10 September, 2019

New pictures in The Scorpion Files gallery


Unfortunately, I do not have the time to take many scorpion pictures myself, but fortunately I regularly get sent pictures from scorpion enthusiasts to be used in The Scorpion Files Gallery. Recently, I have added more than 40 high quality pictures that have been donated to The Scorpion Files by Japanese scorpion enthusiast Kawai Kazusa. You can find the pictures by searching for his name in the gallery. A big thanks to Kawai for sharing his pictures with us!

Please note that the species identifications in The Scorpion Files Gallery may not be correct for all pictures. Picture identification is very difficult, and sometimes a 100% identification is not possible. The taxonomy of all taxa in the gallery may also not be updated. This is a work in progress, but given less priority than the species files.

Jan Ove Rein
Editor

The scorpion Files Gallery

09 September, 2019

New information on the super-rare scorpion Pectinibuthus birulai from Turkmenistan


Victor Fet and co-workers recently published an article on the very rare and enigmatic, psammophile scorpion Pectinibuthus birulai Fet, 1984 (Buthidae) from Turkmenistan. The original types of this species are probably lost and today the species is known from just one specimen. This specimen is designated as neotype.

The specimen is described and detailed pictures are provided. P. birulai is a psammohile scorpion and some aspects of the morphology of psammophile scorpions are discussed. The biogeography of this species is also discussed.

Abstract:
A neotype is designated for a very rare Central Asian scorpion, Pectinibuthus birulai Fet, 1984, the sole species of the genus Pectinibuthus Fet, 1984. It is the only currently known specimen, collected by Victor Fet in July 1985, and deposited in ZISP (St. Petersburg, Russia). The original types are considered lost. Detailed photographs of the neotype are provided, as well as comments on this unique psammophile buthid. We also discuss and compare pectinal tooth counts of psammophile scorpions relative to other scorpions.

Reference:
Fet V, Kovarik F, Lowe G. Neotype designation for Pectinibuthus birulai Fet, 1984 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Turkmenistan, with remarks on pectine teeth of psammophile scorpions. Euscorpius. 2019(286):1-14. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

06 September, 2019

An updated edition of Conspectus Genericus Scorpionorum


Oscar Francke has published a new edition of Conspectus Genericus Scorpionorum, which is a list of all genus and subgenus names introduced for all recent and fossil scorpions from 1758–2018. This work is based on previous edition made by Francke (1985) and Dupré (2007).

I refer to the abstract and the paper for further details! NB! Please note that The Scorpion Files' list of valid genera has not yet been compared to the Conspectus Genericus Scorpionorum and updated. This will take some time and will be done in the weeks to come.

Abstract:
Genus and subgenus names introduced for all Recent and fossil scorpions from 1758–2018, are listed. The treatment follows the Conspectus of Francke (1985) and Dupré (2007) with considerable additional information accumulated during intensive scorpiological research of 2006–2018. The list also includes all available generic and subgeneric synonyms, incorrect spellings and unavailable emendations. For Recent taxa the new totals are 19 families compared to only nine in the first Conspectus, 220 genera with an increase of almost 100 from the first version, and 23 subgenera; for fossil taxa there are 43 families and 80 genera, 12 of which are incertae sedis. The type species of all accepted genus-group names are given.

Reference:
Francke OF. Conspectus Genericus Scorpionorum 1758–1985 (Arachnida: Scorpiones) updated through 2018. Zootaxa. 2019;4657(1):1-56. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Oscar for sending me his article!


27 August, 2019

A revision of the Colombian Tityus with the description of a new species



Jairo A. Moreno-González and co-workers have recently published a revision of the Tityus fauna of Colombia (Buthidae). One new species is described and two species are synonymized.

Tityus guane Moreno-Gonzalez, Gonzalez O & Florez D, 2019
 
Tityus betschi Lourenço, 1992 is synonymized with Tityus parvulus Kraepelin, 1914, and Tityus wayuu Rojas-Runjaic & Armas, 2007 is synonymized with Tityus tayrona Lourenço, 1991.

The article has an identification key for the Colombian Tityus.

Abstract:
We present a taxonomic revision of the Colombian Tityus (Archaeotityus) species based on morphological and morphometric evidence. We examined more than 385 specimens and evaluated new and previously used qualitative and quantitative morphological characters. We redescribe the Colombian species and present morphological characters for both sexes and an emended diagnosis for the subgenus Tityus (Archaeotityus). We describe a new species Tityus guane sp. nov. from Santander department, Colombia, Tityus betschi Lourenço 1992 is synonymized with Tityus parvulus Kraepelin, 1914, and Tityus wayuu Rojas-Runjaic & Armas, 2007 is synonymized with Tityus tayrona Lourenço, 1991. We measured 186 specimens and performed a multivariate principal component analysis (PCA) for 34 selected morphometric ratios for each sex. We found that a few morphological ratios support species level distinctions within the Colombian species. We provide updated distributional maps with new records and an identification key for both sexes. Furthermore, we provide an updated checklist for the subgenus and a discussion about the character systems used within Tityus (Archaeotityus). The new morphological characters proposed and the traditional morphometry examined with a PCA are useful for studying Tityus (Archaeotityus) taxonomy.

Reference:
Moreno-Gonzalez JA, Gonzalez O R, Florez D E. Taxonomic revision of the Colombian Tityus (Archaeotityus) (Scorpiones, Buthidae) species: a morphological and morphometric approach, with a description of a new species. Zootaxa. 2019;4660(1):1-94. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Jairo A. Moreno-González for sending me their article!

Family Buthidae






16 August, 2019

Resurrection of the Malagasy family Microcharmidae and a description of three new Microcharmus species


The small soil living species in the genus Microcharmus Lourenço, 1995 and Neoprotobuthus Lourenço, 2000 have been placed in the family Buthidae since 2008, when Volschenk et al. rejected Lourenco's family status for these two genera. Wilson Lourenco and co-workers have now published an article re-validating the family status of the family Microcharmidae and transferring relevant taxa back from Buthidae.

Three new species of Microcharmus are also described from Madagascar.

Microcharmus andrei Lourenço, Waeber & Wilme, 2019

Microcharmus antongil Lourenço, Waeber & Wilme, 2019

Microcharmus djangoa  Lourenço, Waeber & Wilme, 2019

The biogeography of the genus Microcharmus is also discussed.

Abstract:
A more up to date biogeographic analysis of the patterns of distribution presented by the scorpions of the family Microcharmidae Lourenço 1 996 are presented. This family is revalidated here based on numerous morphological characters. This Malagasy group of scorpions is represented by two genera, Microcharmus Lourenço 1 995 and Neoprotobuthus Lourenço 2000 both endemic to the Island. The family Microcharmidae seems to be restricted to dry and wet forests formations in the northern and northwestern portions of the island. Here we describe three species new to science: Microcharmus andrei sp. n., Microcharmus antongil sp. n. and Microcharmus djangoa sp. n. The distribution of these new species seems to be restricted to the northern range of Madagascar, in habitats ranging from dry to wet forests, confirming therefore the patterns previously observed.

Reference:
Lourenco WR, Waeber PO, Wilme L. Additions to the geographical distribution of the Malagasy family Microcharmidae Lourenço 1 996 (Scorpiones: Buthoidea) and description of three new species of Microcharmus Lourenço, 1995. Madagascar Conservation & Development. 2019;14(1):IN PRESS. [Open Access]

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for informing me about this article!

Family Microcharmidae

13 August, 2019

A new species of Catalinia from California, USA



Riolando Teruel and Brandon Myers just published a new article with the description of a new species in the small genus Catalinia Soleglad, Ayrey, Graham & Fet, 2017 (Vaejovidae) from southern California, USA.

Catalinia ayreyi Teruel & Myers, 2019

Abstract:
Herein we describe a new species of the vaejovid scorpion genus Catalinia Soleglad, Ayrey, Graham & Fet, 2017. It was collected in a single locality of the northwestern foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. It is most closely related to both Catalinia andreas (Gertsch & Soleglad, 1972) and C. minima (Kraepelin, 1911), but is clearly distinguished by tegumentary sculpture, morphometric ratios and pectinal tooth counts. The new species is described and illustrated in detail, with some ecological data included; moreover, a minor correction is introduced to the diagnosis of the genus.

Reference:
Teruel R, Myers B. A new species of Catalinia Soleglad et al., 2017 (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) from southern California, USA. Euscorpius. 2019(285):1-15. [Open Access]

Family Vaejovidae

09 August, 2019

There and back again: Diplocentridae is back as a family in The Scorpion Files


For more than a decade, Diplocentridae and the taxa within have been considered a subfamily (Diplocentrinae) within Scorpionidae. This, and other decisions about the higher systmatics of scorpions by Fet & Soleglad have been critized by some researchers, while others supported their deccisions. The scorpion Files' family structure have mainly been following Fet & Soleglad, 2005.

In the last years, several publications have provided support for the family status of Diplocentridae. Based on these and the advice from scorpion taxonomists that regularly comments and advices me on The Scorpion Files, I have decided to implement Diplocentridae as a family in The Scorpion Files. Hopefully, future studies will clarify the status of other scorpion familes and their relations and that a consensus can be achived for higher scorpion taxonomy.

Selected References:

Santibanez-Lopez C, Gonzalez-Santillan E, Monod L, Sharma PP. Phylogenomics facilitates stable scorpion systematics: Reassessing the relationships of Vaejovidae and a new high-level classification of Scorpiones (Arachnida). Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2019;135:22-30.

Santibanez Lopez CE, Kriebel R, Sharma PP. Eadem figura manet: Measuring morphological convergence in diplocentrid scorpions (Arachnida : Scorpiones : Diplocentridae) under a multilocus phydlogenetic framework. Invertebrate Systematics. 2017;31:233-48.

Sharma PP, Fernández R, Esposito LA, González-Santillán E, Monod L. Phylogenomic resolution of scorpions reveals multilevel discordance with morphological phylogenetic signal. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 2015;282(1804):1-10.

Fet V, Soleglad ME. Contributions to scorpion systematics. I. On recent changes in high-level taxonomy. Euscorpius. 2005(31):1-13.

Thanks a lot to all of you that support the Scorpion Files with articles, comments and advices! The project is not possible without you.

Family Diplocentridae

06 August, 2019

A new species of Vaejovis from Arizona, USA


Richard Ayrey & Brandon Myers recently described a new species of Vaejovis C.L. Koch, 1836 (Vaejovidae) from the Galiuro Mountains, southern Arizona, USA.

Vaejovis stetsoni Ayrey & Myers, 2019

Abstract:
A new scorpion species, Vaejovis stetsoni sp. n. is described from Galiuro Mountains, Graham County, Arizona. This is the smallest species of the “vorhiesi” group discovered so far, most similar to V. brysoni Ayrey & Webber. The pedipalp fixed finger has five ID denticles and the movable finger has six, like in most other southern Arizona Vaejovis. The most unique characteristics of this species are its small size (18.35 mm) and a large subaculear tubercle.

Reference:
Ayrey RF, Myers B. A new “vorhiesi” group species of Vaejovis from the Galiuro Mountains, southern Arizona (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius. 2019(284):1-14. [Open Access]

Family Vaejovidae

05 August, 2019

A new species of Heterometrus from Sri Lanka


Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have recently published a new article describing a new species of Hetereometrus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Scorpionidae) from Sri Lanka.

Heterometrus yaleensis Kovarik, Ranawana, Jayarathne, Hoferek & Stahlavsky, 2019

Abstract:
Heterometrus yaleensis sp. n. from Sri Lanka, Southern Province, Yale National Park is described and compared with other species of the genus. The presence of a unique dorsointernal carina on the pedipalp chela distinguishes H. yaleensis sp. n. from all other Heterometrus species. Additional information is provided on the taxonomy and distribution of the genus Heterometrus in Sri Lanka, fully complemented with color photos of specimens of both sexes of the new species, as well as of their habitat. In addition to external morphology and hemispermatophore, we also describe the karyotype of H. yaleensis sp. n. (2n=99).

Reference:
Kovarik F, Ranawana KB, Jayarathne VAS, Hoferek D, Stahlavsky F. Scorpions of Sri Lanka (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part III. Heterometrus yaleensis sp. n. (Scorpionidae). Euscorpius. 2019(283):1-13. [Open Access]

Family Scorpionidae


30 July, 2019

Scorpionism in Argentina



Four species in the medical important genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Buthidae) can cause serious morbidity in humans in Argentina. Andres Ojanguren-Affilastro and co-workers have recently published an article on the distribution of medical important scorpions in Argentina. The article is in Spanish.

Abstract:
Four species of the scorpion genus Tityus can be potentially lethal for humans in Argentina. In the last decades we observed an expansion in the distribution of most of these species, and this expansion accelerated in the last twenty years. Tityus trivittatus and Tityus confluens occur now in most of the medium and large cities of central and northern Argentina. In this contribution we present an overview of this problem in Argentina, and we include several new records for these species. We provide the southernmost records for the genus in the cities of Mar del Plata and Bahia Blanca. Finally we focus in the problem of scorpionism in the area of Buenos Aires city, in which two new species are recorded for the first time, Tityus bahiensis and Tityus confluens, being the second one apparently definitively installed.

Reference:
Ojanguren Affilastro AA, Bizzotto C, Lanari LC, Remes-Lenicov M, de Roodt AR. Presencia de Tityus confluens Borelli en la ciudad de Buenos Aires y expansión de la distribución de las especies de importancia médica de Tityus (Scorpiones; Buthidae) en la Argentina. Revista del Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales 2019;21(1):101-12. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andres Ojanguren-Affilastro for sending me their article!

24 July, 2019

Three new species of Oiclus from the Guadeloupe islands


Eric Ythier also published a second paper this summer. In this paper three new species of Oiclus Simon, 1880 (Scorpionidae) are described from the Guadeloupe islands.

Oiclus ardens Ythier, 2019 (Guadeloupe: BasseTerre)
Oiclus cousteaui Ythier, 2019 (Guadeloupe: Îlets Pigeon)
Oiclus tipunch Ythier, 2019 (Guadeloupe: Îles des Saintes)

It has to be mentioned that the new species name "tipunch" refers to the national drink "ti’ punch" that is popular in the Guadeloupe islands and other French overseas departments. First time a scorpion is named after a drink? ;)

The article also has an identification key for the genus.

Abstract:
Three new species of scorpion belonging to the genus Oiclus Simon, 1880 (family Diplocentridae Karsch, 1880) are described on the basis of material collected in two islands and one islet of the Guadeloupe archipelago in Lesser Antilles: Basse Terre, Terrede Haut (Îles des Saintes) and Grand Îlet (Îlets Pigeon). The new descriptions raise to six the number of Oiclus species (one of them being polytypic) and confirm again that this genus endemic to Lesser Antilles is more diverse than suspected. Material collected in Grande Terre (Guadeloupe) and Saint Barthélemy also adds new localities for the two species previously described from these islands.

Reference:
Ythier E. On the genus Oiclus Simon, 1880 (Scorpiones: Diplocentridae) in Guadeloupe islands, with description of three new species. Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2019;5(12):17-49.

Thanks to Eric for sending me his article!

Family Scorpionidae


23 July, 2019

A new species of Centruroides from western Michoacán State, México


Ana F. Quijano-Ravell and co-workers recently published a new species of Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Buthidae) from western Michoacán State, México.

Centruroides romeroi Quijano-Ravell, De Armas, Francke & Ponce-Saavedra, 2019

Abstract:
A new species of scorpion belonging to the genus Centruroides Marx, 1890 is described from the Coalcomán mountain range, western Michoacán State, Mexico. Its general aspect resembles Centruroides ruana Quijano-Ravell & Ponce Saavedra, 2016, and C. infamatus (C. L. Koch, 1844), but it is a smaller species having lower pectinal tooth counts; also, males of C. ruana have the pedipalp chelae slightly thicker, whereas C. infamatus has a subaculear tubercle nearer to the base of the aculeus. Another species with similar aspect is Centruroides ornatus Pocock, 1902; however, a preliminary molecular analysis of the mitochondrial gene mRNA 16S showed genetic divergence (measured as p-distance) near to 10% between these species, and lower differences between the new species with respect to C. infamatus (4.63%) and C. ruana (5.07%). The molecular evidence together with the morphological characters (integrative taxonomy) are sufficient for recognizing the Coalcomán population as a separate and valid species.

Reference:
Quijano-Ravell AF, De Armas LF, Francke OF, Ponce-Saavedra J. A new species of the genus Centruroides Marx (Scorpiones, Buthidae) from western Michoacán State, México using molecular and morphological evidence. ZooKeys. 2019(859):31-48. [Open Access]

Thanks to Oscar Francke for sending me their article!

Family Buthidae

A new species in the genus Megachactops from Colombia


Eric Ythier published an article earlier this summer describing a new species in the small genus Megachactops Ochoa, Rojas-Runjac, Pinto-Da-Rocha & Prendini, 2013 (Chactidae) from Colombia.

Megachactops kurripako Ythier, 2019

The article has an identification key for the three species in the genus.

Abstract:
A new species of scorpion belonging to the genus Megachactops Ochoa, Rojas-Runjaic, Pinto-da-Rocha & Prendini, 2013 (family Chactidae Pocock, 1893) is described on the basis of two specimens collected in a rainforest formation located in Puerto Colombia, Guainía, Colombia. This is the third known species of the genus Megachactops, and the first reported from Colombia.

Reference:
Ythier E. A new species of Megachactops Ochoa, Rojas-Runjaic, Pinto-da-Rocha & Prendini, 2013 (scorpiones: Chactidae) from Colombia. Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2019(34):69-75. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Eric for sending me his new article!

Family Chactidae

22 July, 2019

A new species of Hottentotta from Western Ghats, India


Zeeshan Mirza and co-workers recently described a new species of Hottentotta Birula, 1908 (Buthidae) from the Western Ghats, India.

Hottentotta vinchu Mirza, Ambekar & Kulkarni, 2019

The article also has a identification key for the Indian species in the genus Hottentotta.

Abstract:
A new species, Hottentotta vinchu sp. n., is described from the Western Ghats of India. The new species morphologically resembles to Hottentotta rugiscutis (Pocock, 1897) from which it differs in having metasomal segment II wider than long in both sexes. The new species, however, is sister to Hottentotta pachyurus (Pocock, 1897) based on cytochrome oxidase I gene from which it differs in an uncorrected sequence divergence of 7%.

Reference:
Mirza Z, Ambekar M, Kulkarni NU. A new species of scorpion of the genus Hottentotta Birula, 1908 from the Western Ghats, India (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2019;5(12):2-16.

Family Buthidae



21 June, 2019

Scorpion venom can kill dangerous, resistant bacterias in a safe way


I usually do not post much about biochemical and toxicology research on scorpion venom as I have very little expertise on these topics. As many of you probably have noticed, there is a lot of research on scorpion venom trying to identify components in the venom that can be used for medical and/or commercial purposes. Because of this, scorpion venom is now considered one of the most expensive materials on earth. This week a very interesting study was published.

Edson Norberto Carcamo-Noriegaa and co-workers have identified twopreviously unknown benzoquinones in the venom of the Mexican scorpion Diplocentrus melici Armas, Martin-Frias & Berea, 2004 (Scorpionidae). The study shows that these two compounds can kill dangerous staphylococcus and tuberculosis bacteria in a safe way. The researchers also were able to synthesize the two compounds, making this a very promising tool for a future medicine against dangerous and resistant bacterias.

If you can not access the article, you can check out this news report from Stanford University summing up the main findings.

Abstract:
Two 1,4-benzoquinone derivatives, found in the venom of the scorpion Diplocentrus melici following exposure to air, have been isolated, characterized, synthesized, and assessed for antimicrobial activities. Initially a white, viscous liquid, the extracted venom colors within minutes under ambient conditions. From this colored mixture, two compounds, one red, the other blue, were isolated and purified using chromatography. After a variety of NMR and mass spectrometry experiments, the red compound was determined to be 3,5- dimethoxy-2-(methylthio)cyclohexa-2,5-diene-1,4-dione, and the blue compound was determined to be 5-methoxy-2,3- bis(methylthio) cyclohexa-2,5-diene-1,4-dione. Because extremely small amounts of these compounds were isolated from the scorpion venom, we developed laboratory syntheses from commercially available precursors, allowing us to produce sufficient quantities for crystallization nd biological assays. The red benzoquinone is effective against Staphylococcus aureus [minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) = 4 μg/mL], while the blue benzoquinone is active against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MIC = 4 μg/mL) and even against a multidrug-resistant (MDR) strain with nearly equal effectiveness. The bactericidal effects of both benzoquinones show comparable activity to commercially available antibiotics used against these pathogens and were cytotoxic to neoplastic cell lines, suggesting
their potential as lead compounds for the development of novel antimicrobial and anticancer drugs. Importantly, the blue benzoquinone was also effective in vivo with mouse models of MDR tuberculosis infection. After treatment for 2 mo, four mice with late-stage active MDR tuberculosis had a significant decrease in pulmonary bacillary loads and tissue damage. Healthy mice served as negative controls and tolerated treatment well, without adverse side effects.


Reference:
Carcamo-Noriega EN, Sathyamoorthi S, Banerjee S, Gnanamani E, Mendoza-Trujillo M, Mata-Espinosa D, et al. 1,4-Benzoquinone antimicrobial agents against Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis derived from scorpion venom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2019:201812334. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this interesting article!

20 June, 2019

A new species of Euscorpiops from China


Eric Ythier has recently published a new species of Euscorpiops Vachon, 1980 (Euscorpiidae) from China.

Euscorpiops zhangshuyuani Ythier, 2019

An identification key for the genus in the Yunnan Province is included.

Abstract:
A new species of scorpion belonging to the genus Euscorpiops Vachon, 1980 (family Scorpiopidae Kraepelin, 1905) is described on the basis of two adult females collected in a montane rainforest formation located in Tong Bi Guan Xiang, Yingjiang County, Yunnan Province, China, close to the border with Myanmar. This new scorpion taxon represents the 27th known species of the genus Euscorpiops, the tenth reported from China and the eighth reported from Yunnan Province.

Reference:
Ythier E. A new species of Euscorpiops Vachon, 1980, from China (Scorpiones, Scorpiopidae). Bulletin de la Société entomologique de France. 2019;124(2):189-96. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Eric Ythier for sending me his article!

Family Euscorpiidae

12 June, 2019

Two new species of Hottentotta from Iran and Pakistan


Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have published an article where the revise the species of Hottentotta Birula, 1908 (Buthidae) described by the famous Russian arachnologist Alexei A. Byalynitskii-Birulya (or A. A. Birula).

Two new species are described:

Hottentotta juliae Kovarik, Yagmur & Fet, 2019 (Iran)

Hottentotta krivokhatskyi Kovarik, Yagmur & Fet, 2019 (Pakistan)

See abstract and article for further taxonomical conclusions.

Abstract:
The types of Hottentotta species described by A. A. Birula and deposited in the Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia are revised. The types of H. buchariensis (Birula, 1897), H. niloticus (Birula, 1928), H. penjabensis (Birula, 1897) stat. nov. and H. schach (Birula, 1905) are fully illustrated with color photographs of morphology. Their taxonomic position is discussed. Lectotypes are designated for H. niloticus and H. schach. We confirm synonymy of Buthus (Hottentotta) minax niloticus Birula, 1928 (Sudan) with Buthus minax L. Koch, 1875, syn. n. Two new species, Hottentotta juliae sp. n. from Iran (Fars Province) and H. krivokhatskyi sp. n. from Pakistan (Balochistan Province), are described, based on specimens which were in previous publications incorrectly identified as H. schach and H. penjabensis.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Yagmur EA, Fet V. Review of Hottentotta described by A. A. Birula, with descriptions of two new species and comments on Birula’s collection (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(282):1-30. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

31 May, 2019

Mating in scorpions: Better condition = More successful reproduction?


Sexual selection often favors larger body size and/or greater weight in males. Larger males have better condition and are able to perform more impressive courtships, and because of this, will be more attractive for females. This may also be the case in scorpions.

Oliverio and co-workers have published a paper studying mating and courtship behavior in Bothriurus bonariensis (C.L. Koch, 1842) (Bothriuridae) and relating this to the size and body condition of both males and females.

The results showed that better condition (larger size) provided a mating advantage to males (e. g. larger males performed the mating dance quicker than smaller males) and that sexual selection is acting on courtship in B. bonariensis.

Abstract:
In most animal species, body condition has a fundamental role in fitness. In males, sexual selection generally favors larger body size or greater weight. This may result in males with better condition performing more vigorous courtships, and biasing female preferences. The effects of body condition on mating performance have been extensively studied in different animal groups. Among arachnids, scorpions are an interesting group for evaluating the effects of these sexual traits on mating performance, since they exhibit an ancient mode of indirect sperm transfer. Scorpion males deposit a single spermatophore on the soil to transfer the sperm to the females, and therefore, the production of spermatophores involves a high cost for them. In this study, we use the scorpion Bothriurus bonariensis as a model to evaluate different patterns of sexual behavior as a function of the body condition of both males and females. We found that males with a better body condition performed the mating dance stage more quickly than males with a lower condition. In addition, males performed the sexual sting behavior for a longer time with females in a better condition. Our results suggest that a better condition provides a mating advantage to males and represents an indicator of courtship performance. Given that female quality is usually correlated with fecundity, males mating with females with a better body condition probably have higher reproductive success.

Reference:
Olivero PA, Vrech DE, Oviedo-Diego MA, Mattoni CI, Peretti AV. Courtship performance as function of body condition in an ‘ancient’ form of sperm transfer. Animal Biology. 2019;69:33-46. [Open Access]

Thanks to Camilio Mattoni for sending me their article!

The scorpion distribution in the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin, Mexico


Oscar Francke has written a chapter about the scorpion distribution in the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin in Mexico in the recently published book "Animal Diversity and Biogeography of the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin".

Abstract:
Twelve species of scorpions, belonging to three families and seven genera, have been recorded from the Cuatro Cienegas Basin (CCB). Two are considered endemic, but this might be due to poor sampling efforts in other areas of the state of Coahuila; the other ten species are widely distributed in the Chihuahuan Desert and are not threatened at the time. However, there is concern about the populations inside the Basin because the increasing aridification is causing a loss in primary productivity, which in turn has an impact on the arthropods that scorpions feed upon.

Reference:
Francke OF. Scorpions (Arachnida: Scorpiones) from the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin. In: Álvarez F, Ojeda M, editors. Animal Diversity and Biogeography of the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin Cuatro Ciénegas Basin: An Endangered Hyperdiverse Oasis. Cham: Springer; 2019. p. 53-9. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Oscar Francke for sending me a copy of his publication!

24 May, 2019

A new species of Barbaracurus from Somaliland



Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have published a new species of Barbaracurus Kovarik, Lowe & Stahlavsky, 2018 (Buthidae) from Somaliland.

Barabaracurus feti Kovarik, Lowe &Stahlavsky & Hurre, 2019

 In addition, the species Babycurus borellii Rossi, 2019 is synonymized with B. yemenensis Kovarik, Lowe, Seiter, Pliskova & Stahlavsky, 2015.  

The article has an identification key for the genus.

Editors note:

B. borellii was not previously listed in The Scorpion Files because it was published in the journal "Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana", which I'm not able to get articles from by myself. I'm aware of several recent publications with taxonomical changes from this journal, but I only add updates to The Scorpion Files after having read the articles. I cannot update The scorpion Files based on information in article titles.

Abstract:
Barbaracurus feti sp. n. from Somaliland is described and compared with other species of the genus. Additional information is provided on the taxonomy and distribution of the genus Barbaracurus, fully complemented with color photos of specimens of both sexes of the new species, as well as of their habitat. In addition to morphology and hemispermatophores, we also describe the karyotypes of B. feti sp. n. (2n=23). Included is a key for Barbaracurus. Babycurus borellii Rossi, 2019 is synonymized with Barbaracurus yemenensis Kovařík et al., 2018 syn. n. as a junior synonym because the description dated in February 2018 was in reality published/accessible in March 2019.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Lowe G, Stahlavsky F, Hurre AA. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida, Scorpiones). Part XX. Barbaracurus feti sp. n. from Somaliland (Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(280):1-11. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

A revision of the genus Grosphus and the creation of a new genus Teruelius


Madagascar has always been a hotspot for biodiversity and has many endemic taxa, also among scorpions. The genus with the largest number of endemic species is Grosphus Simon, 1880 (Buthidae). Many new species have been described in this genus in the last year, but no modern revision has been done.

Graeme Lowe and Frantisek Kovarik have now published a revision of the genus Grosphus on Madagascar. The most notable conclusion of this work is that they split the genus into two and establish the new genus Teruelius Lowe & Kovarik, 2019. Here is the content of the two genera after the split:

Grosphus Simon, 1880 (10)
G. ambre Lourenço, Wilmé & Waeber, 2018
G. darainensis Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004
G. goudoti Lourenço & Goodman, 2006
G. hirtus Kraepelin, 1900
G. madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843)
G. mayottensis Lourenço & Goodman, 2009
G. polskyi Lourenço, Qi & Goodman, 2007
G. rakotoariveloi Lourenço, Wilme, Soarimalala & Waeber, 2017
G. tavaratra Lourenço, Soarimalala & Goodman, 2009
G. voahangyae Lourenço & Wilme 2015

Teruelius Lowe & Kovarík, 2019 (18)
T. ankarafantsika (Lourenço, 2003)
T. ankarana (Lourenço & Goodman, 2003)
T. annulatus (Fage, 1929)
T. bemaraha (Lourenço, Wilmé & Waeber, 2018)
T. bicolor (Lourenço, 2012)
T. bistriatus (Kraepelin, 1900)
T. eliseanneae (Lourenço & Wilme, 2016)
T. feti (Lourenço, 1996)
T. flavopiceus (Kraepelin, 1900)
T. ganzhorni (Lourenço, Wilme & Waeber, 2016)
T. grandidieri (Kraepelin, 1900)
T. intertidalis (Lourenço, 1999)
T. limbatus (Pocock, 1889)
T. magalieae (Lourenço, 2014)
T. mahafaliensis (Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004)
T. olgae (Lourenço, 2004)
T. sabineae (Lourenço & Wilme, 2016)
T. waeberi (Lourenço & Wilme, 2016)

The following species have been synonymized:

Grosphus simoni Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004 is synonymized with Grosphus madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843).

Grosphus halleuxi Lourenço, Wilmé, Soarimalala & Waeber, 2017 is synonymized with Grosphus madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843).

Grosphus mandena Lourenço, 2005 is synonymized with  Grosphus madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843).

Grosphus makay Lourenço & Wilmé, 2015 is synonymized with Teruelius feti (Lourenço, 1996).

Grosphus rossii Lourenço, 2013 is synonymized with Teruelius mahafaliensis (Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004).

See article for further details and descriptions.

Abstract:
We review the taxonomy of the Madagascar endemic buthid genus Grosphus Simon, 1880. We split the genus and describe Teruelius gen. n. on the basis of nine morphological characters, six of them new for Grosphus: positions of trichobothria d2 on pedipalp femur and Eb3 on chela manus, number of pectine teeth, shape of female basal pectinal tooth, form of hemispermatophore capsule posterior lobe, spiracle shape, metasoma I ventromedian carination, telotarsal setation and UV fluorescence. We discuss functional and taxonomic aspects of these characters, and propose that Teruelius gen. n. is monophyletic, while Grosphus (sensu stricto) is paraphyletic. Some characters of Teruelius gen. n. suggest adaptations to xeric environments, some of Grosphus to humid environments. Neogrosphus Lourenço, 1995 shares characters with both Grosphus and Teruelius gen. n.Scenarios for origins of these genera by vicariance or dispersal are discussed. New synonymies proposed are: Grosphus simoni Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004 = Grosphus madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843), syn. n.; Grosphus halleuxi Lourenço, Wilmé, Soarimalala & Waeber, 2017 = Grosphus madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843), syn. n.; Grosphus mandena Lourenço, 2005 = Grosphus madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843), syn. n.; Grosphus hirtus garciai Lourenço, 2001 = Grosphus hirtus Kraepelin, 1900, syn. n.; Grosphus makay Lourenço & Wilmé, 2015 = Teruelius feti (Lourenço, 1996) comb. n., syn.n.; Grosphus rossii Lourenço, 2013 = Teruelius mahafaliensis (Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004) comb. n., syn. n.

Reference:
Lowe G, Kovarik F. Review of Grosphus Simon, 1880, with description of Teruelius gen. n., a new buthid genus from Madagascar (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(281):1-128. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

10 May, 2019

Five new species of Vaejovis from Mexico


Gerard Contreras-Felix and Oscar Francke have recently published a taxonomic revision of the “mexicanus” group of the genus Vaejovis C. L. Koch, 1836 (Vaejovidae) from Mexico. Five new species are described:

Vaejovis ceboruco Contreras-Felix & Francke, 2019
Vaejovis nanchititla Contreras-Felix & Francke, 2019
Vaejovis santibagnezi Contreras-Felix & Francke, 2019
Vaejovis talpa Contreras-Felix & Francke, 2019
Vaejovis tapalpa Contreras-Felix & Francke, 2019

The paper have updated diagnosis for all species in the species group. Keys for identification of males and females are provided.

Abstract:
Within the scorpion genus Vaejovis C.L. Koch, the “mexicanus” group is composed of species distributed in the mountains of México. This group presents taxonomic problems, because its characterization and the species included in the group have varied through the years. In the present work, we redefine this group based on several morphological characters, and we differentiate it from the other two species groups within the genus: “vorhiesi” and “nit dulus+nigrescens”. Additionally, five new species are described: Vaejovis ceboruco sp. nov., Vaejovis nanchititla sp. nov., Vaejovis santibagnezi sp. nov., Vaejovis talpa sp. nov. and Vaejovis tapalpa sp. nov; the males of three species are described for the first time (V. dugesi, V. nigrofemoratus and V. tesselatus); and the updated diagnosis for all species is included. Keys for the identification of males and females of the 30 species included in this group are given. Lastly, notes on the natural history and distribution of some species are provided, with maps of known distribution for all the species.

Reference:
Contreras-Felix G, Francke OF. Taxonomic revision of the “mexicanus” group of the genus Vaejovis C. L. Koch, 1836 (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Zootaxa. 2019;4596(1):1-100. [Subscritpion required for full text]

Thanks to Oscar Francke and Carlos Santibanez Lopez for sending me this article!

Family Vaejovidae

26 April, 2019

Tityus serrulatus - A natural born killer


A very tabloid headline for this post, but I felt I couldn't plagiarize the nice original article title "Selected to survive and kill". Scorpion stings in Brazil have increased in the last decade and the main culprit has been Tityus serrulatus Lutz and Mello, 1922 (Buthidae). This very invasive species has spread in Brazil in the last decades and has adapted very well to urban habitat. In addition, the species can reproduce by parthenogenesis, making this species a very expanding taxa.

Ricardo Jose Gonzaga Pimenta and co-workers have recently published a study on how well Tityus serrulatus handles food and water deprivation. The authors found that this medical important scorpion has an impressive capacity to survive starvation for long periods. Lack of water, on the other hand, caused a large decrease in survival rates. Reproduction occurred throughout the year for food-deprived scorpions and controls, but not in the water-deprived groups.

The results of this study have implications for how scorpion control should be conducted for this expanding, hard to kill, dangerous species in urban areas.

Abstract:
Annually, more than 1.2 million scorpion stings and more than 3,000 deaths occur worldwide. Tityus serrulatus Lutz and Mello, 1922 (Scorpiones, Buthidae) is the most medically relevant species in Brazil where it is spreading rapidly and causing over 90,000 cases of envenomation yearly. We monitored T. serrulatus longevity and ability to reproduce under conditions of food and/or water deprivation. We found that T. serrulatus is highly tolerant to food deprivation, with individuals enduring up to 400 days without food. On the other hand, access to water played a pivotal role in T. serrulatus survival. Food and water deprived scorpions showed weight reduction. Reproduction occurred throughout the year for fooddeprived scorpions and controls, but not in the water-deprived groups. Remarkably, fooddeprived animals were able to give birth after 209 days of starvation. Tityus serrulatus resistance to food and water deprivation is likely to be an additional factor underlying this species’ geographic expansion and the difficulties encountered in controlling it.

Reference:
Pimenta RJG, Brandao-Dias PFP, Leal HG, Carmo AOD, Oliveira-Mendes BBR, Chavez-Olortegui C, et al. Selected to survive and kill: Tityus serrulatus, the Brazilian yellow scorpion. PLoS One. 2019;14(4):e0214075. [Open Access]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this article!

The origin of the buthid scorpion fauna of the Caribbean islands


The Caribbean islands have a large scorpion population where many species are endemic for this area. But how did this unique fauna originate? There have been three theories of the origins of the flora and fauna diversity seen in The Caribbean: 1. Connections via land bridges, 2. Vicariance events, 3. Overwater dispersal from continents and among islands.

Lauren Esposito and Lorenzo Prendini have now published a study investigating the biogeographical diversification of the New World buthid scorpion subfamily Centruroidinae Kraus, 1955 and trying to understand the origin of the Caribbean populations of these taxa.

The results of this study show that the centruroidine scorpions colonized the Caribbean islands on two independent occasions (35 mya ago from South America and the Greater Antilles and 20 mya ago North America, probably via Cuba). Interestingly, the results also point to a case of "reverse-colonization" event for the genus Heteroctenus Pocock, 1893. This genus seems to have a Caribbean ancestor, which subsequently colonized Central America and North America, and eventually re-colonized the Greater Antilles.

Abstract:
Scorpions are an excellent system for understanding biogeographical patterns. Most major scorpion lineages predate modern landforms, making them suitable for testing hypotheses of vicariance and dispersal. The Caribbean islands are endowed with a rich and largely endemic scorpion fauna, the origins of which have not been previously investigated with modern biogeographical methods. Three sets of hypotheses have been proposed to explain present patterns of diversity in the Caribbean: (1) connections via land bridges, (2) vicariance events, and (3) overwater dispersal from continents and among islands. The present study investigates the biogeographical diversification of the New World buthid scorpion subfamily Centruroidinae Kraus, 1955, a clade of seven genera and more than 110 species; infers the ancestral distributions of these scorpions; and tests the relative roles of vicariance and dispersal in the formation of their present distributions. A fossil calibrated molecular phylogeny was estimated with a Bayesian criterion to infer the dates of diversification events from which ancestral distributions were reconstructed, and the relative likelihood of models of vicariance vs. dispersal, calculated. Although both the timing of diversification and the ancestral distributions were congruent with the GAARlandia land-bridge hypothesis, there was no significant difference between distance-dependent models with or without the land-bridge. Heteroctenus Pocock, 1893, the Caribbean-endemic sister taxon of Centruroides Marx, 1890 provides evidence for a Caribbean ancestor, which subsequently colonized Central America and North America, and eventually re-colonized the Greater Antilles. This ‘reverse colonization’ event of a continent from an island demonstrates the importance of islands as a potential source of biodiversity.

Reference:
Esposito LA, Prendini L. Island Ancestors and New World Biogeography: A Case Study from the Scorpions (Buthidae: Centruroidinae). Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):3500. [Open Access]

25 April, 2019

Scorpions as environmental indicators


Andre Lira and co-workers have recently publised a study looking into how scorpion diversity, species richness, and species composition respond to bioclimatic changes (like forests with different gradients of humidity).

The study indicated that much of the scorpion composition and diversity in the study area were explained by a longitudinal bioclimatic gradient (wet-dry forest) and that species richness increased with increasingly dry conditions along the longitudinal gradient. Based on the results presented in this study, the authors belive that scorpions can be used as environmental indicators due to the high detectability, sensitivity to environmental attributes, and well known and stable taxonomy.

Abstract:
Understanding large-scale patterns of biological diversity is one of the most important issues in ecology. Parameters of scorpion assemblages may serve as a proxy to understand how arthropods respond to bioclimatic changes by adjusting their spatially structured distribution. We analysed how scorpion species richness, abundance, and composition respond to climatic variations found along a longitudinal gradient between wet (Atlantic Forest) and dry (Caatinga hypo and hyperxerophilic) forests in Brazil. A total of 20 sites were sampled four times along a 712 km longitudinal wet-dry bioclimatic gradient in north-eastern Brazil. We recorded 2653 scorpions from 12 species, belonging to five genera and two families. Environmental variables associated with precipitation and temperature had a strong effect on scorpion distribution, resulting in a distinct faunal composition at both extremes of the gradient. Species composition presented a turnover along the bioclimatic gradient, with beta diversity increasing towards the drier sites. The increase of dryness coincide with increases in temperature, moisture reduction, and a general environmental harshness. Our study, therefore, indicates that species sensitivity to climatic variation determines scorpion distribution in Neotropical forests.

Reference:
Lira AFA, Salomão RP, Albuquerque CMR. Pattern of scorpion diversity across a bioclimatic dry-wet gradient in Neotropical forests. Acta Oecologica. 2019;96:10-7. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andre Lira for sending me their study!

24 April, 2019

A review of the scorpion fauna of Greece


Since Aristoteles first mentioned the presence of scorpions in Greece, the number of taxa belonging to this country have increased very much in the last decade thanks to more studies and better taxonomical and phylogentic tools.

Victor Fet and co-workers have written av chapter in book published last Fall summing up the current knowledge of the scorpion fauna in Greece.

Abstract:
A remarkable diversity of scorpion fauna and its distribution in Greece is discussed. The current list of Greek scorpions includes 32 confirmed species belonging to three families (one of Buthidae, seven of Iuridae, and 24 of Euscorpiidae), as well as a number of unassigned euscorpiid taxa. Uncovered only in the last decade, mainly through the use of DNA markers, ‘cryptic’ scorpion fauna of Greece is the most diverse in Europe and rivals that of many other countries.

Reference:
Fet V, Parmakelis A, Stathi I, Tropea G, Kotsakiozi P, Kardaki L, et al. Fauna and zoogeography of scorpions in Greece. In: Sfenthourakis S, Pafilis P, Parmakelis A, Poulakakis N, Triantis KA, editors. Biogeography and Biodiversity of the Aegean In honour of Prof Moysis Mylonas. Nicosia: Broken Hill Publishers Ltd; 2018. p. 123-34. [Full text available on Victor Fet's Research gate profile]

01 April, 2019

Scorpion envenomations in South Africa during a 10-year period


South Africa harbors a large diversity of scorpions, including many species in the medical important genus Parabuthus Pocock, 1890 (Buthidae). Carine J. Marks and co-workers have recently published a retrospective analysis of the scorpion cases managed by the Tygerberg Poisons Information Centre over a 10 year period.

The main conclusion is that the incidence of severe scorpionism were low in this period. 65% of the sting cases had no or minor symptoms, mainly local pain. As usual, children may be more vulnerable and extra vigilance is needed in cases involving small children. The species involved in the study were usually not involved, but it is well known that Parabuthus granulatus (Ehrenberg, 1831) and P. transvaalicus (Purcell, 1899) are the most dangerous species in South Africa.

Abstract:
Introduction: South Africa has a wide distribution of scorpion species, yet limited data are available regarding the incidence and severity of scorpion envenomation. The aim of this study was to analyse South African epidemiological data of scorpion stings and envenomation as reported to the Tygerberg Poisons Information Centre (TPIC).
Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted of scorpion-related telephonic consultations to the TPIC over a ten year period (1 January 2005 to 31 December 2014). Data were entered onto a Microsoft Excel® spreadsheet and descriptive statistics are presented for all variables. Associations with severity of envenomation are presented as odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (95%CI).
Results: During the study period 52,163 consultations were processed by the TPIC of which 740 (1.4%) cases involved scorpion stings. Of these, 146 (19.7%) cases were deemed serious envenomations. Antivenom was recommended to be administered in 131 (90%) of these cases. Healthcare professionals made most calls (63%), but were less likely to phone for non-serious cases (OR 0.16; 95%CI 0.09 to 0.29). The Western Cape Province had the highest incidence of calls (6.9 scorpion-related calls/100 000 people). Adults (> 20 years) were victims in 71.4% of cases, and were more likely to experience less serious stings (OR 0.57; 95%CI 0.37 to 0.86). The TPIC was consulted within six hours of the sting occurring in 356 (48.1%) cases with a significant association to less severity (OR 3.51; 95%CI 1.9 to 6.3). Only 2% (15) of the scorpions were available for identification.
Conclusion: The incidence of severe scorpionism to the TPIC was low. Care should be taken when children are involved and when calls are received more than six hours after the sting. TPIC consultants as well as healthcare professionals working in semi-arid regions should be aware of these high risk populations.


Reference:
Marks CJ, Muller GJ, Sachno D, Reuter H, Wium CA, Du Plessis CE, et al. The epidemiology and severity of scorpion envenoming in South Africa as managed by the Tygerberg Poisons Information Centre over a 10-year period. African journal of emergency medicine : Revue Africaine de la Medecine d'Urgence. 2019;9(1):21-4. [Open Access]

Jaguajir rochae is able to perceive differences between small and large prey and make decisions regarding venom usage


Several studies have shown that scorpions have different strategies for optimizing the venom use. The reason for this is of course because it take times to renew the venom and it is costly as the venom is a mixture of complex proteins. This is often called the venom optimization hypothesis. This also means that optimizing venom usage might directly affect the predatory behavior and physiology of scorpions.

Meykson Alexandre da Silva and co-workers have recently published an article showing that the amount of venom available for individuals of Jaguajir rochae (Borelli, 1910) (Butidae) did have an effect on their prey capture behavior. Individuals with depleted venom glands did not attack large prey, but did try to catch smaller prey that could be handled with pedipalps only. The study shows that this scorpion is able to perceive differences between small and large prey and make decisions regarding venom usage. These results are in accordance with the the venom optimization hypothesis

Abstract:
Animal venom is composed of a complex mixture of protein-rich chemicals. Synthesis of animal venom incurs a high metabolic cost and is a prolonged process; consequently, animals use their venom cautiously and economically. Some studies have shown that venomous animals modulate the amount and/or type of venom used depending on certain factors, such as prey size or the intensity of predation threat. Here, we investigated how the quantity of venom that is available for use by the scorpion Jaguajir rochae interferes with its choice of prey.We used two types of prey of contrasting size (small 200–300-mg and large 600–700-mg cockroaches). The results showed that the amount of venom influences the feeding behavior of this species. Most scorpions without venom exhibited a low interest when large prey was present, but frequently attacked small prey. The scorpions also showed a distinct pattern in the time between venom extraction and the initiation of hunting behavior. In conclusion, J. rochae is able to perceive differences between small and large prey and make decisions regarding venom usage, supporting the "venom optimization hypothesis" (or "venom metering hypothesis"), by minimizing the venom use due to it being an energetically expensive resource.

Reference:
Silva MA, Silvia NA, Lira AFA, Martins RD. Role of venom quantity in the feeding behavior of Jaguajir rochae (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Acta Ethologica. 2019;Published Online 09 March 2019. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Meykson Alexandre da Silva for sending me their interesting article which confirm some of the assumptions that I did in my old studies of sting use in scorpions.

29 March, 2019

A new species of Chaerilus from Vietnam



Wilson Lourenco has recently published a new species of Chaerilus Simon, 1877 (Chaerilidae) from Vietnam.

Chaerilus honba Lourenco, 2019

Abstract:


Reference:
Lourenco WR. The genus Chaerilus Simon, 1877 (Scorpiones: Chaerilidae) in Vietnam, with the description of a new species. Arachnology. 2019;18(1):32-6.

Family Chaerilidae

28 March, 2019

A new phylogenomic study reassessing the relationships of Vaejovidae and a new high-level classification of Scorpiones


The higher-level systematics of scorpions has been significantly revised and discussed in the recent year, not without controversies.The family division chosen in The Scorpion Files are not accepted by all researchers, but fortunately more research are being done making the picture more clearly. There may be changes in the family structure in The scorpion Files in the time to come when I have the time to review recent contributions on higher-level systematics.

Carlos E. Santibáñez-López and co-workers have recently published a study  reassessing the relationships of Vaejovidae and a new high-level classification of Scorpiones. According to co-author Prashant Sharma, the main conclusions are:

1. As presently defined, Vaejovidae is diphyletic (Uroctonus are not true vaejovids).

2. The true Vaejovidae (excluding Uroctonus) are the sister group of Scorpionoidea.

3. To accommodate this tree topology, the study established two  superfamilies to redress the paraphyly of Chactoidea: Vaejovoidea and Superstitionoidea.

The scorpion Files doesn't list higher-level systematics, but it is important to note that status of Uroctonus Thorell, 1876 has to be set to incertae sedis because it doesn't belong to either Vaejovidae or Chactidae. More studies are necessary before its family placement can be decided. Until this happens, I keep the genus in Chactidae.

Abstract:
The Neartic family Vaejovidae (Scorpiones: Chactoidea) has long been treated as a diverse and systematically cohesive group of scorpions, but its monophyly and relationship to other scorpion families have historically been questioned. Morphological data have supported its monophyly and a variety of phylogenetic placements within the superfamily Chactoidea. Recent phylogenomic analyses have instead recovered vaejovids as polyphyletic (albeit with minimal taxonomic sampling) and Chactoidea as paraphyletic. Here, we reexamined the monophyly and phylogenetic placement of the family Vaejovidae, sampling 17 new vaejovid libraries using high throughput transcriptomic sequencing. Our phylogenomic analyses revealed a previous misplacement of Smeringurus mesaensis. Regardless, we recovered Vaejovidae as diphyletic due to the placement of the enigmatic genus Uroctonus. The remaining vaejovids formed a clade that was strongly supported as the sister group of the superfamily Scorpionoidea, a placement insensitive to matrix completeness or concatenation vs. species tree approaches to inferring the tree topology. Chactoidea was invariably recovered as a paraphyletic group due to the nested placement of Scorpionoidea. As first steps to resolving the paraphyly of Chactoidea, we take the following systematic actions: (1) we establish the superfamily Superstitionoidea (new superfamily) to accommodate Superstitioniidae; (2) we restore Vaejovoidea (status revalidated) as a valid superfamily that excludes Uroctonus; and (3) we treat the families Caraboctonidae, Troglotayosicidae, and the subfamily Uroctoninae as incertae sedis with respect to superfamilial placement. Our systematic actions thus establish the monophyly of the presently redefined Chactoidea and Vaejovoidea.

Reference:Santibanez-Lopez C, Gonzalez-Santillan E, Monod L, Sharma PP. Phylogenomics facilitates stable scorpion systematics: Reassessing the relationships of Vaejovidae and a new high-level classification of Scorpiones (Arachnida). Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2019;135:22-30. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Dr. Prashant Sharma for sending me this article and for explaining to me the main points of this study. Thanks also to Carlos E. Santibáñez-López for sending me the paper.

14 March, 2019

Cytogenetic and molecular approaches reveal cryptic diversity in Alpine scorpions in the genus Euscorpius


Phenotypic conservatism is typical for many scorpion taxa.In layman's term, this mean that many scorpion species look morphologically similar making it almost impossible to separate them by traditional taxonomical methods. The European genus Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) is an excellent example of this. Originally this genus contained less than then species, while today it contains no less than 64 species.

And it seems that there is still more to come. By using a new combination of cytogenetic and molecular methods, Jana Štundlováa and co-workers have recently published a study of the three Alpine species of the subgenus Euscorpius (Alpiscorpius): E. (A.) alpha, E. (A.) germanus, and E. (A.) gamma.

Their study reveals a cryptic diversity in the populations of the Alpine species, with several "races" (highly distinct karyotypic races) within each species. These races had discrete geographical distributions. Even though these results clearly shows several independent taxa, a thorough taxonomical revision with morphological studies of the subgenus is necessary before any taxonomical decisions can be made.

Some of the methods used in this study are new and open new possibilities for our understanding of the species diversity of scorpions.

Abstract:
Over time, mountain biota has undergone complex evolutionary histories that have left imprints on its genomic arrangement, geographical distribution and diversity of contemporary lineages. Knowledge on these biogeographical aspects still lags behind for invertebrates inhabiting the Alpine region. In the present study, we examined three scorpion species of the subgenus Euscorpius (Alpiscorpius) from the European Alps using cytogenetic and molecular phylogenetic approaches to determine the variation and population structure of extant lineages at both chromosome and genetic level, and to provide an insight into the species diversification histories. We detected considerable intraspecific variability in chromosome complements and localization of the 18S rDNA loci in all studied species. Such chromosome differences were noticeable as the existence of three [in E. (A.) alpha and E. (A.) germanus] or four [in E. (A.) gamma] range-restricted karyotypic races. These races differed from one another either by 2n [in E. (A.) alpha 2n=54, 60, 90; in E. (A.) gamma 2n=58, 60, 88, 86–92], or by the karyotypic formula [in E. (A.) germanus 2n=34m+12sm; 36m+10sm; 42m+4sm]. Using mitochondrial (16S rRNA, COI) and nuclear (28S rDNA) genetic markers, we examined genetic variation and reconstructed phylogenetic relationships among the karyotypic races. Both approaches provided evidence for the existence of ten deeply divergent lineages exhibiting the features of local endemics and indicating the presence of cryptic species. Molecular dating analyses suggest that these lineages diversified during the Plio-Pleistocene and this process was presumably accompanied by dynamic structural changes in the genome organization.

Reference:
Stundlova J, Smid J, Nguyen P, Stahlavsky F. Cryptic diversity and dynamic chromosome evolution in Alpine scorpions (Euscorpiidae: Euscorpius). Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2019;134:152-63. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Victor Fet and Frantisek Kovarik for sending me this interesting article!

Distribution and habitat of Euscorpius carpathicus in Romania


Euscorpius carpathicus (Linnaeus, 1767) (Euscorpiidae) was previously distributed all over Europe, but modern taxonomy revealed that it was a major species complex hiding many unique species. Today, E. carpathicus is limited to Romania only.

Severus-Daniel Covaciu-Marcov & Sára Ferenţi have recently published an article on the distribution of E. carpathicus in parts on Romania. Data on habitat is also presented.

Abstract:
In 2016-2018, we identified 48 distribution records of Euscorpius carpathicus in the Cozia National Park, from the Romanian Southern Carpathians. The Carpathian scorpion was found between 300 and 847 m a.s.l., in forested regions, being more numerous in the lower areas situated along the Olt River. E. carpathicus is a native species in the region; it populates natural areas with low human impact.

Reference:
Covaciu-Marcov S-D, Ferenti S. An Endemic Species in a Protected Area: Euscorpius carpathicus (L., 1767) in the Cozia National Park, Romania (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Euscorpius. 2019(279):1-6. [Open Access]

Family Euscorpiidae

28 February, 2019

New Orthochirus species from The Middle East


Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have recently published a revision of the genus Orthochirus Karsch, 1891 (Buthidae) from Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Three new species are described and one species is elevated from subspecies status.

Orthochirus fomichevi Kovarik, Yagmur, Fet & Hussen, 2019 (New species from Turkey & Iraq)

Orthochirus gantenbeini Kovarik, Yagmur, Fet & Hussen, 2019 (New species from Iran)

Orthochirus navidpouri Kovarik, Yagmur, Fet & Hussen, 2019 (New species from Iran)

Orthochirus mesopotamicus Birula, 1918 (Elevated to species status. Previous status: Orthochirus scrobiculosus mesopotamicus Birula, 1918)

The article has an identification key for the species in the region.

Abstract:
Three new species, Orthochirus fomichevi sp. n. from Turkey and Iraq, O. gantenbeini sp. n. from Iran (Khoozestan Province), and O. navidpouri sp. n. from Iran (Khoozestan and Lorestan Provinces) are described, compared with other Orthochirus species from the region, and fully illustrated with color photos. Lectotype of O. mesopotamicus Birula, 1918 stat. n. from Iran (Khoozestan Province) is designated. Emended diagnoses are given for O. iranus Kovařík, 2004, O. iraqus Kovařík, 2004, O. mesopotamicus Birula, 1918 stat. n., and O. zagrosensis Kovařík, 2004. A key and a distribution map are included.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Yagmur EA, Fet V, Hussen FS. A review of Orthochirus from Turkey, Iraq, and Iran (Khoozestan, Ilam, and Lorestan Provinces), with descriptions of three new species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(278):1-31. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

25 February, 2019

A new genus of burrowing scorpion from the Arabian Peninsula


Graeme Lowe and co-workers have recently published an article describing a new genus and and a new species i the family Buthidae from the Arabian Peninsula. A second species is transferred to the new genus.

Trypanothacus Lowe, Kovarik, Stockmann & Stahlavsky, 2019 - New genus from Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Trypanothacus barnesi Lowe, Kovarik, Stockmann & Stahlavsky, 2019 - New species from Oman.

Trypanothacus buettikeri (Hendrixson, 2006) - New combination. Previously name Buthacus buettikeri Hendrixson, 2006.

Abstract:
We define a new fossorial buthid genus Trypanothacus gen. n., similar to Buthacus Birula, 1908, differing primarily in telson shape, with a bulbous vesicle and aculeus shorter than the vesicle, and in heavier dentition on metasomal segments II–III and IV. The new genus includes two species: T. barnesi sp. n. from Oman and T. buettikeri (Hendrixson, 2006) comb. n. from Saudi Arabia, the latter transferred from Buthacus. We provide detailed illustrations of both species from preserved materials, and in vivo habitus and natural habitat are shown for T. barnesi sp. n.. Information is also provided on ecology and captive rearing of T. barnesi sp. n., and on its karyotype (2n=26). The new genus is compared to genera Buthacus and Vachoniolus Levy et al., 1973. Telson morphology of these genera is analyzed and compared with other psammophilous and pelophilous buthids. In certain subgroups of scorpions, we find that aculeus length can be related to psammophily and body size. As a highly diverse multifunctional organ, the telson is shaped by complex environmental and genetic factors. We propose that telson morphology can nevertheless be useful for taxonomy if it is carefully applied.

Reference:
Lowe G, Kovarik F, Stockmann M, Stahlavsky F. Trypanothacus gen. n., a new genus of burrowing scorpion from the Arabian Peninsula (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(277):1-29. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

19 February, 2019

A new species of Orthochirus from Iran


Shahrokh Navidpour and co-workers have published a new paper on the scorpion fauna of Iran and a new species of Orthochirus Karsch, 1891 (Buthidae) is described.

Orthochirus carinatus Navidpour, Kovarik, Soleglad & Fet, 2019

Abstract:
Nine species of scorpions belonging to two families are reported from the Alborz, Markazi and Tehran Provinces of Iran. Of these, Compsobuthus kaftani Kovařík, 2003 is recorded from Tehran Province for the first time; Compsobuthus matthiesseni (Birula, 1905) is recorded from Alborz Province for the first time; Hottentotta saulcyi (Simon, 1880) is recorded for Alborz and Markazi Provinces for the first time; Iranobuthus krali Kovařík, 1997 is recorded for Tehran Province for the first time; Mesobuthus eupeus eupeus (C. L. Koch, 1839) is recorded from Alborz, Markazi and Tehran Provinces for the first time; Odontobuthus doriae (Thorell, 1876) is recorded from Alborz Province for the first time; and Scorpio kruglovi Birula, 1910 is recorded for Alborz and Markazi Provinces for the first time. Orthochirus carinatus sp. n. from Iran (Alborz and Tehran Provinces) is described and fully complemented with color photos of preserved specimens, as well as of its habitat.

References:
Navidpour S, Kovarik F, Soleglad ME, Fet V. Scorpions of Iran (Arachnida, Scorpiones). Part X. Alborz, Markazi and Tehran Provinces with a Description of Orthochirus carinatus sp. n. (Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(276):1-20. [Open Access]

Familiy Buthidae


14 February, 2019

A new species of Pandinurus from Somaliland


Thanks to Frantisek Kovarik and his team we have in the last years seen a much needed update of the scorpion fauna of East Africa. In a new contribution recently published, Kovarik and co-workers present a new species of Pandinurus Fet, 1997 (Scorpionidae) from Somaliland.

Pandinurus fulvipes Kovarik, Lowe & Mazuch, 2019

The male of Pandiborellius meidensis (Karsch, 1879) from the same area is described from the first time.

Abstract:
The male of Pandiborellius meidensis (Karsch, 1879) is introduced for the first time and illustrated in detail with color photos, and sexual dimorphism and occurrence of the species are discussed. Pandinurus fulvipes sp. n. from Somaliland is described and fully complemented with color photos of live and preserved specimens, as well as of its habitat.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Lowe G, Mazuch T. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part XIX. Pandiborellius meidensis (Karsch, 1879) and Pandinurus fulvipes sp. n. (Scorpionidae) from Somaliland. Euscorpius. 2019(275):1-18. [Open Access]

Family Scorpionidae

13 February, 2019

A new species of Chaerilus from Malaysia


Frantisek Kovarik has recently published a new species of Chaerilus Simon, 1877 (Chaerilidae) from Malaysia.

Chaerilus alberti Kovarik, 2019

Abstract:
Chaerilus alberti sp. n. from Malaysia (Cameron Highlands) is described and fully illustrated with color photographs of preserved specimens, as well as of their habitat. Males of C. alberti sp. n. have a unique shape of chela which is stout with the manus swollen anteriorly. They are compared to other species from Southeast Asia from all of which C. alberti sp. n. differs by the shape of pedipalp chela parallel or swollen posteriorly or medially. Pedipalp chela is illustrated with color photographs of 21 of these species.

Reference:
Kovarik F. Chaerilus alberti sp. n. from Malaysia (Scorpiones: Chaerilidae). Euscorpius. 2019(274):1-9. [Open Access]

Family Chaerilidae