30 October, 2013

A new buthid genus and species from the Horn of Africa

A new genus, Gint, has been discovered on the Horn of Africa. Gint means scorpion in the Ethiopian language Amharian.
Frantisek Kovarik has been on an expedition to the Horn of Africa and during this expedition a new genus in Buthidae was discovered.

Gint Kovarik, Lowe, Pliskova & Stahlavsky, 2013 (New genus)
Gint gaitako Lowe, Pliskova & Stahlavsky, 2013 (New species)

In additon, analysis of the previously little investigated species Buthacus calviceps (Pocock, 1900) showed that this species actually belongs the the new genus and is therefore transferred to Gint.

Gint calvipes (Pocock, 1900) (New combination)

The new genus is distributed in Ethiopia, Somalia and Somaliland.

Abstract:
A new scorpion genus is described, Gint gen. n., similar to genera Buthacus Birula, 1908 and Neobuthus Hirst, 1911 to which it is compared. Buthus calviceps Pocock, 1900 is transferred to the new genus, which includes only two species, Gint gaitako sp. n. from Ethiopia and Gint calviceps comb. n. from Somaliland and Somalia (Puntland). Information is provided on the localities and habitats of both species. In addition to morphological analysis we described also karyotype of male paratype of Gint gaitako sp. n., 2n=30.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Lowe G, Pliskova J, Stahlavsky F. A New Scorpion Genus, Gint gen. n., from the Horn of Africa (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2013 (173):1-19. [Free full text]

Family Buthidae

29 October, 2013

A review of the genera Compsobuthus and Sassanidotus

Compsobuthus sp. from Israel. Photo: Jan Ove Rein (C)

I'm working myself through the new book Illustrated Catalog of Scorpions, Part II. Bothriuridae; Chaerilidae; Buthidae I., genera Compsobuthus, Hottentotta, Isometrus, Lychas and Sassanidotus and here is the second taxonomical update from the book.

The following taxonomical updates have been done in the genera Compsobuthus Vachon, 1947 and Sassanidotus Farzanpay, 1987:

Compsobuthus becvari Kovarik, 2003 is synonymized with Sassanidotus gracilis (Birula, 1900).

Compsobuthus fuscatus Hendrixson, 2006 is synonymized with Compsubuthus manzonii (Borelli, 1915).

Compsobuthus kafkai Kovarik, 2003 is synonymized with Sassanidotus gracilis (Birula, 1900).

Compsobuthus lowei Lourenco & Duhem, 2012 is synonymized with Compsobuthus setosus Hendrixson, 2006.

Compsobuthus sobotniki Kovarik, 2004 is synonymized with Sassanidotus gracilis (Birula, 1900).

The following species is declared nomen dubium until further investigations:

Compsobuthus humaae Amir, Kamaluddin & Kahn, 2005

The book has an identification key to the valid species of the genus and a distributional table.

Reference:
Kovarik F. Family Chaerilidae. In: Kovarik F, Ojanguren Affilastro AA, editors. Illustrated catalogue of scorpions Part II Bothriuridae: Buthidae I, genera Compsobuthus, Hottentotta, Isometrus, Lychas and Sassanidotus. Prague: Clarion Production; 2013. p. 131-44.

There and back again: Suddenly the number of species in Buthidae fell below 1000.


Family Buthidae

The genome of Mesobuthus martensii mapped

The genes of Mesobuthus martensii are revealed in a major study in Nature Communications. Photo: Jan Ove Rein (C)
 In a recent publication in Nature Communication, a group of Chinese scientists present the first complete scorpion genome. It is the Chinese scorpion, Mesobuthus martensii (Karsch, 1879) (Buthidae), which has been under the magnifying glass. M. martensii, which is a common species in China and well known from traditional medicine, research and as a food item, was found to have the most protein-coding genes among all sequenced arthropods so far. The M. martensii genome reveals a unique adaptation model of arthropods, offering new insights into the genetic bases of the living fossils (as scorpions may be regarded as they have retained many of the primary features of Palezoic scorpions).

Abstract:
Representing a basal branch of arachnids, scorpions are known as ‘living fossils’ that maintain an ancient anatomy and are adapted to have survived extreme climate changes. Here we report the genome sequence of Mesobuthus martensii, containing 32,016 protein-coding genes, the most among sequenced arthropods. Although M. martensii appears to evolve conservatively, it has a greater gene family turnover than the insects that have undergone diverse morphological and physiological changes, suggesting the decoupling of the molecular and morphological evolution in scorpions. Underlying the long-term adaptation of scorpions is the expansion of the gene families enriched in basic metabolic pathways, signalling pathways, neurotoxins and cytochrome P450, and the different dynamics of expansion between the shared and the scorpion lineage-specific gene families. Genomic and transcriptomic analyses further illustrate the important genetic features associated with prey, nocturnal behaviour, feeding and detoxification. The M. martensii genome reveals a unique adaptation model of arthropods, offering new insights into the genetic bases of the living fossils.

Reference:
Cao Z, Yu Y, Wu Y, Hao P, Di Z, He Y, et al. The genome of Mesobuthus martensii reveals a unique adaptation model of arthropods. Nat Commun. 2013;4:2602. DOI: 10.10387ncomms3602. [Free full text]

Thanks to Drs. Wenxin Li & Zhiyong Di for sending me a copy of their paper!


25 October, 2013

A review of the genus Chaerilus

Pregnant female of Chaerilus sp. from Nepal. Photo: Jan Ove Rein (C)
I've finally gotten Frantisek Kovarik's and Andres Ojanguren Affilastro's great book Illustrated Catalog of Scorpions, Part II. Bothriuridae; Chaerilidae; Buthidae I., genera Compsobuthus, Hottentotta, Isometrus, Lychas and Sassanidotus and I will update you with the taxonomical updates from the book in the time to come.

The following taxonomical updates have been done in the family Chaerilidae:

Chaerilus anneae Lourenco, 2012 is synonymized with Chaerilus julietteae Lourenco, 2011.

Chaerilus dibangvalleycus Bastawade, 2006 is synonymized with Chaerilus assamensis Kraepelin, 1913.

Chaerilus phami Lourenco, 2011 is synonymized with Chaerilus petrzelkai Kovarik, 2000.

Chaerilus philippinus Lourenco & Ythier, 2008 is synonymized with Chaerilus celebensis Pocock, 1894.

Chaerilus spinatus Lourenco & Duhem, 2010 is synonymized with Chaerilus celebensis Pocock, 1894.

Chaerilus thai Lourenco, Sun & Zhu, 2010 is synonymized with Chaerilus celebensis Pocock, 1894.

The following species are declared nomen dubium until further investigations:

Chaerilus kampuchea Lourenco, 2012
Chaerilus lehtrarensis Khatoon, 1999
Chaerilus vietnamicus Lourenco & Zhu, 2008

The book has an identification key to the valid species of the genus and a distributional table.

Reference:
Kovarik F. Family Chaerilidae. In: Kovarik F, Ojanguren Affilastro AA, editors. Illustrated catalogue of scorpions Part II Bothriuridae: Buthidae I, genera Compsobuthus, Hottentotta, Isometrus, Lychas and Sassanidotus. Prague: Clarion Production; 2013. p. 131-44.

Family Chaerilidae

24 October, 2013

Burrows and burrowing in Scorpio maurus - and how to capture them

Burrowing in Scorpio maurus and how to capture this scorpion is presented in a recent issue of the journal Euscorius.

Mehmet Colak and Aysegül Karatas have recently published an article on burrrowing and burrows in Scorpio maurus Linnaeus, 1758 (Scorpionidae) in Turkey. The authors also present a method on how to capture burrowing scorpions.

Abstract:
Shapes of burrows built by Scorpio maurus in southern and south-eastern Turkey were investigated. S. maurus were observed to build burrows with average 20 cm depth and 30 cm length. The burrows were concentrated in agricultural fields, farms, near gardens, and in areas with 5–10% slope. 116 specimens were captured, 77.5% from underground burrows, and 22.5% from their burrows under stones. A new method was tried in order to drive Scorpio maurus, an obligate digger type of scorpions, out of their burrows. Water was poured into a burrow, and the scorpion, which came out near the entrance of the burrow, was captured by placing a shovelful of soil 10 cm behind the entrance. Habitats of Scorpio maurus were observed, and shapes of underground burrows and burrows built under stones were documented.

Reference:
Colak M, Karatas A. Shape of Burrows Built by Scorpio maurus L., 1758 (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae) from Turkey, with Description of Capture Methods. Euscorpius. 2013 (171):1-7. [Free full text]

23 October, 2013

A new Centruroides from Guatemala

Centruroides caral is a new species from Guatemala presented in the latest issue of the journal Euscorpius.

Luis de Armas and Rony Trujillo have recently described a new species of Centruroides Marz, 1890 (Buthidae) from Guatemala.

Centruroides caral Armas & Trujillo, 2013

Abstract:
A new species of the genus Centruroides Marx, 1890 is described from northeastern Guatemala on basis to an adult  male. By its general pattern and slight sexual dimorphism, the new species looks like  C. flavopictus (Pocock, 1898),  a  larger  species  from  Veracruz,  Mexico,  with  higher  pectinal  tooth  count  (males:  21  to  24  teeth)  and  stronger  subaculear tubercle. It also resembles Centruroides chamulaensis Hoffmann, 1932, from Chiapas, Mexico, a smaller  species  with  small  to  obsolete  subaculear  tubercle,  stronger  metasomal  carinae,  pedipalp  chelae  narrower  than  patella, and anterior margin of carapace almost straight (V-shaped in the new species).

Reference:
de Armas LF, Trujillo RE. A New Species of the Genus Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Guatemala. Euscorpius. 2013 (172):1-5. [Free full text]

Family Buthidae

22 October, 2013

Scorpions of Iran, Part IX - The Hormozgan Province (with a new species)

Part IX of a the major review project of the scorpions of Iran has been published in issue 170 of the journal Euscorpius.

The paper lists 20 species in three families from the Hormozgan Province and their distribution. A new species of Odontobuthus Vachon, 1950 (Buthidae).

Odontobuthus tavighiae Navidpour, Soleglad, Fet & Kovarik, 2013

An identification key for the genus Odontobuthus and for the species in the province is given. Good habitat pictures are also included.

Abstract:
Twenty species of scorpions belonging to three families are reported from the Hormozgan Province of Iran. Of these, eight species and subspecies are recorded from the province for the first time: Buthacus macrocentrus (Ehrenberg, 1828), Compsobuthus persicus Navidpour et al., 2008, Iranobuthus krali Kovařík, 1997, Mesobuthus eupeus persicus (Pocock, 1899), Mesobuthus phillipsii (Pocock, 1889), Odontobuthus bidentatus Lourenço & Pézier, 2002, Odontobuthus doriae (Thorell, 1876), and Razianus zarudnyi (Birula, 1903). Odontobuthus tavighiae sp. n. is described and compared with all species of the genus Odontobuthus Vachon, 1950. Paraorthochirus goyffoni Lourenco et Vachon, 1995 is synonymized with Orthochirus farzanpayi (Vachon et Farzanpay, 1987). Also presented are keys to all species of scorpions found in the Hormozgan province and all species of the genus Odontobuthus Vachon, 1950.
Reference:


Navidpour S, Soleglad ME, Fet V, Kovarik F. Scorpions of Iran (Arachnida, Scorpiones). Part IX. Hormozgan Province, with a description of Odontobuthus tavighiae sp. n. (Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2013 (170):1-29. [Free full text]


Family Buthidae

21 October, 2013

Hidden diversity of Euscorpius in Greece revealed

Phylogenetic analysis of Euscorpius populations in Greece reveals hidden diversity in a recent article in The Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Aristeidis Parmakelis and co-workers have recently published a major phylogenetic analysis of the genus Euscorpius  Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) across the Mediterranean region, focusing on the Greek fauna. The extensive study show high variation, deep clade divergences, many cryptic lineages, paraphyly, and sympatry. There are probably many hidden species in the study area and the authors conclude that the major character set used in the taxonomy of the genus (trichobothrial pattern) is only partially applicable for Euscorpius species in Greece.

No new species is described in this paper, but this study will be a cornerstone for the future studies of the taxonomy and distribution of Greek Euscorpius populations

Abstract:
Phylogenetic analysis of the genus Euscorpius (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) across the Mediterranean region (86 specimens, 77 localities, four DNA markers: 16S rDNA, COI, COII, and ITS1), focusing on Greek fauna, revealed high variation, deep clade divergences, many cryptic lineages, paraphyly at subgenus level, and sympatry of several new and formerly known lineages. Numerous specimens from mainland and insular Greece, undoubtedly the least studied region of the genus’ distribution, have been included. The reconstructed phylogeny covers representative taxa and populations across the entire genus of Euscorpius. The deepest clades detected within Euscorpius correspond (partially) to its current subgeneric division, outlining subgenera Tetratrichobothrius and Alpiscorpius. The rest of the genus falls into several clades, including subgenus Polytrichobothrius and a paraphyletic subgenus Euscorpius s.s. Several cryptic lineages are recovered, especially on the islands. The inadequacy of the morphological characters used in the taxonomy of the genus to delineate species is discussed. Finally, the time frame of differentiation of Euscorpius in the study region is estimated and the distributional patterns of the lineages are contrasted with those of other highly diversified invertebrate genera occurring in the study region.

Reference:
Parmakelis A, Kotsakiozi P, Stathi I, Poulikarakou S, Fet V. Hidden diversity of Euscorpius (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) in Greece revealed by multilocus species-delimitation approaches. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 2013;Early view. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to professor Victor Fet for sending me this paper!

16 October, 2013

A new species of Euscorpius from Greece

Euscorpius erymanthius is a new species from Peloponnese in Greece published in the last issue of the journal Euscorpius.

The work uncovering the scorpion secrets of Europe is still going on. Yet another previously "hidden" species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) from Greece has recently been described.

Euscorpius erymanthius Tropea, Fet, Parmakelis, Kotsakiozi & Stathi, 2013

With the new species the total number of Euscorpius species in Greece is 11.

Abstract:
A new scorpion species, Euscorpius (Euscorpius) erymanthius sp. n., is described from Peloponnese, Greece (Erymanthos Mts.), based on genetic and morphological evidence. It is characterized by small size, light brown to reddish color, and a standard trichobothrial pattern (Pv = 8–9, et = 7–6, em = 4 and eb = 4). In a phylogeny based on multiple DNA markers, the new species groups close with E. corcyraeus Tropea et Rossi, 2012 from Corfu (Kerkyra) Island.

Reference:
Tropea G, Fet V, Parmakelis A, Kotsakiozi P, Stathi I. A new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 from Peloponnese, Greece (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Euscorpius. 2013 (169):1-11. [Free full text]

Thanks to Gioele Tropea for sending me his paper!

Family Euscorpiidae


15 October, 2013

Professor John Cloudsley-Thompson - RIP

I got the sad news this morning from ISA that that the eminent British zoologist and arachnologist, Professor John Cloudsley-Thompson, died on October 4th at the age of 92. Professor Cloudsley-Thompson is especially known for his work on scorpions and other desert arachnids, but he also worked on other animal groups.

Professor Cloudsley-Thompson also wrote several books, including the popular book Spiders, Scorpions, Centipedes and Mites from 1958.

When starting to search for literature for my masters thesis in 1987, I quickly found several interesting articles on scorpions in Africa by the professor. Later, I was able to meet him in a conference and gave him a copy of an article that I was a co-author of (my first scientific article). Some time later I very proudly discovered that he had cited the article in his book Ecophysiology of Desert Arthropods and Reptiles (Adaptations of Desert Organisms), published in 1991.

In 2011, the online Journal Euscorpius celebrated professor John L. Cloudsley-Thompson's 90th Birthday by publishing a special volume with 10 articles by 19 authors.

RIP

Jan Ove Rein
Editor of The Scorpion Files

07 October, 2013

Species number 1000 in Buthidae has been described!

Two new species of Androctonus have been described from India and Pakistan by Kovarik and Ahmed.
According to the species list in The Scorpion Files, species number 1000 in the family Buthidae has been described with the two new species mentioned in this blog post.

Frantisek Kovarik and Zubair Ahmed have described two new species of Androctonus Ehrenberg, 1828.

Androctonus cholistanus Kovarik & Ahmed, 2013 (India and Pakistan)
Androctonus robustus Kovarik & Ahmed, 2013 (Pakistan)

In adition, Androctonus finitimus (Pocock, 1897) is redescribed. An identification key to the species of Androctonus in Asia is provided.

Abstract:
We describe Androctonus robustus sp. n. and A. cholistanus sp. n. from Pakistan and India and compare them with A. finitimus (Pocock, 1897), whose holotype we have studied. These three species are closely related and form a group that has hitherto been considered one species. They share coloration and are close to each other in geographic range. However, these three species can be reliably distinguished morphologically, primarily based on morphometry of male metasoma, which is widest in A. robustus sp. n. and narrowest in A. cholistanus sp. n. 

Reference:
Kovarik F, Ahmed Z. A Review of Androctonus finitimus (Pocock, 1897), with Description of Two New Species from Pakistan and India (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2013(168):1-10. [Free full text]

Family Buthidae

02 October, 2013

A new Buthus species from Libya

Buthus lourencoi Rossi, Tropea & Yagmur, 2013 is a new species from Libya presented in the journal Euscorpius.


Andrea Rossi and co-workers have described a new species of Buthus Leach, 1815 (Buthidae) from Libya.

Buthus lourencoi Rossi, Tropea & Yagmur, 2013

There is an identification key for the genus Buthus for part of North Africa in the paper.

Abstract:
Although Libya covers a very  wide territory in northern Africa, only two species of the genus  Buthus  have been  recorded from this country:  B. tunetanus  (Herbst, 1800) and  B. barcaeus  Birula, 1909. In the present study, a third  species,  Buthus lourencoi  sp. n., closely related to  Buthus egyptiensis  Lourenço et Cloudsley-Thompson 2012, is  described from west Libya, around the area of Tripoli. An identification key for the scorpions of the genus  Buthus (Leach, 1815) that occur in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt is provided.

Reference:
Rossi A, Tropea G, Yagmur EA. A New Species of Buthus Leach, 1815 from Libya (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2013 (167):1-10. [Free full text]

Thanks to Giole Tropea for sending me the paper!

Family Buthidae