02 May, 2016

New information on the "giant" scorpions of West Africa protected by Cites

Very large scorpions have been reported from West Africa since the 19th century. Large size and docile behavior made these "gentle giants" popular in the pet trade for many years, causing them to be put on the CITES list, Appendix II in 1996 because their vulnerable status caused by exportation for the pet trade, especially to Europe, the USA and Japan.

The taxonomy and the distribution of the "giant" scorpions has been little known. In the beginning, only Pandinus imperator (C. L. Koch, 1841) was known. I recent years, investigations have added four more species in the "giant scorpions of West Africa" group: Pandinopsis dictator Pocock, 1888, Pandinus
Pocock, 1900, Pandinus roeseli (Simon, 1872) and Pandinus ulderigoi Rossi, 2014.

Andrea Rossi has now published a paper presenting new information on some of the species mentioned above and an identification key for the "giant" species is also presented. Rossi also recommend that Pandinus ulderigoi Rossi, 2014 is added to the CITES protection list (the other species are already protected by CITES).

Discoveries of new species of giant scorpion (more than 14 cm in total length) are considered extremely rare. Among the largest scorpions in the world there are some species from West Africa, very popular in the pet trade and, for this reason, protected by the Washington Convention (CITES). Besides the three well-known protected species – Pandinus imperator (C. L. Koch, 1841), Pandinopsis dictator (Pocock, 1888) and Pandinus gambiensis Pocock, 1900 – a fourth giant species, Pandinus ulderigoi Rossi, 2014, was recently described from a supposedly unknown locality in the Central African Republic. Unpublished notes, just discovered, allow clarification of the exact type locality of this species. Besides newly examined material from the type locality, representative of both sexes, allows better definition of the characters of this species including its unusual trichobothrial pattern. A fifth giant species, Pandinus roeseli (Simon, 1872), recently revalidated from Pandinus imperator, is automatically included among the protected species. In light of the vulnerable status, the similar general appearance, the possibly restricted and continuous distribution with regards to the four protected species as well as the recent import suspension of P. imperator from Ghana, P. ulderigoi should be added to the Pandinus species protected by the Washington Convention.

Rossi A. Clarification of the type locality of Pandinus ulderigoi with notes on the scorpions protected by CITES (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae). [Proceedings of the 28th European Congress of Arachnology, Torino, 2014 August 24-29]. Arachnologische Mitteilungen. 2015;49:47-54. [Open Access]

Thanks to Andrea Rossi for sending me his article!

Family Scorpionidae

28 April, 2016

A new Scorpio species from southern Algeria

Wilson Lourenco and Andrea Rossi have recently described a new species of Scorpio Linnaeus, 1758 (Scorpionidae) from the Tassili N’Ajjer Mountains in South Algeria.

Scorpio tassili Lourenco & Rossi, 2016

In recent publications about the genus Scorpio Linnaeus, 1758, it was suggested that the population previously cited from the Tassili N’Ajjer Mountains in the South of Algeria, could represent a distinct species. Intensive investigation in the collections of the Natural History Museum in Paris, led to the location of the only known specimen collected by F. Bernard in 1949. The present study of this female specimen confirms its position as a new species of Scorpio and, curiously, shows that the Tassili N’Ajjer population seems to have more affinities with S. niger Lourenço & Cloudsley-Thompson, 2012 known from Niger than to S. punicus Fet, 2000, distributed in the high plateaus of Tunisia and North of Algeria. The new species is described here and, as in previous studied cases, the Saharan Massifs prove to be very important endemic centres within the Sahara desert.

Lourenco WR, Rossi A. Confirmation of a new species of Scorpio Linnaeus, 1758 in the Tassili N’Ajjer Mountains, South Algeria (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae). Onychium. 2016;12:11-8.[Open Access]

Family Scorpionidae

27 April, 2016

First report of pectine malformations in the genus Euscorpius

Body malformations and anomalies in scorpions are reported from time to time, but are generally quite rare. One of the most famous cases was Pepe - The two-tailed scorpion (a Centruroides excilicauda with two tails). In a recent article, Miroslav Saric and Jovana Tomic report about malformed pectines in a scorpion in the genus Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae).

Teratology in Scorpions is discussed.

A teratological change in a pectinal organ of Euscorpius cf. carpathicus (C. L. Koch, 1837) from Serbia had been examined using SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy), and compared to specimens with normally developed pectines. Possible reasons for this anomaly are discussed.

Šarić M, Tomić J. The first record of malformed pectines in genus Euscorpius (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Euscorpius. 2016 (221):1-10. [Open Access]

Thanks to Miroslav Saric for informing me about their article!

26 April, 2016

A new species of Pseudouroctonus from northern California, USA

Warren E. Savary and Robert W. Bryson Jr have recently published a new species of Pseudouroctonus Stahnke, 1974 (Vaejovidae) from northern California.

Pseudouroctonus maidu Savary & Bryson Jr, 2016

A new species of vaejovid scorpion from northern California, Pseudouroctonus maidu sp. n., is named and described. This new species appears to be most similar to Pseudouroctonus iviei (Gertsch & Soleglad, 1972) and Pseudouroctonus glimmei (Hjelle, 1972).

Savary WE, Bryson Jr RW. Pseudouroctonus maidu, a new species of scorpion from northern California (Scorpiones, Vaejovidae). ZooKeys. 2016 (584):49-59. [Open Access]

Family Vaejovidae

22 April, 2016

A new species of Buthus from East Africa

Andrea Rossi and Gioele Tropea has recently published a paper discussing the presence of Buthus Leach, 1815 (Buthidae) in East Africa. A new species is described from the Eritrean enclave Karora. The distribution of Buthus in Sudan is also discussed.

Buthus karoraensis Rossi & Tropea, 2016 (Eritrea, but probably also present in Sudan)

The presence of the genus Buthus Leach, 1815 in Sudan is discussed and a new species, Buthus karoraensis sp. n., is described on the base of eight specimens from Karora, an Eritrean enclave within Sudan. Although the new species is almost surely present also in Sudan, actually the only known species remains Buthus brignolii Lourenço, 2003.

Rossi A, Tropea G. On the presence of the genus Buthus Leach, 1815 in Sudan with the description of a new species from the enclave of Karora (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Onychium. 2016;12:3-10.[Open Access]

Thanks to Andrea Rossi for sending me this article!

Family Buthidae

Yet another new species of Euscorpius from southwestern Turkey

Gioele Tropea and co-workers have recently described a new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) from Mount Honaz in southwestern Turkey, raising the number of Turkish species in the genus to 14.

Euscorpius honazicus Tropea, Yagmur, Karampatsou, Parmakelis & Yesilyurt, 2016

A new species of scorpion, Euscorpius honazicus sp. n., is described from Mount Honaz, in the province of Denizli, in southwestern Turkey, based on morphological and molecular evidence, increasing to 14 the Euscorpius species currently recognized in Turkey.

Tropea G, Yagmur EA, Karampatsou L, Parmakelis A, Yesilyurt F. A New Species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 from Mount Honaz in Southwestern Turkey (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Euscorpius. 2016 (222):1-14. [Open Access]

Family Euscorpiidae

14 April, 2016

Parthenogenetic reproduction reported for the buthid Pseudolychas ochraceus

Partogenetic reproduction has been reported for several scorpion species, but not all observations have been made under controlled circumstances. Francke (2008) proposed that the parturition of a captive isolated female collected immature in the wild is the minimal evidence required to conclude that a scorpion species is parthenogenetic.

Seiter, Schramm and Barthel have now published a research note demonstrating true parthenogenesis in the South African buthid Pseudolychas ochraceus (Hirst, 1911).

Of all scorpion species described to date, only a small fraction are known to reproduce without fertilization by a male, instead producing offspring by parthenogenesis. Here we show that isolated females of the buthid Pseudolychas ochraceus (Hirst, 1911) are capable of parthenogenetic reproduction and we provide data on the postembryonic growth of this species.

Seiter M, Schramm FD, Barthel A. The South African scorpion Pseudolychas ochraceus (Hirst, 1911) (Scorpiones: Buthidae) can reproduce by parthenogenesis. Journal of Arachnology. 2016; 44: 85-87. [Subscription required for full text]