31 January, 2013

Five pairs of lateral eyes in buthids more common than previously known

Most scorpions have two median eyes, while the number of lateral eyes varies among different major groups. Many species in the large family Buthidae have been diagnosed with three pairs of lateral eyes.

Xiaofeng Yang and co-workers present now a study showing that a majority of studied species have five pairs of  lateral eyes in stead of three. The taxonomical impact of this discovery is discussed.

This study reports the results of a re-analysis of the number of lateral eyes in extant buthids. Specimens studied were confined mostly to those from China and the adjacent areas. 353 specimens belonging to 20 species (subspecies) and 8 genera were rechecked and found to have 5 pairs of lateral eyes contrary to earlier published works which reported the presence of 3 pairs of lateral eyes only. Combined with reported examples collected through reference investigation including 63 species from 16 genera, our study here shows a total of 79 species from 21 genera of scorpions spanning Asia and Africa had 5 pairs of lateral eyes. Reasons for not observing the presence of the extra lateral eyes are discussed and new protocols for examining specimens including using UV light are proposed to aid lateral eye recognition. Besides, a majority of genera in Buthidae are suggested to be in ‘‘Five-eye’’ model and a re-examination of all previously published taxonomic studies of buthid species is highly recommended.

Yang XF, Norma-Rashid Y, Lourenco WR, Zhu MS. True lateral eye numbers for extant buthids: A new discovery on an old character. PLoS One. 2013;8(1):1-10. [Free full text]

Thanks to Xiaofeng Yang for sending me his paper!

No comments: