22 December, 2014

Phylogeny and a new species of the enigmatic, troglobtic genus Alacran


There are many fantastic scorpions in the world, but among the more special are those being true troglobites showing special adaptions to a life in deep caves.The endemic genus of Mexico, Alacran Francke, 1982 (Typhlochactidae) is one of these special scorpions, only being found in deep caves.

Carlos Santibanez-Lopez and co-workers have now published a phylogenetic analysis of this remarkable genus and have also discovered a new species from the Tres Quimeras cave, in the
state of Puebla, south-eastern Mexico.

Alacran triquimera Santibanez-Lopez, Francke & Prendini, 2014

The three member of Alacran inhabit three isolated caves or cave systems. The article discuss how this distribution has originated.

A identification key for the genus is included.

Abstract:
The scorpion genus Alacran Francke, 1982, endemic to eastern Mexico, was created to accommodate Alacran tartarus Francke, 1982. This remarkable troglobiotic species is adapted for life in some of the world’s deepest caves, 720–916 m below the surface in the Sistema Huautla of the state of Oaxaca (the deepest records at which a scorpion has been found). A second species, Alacran chamuco Francke, 2009, was later described from Te Cimutaá, also in Oaxaca. In the present contribution,we describe a third species, Alacran triquimera, sp. nov., recently discovered in a cave system in the state of Puebla, and test the monophyly and internal relationships of Alacran, based on a cladistic analysis of 10 terminal taxa (including seven species representing all four genera of Typhlochactidae) and 151 informative morphological characters, building on a previously published matrix. The single most parsimonious tree obtained, supports the monophyly of Alacran and the following relationships among its component species: (A. chamuco (A. tartarus + A. triquimera, sp. nov.)). The phylogenetic relationships among the three species of Alacran are consistent with the biogeographical history of the caves they inhabit. Based on the geological history of the Sierra Madre del Sur and the likely similar speleogenesis of the Tres Quimeras, Sistema Huautla and Te Cimutaá caves, we propose a vicariance hypothesis to account for the disjunct distribution of the three species of Alacran, whereby an initially more widespread, panmictic ancestral population speciated into thre geographically isolated taxa following fragmentation of the southern Sierra Madre del Sur.

Reference:
Santibanez Lopez C, Francke OF, Prendini L. Shining a light into the world’s deepest caves: phylogenetic systematics of the troglobiotic scorpion genus Alacran Francke, 1982 (Typhlochactidae : Alacraninae). Invertebrate Systematics. 2014;28:643-64. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Carlos Santibantez-Lopez for sending me this article!

Family Typhlochactidae


16 December, 2014

Involuntary limb twitching after ingestion of scorpion-based Chinese medicine


Scorpions are known to be used in traditional Chinese cousin and medicine. The most used species is the butid Mesobuthus martensii (Karsch, 1879), which is commercially bred in farms in China.

Lam and co-workers now report about a man compalining about chest pain, dizziness, and generalised tremors 15 minutes after ingestion of a teaspoon of herbal powder with water. The powder was made of scorpions (M. martensii).

After ruling out other potential causes, the diagnosis of this case was compatible with neurotoxicity associated with the consumption of M. martensii powder, even though it could not be directly confirmed by chemical analysis.

Abstract:
Mesobuthus martensii Karsch, commonly known as the Chinese scorpion or Manchurian scorpion, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as Quanxie to treat chronic pain, tetanus, tremors, convulsion, and paralysis for more than a thousand years. We report a case of poisoning after ingestion of a teaspoon of Quanxie powder. The patient presented with chest pain, dizziness, diaphoresis, generalised involuntary limb twitching, and hypertonia around 15 minutes post-ingestion. The patient recovered uneventfully after supportive management. Intravenous diazepam appeared to be effective in alleviating limb twitching. Failure to accurately measure the dose and to boil before consumption may have contributed to his clinical toxicities.

Reference:
Lam PK, Wong TW, Chan YC, Mak TW. Generalised involuntary limb twitching after ingestion of Mesobuthus martensii Karsch (Quanxie) powder. Hong Kong Med J. 2014 Dec;20(6):552-5. [Free full text]

15 December, 2014

The phylogeny of the genus Diplocentrus


The genus Diplocentrus Peters, 1861 (Scorpionidae) is a very diverse genus with species in North and Central America (Mexico being the hotspot for this genus).

Carlos Santibanez-Lopez and co-workers have now conducted a phylogenetic analysis of the genus based on 29 species. The conclusions are presented in the abstract below.

Abstract:
Karsch, 1880. There is considerable morphological variation among the species of Diplocentrus. It is necessary to test the monophyly and phylogenetic position of Diplocentrus in order to revise its diagnosis and taxonomic limits. The present contribution provides a phylogenetic analysis of 29 species of Diplocentrus, five exemplar species representing the three putatively most closely related diplocentrid genera, and an exemplar of a more distantly related diplocentrid genus. The analysis was based on 95 morphological characters and 4202 aligned nucleotides from DNA sequences of five markers in the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. Separate and simultaneous parsimony analyses of the morphological and DNA sequence data were conducted with equal weighting and six implied weighting regimes. The nuclear and mitochondrial DNA datasets were also analyzed separately and simultaneously with Bayesian inference. The resulting topologies recovered the monophyly of Diplocentrus, with the exception of two neobothriotaxic species from central Mexico, for which a new genus Kolotl Santibáñez-López et al., 2014, is justified. The keyserlingii group, as previously defined, was not monophyletic due to the placement of two species in the mexicanus group; the rest of its component species were monophyletic, however. A third clade was recovered that has not been previously recognized: the zacatecanus group, comprising four species from northern Mexico and the southwestern U.S.A. New insights are provided concerning relationships among Diplocentrus and the diplocentrid genera Bioculus Stahnke, 1968 and Didymocentrus Kraepelin, 1905, the phylogenetic positions of which were previously ambiguous.

Reference:
Santibanez-Lopez CE, Francke OF, Prendini L. Phylogeny of the North American scorpion genus Diplocentrus Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones: Diplocentridae) based on morphology, nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny. 2014;72(3):257-79. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Carlos Santibanez-Lopez for sending me his paper!

Family Scorpionidae

12 December, 2014

A major study of the scorpions' lateral eyes


Scorpions have two types of visual organs (usually called eyes): the median and the lateral eyes. Most scorpions have a single pair of median eyes (except for a few troglomorphic species), but the number of pairs of lateral eyes varies very much between the different scorpion taxa and even within some species.

Loria and Prendini have now published a comparative study of variation in the lateral eyes of scorpions based on examinations of a broad range of taxa. The main conclusions of the study can be found in the abstract below.

Abstract:
Scorpions possess two types of visual organs, the median and lateral eyes. Both eyes consist of simple ocelli with biconvex lenses that differ in structure and function. There is little variation in the number of median ocelli across the order. Except for a few troglomorphic species in which the median ocelli are absent, all scorpions possess a single pair. In contrast, the number of pairs of lateral ocelli varies from zero to five across Scorpiones and may vary within species. No attempt has been made to homologize lateral ocelli across the order, and their utility in scorpion systematics has been questioned, due to the variation in number. A recent study examined the number of lateral ocelli among various Asian Buthidae C.L. Koch, 1837 and proposed a ‘‘five-eye model’’ for the family. This model has not been examined more broadly within Buthidae, however, nor compared with the patterns of variation observed among other scorpion families. An eyespot, referred to as an accessory lateral eye, situated ventral or posteroventral to the lateral ocelli, has also been reported in some scorpions. Analysis of its structure suggests it serves a nonvisual function. We present the first comparative study of variation in the lateral ocelli across the order Scorpiones, based on examination of a broad range of exemplar species, representing all families, 160 genera (78%), 196 species (9%), and up to 12 individuals per species. We propose a six-ocellus model for Recent scorpions with four accessory ocelli observed in various taxa, homologize the individual ocelli, and correct erroneous counts in the recent literature. We also investigate the presence of the eyespot across scorpions and discover that it is more widespread than previously recognized. Future work should investigate the genetic and developmental mechanisms underlying the formation of the lateral ocelli to test the hypotheses proposed here.

Reference:
Loria SF, Prendini L. Homology of the Lateral Eyes of Scorpiones: A Six-Ocellus Model. PLoS One. 2014;9(12):e112913. [Free full text]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this article!

The importance of environmental factors on scorpion populations in tropical forests


Scorpion ecology is still relatively unknown (with the exception of Gary Polis' and co-workers' extensive studies on North American desert scorpions), especially in tropical forests. Andre Lira and co-workers have now published a study on how environmental factors have an impact on the population structure on co-occuring scorpion species in a tropical forest.

The authors compared the relative abundance of Tityus pusillus Pocock, 1893 and Ananteris mauryi Lourenço, 1982 (Buthidae) and investigated how these species respond to habitat changes (remnant areas, understory density, diameter at breast height (DBH) of tree, canopy openness) and microhabitat requirement (litter depth and dry mass).

The results of this work suggests that environmental factors on a microhabitat scale rather than broad-scale variation in the forest fragments had more influence on the abundance of the leaf litter scorpions T. pusillus and A. mauryi in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Furthermore, differences related to hunting behavior (sit-andwait or wandering) and microhabitat selection may explain the influence of litter dry mass on the abundance of T. pusillus but not on the abundance of A. mauryi.

Abstract:
Understanding scorpion responses to environmental disturbances in forest remnants is important because, as generalist predators, they exert pressure on a wide variety of arthropod populations that contribute to forest health. In this study, we investigate the drivers of scorpion Tityus pusillus Pocock, 1893 and Ananteris mauryi Lourenço, 1982 abundance in 11 Brazilian Atlantic Forest remnants. Six environmental factors (litter dry mass, remnant area, leaf litter depth, diameter at breast height of tree, canopy openness, and tree density) were assessed. Field surveys were conducted at night using ultraviolet lamps. From a sample of 1125 captured specimens, approximately 90% were T. pusillus and 7% were A. mauryi. The abundance of T. pusillus, but not A. mauryi, was positively correlated with litter dry mass. Other variables had no effect on the abundance of either species. These results suggest differences in the response of the species to environmental factors on a smaller scale. Behavior difference in foraging between T. pusillus (sit-and-wait) and A. mauryi (wandering) and microhabitat selection may also contribute to explain the influence of litter dry mass on the abundance of T. pusillus but not on the abundance of A. mauryi.

Reference:
Lira AFA, Rego FNAA, Albuquerque CMR. How important are environmental factors for the population structure of co-occurring scorpion species in a tropical forest? Can J Zool. 2015;93:15-9. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andre Lira for sendign me his paper!

11 December, 2014

Two new species of Euscorpius from Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece


Several researchers are studying the Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) fauna of Eastern Europe and Balkan, and several previous "hidden" species have been published in the last decade. In a recent study, Victor Fet and co-workers have described two new species from Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece.

Euscorpius deltshevi Fet, Graham, Webber & Blagoev, 2014 (Known from Stara Planina Mts., Bulgaria, and adjacent areas of Bulgaria and Serbia).

Euscorpius solegladi Fet, Graham, Webber & Blagoev, 2014 (Known from southwestern Bulgaria and northeastern Greece).

 Abstract:
Two new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (subgenus Euscorpius s.str.) (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) are described based on morphology and the COI DNA barcoding marker: E. deltshevi sp. n. from northern Bulgaria and neighbouring Serbia (formerly reported as E. carpathicus) and E. solegladi sp. n. from southwestern Bulgaria and neighbouring Greece (formerly reported as E. hadzii).

Reference:
Fet V, Graham MR, Webber MM, Blagoev G. Two new species of Euscorpius (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) from Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece. Zootaxa. 2014 (3894):83-105. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to professor Victor Fet for sending me their article!

Family Euscorpiidae

09 December, 2014

Two new species of Opisthacanthus from Madagascar


Just days after reporting about a new species of Opisthacanthus Peters, 1861 (Hormuridae) from Madagascar, I can report about two new species from this hotspot of biodiversity. Again, it is professor Wilson Lourenco who is the author of the recent article describing the new species.

Opisthacanthus ambanja Lourenço, 2014

Opisthacanthus antsiranana Lourenço, 2014

Abstract:
Two new scorpion species, Opisthacanthus antsiranana sp.n. and O. ambanja sp.n., are described from the North of Madagascar. The new species clearly suggest cases of micro-endemic and vicariant populations within the island. The total number of species of the genus in Madagascar is now elevated to 10 and its known geographical distribution within the island is expanded.

Reference:
Lourenco WR. Micro-endemic and vicariant populations of Opisthacanthus Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones: Hormuridae) in Madagascar, with descriptions of two new species. Arthropoda Selecta. 2014;23(4):383-9. [Free full text]

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his paper!

Family Hormuridae

08 December, 2014

A new species of Chactas from Ecuador


Wilson Lourenco has recently described a new species of Chactas Gervais, 1844 (Chactidae) from the Province of Morona Santiago in Ecuadorian Amazonia.

Chactas yaupi Lourenco, 2014

Abstract:
A new species, Chactas yaupi sp. n., is described from the Province of Morona Santiago in Ecuadorian Amazonia. This is the third confirmed record of the genus Chactas Gervais from Ecuador. The geographical pattern of distribution of the genus Chactas is discussed. Comments are also addressed about the remarkable diversity and high level of endemic elements of the Ecuadorian fauna.


Reference:
Lourenco WR. The third confirmed record of the scorpion genus Chactas Gervais, 1844 (Scorpiones: Chactidae) from Ecuador, with description of a new species from the Amazonian Province of Morona Santiago. Entomologische Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum Hamburg. 2014;17(193):171-8.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his article!

Family Chactidae

05 December, 2014

A new species of Opisthacanthus from Madagascar


Professor Wilson Lourenco has recently published a new species of Opisthacanthus Peters, 1861 (Hormuridae) from the Parc Nationald’Andohahela in Madagascar.

Opisthacanthus andohahela Lourenco, 2014

Abstract:
A new species, Opisthacanthus andohahela sp. n., is described from the Parc National d’Andohahela, Madagascar. The new species is a sibling species to Opisthacanthus lucienneae Lourenço & Goodman, also known from the Parc National d’Andohahela. However, O. lucienneae is exclusively found in spiny forest thickets whereas the new species was found in humid forests. The close relationship presented by the two species can suggest past ecological connexions between distinct parcels of Parc National d’Andohahela. The total number of Opisthacanthus species in Madagascar is now raised to eight.

Reference:
Lourenco WR. A new species of Opisthacanthus Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones: Hormuridae) from the Parc National d’Andohahela, Madagascar. Entomologische Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum Hamburg. 2014;17(193):179-91.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his paper!

Family Hormuridae



12 November, 2014

A new buthid genus and species from Mexico

Oscar Francke, Rolando Teruel and Carlos Santibanez-Lopez have recently described a new genus and species in the family Buthidae from southeastern Mexico.

Chaneke Francke Teruel & Santibanez-Lopez, 2014 (New genus)

Chaneke fogoso Francke, Teruel & Santibanez-Lopez, 2014 (New species)

Chaneke aliciae (Armas & Frias, 1998) (New combination, previous name Tityopsis aliciae Armas & Frias, 1998)

Abstract:
Chaneke fogoso gen. nov. et sp. nov., are described based on specimens collected near the coast in southeastern Guerrero, Mexico. The genus is characterized by the peculiar rhomboidal shape of the subaculear tubercle, and the lack of at least one trichobothrium on the femur, patella and chela of the pedipalp, which make it the second known buthid genus with decreasing neobothriotaxy on those three pedipalpal segments, together with Alayotityus Armas 1973. Tityopsis aliciae Armas & Martin-Frias 1998, from Oaxaca, Mexico, is transferred to the new genus, resulting in Chaneke aliciae (Armas & Martin-Frias 1998), comb. nov. A cladistic analysis including all other New World ‘‘microbuthids’’ with decreasing neobothriotaxy, with 30 morphological characters, indicates that Chaneke is monophyletic, clearly distinct from Alayotityus Armas 1973 (from eastern Cuba) and Tityopsis Armas 1974 (from western Cuba).

Reference:
Francke OF, Teruel R, Santibanez-Lopez CE. A new genus and a new species of scorpion (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from southeastern Mexico. Journal of Arachnology. 2014;42:220-32. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Dr. Santibanez-Lopez for sending me their article!

Family Buthidae

29 October, 2014

What is the best pain treatment for scorpion stings?


Scorpion stings are often very painful due to the neurotoxic nature of the venom. Aksel and co-workers have now published a RCT study comparing the pain reducing effects of paracetamol, topical lidocaine and application of ice. The winner is lidocaine.

It is important to note that this study only looked into pain in patients with nonsystemic signs and symptoms!

Abstract:
Objective: Appropriate treatment for scorpion-associated pain was not previously studied in detail in the literature. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of three treatment modalities in patients with painful scorpion stings using visual analog scale (VAS) scores.
Materials and Methods: A randomized study was carried out during a 1-year period in patients with scorpion stings who did not have any systemic signs or symptoms. Patients were treated with intravenous paracetamol, topical lidocaine, or ice application. Pain intensity was evaluated using VAS score at the time of presentation to emergency department and at 30th, 60th, 120th, and 240th minutes. Changes in VAS scores from baseline were recorded.
Results: A total of 130 patients were included in the statistical analysis. Significant reduction in pain intensity was observed with topical lidocaine group when compared with the ice application group (p < 0.001) and paracetamol group (p < 0.001) in all selected time intervals. The median reduction in scores at 30 min after therapeutic intervention was 25.0 mm for topical lidocaine, 14.5 mm for ice application, and 10.0 mm for intravenous paracetamol. No adverse events were reported.
Discussion: Our results revealed that topical lidocaine is superior to both intravenous paracetamol and local ice application and its effect lasts several hours after envenomation.

Conclusion: Topical lidocaine is an effective and safe treatment in scorpion sting associated with pain in patients with nonsystemic signs and symptoms.

Reference:
Aksel G, Guler S, Dogan N, Corbacioglu S. A randomized trial comparing intravenous paracetamol, topical lidocaine, and ice application for treatment of pain associated with scorpion stings. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2014 Oct 10. [Subscription required for full text]

24 October, 2014

A new species in the rare genus Anomalobuthus from Iran


Rolando Teruel and co-workers have described a new species in the rare genus Anomalobuthus Kraepelin, 1900 (Buthidae) from Eastern Iran. Only one other species is so far known from this genus, inhabiting Central Asian sand deserts.

 Anomalobuthus talebii Teruel, Kovarík, Navidpour & Fet, 2014

A very beautiful scorpion I may add.

Abstract:
We describe herein a new species of buthid scorpions: Anomalobuthus talebii sp. n. This is the second species assigned to this genus, endemic from sand deserts of Central Asia, as well as the first record of this genus from Iran. The new species is fully illustrated with color photos of holotype habitus, key morphologically diagnostic characters, and habitat.


Reference:
Teruel R, Kovarik F, Navidpour S, Fet V. The First Record of the Genus Anomalobuthus Kraepelin, 1900 from Iran, with Description of a New Species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2014 (192):1-10. [Free full text]

Family Buthidae

21 October, 2014

A new species of Rhopalurus from Brazil


Wilson Lourenco has described a new species of Rhopalurus Thorell, 1876 (Buthidae) from the northeast of Brazil in a recent publication.

Rhopalurus brejo Lourenco, 2014

Abstract:
A new species, Rhopalurus brejo sp. n. (Buthidae) is described from a ‘Brejo’ formation located in the ‘Chapada do Araripe’, in the State of Ceará, Brazil. The new species is morphologically similar to other Rhopalurus species and, in particular to Rhopalurus lacrau Lourenço & Pinto da Rocha, which is distributed in the more southern arid formations of the State of Bahia, Brazil. The observed pattern of distribution suggests a case of a vicariant species between northern and southern populations in Northeast of Brazil.

Reference:
Lourenco WR. The genus Rhopalurus Thorell, 1876 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) in northeast Brazil; a possible case of a vicariant species. Acta Biologica Paranaense, Curitiba. 2014;43(1-2):69-76.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his paper!

Family Buthidae

Kolotl - A new genus from Mexico


Carlos Santibanez-Lopez and co-workers have done phylogenetic analysis of the diverse genus Diplocentrus Peters, 1861 (Scorpionidae) from Mexico. Based on these results, two species of this genus was found to be special and a removal from Diplocentrus was justified. The genus Kolotl Santibanez-Lopez, Francke & Prendini, 2014 is created to accommodate the two species, Kolotl magnus (Beutelspacher and López-Forment, 1991) and Kolotl poncei (Francke and Quijano-Ravell, 2009).

Abstract:
The monophyly and phylogenetic position of Diplocentrus Peters, 1861, has remained ambiguous since the first published phylogenetic analysis of diplocentrid relationships, in which it was rendered paraphyletic by the placement of exemplar species from two other diplocentrid genera, Bioculus Stahnke, 1968, and Didymocentrus Kraepelin, 1905. The discovery of two diplocentrids with neobothriotaxic pedipalps, Diplocentrus magnus Beutelspacher and López- Forment, 1991, and Diplocentrus poncei Francke and Quijano-Ravell, 2009, from the central Mexican states of Guerrero and Michoacán, respectively, raised further questions about the limits of Diplocentrus. A recent phylogenetic analysis of 29 species of Diplocentrus and five exemplar species of the most closely related genera, based on 95 morphological characters and 4202 aligned nucleotides from DNA sequences of five markers in the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes, recovered the monophyly of Diplocentrus, excepting two neobothriotaxic species from central Mexico, justifying their removal from Diplocentrus. In the present contribution, Kolotl, n. gen. is created to accommodate the two species, Kolotl magnus (Beutelspacher and López-Forment, 1991), n. comb., and Kolotl poncei (Francke and Quijano-Ravell, 2009), n. comb., and both are redescribed.

Reference:
Santibanez-Lopez CE, Francke OF, Prendini L. Kolotl, n. gen. (Scorpiones: Diplocentridae), a New Scorpion Genus from Mexico. American Museum Novitates. 2014 (3815):1-28.[Free full text]

Thanks to Dr. Santibanez-Lopez for sending me his paper.

Family Scorpionidae

20 October, 2014

A review of the genus Leiurus with several new species


The medical important genus Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) is widespread across North Africa, the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula. For many years only one species was known in the genus, but in the last decade a couple of new species have been described.

Graeme Lowe, Ersen Yagmur and Frantisek Kovarik have now published a major review of Leiurus. Existing species are redescribed and the following taxonomical changes have been made.

Leiurus arabicus Lowe, Yagmur & Kovarik, 2014 (New species from Saudi Arabia).

Leiurus brachycentrus (Ehrenberg, 1829) (New status, restored from synonymy).

Leiurus haenggii Lowe, Yagmur & Kovarik, 2014 (New species from Oman, Saudi Arabia and Yemen).

Leiurus heberti Lowe, Yagmur & Kovarik, 2014 (New species from Oman).

Leiurus hebraeus (Birula, 1908) (New status, elevated from subspecies status. Previous name Leirurus quinquestriatus hebraeus (Birula, 1908).

Leiurus macroctenus Lowe, Yagmur & Kovarik, 2014 (New species from Oman).

Leiurus nasheri Kovarik, 2007 (Synonymized with L. brachycentrus).

An updated identification key for the genus is provided. Biogeography of the genus is also discussed.

Abstract:
The taxonomy of buthid scorpions belonging to the genus Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 is reviewed. Four new species are described from the Arabian Peninsula: L. macroctenus sp. n. from coastal fog deserts in Oman; L. haenggii sp. n. from mountains of the Red Sea coast, Hadramaut and Dhofar, in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman; L. arabicus sp. n. from the central Najd Plateau and eastern plains in Saudi Arabia; and L. heberti sp. n. from Jabal Samhan in Oman. L. brachycentrus (Ehrenberg, 1829) stat. n. from the Tihamah plain of the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia and Yemen is restored from synonymy and redescribed. Leiurus nasheri Kovařík, 2007 was found to be a junior synonym of L. brachycentrus stat. n. L. quinquestriatus hebraeus (Birula, 1908) is elevated to species level as L. hebraeus (Birula, 1908) stat. n. Revised diagnoses are given for L. quinquestriatus (Ehrenberg, 1828), L. abdullahbayrami Yağmur, Koç et Kunt, 2009, L. jordanensis Lourenço, Modrý et Amr, 2002, and L. hebraeus (Birula, 1908). Key characters used to diagnose and separate species include morphometrics, granulation, tricho-bothriotaxy, tarsal setation, dentition of metasomal carinae and color pattern. Detailed illustrations are provided and the affinities and biogeography of the genus are discussed.

Reference:
Lowe G, Yagmur EA, Kovarik F. A Review of the Genus Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) with Description of Four New Species from the Arabian Peninsula. Euscorpius. 2014 (191):1-129. [Free full text]

Family Buthidae

14 October, 2014

Three new species of Euscorpius from Greece


Gioele Tropea and co-workers have recently published a new paper with a further analysis of the scorpion fauna of Greece. In this paper, three new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) are described. The validity of the new taxa is confirmed both morphologically and by multiple DNA markers.

Euscorpius kinzelbachi Tropea, Fet, Parmakelis, Kotsakiozi & Stathi, 2014 (Mt. Olympus at the eastern border between Thessaly and Central Macedonia).

Euscorpius stahlavskyi Tropea, Fet, Parmakelis, Kotsakiozi & Stathi, 2014 (Epirus in the northwestern Greece).

Euscorpius vignai Tropea, Fet, Parmakelis, Kotsakiozi & Stathi, 2014 (Karpathos and Kasos Islands (eastern Aegean Sea)).

Abstract:
Three new species of the genus Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 are described from Greece: E. stahlavskyi sp.n. from Epirus in the northwestern Greece; E. kinzelbachi sp.n. from Mt. Olympus at the eastern border between Thessaly and Central Macedonia, and E. vignai sp.n. from Karpathos and Kasos Islands (eastern Aegean Sea). Species-level divergence of these taxa is also confirmed by multiple DNA markers in Parmakelis et al. (2013).

Reference:
Tropea G, Fet V, Parmakelis A, Kotsakiozi P, Stathi I. Three new species of Euscorpius (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) from Greece. Euscorpius. 2014 (190):1-22. [Free full text]

Family Euscorpiidae

08 October, 2014

A new species of Grosphus from Southwestern Madagascar


Wilson Lourenco is the leading expert on the scorpion fauna of Madagascar, which he has studied for several decades. Madagascar has a high scorpion diversity with a majority of the species being endemic for the island. In a recent paper, professor Lourenco has described a new species of the endemic genus Grosphus Simon, 1880 (Buthidae) from Southwestern Madagascar.

Grosphus magalieae Lourenco, 2014

The article also has description, habitat information and an identification key for the other species of Grosphus found in Southwestern Madagascar.

Abstract:
The South-Western portion of Madagascar appears to have one of the highest levels of scorpion diversity on the island. In this paper is presented an analysis of the known species of Grosphus Simon, 1880 from this region. Information on ecological aspects of the species is also given. A new species is also described from the region of Cap Sainte Marie, an area where micro-endemic patterns can be observed. The new species is characterized by a medium size with a total length of 50.3 mm. General coloration yellow to pale yellow without dark zones on body and appendages. Carapace yellow with an anterior reddish-orange zone, approximately forming an inverted triangle. Anterior margin of carapace strongly granular. Male pectines with 36-36 teeth. Fixed and movable fingers of pedipalps with 12-13 oblique rows of granules.

Reference:
Lourenco WR. The genus Grosphus Simon, 1880 in South-Western Madagascar, with the description of a new species (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Zoosystema. 2014;36(3):631-45. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Professor Lourenco for sending me his article!

Family Buthidae

03 October, 2014

Analysis of the phylogeny of the vaejovid subfamily Syntropinae


Edmundo Gonzalez-Santillan & Lorenzo Prendini published last year a major redefinition and generic revision of the North American vaejovid scorpion subfamily Syntropinae Kraepelin, 1905 (Vaejovidae). They have now published a follow-up study with a rigorous analysis of the phylogeny of Syntropinae based on morphology, mitochondrial and nucelar DNA, confirming the conclusions of their 2013 study.

Abstract:
The first rigorous analysis of the phylogeny of the North American vaejovid scorpion subfamily Syntropinae is presented. The analysis is based on 250 morphological characters and 4221 aligned DNA nucleotides from three mitochondrial and two nuclear gene markers, for 145 terminal taxa, representing 47 species in 11 ingroup genera, and 15 species in eight outgroup genera. The monophyly and composition of Syntropinae and its component genera, as proposed by Soleglad and Fet, are tested. The following taxa are demonstrated to be para- or polyphyletic: Smeringurinae; Syntropinae; Vaejovinae; Stahnkeini; Syntropini; Syntropina; Thorelliina; Hoffmannius; Kochius; and Thorellius. The spinose (hooked or toothed) margin of the distal barb of the sclerotized hemi-mating plug is demonstrated to be a unique, unambiguous synapomorphy for Syntropinae, uniting taxa previously assigned to different subfamilies. Results of the analysis demonstrate a novel phylogenetic relationship for the subfamily, comprising six major clades and 11 genera, justify the establishment of six new genera, and they offer new insights about the systematics and historical biogeography of the subfamily, and the information content of morphological character systems.

Reference:
Gonzalez-Santillan E, Prendini L. Phylogeny of the North American vaejovid scorpion subfamily Syntropinae Kraepelin, 1905, based on morphology, mitochondrial and nuclear DNA. Cladistics. 2014;Early View 1. October:1-65. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Dr. Gonzalez-Santillan for sending me their paper!

Family Vaejovidae

24 September, 2014

Updated info on the males of three species of Tityus


The description of males in population of scorpions is an important contribution, not only as regards taxonomic knowledge of the species, but also to enable understanding of its reproductive strategy. In a recent paper, Maria Dulcineia Sales dos Santos and co-workers describe the male of T. kuryi Lourenco, 1997 for the first time and report new records of T. serrulatus and T. stigmurus males, widening the known distribution of their sexual populations. The latter two species also have several populations in Brazil that are parthenogenetic.

Abstract:
The male of Tityus kuryi Lourenço, 1997 is described for the first time. Despite being very similar to the female, the male presents more robust metasomal segments. Additionally, the distribution of the sexual populations of another two species of the T. stigmurus complex is reported herein: T. serrulatus Lutz & Mello, 1922 and T. stigmurus (Thorell, 1877). Males of T. serrulatus were, until now, restricted to the Minas Gerais State (Southwestern region of Brazil), and with new records reported here, its known distribution now encompasses the Northeastern region of Brazil. Males of T. stigmurus were previously recorded only for two municipalities in the State of Bahia, and here we present eight new records for Bahia State and one for Pernambuco State. We present a key to related species of the T. stigmurus complex based on morphology and coloration pattern.

Reference:
Dos Santos MD, Porto TJ, Lira-da-Silva RM, Brazil TK. Description of the male of Tityus kuryi Lourenco, 1997 and notes about males of Tityus stigmurus (Thorell, 1877) and Tityus serrulatus Lutz & Mello, 1922 (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Zookeys. 2014 (435):49-61. [Free full text]


23 September, 2014

A new species of Euscorpiops from a cave system in Vietnam


Wilson Lourenco and Dinh-Sac Pham have recently published an article describing a new species of Euscorpiops Vachon, 1980 (Euscorpiidae) from the Dakrong Nature Reserve cave system in Vietnam. This new scorpion taxon is the second species of the subfamily Scorpiopinae to be discovered in a cave system and may be yet another endemic element in the fauna of this country. The new species shows some cave adaptions, but are not a true troglobitic scorpion.

Euscorpiops dakrong Lourenco & Pham, 2014

Abstract:
Euscorpiops dakrong sp. n., belonging to the family Euscorpiidae Laurie, is described on the basis of one male and one female collected in the Dakrong Nature Reserve cave system, Dakrong District, Quang Tri Province, Vietnam. The new species presents most features exhibited by scorpions of the genus Euscorpiops, but it is characterized by a slender body and elongated pedipalps. This new scorpion taxon represents the second species of Scorpiopinae discovered in a cave system and may be yet another endemic element in the fauna of Vietnam. Some taxonomic propositions on the generic position of Scorpiops oligotrichus Fage, 1933 are also suggested.

Reference:
Lourenco WR, Pham D-S. A second species of Euscorpiops Vachon from caves in Vietnam (Scorpiones, Euscorpiidae, Scorpiopinae). Comptes Rendus Biologie. 2014;337:535-44. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his paper!

Family Euscorpiidae

15 September, 2014

Hormuridae Newsflash III: A new species of Hormiops

Male and female of the new species Hormiops infulcra Monod, 2014. Photo: Lionel Monod/Comptes Rendus Biologies (C)
Lionel Monod has previously published two major papers dealing with the systematics of the family Hormuridae Laurie, 1896. In a recently published third paper he presents data on the genus Hormiops Fage, 1933 in the South china Sea and a new species from two islands in Malaysia.

Important results:

Hormiops infulcra Monod, 2014: New species known only from two islands of the Seribuat Archipelagio, Malaysia.

Hormiops davidovi Fage, 1933: Distribution is now limited to (and probably also endemic to) the Con Dao Archipelagio, Vietnam.

The paper has information on Hormiops biology, habitat choice, reproduction and biogeography. An updated identification key for Australasian hormurid genera is included in the paper. 

Abstract:
The monotypic genus Hormiops Fage, 1933 is so far only known from two groups of granitic islands off the coasts of Peninsular Malaysia and Vietnam. Examination of newly collected material from both archipelagos and of the type series of Hormiops davidovi Fage, 1933 reveals previously disregarded morphological differences sufficient to assign the Malaysian specimens to a distinct species, described here as Hormiops infulcra sp. nov. An updated diagnosis of the genus, as well as a dichotomic key enabling the determination of Hormiops from its close relatives, Hormurus Thorell, 1876 and Liocheles Sundevall, 1833 are also provided. The phylogenetic position, distribution pattern, and ecology of these insular scorpions suggest that they are palaeoendemics, remnants of a previously more widely distributed lineage. A biogeographical model is proposed for the genus based on these observations and on a synthesis of palaeogeographical and palaeoenvironmental data currently available for Sundaland.

Reference:
Monod L. The genus Hormiops Fage, 1933 (Hormuridae, Scorpiones), a palaeoendemic of the South China Sea: Systematics and biogeography. Comptes Rendus - Biologies. 2014. In Press. [Subscritpion required for full text]

Family Hormuridae

12 September, 2014

New data on the rare species Pandinus nistriae


Andrea Rossi described a new species of Pandinus Thorell, 1876 from Djobouti, Pandinus nistriae (Scorpionidae), earlier in 2014. Rossi has now published a new article with additional information about this species.

Abstract:
New data are presented concerning Pandinus (Pandinurus) nistriae Rossi, 2014 from Djibouti. The male holotype is directly compared with an adult male of the geographical closely related species P. magrettii Borelli, 1901 from Eritrea. It is also supposed that P. nistriae could be present in eastern Ethiopia, basing on photografic records.

Reference:
Rossi A. New data on the rare species Pandinus nistriae Rossi, 2014 (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae). Arachnides. 2014 Sept;72:3-12.

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me the journal Arachnides!

04 September, 2014

A new species of Chaerilus from Vietnam


Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have recently published a new species of Chaerilus Simon, 1877 (Chaerilidae) from Vietnam.

Chaerilus hofereki Kovarik, Kral, Korinkova & Lerma, 2014

Abstract:
Chaerilus hofereki sp. n. from Vietnam is described and compared with C. cimrmani Kovařík, 2012 from Thailand. C. hofereki sp. n. is characterized mainly by sexual dimorphism. Chela of pedipalp is wide and ampullar, fingers shorter in male than in female. Ratio of chela length to movable finger length 2.2 in males and 1.7–2 in females. Movable finger of pedipalp with 9 or 10 cutting edges. Our study brings the first data on chromosomes of chaerilid scorpions. The karyotype of male paratype of C. hofereki sp. n. consists of high number of chromosomes (2n = 90).

Reference:
Kovarik F, Kral J, Korinkova T, Lerma ACR. Chaerilus hofereki sp. n. from Vietnam (Scorpiones: Chaerilidae). Euscorpius. 2014 (189):1-11. [Free full text]

Family Chaerilidae

25 August, 2014

On the genetics of scorpion morphology



Scorpions have an unique morphology that separate them from other arthropods, especially the specialized grouping of multiple segments dedicated exclusively to prey capture and defence: the flexible metasoma (tail). Prashant Sharma and co-workers have now published an article on the genetics behind the morphology of the scorpion tail.

I embarrassingly have to admit that this article is way over my head, but I hope that readers with more knowledge into genetics will understand more than I do on this topic.

Abstract:
The evolutionary success of the largest animal phylum, Arthropoda, has been attributed to tagmatization, the coordinated evolution of adjacent metameres to form morphologically and functionally distinct segmental regions called tagmata. Specification of regional identity is regulated by the Hox genes, of which 10 are inferred to be present in the ancestor of arthropods. With six different posterior segmental identities divided into two tagmata, the bauplan of scorpions is the most heteronomous within Chelicerata. Expression domains of the anterior eight Hox genes are conserved in previously surveyed chelicerates, but it is unknown howHox genes regionalize the three tagmata of scorpions. Here, we show that the scorpion Centruroides sculpturatus has two paralogues of all Hox genes except Hox3, suggesting cluster and/or whole genome duplication in this arachnid order. Embryonic anterior expression domain boundaries of each of the last four pairs of Hox genes (two paralogues each of Antp, Ubx, abd-A and Abd-B) are unique and distinguish segmental groups, such as pectines, book lungs and the characteristic tail, while maintaining spatial collinearity. These distinct expression domains suggest neofunctionalization of Hox gene paralogues subsequent to duplication. Our data reconcile previous understanding of Hox gene function across arthropods with the extreme heteronomy of scorpions.

Reference:
Sharma PP, Schwager EE, Extavour CG, Wheeler WC. Hox gene duplications correlate with posterior heteronomy in scorpions. Proc Biol Sci. 2014 Oct 7;281(1792). [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Dr. Prashant Sharma for sending me their article!

07 August, 2014

A new review on scorpion envenomation

Pathophysiological and clinical effects of systemic scorpion envenomation. Isbister & Bawaskar/New England Journal of Medicine, 2014 (C).

With more than one million cases of scorpion envenomation each year worldwide with substantial morbidity and even death in children, scorpions pose a health challenge in many countries. Geoffrey Isbister and Himmatrao Bawaskar have recently published a updated review on the effects of scorpion envenomation and the current treatment knowledge in the top medical journal New England Journal of Medicine.

This article is essential for health personnel dealing with scorpion envenomation patients, scorpion researchers and others interested in scorpions as it sums up symptoms, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations and treatment for scorpion envenomations.

Abstract:
Scorpion stings and envenomation are of clinical importance worldwide, and although most stings cause only local effects, severe envenomation that causes either excessive autonomic activity and cardiovascular toxic effects or neuromuscular toxic effects results in illness and, in the case of children, in death. The specific treatment is the administration of antivenom combined with symptomatic and supportive treatment, including prazosin and dobutamine in patients with cardiovascular toxic effects and benzodiazepines when there is neuromuscular involvement.

Reference:
Isbister GK, Bawaskar HS. Scorpion Envenomation. N Engl J Med. 2014;371(5):457-63. [Subscription required for full text]

31 July, 2014

Scorpionism in Egypt


Ismail Lotfy Mohamad and co-workers have recently published a retrospective study of the outcome of scorpion sting incidents in children referred to Assiut University Children Hospital
from January to December 2012.

Of the 111 cases evaluated, more than half of the stung children had a severe clinical presentation and 19 children died mainly of pulmonary edema and cardiogenic shock.

The results of this study are quite dramatic and show that scorpions are a public health problem in parts of Egypt, especially for children. The study doesn't mention scorpions species involved, but Egypt harbors several dangerous species of Androctonus and the infamous Leiurus quinquestriatus.

Abstract:
Scorpion envenomation is a health problem in children in tropical and subtropical regions. The aim of this study was to evaluate demographic and clinical characteristics as well as outcomes in referred children to Assiut University Children Hospital during the year 2012 with a history of scorpion sting. The medical files of these patients were reviewed retrospectively for demographic data, time and site of biting, and clinical manifestations. Laboratory investigations of the patients were reviewed for complete blood count (CBC), liver function tests, creatinine phosphokinase (CPK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), arterial blood gases, and serum electrolytes. Results showed 111 children with a history of scorpion sting; 69 males and 42 females with a median age of 5 years. Out of the studied patients, 53.2 % were classified as class III of clinical severity with recorded pulmonary edema in 33.3 %, cardiogenic shock in 46.8 %, and severe neurological manifestations in 22.8 %. Twelve patients (10.8 %) were classified as class II with mild systemic manifestations, and 36 % of the patients were classified as class I with only local reaction. Outcomes of these patients were discharge without sequelae in 55.8 %, discharge with sequelae in 26.1 %, and death in 18.1 %. Conclusion: more than half of stung children had a severe clinical presentation and about one fifth died. Aggressive treatment regimens are recommended for such patients to improve the outcome.

Reference:
Mohamad IL, Elsayh KI, Mohammad HA, Saad K, Zahran AM, Abdallah AM, et al. Clinical characteristics and outcome of children stung by scorpion. Eur J Pediatr. 2014 June;173(6):815-8. [Subscription required for full text]

30 July, 2014

A new species of Vaejovis from Arizona, USA


Richard Ayrey is continuing his studies of the scorpion fauna of Arizona and has now described a new species of Vaejovis C. L. Koch, 1876 (Vaejovidae) from Arizona, USA.

Vaejovis grayae Ayrey, 2014

Abstract:
A new scorpion species, Vaejovis grayae sp. nov. is described and placed in the “vorhiesi” group of the genus Vaejovis. This small brown species is found near Yarnell, Arizona, USA. It appears most similar to V. trinityae Ayrey and V. crumpi Ayrey et Soleglad. It can be distinguished from the other members of the “vorhiesi” group by a unique combination of non-overlapping morphological characters and multilocus DNA data (Bryson et al., 2013). The pedipalp fixed finger has 6 ID denticles and the movable finger has 7, like most other northern Arizona “vorhiesi” group species. Another characteristic of this species is its unique Arizona chaparral habitat.

Reference:
Ayrey RF. A new species of Vaejovis from chaparral habitat near Yarnell, Arizona (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius. 2014 (188):1-13. [Free full text]

Family Vaejovidae

29 July, 2014

A new species of Broteochactas from Brazil


Wilson Lourenco has recently described a new species of Broteochactas Pocock, 1893 (Chactidae) from the Amazon Region in Brazil.

Broteochactas silves Lourenco, 2014

Abstract:
Scorpions belonging to the genus Broteochactas Pocock, 1893 are studied and a new species is described, Broteochactas silves sp. n., based on nine male specimens collected in the region of Silves in the State of Amazonas, Brazil. The new species is characterized by a small size, reddish-brown coloration, body and appendages with punctations and metasomal segment V and telson with conspicuous spinoid granulations.

Reference:
Lourenco WR. The genus Broteochactas Pocock, 1893 in Brazilian Amazonia, with a description of a new species from the State of Amazonas (Scorpiones: Chactidae). Entomologische Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum Hamburg. 2014;17(192):153-9.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his article!

Family Chactidae

28 July, 2014

A new species of Pandinus from Cameroon


The large scorpions from West Africa in the genus Pandinus Thorell, 1841 (Scorpionidae) are well known among both experts and amateurs, and in particular the "celebrity" species Pandinus imperator (C. L. Koch, 1841). Surprisingly, very little research have been done on the different Pandinus populations of western Africa.

Wilson Lourenco has recently published an article on the genus Pandinus in western Africa which resulted in one new species and one restored species from synonymy.

Pandinus camerounensis Lourenco, 2014 - New species from Cameroon.

Pandinus roeseli (Simon, 1872) - Restored from synonymy with P. imperator. Guinea.

Abstract:
Among the ‘giant species’ of scorpions which belong to the genus Pandinus Thorell, 1876, three are protected by the Washington Convention. These are Pandinus imperator (Koch, 1841), Pandinus dictator (Pocock, 1888) and Pandinus gambiensis Pocock, 1899. In theory, these species can be easily recognised by scorpion experts and even non-experts. However, at least one, P. imperator, remains dubious and unclearly characterized. Herein, the argument pleading for the status of P. imperator is discussed. It is hypothesized that across the known distribution of P. imperator at least three or four distinct populations may be recognized. Pandinus roeseli (Simon, 1872) is restablished as a valid species and a new species, Pandinus camerounensis sp. n. is described from the North of Cameroon.


Reference:
Lourenco WR. Further considerations on the identity and distribution of Pandinus imperator (C. L. Koch, 1841) and description of a new species from Cameroon (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae). Entomologische Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum Hamburg. 2014;17(192):139-51.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his article!

Family Scorpionidae

27 June, 2014

Two-tailed scorpions

Two-tailed female Centruroides nitidus with scorplings on her back.

Body malformations and anomalies in scorpions are reported from time to time. One of the most famous cases was Pepe - The two-tailed scorpion (a Centruroides excilicauda with two tails). In a recent article, Michael Seiter and Rolando Teruel report of two more cases of metasomal duplication (two-tailed scorpions). Interestingly, the female Centruroides nitidus (Thorell, 1876) with two tails grew up, mated and got offspring.

Abstract:
Herein we report two further cases of metasoma duplication in buthid scorpions: a second instar juvenile Tityus obscurus (Gervais, 1843) and an adult female Centruroides nitidus Thorell, 1876. Both individuals were born in captivity; the former died after its first ecdysis, but the latter reached adulthood and reproduced normally. This represents the first published record of the occurrence of such an anomaly in either species.

Reference:
Seiter M, Teruel R. Two new cases of metasomal duplication in scorpions, with notes on their reproductive biology (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2014 (24):127-9.

Thanks to Rolando for sending me his article!

26 June, 2014

A new species of fossil scorpion in Mexican amber

Scorpions are rarely found in amber and specimens like this one is uncommon.
Wilson Lourenco has recently described a new species of fossil scorpion found in amber from Chiapas, Mexico.

Tityus knodeli Lourenco, 2014 (Buthidae)

The new species is quite similar to extant members of Tityus, but this genus is not present in Mexico today. As this is a fossil species, it is not listed in the species list of The Scorpion Files.

Abstract:
Tityus (Brazilotityus) knodeli sp. n., a new species of fossil scorpion, is described from a specimen in amber from Chiapas, Mexico. The new species is clearly related to the extant fauna of the Neotropical region and is tentatively placed in the genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836, presently largely distributed in the Neotropical region but not in Mexico.

Reference:
Lourenco WR. A new species of scorpion from Chiapas amber, Mexico (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2014 (24):59-63.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his paper!

25 June, 2014

High altitude scorpions in Cuba


Tomás M. Rodríguez-Cabrera and Rolando Teruel have recently published a review of scorpions found above 800 meters altitude in Cuba.

Abstract:
All findings of scorpions above 800 m altitude in Cuba are herein revised; this contour is seen to be exceeded only by four members of Buthidae: Centruroides anchorellus Armas, 1976, Centruroides baracoae Armas, 1976, Centruroides stockwelli Teruel, 2000, and Rhopalurus junceus (Herbst, 1800). Some of the previous records from the literature are corrected and the upper limit is found to correspond to C. baracoae in eastern Cuba (1,600 m at the source of Palma Mocha River). Also, the occurrence of C. stockwelli is documented at the highest mountain of central Cuba (1,140 m at Pico San Juan, Cienfuegos), as well as new upper records for C. anchorellus (1,362 m on the southern slope of Pico Martí) and R. junceus (1,231 m at Pico El Toldo).

Reference:
Rodríguez-Cabrera TM, Teruel R. On the highest altitudinal occurrences of scorpions in Cuba (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2014 (24):119-22.

Thanks to Rolando for sending me his paper!

23 June, 2014

Redescription and corrected distribution of Chactas rubrolineatus


Lourenco & Leguin have recently confirmed the species status of Chactas rubrolineatus Simon, 1880 (Chactidae) after rediscovering the type specimen. A redescription is presented and the species' confirmed distribution is corrected to Brazil.

Abstract:
The type specimen of Chactas rubrolineatus, described by Simon in 1880, was considered lost, or at least mislaid, for long time. After several months of research in the collections of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, the female type specimen was located in the vial labelled RS-0778. A precise diagnosis of this species and also of several personal notes of E. Simon leads to two new conclusions: (i) Chactas rubrolineatus is a valid species and not a synonym of Chactas vanbenedenii Gervais, 1843, neither of Chactas brevicaudatus (Karsch, 1879); (ii) Chactas rubrolineatus was described by Simon from Rio Içá, which is not located in Ecuador but rather in Brazil. The presence of this species in Ecuador has yet to be proved.

Reference:
Lourenco WR, Leguin E-A. Le véritable statut de l’espèce Chactas rubrolineatus Simon, 1880 (Scorpiones: Chactidae). Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2014 (24):87-9.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his article!

Family Chactidae

A new species in the rare genus Lissothus in Northern Africa


Wilson Lourenco and Salah Eddine Sadine have recently discovered a new species in the rare, North African genus Lissothus Vachon, 1948 from Central Algeria (Buthidae).

Lissothus chaambi Lourenco & Sadine, 2014

This is only the third species in this rarely collected genus, the other two species originating in Libya and Mauritania.

Abstract:
Taxonomic considerations are given for the genus Lissothus Vachon, 1948 (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Two species are currently known, Lissothus bernardi Vachon, 1948 from Libya and Lissothus occidentalis Vachon, 1950 from Mauritania. In this contribution, a new species, Lissothus chaambi sp. n., is described from the desert of Central Algeria. The new species is most closely related to L. bernardi. The geographical distribution of the genus is discussed.

Reference:
Lourenço WR, Sadine SE. A new species of the rare buthid scorpion genus Lissothus Vachon, 1948 from Central Algeria (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Comptes Rendus Biologies. 2014;337(6):416-22.[Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Dr. Sadine for sending me his paper!

Family Buthidae

20 June, 2014

A new species of Hottentotta from the Hoggar Mountains in Algeria

Hottentotta hoggarensis Lourenco & Leguin, 2014 is probably endemic to the Hoggar Mounatins in Algeria.

Wilson Lourenco and Elise-Anne Leguin have recently described a new species of Hottentotta Birula, 1908 (Buthidae) from the Hoggar Mountains in Algeria.

Hottentotta hoggarensis Lourenco & Leguin, 2014

Abstract:
A new species of scorpion belonging to the genus Hottentotta Birula, 1908 is described on the basis of a single female specimen collected in the Mountains of Hoggar, southern Algeria. This new species may yet represent another endemic and relict element of the Saharan mountain system. It can also constitute a possible link between the northern and southern Hottentotta populations in Africa. Some comments are also included on the geographical distribution of the genus Hottentotta in Africa.

Reference:
Lourenco WR, Leguin E-A. Une nouvelle espèce d’Hottentotta Birula, 1908 pour le massif du Hoggar en Algérie (Scorpiones, Buthidae); conséquences biogéographiques sur la répartition du genre. Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2014 (24):15-8.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his article!

Family Buthidae

19 June, 2014

The World's smallest scorpion

Say hello to the smallest scorpion in the world, Microtityus minimus from the Dominican Republic. The scorpion seen in this pictures is actually an adult pregnant female. Photo: Dr. Rolando Teruel (C).

I'm happy to present the smallest scorpion in the world, recently described from the southernmost foothills of the Cordillera Central Mountains in the Dominican Republic by Kovarik & Teruel. The name of the new species is Microtityus minimus Kovarik & Teruel, 2014 (Buthidae). Mature adults in this species are usually not longer than 10 mm.

This species lives in subcoastal desert scrub on gypsum-sandy soil, at an elevation of 160–170 m. Collected specimens  were found hanging to the underside of small limestone rocks half-buried in the dry leaf litter of thorny shrubs and cacti, at the base of hills.

Scorpion enthusiasts are mostly interested in large size, potent venom etc., but incredible small species like this one is also very fascinating.

See original article (free full text) for more pictures of the new species and its habitat.

Thanks to Dr. Rolando Teruel for informing me about his interesting discovery and for sharing this great picture with me and the readers of The Scorpion Files!


18 June, 2014

Phylogeny of the genus Odontobuthus in Iran


Sara Azghadi and co-workers have recently published a phylogenetic analysis of the Iranian species of the genus Odontobuthus Vachon, 1950 (Buthidae). The validity of the species so far described was confirmed and a new species was identified from the Kerman Province. The new species is not formally described and named in the current publication.

Abstract:
The molecular phylogeny of the genus Odontobuthus Vachon, 1950 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) in Iran was evaluated using two mitochondrial DNA genes, cytochrome c oxidase, subunit I (COI) and 16S ribosomal RNA (16S rRNA). The molecular phylogenetic analyses were performed using Maximum Parsimony, Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian inference methods. The resulting topologies supported two main clades: the clade comprising Odontobuthus doriae, O. bidentatus, and O. tavighiae, and another one which is the O. tirgari clade. The results clearly presented additional support for the taxonomic validity of the recently described species, O. tirgari and O. tavighiae. In addition, the monophyly of two previously described species O. doriae and O. bidentatus was confirmed. According to the data presented here, three taxonomically valid species belonging to the genus Odontobuthus occur in Iran.

Reference:
Azghadi S, Mirshamsi O, Navidpour S, Aliabadian M. Scorpions of the genus Odontobuthus Vachon, 1950 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Iran: Phylogenetic relationships inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequence data. Zoology in the Middle East. 2014;60(2):169-79. [Subscription required for full text]

Family Buthidae

17 June, 2014

Three new species from the Dominican Republic

The new species, Microtityus minimus, is probably the smallest scorpion of the world with adult sizes barely exceeding 10 mm.

Frantisek Kovarik and Rolando Teruel have recently published three new species from the Dominican Republic.

Microtityus minimus Kovarik & Teruel, 2014 (Buthidae)

Tityus kindli Kovarik & Teruel, 2014 (Buthidae)

Cazierius neibae Kovarik & Teruel, 2014 (Scorpionidae)

The paper have several color pictures of species and habitats.

Abstract:
We describe herein three new species of scorpions from the Dominican Republic, in the Greater Antillean Island of Hispaniola: Microtityus minimus sp. n. (probably the smallest scorpion in the world from the southernmost foothills of the Cordillera Central Mountains), Tityus kindli sp. n. (from the high peaks of eastern Cordillera Central Mountains), and Cazierius neibae sp. n. (from the southern slope of the Sierra de Neiba Mountains). Additional information is given on their taxonomy, distribution, ecology, and reproductive biology, fully complemented with color photos of live and preserved specimens, as well as their habitat. Figure 20 shows the smallest scorpion female (total length 11.4 mm) photographed with the newborn.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Teruel R. Three New Scorpion Species from the Dominican Republic, Greater Antilles (Scorpiones: Buthidae, Scorpionidae). Euscorpius. 2014 (187):1-27. [Free full text]

Family Buthidae

Family Scorpionidae

13 June, 2014

New Centruroides species from Panama


Diomedes Quintero Arias and Lauren Esposito have recently published a new species of Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Buthidae) from the province of Chiriqui in Panama.

Abstract:
A new species, Centruroides panamensis n. sp., from the foothills of Volcán Barú in the Province of Chiriquí, Panama is described with a extremely narrow distributional range. New distribution records of Centruroides bicolor (Pocock, 1898) are also presented.

Reference:
Arias DQ, Esposito LA. A new species of Centruroides Marx (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Panama and new distribution records for Centruroides bicolor (Pocock, 1898) and Centruroides granosus (Thorell, 1876). Zootaxa. 2014;3795(3):373-82. [Subscritpion required for full text]

Family Buthidae

11 June, 2014

New species of Diplocentrus from Mexico


Carlos Santibanez-Lopez has recently published a new species of Diplocentrus Peters, 1861 (Scorpionidae) from Oaxaca, Mexico.

Diplocentrus franckei Santibanez-Lopez, 2014

Abstract:
A new species of the genus Diplocentrus Peters, 1861 is described, based on several specimens collected in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. It is characterized by a high telotarsal spiniform setae count (4- 5/5:5/6:6/6:6/6-7), and the pectinal tooth counts of 12–15, mode = 13 (male) or 11–13, mode = 12 (female). With the description of this species, the diversity of the genus is increased to 51 species in Mexico.

Reference:
Santibanez-Lopez CE. A new species of the genus Diplocentrus Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones, Diplocentridae) from Oaxaca, Mexico. Zookeys. 2014 (412):103-16. [Free full text]

Thanks to Oscar Francke for sending me this paper!


A new high altitude Scorpiops from the Himalays, India


Amod Zambre and co-workers have described a new and fascinating species of Scorpiops Peters, 1861 (Euscorpiidae) from Indian Himalays in a forthcoming issue of the journal Comptes Rendus Biologies.

Scorpiops spitiensis Zambre, Sanap & Mirza, 2014

The new species was found while ground being dug for the construction of houses in Spiti Valley at an altitude of 4000 - 4200 m. Mean summer temperature in this area is around 25 °C, but can drop to minus 35 °C during winters. Precipitation is in the form of snow during months of December to March.The new species must have an interesting strategy to cope with this kind of climatic challenges (burrowing and hibernation is probably involved).

Abstract:
A new high-elevation scorpion species of the genus Scorpiops is described from the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Scorpiops spitiensis sp. nov. is the second highest-elevation scorpion species in Asia and the first one from India occurring at elevations above 4200 m. The new species closely resembles Scorpiops petersii, but it can be distinguished from it based on a suit of characters, one of which is the presence of 16 trichobothria on the external aspect of the patella, which is unique to the new species.

Reference:
Zambre A, Sanap RV, Mirza ZA. A new high-elevation scorpion species of the genus Scorpiops Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae: Scorpiopinae) from the Himalayas, India. Comptes Rendus Biologies. 2014;In Press. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Zeeshan Mirza for sending me their paper!

Family Euscorpiidae

10 June, 2014

A new species of Androctonus from Tunisia


Rolando Teruel and Frantisek Kovarik have described a new species of Androctonus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) from Tunisia.

Androctonus turieli Teruel & Kovarik, 2014

Androctonus bicolor Ehrenberg, 1828 is redescribed. This widespread species reported from Africa and the Middle East need further investigations to establish its real distribution and to see if there are hidden species within these populations.

Abstract:
We redescribe Androctonus bicolor Ehrenberg, 1828, a scorpion species widely distributed across northeast Africa and the Middle East, on the basis of the study of nine original syntypes and supplementary material from its entire distribution area. In order to stabilize nomenclature, we also designate a lectotype, update its diagnosis according to modern standards, and provide a full illustrated complement to facilitate the recognition of this species as compared to all of its congeners. Also, a new, closely related species from eastern Tunisia is described.

Reference:
Teruel R, Kovarik F. Redescription of Androctonus bicolor Ehrenberg, 1828, and Description of Androctonus turieli sp. n. from Tunisia (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2014 (186):1-15. [Free full text]

Family Buthidae

05 June, 2014

Fine structure of the stinger in Euscorpius


Rainer Foelix and co-workers have recently published an interesting study investigating the fine structure of the aculeus (stinger) in scorpions in the genus Euscorpius (Euscorpiidae). In addition to showing the presence of two venom ducts open to the outside, the authors also report of several small dimples containing sunken sensory hairs. Its seems from these observations that the aculeus is not merely an injection device, but also able to integrate mechanical and chemical stimuli.

Abstract:
A scorpion’s last metasomal segment (telson) consists of a bulbous base that contains two venom glands and a curved tip (aculeus) where two venom ducts open to the outside. These two openings lie laterally just before the very tip of the aculeus; to see both of them at the same time, the stinger has to be looked at ‘‘tail-on’’ from the dorsal side. The two venom ducts have a distinct cuticular lining, which can be recognized in a transparent exuvia as long tubes (1 mm) extending from the distal pores back to the venom glands. Whereas the proximal bulb has many long sensory hairs on its surface, the distal aculeus is very smooth but contains small pits with tiny club-shaped hairs. These are probably contact chemoreceptors. The advantage of such sunken sensory hairs is certainly that the stinger can penetrate into prey (or foe) but can still perceive mechanical or chemical stimuli. Additionally, the aculeus bears several slit sensilla and numerous fine pores of unknown function. The aculeus is thus not only a well-adapted injection device but also contains sensory structures, which provide information on mechanical and chemical input.

Reference:
Foelix R, Erb B, Braunwalder M. Fine structure of the stinger (aculeus) in Euscorpius. Journal of Arachnology. 2014;42(1):119-22. [Subscription required for full text]

Male sprinters and fighting females: Morphology and anti-predator strategies in Bark scorpions


Sexual dimorphism is present in many scorpion species. In many species, the males are more slender and having longer tails, while the females are larger and heavier with shorter tails. Bradley Carlson and co-workers have tested if these differences in morphology have an impact on the genders anti-predator strategies in the errant scorpion Centruroides vittatus (Say, 1821) (Buthidae).

Males sprinted faster than females, while females were more aggressive and used their stinger significantly more often than males. The larger and heavier females (burdened by being pregnant 80% of the year) can not run away from potential predators and have in stead evolved a higher aggression and sting use as the main defense. Males, unburdened by a load of developing embryos in the their abdomen, have developed morphological traits enhancing their running abilities as the main defensive behavior.

This article is also mentioned in the ScienceNews blog under the title "Beware of the pregnant scorpion".

Abstract:
Sexual dimorphism can result from sexual or ecological selective pressures, but the importance of alternative reproductive roles and trait compensation in generating phenotypic differences between the sexes is poorly understood. We evaluated morphological and behavioral sexual dimorphism in striped bark scorpions (Centruroides vittatus). We propose that reproductive roles have driven sexually dimorphic body mass in this species which produces sex differences in locomotor performance. Poor locomotor performance in the females (due to the burden of being gravid) favors compensatory aggression as part of an alternative defensive strategy, while male morphology is coadapted to support a sprinting-based defensive strategy. We tested the effects of sex and morphology on stinging and sprinting performance and characterized overall differences between the sexes in aggressiveness towards simulated threats. Greater body mass was associated with higher sting rates and slower sprinting within sexes, which explained the greater aggression of females (the heavier sex) and, along with longer legs in males, the improved sprint performance in males. These findings suggest females are aggressive to compensate for locomotor costs of reproduction while males possess longer legs to enhance sprinting for predator evasion and mate finding. Sexual dimorphism in the metasoma (‘‘tail’’) was unrelated to stinging and sprinting performance and may best be explained by sexual selection.

Reference:
Carlson BE, McGinley S, Rowe MP. Meek Males and Fighting Females: Sexually-Dimorphic Antipredator Behavior and Locomotor Performance Is Explained by Morphology in Bark Scorpions (Centruroides vittatus). PLoS One. 2014;9(5):e97648. [Free full text]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this paper!