico is described. It is the nineth species of Centruroides reported for this state. The new species is compared with C. limpidus (Karsch, 1879) which is morphologically similar and inhabits the same geographic zone. The species C. balsasensis Ponce and Francke, 2004, C. meisei Hoffmann, 1938, and C. tecomanus Hoffmann, 1932 are also compared because they are found in Guerrero and belong to the “striped scorpions” group (sensu Hoffmann, 1932), and therefore they are morphologically similar to the new species. It is a species of medical importance that had not been collected or recognized previously. A list of species of scorpions recorded for the state of Guerrero is included after the revision and correction of historical records.

Baldazo-Monsivaiz JG, Ponce-Saavedra J, Flores-Moreno M. Una especie nueva de alacrán del género Centruroides de importancia médica (Scorpiones: Buthidae) del estado de Guerrero, México. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad. 2013;84:100-16. [Full text not online yet, but may be freely available from this link later]

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me this paper!

Family Buthidae

A new edition of Gerard Dupre's World Scorpion Bibliography is now available

Gerard Dupre has collected all kinds of scorpion references from both scientific and popular science sourced for many years. He has now published a new edition of his extensive World Scorpion Bibliography, and has made this available on The Scorpion Files.

The bibliography contains more than 19.000 references from journals, books, reports, thesis, magazines, web pages etc.

Dupre G. Worldwide bibliography of scorpions (2. ed.). 2013. Available from: http://www.ntnu.no/ub/scorpion-files/dupre.php [Free full text]

A big thanks to Gerard for sharing his impressive work with the users of The Scorpion Files!

03 April, 2013

A fossil Tityus in amber from The Dominican Republic

Wilson Lourenco has recently published another species from specimens discovered in amber. This time a new species of Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Buthidae) had been described in amber from The Dominican Republic. This is an extinct species and is not added to the species list in The Scorpion Files.

Tityus azari Lourenco, 2013
Tityus azari sp. n., a new species of fossil scorpion belonging to the genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 is described based on a specimen in amber from the Dominican Republic. Although the new species can be associated with the extant fauna of the Neotropical region, it presents some particular morphological features such as the presence of sharp denticles on the edge of pedipalp fingers. Due to the incompleteness of the specimen it cannot be assigned to any precise extant subgenera. Once again, this discovery attests to a considerable degree of diversity in the Dominican amber-producing forests.

Lourenco WR. A new species of Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Dominican amber. Euscorpius. 2013 (156):1-5. [Free full text]

02 April, 2013

A new Euscorpiops from Thailand

A lot of new species in the last weeks. This time, Kovarik and co-workers have published a new species of Euscorpiops Vachon, 1980 (Euscorpiidae) from Thailand.

Euscorpiops neradi Kovarik, Pliskova & Stahlavsky, 2013

In addition, the name of Euscorpiops thaomischi Kovarik, 2012 is corrected to  E. thaomischorum (which is the correct form in accordance with ICZN rules).

Euscorpiops neradi sp. n. from Thailand is described and compared with other species of the genus Euscorpiops Vachon, 1980. It is the smallest species of the genus, with total length about 25 mm in both sexes. In E. neradi sp. n. external trichobothria on the patella number 16 (5 eb, 2 esb, 2 em, 3 est, 4 et) and ventral trichobothria on the patella number 6. Pedipalp fingers are flexed in males and straight in females.

Kovarik F, Pliskova J, Stahlavsky F. Euscorpiops neradi sp. n. from Thailand (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae: Scorpiopinae). Euscorpius. 2013 (158):1-8.  [Free full text]

Family Euscorpiidae

A new Lychas from Laos

Wilson Lourenco recently described a new Lychas C. L. Kock, 1845 (Buthidae) from Laos.

Lychas aberlenci Lourenco, 2013

A new species, Lychas aberlenci sp. n., is described from the rainforest canopy of Khammouane Province in Laos. The new species is characterized by a moderate size as compared to the congeners, the total length of the male measuring 49.8 mm. The coloration is pale yellowish to reddish-yellow with a conspicuous inverted triangle, blackish spot at the anterior margin of the carapace. The pectines arewith 29-30 teeth in the male, the highest number so far observed in a Lychas species; fulcra are present, being conspicuous. With the description of L. aberlenci sp. n., the number of known Lychas species in Laos is increased to three.

Lourenco WR. Scorpions from the rainforest canopy of Laos, with the descrption of a new species of Lychas C. L. Koch, 1845 (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Arthropoda Selecta. 2013;22(1):33-40.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his paper!

Family Buthidae