12 February, 2016

An update on scorpionism in Ecuador

Previously it has been assumed that Ecuadorian scorpions have had low public health importance, but a study published by Adolfo Borges and co-workers late last year present several severe and fatal sting cases from Ecuador. The species involved in the serious cases was Tityus asthenes Pocock, 1893 (Buthidae).

The presence in rural areas of western Ecuador of scorpions in the genus Tityus capable of producing pediatric mortality is hereby evidenced. The medical significance of scorpions in Ecuador has been underestimated partly because of the clinically unimportant stings delivered by Centruroides margaritatus and Teuthraustes atramentarius, which have venom with low toxicity to vertebrates. Five intradomiciliary cases of scorpion envenoming in victims aged between 1.9 and 16 years old, including one fatality, are reported from rural settings in forest areas of Chone (n ¼ 2) and Flavio Alfaro (n ¼ 3) counties, northern Manabí province, western Ecuador. Three cases were graded as Class II (moderate) and two in Class III (severe) envenoming. Manifestations showed characteristic autonomic nervous system hyper-stimulation and the fatality (a 1.9-year-old boy from Flavio Alfaro) was due to cardiorespiratory failure. Marked leukocytosis in four of the cases (21,800e31,800 cells/mm3), with notable neutrophilia (58e82%), suggests induction of a venom-mediated systemic inflammatory response-like syndrome. Specimens responsible for cases in Flavio Alfaro County, including the fatality, were classified as Tityus asthenes Pocock, accountable for severe scorpionism in Colombia. These findings demand implementation of control and therapeutic measures in affected areas in Ecuador, including evaluation of available scorpion antivenoms.

Borges A, Morales M, Loor W, Delgado M. Scorpionism in Ecuador: First report of severe and fatal envenoming cases from northern Manabí by Tityus asthenes Pocock. Toxicon. 2015;105:56-61. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks a lot to Dr. Borges for sending me his article!

09 February, 2016

DNA barcoding indicates hidden diversity of Euscorpius in Turkey

For many years, only two species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) were reported from Turkey. Today, we list 12 valid species from Turkey. Victor Fet and co-workers have now published an article were they have studied the phylogenetic relationships of some additional Anatolian Euscorpius populations using molecular markers. The results confirm the validity of several existing species (previously only described by morphological methods), but also show the presence of undescribed taxonomic forms, possibly of species level.

The Anatolian fauna of the genus Euscorpius (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) is in the process of reassessment. Twelve species of this genus are currently recognized for Anatolia, of which seven have been recently described on the basis of morphology. We demonstrate additional cryptic diversity in Anatolian Euscorpius by applying molecular markers (mitochondrial COI and 16S rDNA genes) from 14 populations, of which 13 were morphologically characterized by “em=3,” a phenotypic marker on the pedipalp patella. All studied Anatolian forms are strongly supported as a single clade compared to the European (from the Alps to the Balkans) taxa of the subgenus Alpiscorpius. Of these, six are assigned to known species (E. ciliciensis, E. mingrelicus, E. eskisehirensis, E. phrygius, and E. uludagensis); and two (Ankara and Sakarya) are closely related to a clade containing E. phrygius and E. uludagensis. Four clades represent undescribed taxonomic forms, possibly of species level: Balikesir/Canakkale (Kazdağları National Park), Konya, Denizli, and Trabzon, all with em=3. Another putative species from Kayseri Province, Aladağlar (=Antitaurus) Mts., is related to (E. ciliciensis + E. eskisehirensis) clade; however, it exhibits em=4, which appears to be the first case of reversal in this important trait for the genus Euscorpius.

Fet V, Graham MR, Blagoev G, Karatas A, Karatas A. DNA Barcoding Indicates Hidden Diversity of Euscorpius (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) in Turkey. Euscorpius. 2016 (216):1-12. [Open Access]

Family Euscorpiidae

08 February, 2016

A checklist of the scorpions in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History (Sofia, Bulgaria)

Frantisek Kovarik and Petar Beron have recently published an article summing up the results after investigating and identifiying the scorpions deposited in the collection of NMNH (Sofia, Bulgaria).

The scorpions deposited in the collection of NMNH (Sofia) are identified and revised. The collection contains 61 species of 34 genera and ten families (Bothriuridae, Buthidae, Chaerilidae, Diplocentridae, Euscorpiidae, Liochelidae, Iuridae, Caraboctonidae, Scorpionidae, and Vaejovidae), incl. the holotype and paratypes of Euscorpius deltshevi, the holotype and paratypes of Euscorpius drenskii, the holotype and paratypes of Euscorpius popovi Tropea et al., paratype of Chaerilus tyznai Kov., holotype and paratype of E. beroni Fet, 2000, topotypes of Butheoloides charlotteae Lourenço, 2000 and specimens of the recently described Euscorpiops problematicus (Kovařík, 2000). They were collected mostly by P. Beron and identified mostly by F. Kovařík and V. Fet and come from 34 countries: Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Romania, Greece, Montenegro, Turkey, Italy (incl. Sardinia), France (incl. Corsica), USA, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Nigeria, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Iran, China (incl. Tibet), Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea.

Kovarik F, Beron P. A checklist of the scorpions (Arachnida, Scorpiones) in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History (Sofia). Historia Naturalis Bulgarica. 2015;22:37-44.

Thanks to Frantisek Kovarik and Petar Beron for sending me this article!

05 February, 2016

An analysis of the genus Uroplectes in Ethiopia

Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have recently published an article discussing the status of Uroplectes Peters, 1861 and Uroplectoides Lourenco, 1998 (Buthidae) in Ethiopia. Based on new analysis and new materials, the following main conclusions have been made:

Uroplectoides Lourenco, 1998 is synonymized with Uroplectes Peters, 1861.

Uroplectoides abyssinicus Lourenco, 1998 is synonymized with Uroplectes fischeri (Karsch, 1879).

Uroplectoides emiliae  (Werner, 1916) is changed to Uroplectes emiliae (Werner, 1916)

All data about the distribution of Uroplectes fischeri (Karsch, 1879) in Ethiopia and Somalia are summarized. U. fischeri is fully illustrated with color photos of habitus and locality. Uroplectoides abyssinicus Lourenço, 1998 is discussed and synonymized with U. fischeri. Genus Uroplectoides Lourenço, 1998 is synonymized with Uroplectes Peters, 1861. Hemispermatophore of U. fischeri was extracted and illustrated for the first time. In addition to mor-phological analysis we also describe the karyotype of male U. fischeri from Ethiopia (2n=28).

Kovarik F, Lowe G, Hoferek D, Pliskova J, Stahlavsky F. Scorpions of Ethiopia. Part IV. Genus Uroplectes Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones : Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2016 (217):1-14. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

27 January, 2016

The vaejovid Pseudouroctonus peccatum is rediscovered after habitat destruction

Richard Ayrey have recently published the result of several field trips to Spring Mountains, Nevada (USA) where the aim was to check the population status of the scorpion Pseudouroctonus peccatum Tate, Riddle, Soleglad & Graham, 2013. In spite of several fires that have destroyed much of the habitat of the species, several specimens were found indicating that Pseudouroctonus peccatum is still an extant species.

Shortly after the discovery of Pseudouroctonus peccatum Tate, Riddle, Soleglad et Graham, 2013 (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) there was a large wildfire in the Spring Mountains of Nevada. At the time the species description was published, it was noted that the only known population of this species may have been extirpated by the fire and subsequent flooding of the type locality habitat (Tate et al. 2013). Today it is certain that the species has survived after the collection of 12 new specimens. Additional data on males are also presented.

Ayrey RF. Pseudouroctonus peccatum Tate et al., 2013, Rediscovered. Euscorpius. 2016 (214):1-5. [Open Access]

22 January, 2016

Two new species from the island of Hispaniola, Dominican Republic

Rolando Teruel and co-workers have recently published two new species from the island of Hispaniola, Dominican Republic.

Centruroides altagraciae Teruel, de Armas & Kovarik, 2015 (Buthidae)

Heteronebo barahonae Teruel, de Armas & Kovarik, 2015 (Scorpionidae)

Two new species of scorpions are describe herein from Dominican Republic, in the Greater Antillean island of Hispaniola. The buthid Centruroides altagraciae n.sp. was found in several localities at the eastern tip of the island (La Altagracia province), whereas the diplocentrine Heteronebo barahonae n.sp. was captured at a single site of the northeastern section of the Bahoruco Range (Barahona province). Both taxa are compared in detail with their closest relatives, with abundant illustrations of habitus, main morphologically diagnostic characters and habitat.

Teruel R, de Armas LF, Kovarik F. Two new species of scorpions (Scorpiones: Buthidae, Scorpionidae) from Dominican Republic, Greater Antilles. Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2015 (27):13-33.

Thanks to Dr. Teruel for informing me about this paper!

Family Buthidae
Family Scorpionidae

21 January, 2016

A major review on Mexican scorpions, their biology, distribution and medical importance

Carlos Santibáñez-López and co-workers have recently published an extensive review article summing up the current knowledge on Mexican scorpions. The article covers taxonomy, distribution, biology, venom and medical importance, and is an important work for those interested in the diverse and interesting scorpion fauna of Mexico.

Scorpions are among the oldest terrestrial arthropods, which are distributed worldwide, except for Antarctica and some Pacific islands. Scorpion envenomation represents a public health problem in several parts of the world. Mexico harbors the highest diversity of scorpions in the world, including some of the world’s medically important scorpion species. The systematics and diversity of Mexican scorpion fauna has not been revised in the past decade; and due to recent and exhaustive collection efforts as part of different ongoing major revisionary systematic projects, our understanding of this diversity has changed compared with previous assessments. Given the presence of several medically important scorpion species, the study of their venom in the country is also important. In the present contribution, the diversity of scorpion species in Mexico is revised and updated based on several new systematic contributions; 281 different species are recorded. Commentaries on recent venomic, ecological and behavioral studies of Mexican scorpions are also provided. A list containing the most important peptides identified from 16 different species is included. A graphical representation of the different types of components found in these venoms is also revised. A map with hotspots showing the current knowledge on scorpion distribution and areas explored in Mexico is also provided.

Santibanez-Lopez CE, Francke OF, Ureta C, Possani LD. Scorpions from Mexico: From Species Diversity to Venom Complexity. Toxins (Basel). 2015;8(1). [Open Access]

Thanks to Dr. Santibáñez-López and Carlos Turiel for both sending me this paper!