25 September, 2013

Scorpionism in southeastern Turkey

Scorpion stings are quite common in southeastern Turkey and the epidemiology of scorpions stings are discussed in a recent paper by Yilmaz et al., 2013.

Fevzi Yilmaz and co-workers have recently published a paper investigating the epidemiology and clinical characteristics and outcomes of scorpion stings in southeastern Turkey.

BACKGROUND:Scorpion sting resulting in envenomation is a life-threatening emergency and causes serious health problems in  tropical and subtropical regions. The aim of this study was to present the epidemiologic and clinical features of 123 cases presenting  with symptoms of scorpion poisoning, a cause of preventable mortality and morbidity.

METHODS:This study retrospectively analyzed the epidemiologic and demographic features of a total of 123 patients who presented  to Diyarbakır State Hospital Emergency Service with scorpion sting between January 2008 and December 2009.

RESULTS:Among 123 patients who presented to Diyarbakır State Hospital Emergency Service with scorpion sting between January  2008 and January 2009, 62.6% (n=77) were female and 37.4% (n=46) were male. The mean age of the patients was 33.5±17.3 years  (2-80), and 27 (22%) patients were younger than 18 years. The place of residence was rural region in 98 (79.7%) patients and the city  center in 25 (20.3%). The majority of victims were stung by scorpions while they were at active work (42.3%) or asleep (19.5%) in bed.  Eleven (8.95%) patients were stung by a scorpion while putting on their own clothes.

CONCLUSION: This simple descriptive study will hopefully help healthcare providers take measures to prevent scorpion stings,  which should take into consideration local epidemiological features.

Yilmaz F, Deniz Arslan E, Demir A, Kavalci C, Durdu T, Serkan Yilmaz M, et al. Epidemiologic and clinical characteristics and outcomes of scorpion sting in the southeastern region of Turkey. Ulusal Travma Acil Cerr Derg. 2013;19(5):417-22. [Free full text]

23 September, 2013

A new Euscorpiops from Laos

Wilson Lourenco has published a new species of Euscorpiops from Laos in the September issue of Acta Arachnologica.

Wilson Lourenco has recently described a new species of Euscorpiops Vachon, 1980 (Euscorpiidae) from Laos.

Euscorpiops alexandreanneorum Lourenco, 2013

The new species, so far only known from a male specimen, was fown in a limestone wall, 2.2 meters from the ground.

Euscorpiops alexandreanneorum sp. .n., belonging to the family Euscorpiidae Laurie, is described on the basis on a single male specimen collected in the north of the Province of Luangprabang, District of Muang Ngoi, Laos. The new species is characterized by slender body, very elongated pedipalps and particular trichobothrial pattern. The new scorpion taxon may represent yet another endemic element for the fauna of Laos.

Lourenco WR. A new species of Euscorpiops Vachon 1980 from Laos (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae: Scorpiopinae). Acta Arachnologica. 2013;62(1):23-7.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his paper!

Family Euscorpiidae

19 September, 2013

Mother scorpions are less effective predators

Webber and Rodriguez-Robles has recently published a study investigating if potential reproductive tradeoffs limit the predatory efficiency of female Centruroides sculpturatus Ewing, 1928 (Buthidae).

Females with scorplings on their back were less effective hunters than non-gravid females. Interestingly, gravid females hunted prey as efficient as non-gravid females. Overall it seems that reproduction represent a cost in females by reducing their predatory efficiency during the brooding period.

Life history tradeoffs may result from temporal and physiological constraints intrinsic to an  organism. When faced with limited time and energy, compromises occur and these resources  are allocated among essential activities, such as body growth, maintenance, foraging, mating,  and offspring care. We investigated potential tradeoffs that may  occur between reproductive  activities  and  feeding  performance  in  female  Arizona  Bark  Scorpions  (Centruroides  sculpturatus)  by  comparing  the  time  taken  to  capture  prey  between  non-reproductive  and  reproductive  females  (gravid  females  and  females  exhibiting  maternal  care,  i.e.  carrying  offspring on their backs).
Gravid  females  were  as  efficient  at  catching  prey  as  non-gravid  females.  To  control  for  variation in the duration of the maternal care period, we removed all  offspring from all postparturient females after 5 days. Brooding females and females  24 hours following offspring  removal (FOR) did not successfully capture prey within the 900-second trial period. Twentyeight  days  FOR,  females  caught  prey  faster  than  females  displaying  maternal  care  and  females 24 hours FOR, but were not as efficient at catching prey  as non-gravid and gravid  females.  When  pursuing  prey,  C.  sculpturatus exhibiting  maternal  care  used  an  active  foraging  strategy  more  frequently  than  non-gravid,  gravid,  and  females  28  days  FOR.  In  contrast, non-gravid, gravid, and females 28 days FOR used active and ambush foraging with  similar frequency.
Our data suggest that reproduction does not significantly reduce the predatory efficiency of  gravid  C. sculpturatus, and that these females can cope with increasing body mass and  the  physiological costs of gestation. However, the observation that brooding females and females  24  hours  FOR  did  not  catch  prey  within  the  trial  period  indicates  that  maternal  care  significantly reduces predatory efficiency in these scorpions. Females 28 days FOR were still  not  as  efficient  at  catching  prey  as  non-gravid  and  gravid  females,  suggesting  that  reproductive  costs  extend  for  at  least  4  weeks  after  the  end  of  the maternal  care  period.  Preferential  use  of  an  active  foraging  strategy  by  brooding  females  may  increase  prey  encounter  rates,  allowing  the  scorpions  to  more  rapidly  replenish  energy  reserves  depleted  during  reproduction.  However,  active  foraging  may  be  energetically costly  and  increase  predation risk for brooding females. Our findings regarding antagonistic interactions between  reproduction  and  feeding  in  female  C.  sculpturatus demonstrate  the  pervasive  nature  of  reproductive costs for viviparous females, and may provide insight on factors that influence  the diversity of reproductive strategies observed in nature. 

Webber MM, Rodriguez-Robles JA. Reproductive tradeoff limits the predatory efficiency of female Arizona Bark Scorpions (Centruroides sculpturatus). BMC Evol Biol. 2013 Sep 14;13(1):197. [Free full text]

18 September, 2013

Clutch size in the "vorhiesi" group of the genus Vaejovis

Richard Ayrey has recently published an interesting article documenting the clutch size for the 12 species in the "vorhiesi" group of the genus Vaejovis C. L. koch, 1836 (Vaejovidae). The article has color pictures of females with scorplings for many of the species.

A total of 2,287 newborn scorpions were counted and photographed on 100 females of all 12 described species of  the  “vorhiesi”  group  of  the  genus  Vaejovis  (Scorpiones:  Vaejovidae)  found  in  Arizona,  USA,  and  several  undescribed species. Average clutch size for the “vorhiesi” group and for each individual species is reported. The  data clearly shows that the larger species have more young, per parturition, than the smaller species. Representative  photographs are presented for each species discussed.

Ayrey RF. Reproduction and birth in the “Vorhiesi” group of the genus Vaejovis (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Part I. Clutch size. Euscorpius. 2013 (166):1-15. [Free full text]

17 September, 2013

Three new species of Euscorpius from Greece

Euscorpius candiota from Crete (Greece) has finally gotten species status. Photo: Jan Ove Rein
Victor Fet and co-workers have worked for many years investigating the Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) fauna of Europe and especially the populations of Greece and the Balkans. Several of the "main" Euscorpius species have turned out to be species complexes with several "hidden species". This has especially been true for the "Euscorpius carpathicus species complex".

In the present publication three subspecies in the "Euscorpius carpathicus species complex" from Greece are elevated to species status based on both morphological and DNA analysis.

Euscorpius candiota Birula, 1903 (Crete, Greece)

Euscorpius ossae Di Caporiacco, 1950 (Mt. Ossa mountain range, Thessaly, Greece)

Euscorpius scaber Birula, 1900 (Greece: Mount Athos; Central Macedonia: Chalkidiki, Thessaloniki; East Macedonia and Thrace: Thasos Island)

In Greece, scorpion genus Euscorpius has been insufficiently studied. Taxonomy of several species and subspecies has been inconsistent and confusing. We provide new morphological data and redescriptions of type specimens of three “old” taxa, described from Greece and formerly listed under a “catch-all” taxon Euscorpius carpathicus. We elevate to, or confirm at species status: Euscorpius scaber Birula, 1900 (type locality: Mt. Athos), E. candiota Birula, 1903 (type locality: Heraklion, Crete), and E. ossae Di Caporiacco, 1950, stat.n. (type locality: Mt. Ossa, Thessaly). Species-level separation of these taxa is also confirmed by multiple species delimitation methods implemented on the phylogenetic data generated using four different DNA markers.

Fet V, Soleglad ME, Parmakelis A, Kotsakiozi P, Stathi I. Three More Species of Euscorpius Confirmed for Greece (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Euscorpius. 2013 (165):1-27. [Free full text]

Family Euscorpiidae

16 September, 2013

New book: Illustrated Catalog of Scorpions, Part II. Bothriuridae; Chaerilidae; Buthidae I., genera Compsobuthus, Hottentotta, Isometrus, Lychas and Sassanidotus

The second book in the Illustrated Catalog of Scorpions series is now announced, this time authored by Frantisek Kovarik and Andres Ojanguren Affilastro. I haven't seen the book yet, but if it has the same quality as the first volume this will be an important book for all interested in scorpions.

The book is in English and contains 332 species including 143 synonyms of which 19 are new (total of 475 taxa). Described are eight new species of the family Buthidae. The volume has 400 pages in A4 format, is hard-bound, and contains 1621 color photos of specimens in their habitats, during mating and parental care, morphology of conserved specimens, and of localities. Also included are 253 black-and-white photos, 110 drawings, and 26 distribution maps. The price is 80 euros (105 USD), which includes postage.

The book can only be ordered from the homepage of Frantisek Kovarik.

A review of the book will be published when I have read it.

10 September, 2013

A SEM study of the external morphology of Calchas birulai

Mehlika Benli, Ersen Yagmur and Victor Fet have published a study showing great SEM pictures of the external morphology of the interesting Turkish scorpion Calchas birulai Fet et al., 2009 (Iuridae).

External morphology of a recently described scorpion species, Calchas birulai Fet et al., 2009 (Iuridae), was investigated in detail using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). The samples were collected from Halfeti District, Şanlıurfa Province, Turkey. We investigate and depict, in particular, the cuticle, chelicerae, genital operculum, sternum, stigmata, wax pores, and sensory organs (trichobothria, setae, pectines, slit sensilla, constellation array).

Benli M, Yagmur EA, Fet V. Etudes on iurids, VII. An SEM study of external morphology of Calchas birulai Fet et al., 2009 (Scorpiones: Iuridae). Euscorpius. 2013 (164):1-31. [Free full text]

06 September, 2013

A very old scorpion

The pincer and metasomal segments of the ancient scorpion of Gondwana (Photos: University of Witwatersrand (C))

Scorpions are a very old group dating back to the early Silurian period. Robert Gess has now described one of the oldest fossil scorpions and the earliest record of a terrestrial animal in Gondwana.

Gondwanascorpio emzantsiensis Gess, 2013

An interesting point in this article is that reexaminations of other early fossils of scorpions point in the direction of the early scorpions being terrestrial and not aquatic (as believed by some authors).

The new genus and species, Gondwanascorpio emzantsiensis, are described in Scorpiones incertae sedis on the basis of fragments from the Famennian (Late Devonian) Waterloo Farm locality near Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa. This finding adds to the sparse record of Late Devonian scorpion taxa and provides the first evidence of Palaeozoic scorpions from Gondwana. Material includes a complete chela with associated patella as well as a telson with associated metasomal segment V, resembling those of the Mesoscorpionina. This is the first record of a scorpion occurring at high latitudes. Its close resemblance to contemporary taxa from Laurasia and China is consistent with evidence from the type locality for increasingly uniform terrestrial ecosystems by the end of the Devonian, characterised by cosmopolitan plant genera such as the progymnosperm tree Archaeopteris. In part, this may reflect increasing proximity between Laurasia and Gondwana towards the end of the Devonian. These specimens also provide the earliest record of terrestrial animals in Gondwana.

Gess RW. The earliest record of terrestrial animals in Gondwana: A scorpion from the Famennian (Late Devonian) Witpoort Formation of South Africa. African Invertebrates. 2013;54(2):373-9. [Free full text]

05 September, 2013

New data on rare Butheoloides in Morocco

Touloun & Boumezzough have recently reported the second finding of the rare scorpion Butheoloides slimanii Lourenco, 2010 (Buthidae) from Morocco.

During a study on ecology and biogeography of scorpions of Morocco, an exploratory mission carried out in November 2012 in the Grouka forest (Al Haouz Province) has led to the discovery of Butheoloides (Butheoloides) slimanii Lourenço, 2010. This discovery is the second of this Moroccan endemic species and extends its distribution approximately 60 kilometers to southwest.

Touloun O, Boumezzough A. Nouvelle donnée sur la répartition de Butheoloides (Butheoloides) slimanii Lourenço, 2010 (Scorpiones, Buthidae) au Maroc. Poiretia. 2013 (5):15-9. [Free full text]

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me this paper!

03 September, 2013

A new Pandinus from Ethiopia

Frantisek Kovarik has recently described a new species of Pandinus Thorell, 1876 (Scorpionidae) from Ethiopia.

Pandinus trailini Kovarik, 2013

The paper has pictures of the species natural habitat and information about subsociality in the species.

Pandinus (Pandinus) trailini sp. n. from Ethiopia is described and compared with other species of the subgenus. The new species is characterized by 6/4: 6-7/4: 7-8/4-5: 7-8/4-5 spination formula of tarsomere II and only two spines on the inclined anteroventral surface of tarsomere II; 16–18 ventral trichobothria on the chela; and sexual dimorphism, with the male having a more pronounced tooth on the movable finger of pedipalp than the female. A key to species and a distribution map of the subgenus Pandinus Thorell, 1876 are provided. Presented are also photos of localities.

Kovarik F. Pandinus (Pandinus) trailini sp. n. from Ethiopia (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae), with data on localities and life strategy. Euscorpius. 2013 (163):1-14. [Free full text]

Family Buthidae