25 August, 2016

A major review of the Parabuthus of the Horn of Africa

Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have recently published a major review of the scorpions in the genus Parabuthus Pocock, 1890 (Buthidae) distributed in the countries constituting the Horn of Africa.

The major findings of this study are:

Two new species from Ethiopia.

Parabuthus hamar Kovarik, Lowe, Pliskova & Stahlavsky, 2016
Parabuthus kajibu Kovarik, Lowe, Pliskova & Stahlavsky, 2016

Parabuthus abyssinicus Pocock, 1901 is raised from subspecies status (previously Parabuthus liosoma abyssinicus Pocock, 1901).

The genus Riftobuthus Lourenco, Duhem & Cloudsley-Thompson, 2010 from Kenya is synonymized with Parabuthus Pocock, 1890 and the only species in the genus, Parabuthus inexpectatus Lourenco, Duhem & Cloudsley-Thompson, 2010 is synonymized with Parabuthus pallidus Pocock, 1895.

The Parabuthus liosoma complex is split into three sibling species with separate areas of distribution:  Parabuthus liosoma Ehrenberg, 1828 is now restricted to Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Parabuthus abyssinicus is restricted to Eritrea, Djibouti, central and north-eastern parts of Ethiopia, and Parabuthus maximus Werner, 1913 is distributed to Kenya and Tanzania. The latter decision has greater implications as this means that most Parabuthus liosoma in the pet trade now is actually P. maximus.

This article has great color pictures of both live specimens and morphological details, and also comes with an identification key for the genus in the region.

All Parabuthus species from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somaliland were newly collected and are revised for the first time. The complex of Parabuthus liosoma is split into three sibling species with separate areas of distribution: P. abyssinicus Pocock, 1901 (Eritrea, Djibouti, central and north-eastern parts of Ethiopia), P. liosoma (Ehrenberg, 1828) (Yemen and Saudi Arabia), and P. maximus Werner, 1913 (Tanzania and Kenya). P. hamar sp. n. and P. kajibu sp. n., discovered during scorpiological expeditions in 2011–2016, are described. Information is provided about all Parabuthus species from the Horn of Africa, their taxonomy, distribution, and ecology, fully com-plemented with color photos of live and preserved specimens, as well as their habitat. The hemispermatophores of P. abyssinicus and P. kajibu sp. n. are illustrated and described. In addition to the analyses of external morphology and hemispermatophores, we also describe the karyotypes of P. abyssinicus (2n=16), P. kajibu sp. n. (2n=18), and P. pallidus (2n=20). The monotypic genus Riftobuthus Lourenço, Duhem et Cloudsley-Thompson, 2010 is synonymized with Parabuthus, based in part on pectinal tooth count analysis. Phylogenetic scaling and ontogenetic invariance of pectinal tooth count are shown for buthid scorpions. 

Kovarik F, Lowe G, Pliskova J, Stahlavsky F. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part VII. Parabuthus Pocock, 1890 (Buthidae), with Description of P. hamar sp. n. and P. kajibu sp. n. from Ethiopia. Euscorpius. 2016(228):1-58. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

17 August, 2016

A rare case of leucism in scorpions

The existence of different color patterns within the same species is well known in many scorpion species (e.g. "light morph" and "dark morph") and has been linked to environmental factors like predator defense etc. Albinism is an extreme form of color pattern morph where color pigments are absent, but this is almost non-existent in scorpions (only reported in one species). Some animals show a partial hypopigmentary congenital disorder called leucism (partial loss of pigmentation), and Andre Lira and co-workers have recently reported about this phenomena in a female Tityus pusillus Pocock, 1893 from Brazil.

Leucism is a congenital disorder in which the individual is born with partial hypopigmentation. It is quite common in vertebrates, but rare in invertebrates, especially in arachnids like scorpions. This paper presents the first record of this congenital disorder to be observed in the order Scorpiones. During field studies in the Area de Conserva¸c˜ao Aldeia- Beberibe, a set of Atlantic forest fragments of 31,634 hectares, we collected a pregnant leucistic female Tityus pusillus Pocock, 1893. In this female, the variegated pattern described for the species was a lighter color than normal. The animal produced 10 normal juveniles (not leucistics). In addition, we analyzed 1,164 specimens from 17 populations deposited in the CA-UFPE to verify the frequency of leucism; there were no scorpions with leucism within the analyzed populations. Thus, a break in variegated pattern, as with the leucism described in this study, may increase the mortality rate due to predation.

Lira AFA, Pordeus LM, Albuquerque CMR. Leucism in Tityus pusillus (Scorpiones: Buthidae): Report of a rare event in scorpions. Journal of Arachnology. 2016;44(2):245-6. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andre Lira for sending me this article!

09 August, 2016

A new Euscorpius described from Sicily, Italy

Gioele Tropea has recently described a new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) from southeastern Sicily.

Euscorpius hyblaeus Tropea, 2016

Euscorpius sicanus (C. L. Koch, 1837) is also known from the island, in addition to the assumed extinct buthid Buthus trinacrius Lourenco & Rossi, 2013.

Until today in Sicily only a species of the genus Euscorpius was recognized, E. sicanus (C. L. Koch, 1837). In this paper a new species of scorpion, Euscorpius hyblaeus sp. .n., is described from this region. It is easily distinguishable from the E. sicanus complex by the trichobotrial series Pe-eb = 4.

Tropea G. A new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 from Sicily, in southern Italy (Scorpiones, Euscorpiidae). Aracnida - Rivista Arachnologica Italiana. 2016;7(2):37-47.

Thanks to Gioele Tropea for sending me his article!

Family Euscorpiidae

03 August, 2016

Distribution and biogeography of the genus Tityobuthus and a new species from Madgascar

Wilson Lourenco and co-workers have recently published an article discussing the distribution and biogeography of the buthid subfamily Ananterinae, with a special focus on the genus Tityobuthus Pocock, 1890.

A new species is described from the ‘Parc National de Lokobe’ on the Island of Nosy-Be, Madagascar.

Tityobuthus lokobe Lourenco, Waeber & Wilme, 2016

New comments are proposed for the Ananterinae (sensu Pocock) or the ‘Ananteris Group’. The worldwide pattern of distribution of the elements associated with the Ananterinae, as well as aspects of their ecology, is discussed. The biogeographic patterns presented by extant and fossil elements of this group confirm not only the characteristics of a lineage representing a typical Gondwanian distribution, but correspond also to older Pangean patterns. One new species is described in the genus Tityobuthus Pocock. This new species is also a possible endemic element to the Island of Nosy-Be or at least to the Sambirano region. Generally, the Madagascar pattern of Tityobuthus is following the Neogrosphus rule, showing typical high species richness with low dispersal when the ancestral population had a large niche breadth.

Lourenco WR, Waeber PO, Wilme L. The geographical pattern of distribution of the genus Tityobuthus Pocock, 1890, a typical Ananterinae element endemic to Madagascar (Scorpiones: Buthidae). C R Biol. 2016. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

01 August, 2016

Scorpion of medical importance and their identification

Scorpions are quite a diverse group with 2301 species around the world (pr 01.08.16). Even though infamous, most scorpions are quite harmless and perhaps around 50 species can cause death or serious morbidity in humans.

The challenge in scorpion sting cases is the correct identification of the scorpion involved. Incomplete identification or misidentification happens, and in some cases this can cause inefficacy in the treatment of the symptoms caused by a dangerous species (or even worsen the outcome).

In a recent article, Wilson Lourenco attempts to explain and elucidate a number of common problems in scorpion identification, taxonomy, distribution and biogeography. The article is written in a language making it possible for non-zoologists to understand and in this way increasing the knowledge about scorpions for both professionals and amateurs. Hopefully, this will also be a tool for those treating scorpion sting patients.

The aim of this contribution is to bring general information on the classification and in particular on the specific identification of scorpion species dangerous to humans. Several generic groups are taken into consideration, but the Neotropical genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 is used as a major example. The content of this paper is mostly addressed to non-specialists whose research embraces scorpions in several fields such as venom toxins and public health. Although efforts have been made in the last 20 years to create better links between ‘true scorpion experts’ and non-specialists who use scorpions in their research, such exchanges had never led to a consensus among those different branches of biological and medical research. Consequently, many cases of species misidentification and even more serious errors concerning scorpion classification/identification are often present in the specialized literature. In conclusion, it is suggested here that the frequent cases of misidentification observed in several reports may induce mistakes in the final interpretation of results, leading only to more inefficacity in the treatment of problems caused by infamous scorpion species.

Lourenco WR. Scorpion incidents, misidentification cases and possible implications for the final interpretation of results. J Venom Anim Toxins Incl Trop Dis. 2016;22:1. [Open Access]

28 July, 2016

A new vaejovid genus from Northern California, USA

Michael Soleglad recently published an article presenting the new genus Graemeloweus Soleglad, Fet, Graham & Ayrey, 2016 (Vaejovidae) from Northern California. The following species are transferred from the genus Pseudouroctonus Stanke, 1974 (Vaejovidae) to the new genus:

Graemeloweus glimmei (Hjelle, 1972)
Graemeloweus ivei (Gertsch & Soleglad, 1972)
Graemeloweus maidu (Savary et Bryson, 2016)

An identification key for the new genus is included.

Genus Graemeloweus, gen. nov. (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) is described from northern California, USA. The genus is composed of three species formerly placed in Pseudouroctonus: Graemeloweus iviei (Gertsch et Soleglad, 1972), comb. nov. (type species), G. glimmei (Hjelle, 1972), comb. nov., and G. maidu (Savary et Bryson, 2016), comb. nov. Major diagnostic characters of Graemeloweus include a non-bifurcated primary lamellar hook, the presence of a secondary lamellar hook, a complex mating plug with a two part base and an asymmetric crescent-shape barb, and the presence of a well-developed ventromedian (V2) carina on the pedipalp chela. Evidence is presented suggesting that Graemeloweus is more closely related to Kovarikia than Pseudouroctonus.

Soleglad ME, Fet V, Graham MR, Ayrey RF. Graemeloweus, a New Scorpion Genus from Northern California, USA (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius. 2016(227):1-38. [Open Access]

Family Vaejovidae

27 July, 2016

A new species of Buthus from Sudan

Andrea Rossi and Gioele Tropea have recently published a new species of Buthus Leach, 1815 (Buthidae) from the coast of the Red Sea in Sudan.

Buthus duprei Rossi & Tropea, 2016

The presence of the genus Buthus Leach, 1815 in Sudan was recently discussed and two species were reported from the country, Buthus karoraensis Rossi et Tropea, 2016 and Buthus brignolii Lourenco, 2003. Now a third species, Buthus duprei sp. n., is described from the coast of the Red sea.

Rossi A, Tropea G. A complementary study on the genus Buthus Leach, 1815 in Sudan with the description of a new species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Aracnida - Rivista Arachnologica Italiana. 2016;8(2):24-31.

Thanks to Andrea Rossi for sending me this article!

Family Buthidae