29 January, 2015

New Vaejovis species from Arizona, USA

Richard Ayrey and Michael Soleglad have described another new species of Vaejovis Thorell, 1876 (Vaejovidae) from southern Arizona, USA.

Vaejovis troupi Ayrey & Soleglad, 2015

A new scorpion species, Vaejovis troupi sp. n., is described and placed in the “vorhiesi” group of the genus Vaejovis. Based on a recent molecular analysis of Bryson et al. (2013), this species is shown to be related to V. vorhiesi and V. grahami. Two of three diagnostic characters found in this new species are the presence of six inner denticles (ID) on the pedipalpal fixed and movable fingers, and a unique arrangement of trichobothria on the external surface of the pedipalp patella. This species was found in an isolated montane habitat in the Whetstone Mountains, Cochise County, Arizona.

Ayrey RF, Soleglad ME. New species of Vaejovis from the Whetstone Mountains, southern Arizona (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius. 2015 (194):1-12. [Open Access]

Family Vaejovidae

07 January, 2015

Three new species and a revision of the Ecuadorian species of Hadruroides

Andrea Rossi has recently published a revision of the mainland species of Hadruroides Pocock, 1893 (Caraboctonidae) in Ecuador. Three new species have been described:

Hadruroides doriai Rossi, 2014
Hadruroides elenae Rossi, 2014
Hadruroides moreti Rossi, 2014

An identification key for mainland species in the genus in Ecuador is presented.

The species of the genus Hadruroides Pocock, 1893 in Ecuador mainland are revised. Three new species related to H. maculatus (Thorell, 1876) are described: H. dorai, H. elenae and H. moreti. The genus Hadruroides is split into two subgenera: the nominal subgenus includes now only one species, H. charcasus (Karsch, 1879), whereas Lourencoides n. subgen. includes all other known species. A new record of H. charcasus in Ecuador is reported. The total number of Hadruroides species in Ecuador mainland is now raised to six and an identification key is given.

Rossi A. A revision of the genus Hadruroides Pocock, 1893 in Ecuador mainland with the description of three new species, the definition of a new subgenus and a new record. Estratto Dagli Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale "G Doria". 2014;106:193-210.

Thanks to Andrea Rossi for sending me this article!

Family Caraboctonidae

06 January, 2015

A new Euscorpius species from Northwestern Greece

Happy New Year!

Frantisek Kovarik, Victor Fet and Michael Soleglad published a new Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) from Northwestern Greece this Christmas.

Euscorpius yagmuri Kovarik, Fet & Soleglad, 2014

A new species Euscorpius yagmuri sp. n., is described from coastal Epirus in northwestern Greece based on morphological evidence. With this new species, the fauna of Euscorpius of Greece now includes 19 species.

Kovarik F, Fet V, Soleglad ME. Euscorpius yagmuri sp. n., a new scorpion species from Epirus, Northwestern Greece (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Euscorpius. 2014 (193):1-11. [Free full text]

Family Euscorpiidae

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!