18 January, 2017

Scorpions inhabiting islands or archipelagos

Gerard Dupre has recently published a literature review listing all scorpion species that inhabit islands or archipelagos around the world. The article is in French.

The scorpions are spread across the continents in various biogeographical zones, confirming their extreme ecological plasticity. However, a number of them are quite deeply rooted outside the continental areas, namely on islands or archipelagos in numerous seas and oceans. We consulted many scientific texts of various authors about their distribution in the islands.

Dupre G. Etude preliminaire de la faune scorpionique insulaire. Aracnida - Rivista Arachnologica Italiana. 2016;2(10, Supplemento):3-80.

Thanks to Gerard for sending me his article!

A checklist of the scorpion fauna of Vietnam

The scorpion fauna of Vietnam has previously received little attention. Dinh-Sac Pham and co-workers have now published a checklist of the scorpion fauna of Vietnam based on the available literature. The aim of the study is to make ready for future taxonomic studies of the scorpions of Vietnam.

In the article the authors raise the subgenus Vietscorpiops (Lourenço and Pham, 2015) (Euscorpiidae) to genus status and the species Scorpiops dentidactylus Lourenço and Pham, 2015 is moved to the new genus (as Vietscorpiops dentidactylus (Lourenço and Pham, 2015) ).

A faunistic inventory is proposed for the known Vietnamese scorpion species. The aim of this contribution is to bring an up-to-date checklist of all known species in Vietnam, prior to a more detailed study of the Vietnamese fauna to be performed by one of the authors (T.- H.T.) in the context of the preparation of a doctoral degree. Final taxonomic decisions should be taken at the end of the doctoral dissertation.

Pham DS, Tran TH, Lourenco WR. Diversity and endemicity in the scorpion fauna of Vietnam. A preliminary synopsis. C R Biol. 2016. [Open Access]

Family Euscorpiidae

17 January, 2017

A review on scorpions living in high altitudes

Some of the Euorpean Euscorpius species can be found in high altitudes with snow in periods of the year. Photo: Stelios Kokkas (C).

Gerard Dupre recently published a literature review summing up the available knowledge on scorpions living in higher altitudes. He found 227 species from 56 genera living at 2000 meters or above (some living permanently in this height, while others having their distribution area touching these heights).

The height record is being held by the bothriurid Orobothirurus huascaran Ochoa, Ojanguren Affilastro, Mattoni & Predini, 2011, found at 4910 meters. A previous record (5560 meters) reported for Pachakutej crassimanus (Maury, 1975) is considered to be erroneous.

Très peu d'études sur les scorpions d'altitude ont été menées. La seule synthèse est celle de Goyffon (1993). Par la suite ce sont des synthèses partielles par région comme par exemple sur les espèces andines (Ochoa, Ojanguren-Affilastro & Prendini, 2011; Mattoni, Ochoa, Ojanguren-Affilastro & Prendini, 2012) ou himalayennes (Zambre, Sanap & Mirza, 2014). Nous avons consulté la presse scientifique de plus de deux siècles pour aboutir à cette synthèse qui ne prétend pas à l'exhaustivité.

Dupre G. Les scorpions d'altitude. Arachnides. 2016(79):20-36.

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me his article!

On the venom of Superstitionia donensis

There has been and is a lot of research on scorpion venoms, but the majority of these studies have been on species in the family Buthidae. Several families are not represented in the venom literature at all. Carlos E. Santibáñez-López and co-workers have now published a study on the venom of the enigmatic scorpion Superstitionia donensis Stahnke, 1940 (Superstitioniidae).

Venom gland transcriptomic and proteomic analyses have improved our knowledge on the diversity of the heterogeneous components present in scorpion venoms. However, most of these studies have focused on species from the family Buthidae. To gain insights into the molecular diversity of the venom components of scorpions belonging to the family Superstitioniidae, one of the neglected scorpion families, we performed a transcriptomic and proteomic analyses for the species Superstitionia donensis. The total mRNA extracted from the venom glands of two specimens was subjected to massive sequencing by the Illumina protocol, and a total of 219,073 transcripts were generated. We annotated 135 transcripts putatively coding for peptides with identity to known venom components available from different protein databases. Fresh venom collected by electrostimulation was analyzed by LC-MS/MS allowing the identification of 26 distinct components with sequences matching counterparts from the transcriptomic analysis. In addition, the phylogenetic affinities of the found putative calcins, scorpines, La1-like peptides and potassium channel toxins were analyzed. The first three components are often reported as ubiquitous in the venom of different families of scorpions. Our results suggest that, at least calcins and scorpines, could be used as molecular markers in phylogenetic studies of scorpion venoms.

Santibanez-Lopez CE, Cid-Uribe JI, Batista CV, Ortiz E, Possani LD. Venom Gland Transcriptomic and Proteomic Analyses of the Enigmatic Scorpion Superstitionia donensis (Scorpiones: Superstitioniidae), with Insights on the Evolution of Its Venom Components. Toxins (Basel). 2016;8(12). [Open Access]

Thanks to Carlos E. Santibáñez-López for sending me their article!

16 January, 2017

Two new species of Razianus from Pakistan

T. Muhammad Tahir and co-workers published an article on the little known genus Razianus Farzanpay, 1987 (Buthidae) in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan last summer. In addition to a redescription of Razianus zarudnyi (Birula, 1903), the paper describes two new species from Pakistan.

Razinaus birulai Tahir, Navidpour & Prendini, 2016 

Razinaus farzanpayi Tahir, Navidpour & Prendini, 2016

An identification key for the four species known from Iraq, Iran and Pakistan is presented.

The scorpion fauna of Pakistan, like that of the rest of the Indian subcontinent, is poorly known and many new species may await discovery. We describe two new species of the buthid genus Razianus Farzanpay, 1987, i.e., Razianus birulai, sp. nov., and Razianus farzanpayi, sp. nov., the first records of this genus from Pakistan, raising the number of species in the genus to four and extending its distribution southeast. In addition, we redescribe the type species, Razianus zarudnyi (Birula, 1903), report the first record from Iraq, extending the distribution of Razianus further west, plot the known locality records of the three species occurring in Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan, and provide a key to their identification.

Muhammad Tahir H, Navidpour S, Prendini L. First reports of Razianus (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Iraq and Pakistan, descriptions of two new species, and redescription of Razianus zarudnyi. American Museum Novitates. 2016(3806):1-26. [Open Access]

Thanks to Joel Hallan for informing me about these two missing species from The Scorpion Files!

Family Buthidae

13 January, 2017

A new species of Pseudouroctonus from Texas, USA

Richard Ayrey and Michael Soleglad have recently described a new species of Pseudouroctonus Stahnke, 1974 (Vaejovidae) from Western Texas, USA.

Pseudouroctonus brysoni Ayrey & Soleglad, 2017

A new species of the “apacheanus” group of genus Pseudouroctonus is described from western Texas, USA, Pseudouroctonus brysoni, sp. nov. This new species is closely related to P. apacheanus (Gertsch et Soleglad, 1972) and two other species recently described from southern Arizona. A combination of morphological differences in the hemispermatophore, the mating plug, and several morphometric-based characters are identified as diagnostic.

Ayrey RF, Soleglad ME. A New Species of the “apacheanus” Group of Genus Pseudouroctonus from Western Texas (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius. 2017(237):1-23. [Open Access]

Family Vaejovidae

11 January, 2017

Two new Euscorpius species from Greece and a redescription of Euscorpius tauricus

The new year starts with more news about the large European scorpion genus Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae). More materials from new locations combined with improved methods in genetics have revealed many new species in the last decade.

In a recent paper Gioele Tropea and co-workers described two new species from the Cyclades Islands, Greece:

Euscorpius amorgensis Tropea, Fet, Parmakelis, Kotsakiozi & Stathi, 2017 (Amorgos Island)

Euscorpius curcici Tropea, Fet, Parmakelis, Kotsakiozi & Stathi, 2017 (Ios and Sikinos Islands)

In addition, investigations revealed that the previous endemic Ukrain Euscorpius tauricus (C. L. Koch, 1837), actually is also found in Cyclades Islands (Greece) and northwestern Anatolia (Turkey). E. tauricus is redescribed. These investigations have also caused the following synonymizations:

Euscorpius rahsenae Yağmur & Tropea, 2013 and Euscorpius carpathicus aegaeus Di Caporiacco, 1950 are both synonymized with E. tauricus (C. L. Koch, 1837).

Euscorpius tauricus (C. L. Koch, 1837) was previously known only from the Crimea Peninsula, Ukraine. We report an unexpected presence of this species in the Cyclades Islands (Greece) and northwestern Anatolia (Turkey). In addition we designate a neotype for this species. We synonymize Euscorpius carpathicus aegaeus Di Caporiacco, 1950 syn. n., from Antiparos Island and Euscorpius rahsenae Yağmur et Tropea, 2013 syn. n., from Anatolia, with E. tauricus. In addition, we describe two new species related to E. tauricus, from the Cyclades Islands: E. curcici sp. n., from Ios and Sikinos Islands, and E. amorgensis sp. n., from Amorgos Island. Identity and level of divergence of these taxa is confirmed by multiple DNA markers.

Tropea G, Fet V, Parmakelis A, Kotsakiozi P, Stathi I. Redescription of Euscorpius tauricus (C.L. Koch, 1837), with the description of two new related species from Greece (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Ecol Mont. 2017;7:614-38. [Open Access]

Thanks to Gioele Tropea for sending me their paper!

Family Euscorpiidae