04 June, 2020

A new species of Tityus from Suriname

Eric Ythier and co-workers have recently published an article on the scorpion fauna of Suriname and described one new species in the genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Buthidae).

Tityus kukututee Ythier, Chevalier & Gangadin, 2020

Try to say "kukututee" fast three times! ;)  It means "scorpion" in Ndyuka tongo, one of the Bushinengue (or Maroon) creole languages spoken in eastern Suriname.

A new species of scorpion belonging to the genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836, subgenus Archaeotityus Lourenço, 2006 (family Buthidae C. L. Koch, 1837) is described on the basis of material collected in a sandy dry forest formation located in Pierre Kondre, near Carolina, Para District, Suriname. Some comments are also addressed on the related species Tityus clathratus C. L. Koch, 1845 and Tityus mana Lourenço, 2012 and new locality records are provided for T. mana.

Ythier E, Chevalier J, Gangadin A. Description of Tityus (Archaeotityus) kukututee sp. n. from Suriname, with comments on related species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2020;VI(XXVII):36-51.

Thanks to Eric for sending me their article!

Family Buthidae

03 June, 2020

A new species of Leiurus from Kuwait

Wilson Lourenco has recently published a new article describing a new species of Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) from Kuwait. This is the most easterly recorc of this genus.

Leiurus kuwaiti Lourenco, 2020

No data are available on the medical importance of the new species, but it should be regarded as potential dangerous as many of the other species in the genus.

A new species of buthid scorpion belonging to the genus Leiurus Ehrenberg is described based on a single female collected in the region of Al-Abraq – Al-Khabari farms in Kuwait. The new species, Leiurus kuwaiti sp. n., shows affinities with Leiurus hebraeus (Birula, 1908) species distributed mainly in Jordan and Israel. The populations from Kuwait and Jordan/Israel apparently are totally isolated by a large and dry region now occupied by the An Nafud desert. Therefore in account of the disrupted distribution and some minor morphological differences presented by the two populations, a new species is proposed to accommodate the population from Kuwait. Further investigations should bring more precise conclusions about the status of these two populations. The type locality of the new species represents the most easterly record of the genus Leiurus in the North range of the Arabian Peninsula and represents the first confirmed record of the genus for Kuwait.

Lourenco WR. First record and description of a new species of Leiurus Ehrenberg from Kuwait (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Serket. 2020;17(2):143-9.

Thanks to Serket editor Hisham K. El-Hennawy for sending me this article!

Family Buthidae

29 May, 2020

An update on the scorpion fauna of Puerto Rico and its satellite islands

Luis F. de Armas has recently published an update on the scorpion fauna of Puerto Rico with an annotated list of taxa and a key for the genera for the island.

An annotated list of the scorpions of Puerto Rico and its satellite islands (mainly Vieques, Culebra, Caja de Muertos, Magueyes, Desecheo, and Mona), a key for the seven genera present in those insular territories, a key for the three species of Microtityus, and the basic bibliography on taxonomy and natural history are provided. Of the 16 confirmed species described from these Greater Antillean islands, four are known only from a single sex and only one or two adult specimens. Seven species (six of them from the genus Tityus), are endemic to the Puerto Rico Island; Vieques has two species, whereas Mona Island and Culebrita Island have one species each. At least two species are shared with Hispaniola, whereas one is also found in the Virgin Islands. The only introduced species is Isometrus maculatus (De Geer, 1778). The buthid Tityus dasyurus Pocock, 1897, described from “Porto Rico”, likely is not a Puerto Rican taxon.

de Armas LF. Scorpions of Puerto Rico and its satellite islands (Scorpiones: Buthidae, Diplocentridae): an аnnotated list, key for genera, and bibliography. Euscorpius. 2020(311):1-8. [Open Access]

20 May, 2020

A new species of Isometrus from southern India

Shauri Sulakhe and several co-authors have recently published an article describing a new species of Isometrus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) from southern India.

Isometrus kovariki Sulakhe, Dandekar, Mukherjee, Pandey, Ketkar, Padhye & Bastawade, 2020

A new species of Isometrus (Buthidae) is described from India using integrated taxonomic approach. Isometrus kovariki sp. n. is closely related to I. thurstoni, and differs in morphological features and raw genetic divergence of more than 9%.

Sulakhe S, Dandekar N, Mukherjee S, Pandey M, Ketkar M, Padhye A, et al. A new species of Isometrus (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from southern India. Euscorpius. 2020(310):1-13. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

15 May, 2020

A new species of Leiurus from Somaliland

Frantisek Kovarik and Graeme Lowe recently presented the discovery of a new species of Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) from Somaliland.

Leiurus gubanensis Kovarik & Lowe, 2020

Until 2002, Leiurus only comprised of one, very venomous species Leiurus quinquestriatus (Ehrenberg, 1828). As with many other scorpion species with a wide distribution, this taxa also turned out to be a species complex with many hidden species. With the present species, the genus now consists of 13 species.

The genus Leiurus has always been infamous for having the most potent venom of all scorpion species. But it is unclear wether this also apply for all the new species. Until we know more, the best is to regard all the species in the genus as potential dangerous scorpions.

New data are presented on the distribution of the genus Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 in the Horn of Africa, Somaliland, acquired during expeditions in 2011–2019. Leiurus gubanensis sp. n. is described from the Guban area, an extremely warm and dry place. The description is fully complemented with color photographs of live and preserved specimens, as well as of their habitats. This increases the known diversity of the genus to 14 species.

Kovarik F, Lowe G. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part XXIV. Leiurus (Buthidae), with description of Leiurus gubanensis sp. n. Euscorpius. 2020(309):1-19. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

14 May, 2020

A new species of Euscorpius from caves in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

Gioele Tropea and Roman Ozimec have recently published an article describing a new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscirpiidae) found in more than 20 cave systems in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Euscorpius biokovensis Tropea & Ozimec, 2020

Ecological notes for the new species are presented and its cave preference is discussed.

Another new, subtroglophile scorpion species is described from Croatia, Euscorpius biokovensis sp. n. It is morphologically and ecologically similar to E. feti Tropea, 2013 but can be distinguished from the latter by a lower number of trichobothria (Pv = 8–9, with mostly 8, and usually et = 6) and pectinal teeth (usually Dp = 7 in males and 6 in females). The new species also has a more northern distribution although in some areas the two species overlap. E. biokovensis sp. n. has been found in more than 20 caves in Croatia, which makes it the most common Euscorpius species found in caves. It has also been found in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ecological notes on this species are presented.

Tropea G, Ozimec R. Another new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 from the caves of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae), with notes on biogeography and cave ecology. Euscorpius. 2020(308):1-13. [Open Access]

Thanks to Gioele for sending me their article!

Family Euscorpiidae

06 May, 2020

Three new species of Buthus from Somaliland

Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have recently published a new article in their series of article on the scorpions of the Horn of Africa. This time materials from Somaliland revealed three new species from this country.

Buthus pococki Kovarik, Stahlavsky & Elmi, 2020 (New species)

Buthus somalilandus Kovarik, Stahlavsky & Elmi, 2020 (New species)

Buthus zeylensis  Pocock, 1900 (Restored from synonymy with Buthus berberensis Lourenço, 2008)

The article has an identification key and a distribution map for the genus Buthus in the Horn of Africa.

New data are presented on the distribution of the genus Buthus Leach, 1815 in the Horn of Africa, mainly in Somaliland, acquired during expeditions in 2011–2019. Buthus berberensis Pocock, 1900, for which the exact locality was not known, was collected again. B. zeylensis Pocock, 1900 is restored from synonymy and elevated to species rank, based on a study of 75 recently collected specimens. Two new species, B. pococki sp. n. and B. somalilandus sp. n., are described, fully complemented with color photographs of live and preserved specimens, as well as their habitats. In addition to the analyses of external morphology we also described karyotypes of selected species. B. awashensis, B. pococki sp. n. and B. zeylensis have karyotypes with 2n=22. The karyotype of B. berberensis possesses 21 chromosomes, probably as a consequence of heterozygous fusion that is evident as a trivalent during postpachytene in this species. A key and distribution map of Buthus in the Horn of Africa (five species) are included.

Kovarik F, Stahlavsky F, Elmi HSA. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part XXIII. Buthus (Buthidae), with description of two new species. Euscorpius. 2020(307):1-32. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

03 May, 2020

Phylogenetic study gives Hadruridae family status ("Another one bites the dust")

There have been buzz about Carlos E. Santibáñez-López' and co-worker's new phylogenetic study of the family Caraboctonidae Kraepelin, 1905 for several months, but due to several reasons I have been slow to post this on the blog. But here it is and The Scorpion Files' family pages have also been updated.

I'm not going to go into details about the study here as I must admit that the more technical stuff is above my head, but I will list the main conclusions from the study:

Hadrurinae Stahnke, 1973 is split from Caraboctonidae and elevated to family status, Hadruridae. Hadruridae consists of nine species in the two genera Hadrurus Thorell, 1876 and Hoffmannihadrurus Fet & Soleglad, 2004. Distributed in North America.

Caraboctonidae now consists of 23 species in two two genera Caraboctonus Pocock, 1893 and Hadruroides Pocock, 1893. Distributed in South America.

Two new superfamilies have been created: Caraboctonoidea Kraepelin, 1905 (Caraboctonidae and Superstitioniidae) and Hadruroidea Stahnke, 1974 (Hadruridae).

The genera Uroctonus Thorell, 1876  (currently in Chactidae)  and Belisarius Simon, 1879 (currently in Belisaridae) are regarded as insertae sedis with respect to superfamilial placement.

More phylogenomic analyses will probably give us more insight in the complicated higher-level relationships in scorpions.

Historically, morphological characters have been used to support the monophyly, composition, and phylogenetic relationships of scorpion families. Although recent phylogenomic analyses have recovered most of these traditional higher level relationships as non-monophyletic, certain key taxa have yet to be sampled using a phylogenomic approach. Salient among these is the monotypic genus Caraboctonus Pocock, 1893, the type species of the family Caraboctonidae Kraepelin, 1905. Here, we examined the putative monophyly and phylogenetic placement of this family, sampling the library of C. keyserlingi Pocock, 1893 using high throughput transcriptomic sequencing. Our phylogenomic analyses recovered Caraboctonidae as polyphyletic due to the distant placement of the genera Caraboctonus and Hadrurus Thorell, 1876. Caraboctonus was stably recovered as the sister-group of the monotypic family Superstitioniidae Stahnke, 1940, whereas Hadrurus formed an unstable relationship with Uroctonus Thorell, 1876 and Belisarius Simon, 1879. Fourcluster likelihood mapping revealed that the instability inherent to the placement of Hadrurus, Uroctonus and Belisarius was attributable to significant gene tree conflict in the internodes corresponding to their divergences. To redress the polyphyly of Caraboctonidae, the following systematic actions have been taken: (1) the family Caraboctonidae has been delimited to consist of 23 species in the genera Caraboctonus and Hadruroides Pocock, 1893; (2) Caraboctonidae, previously included in the superfamily Iuroidea Thorell, 1876 or as incertae sedis, is transferred to the superfamily Caraboctonoidea (new rank); (3) the superfamily Hadruroidea (new rank) is established and the status of Hadrurinae Stahnke, 1973 is elevated to family (Hadruridae new status) including 9 species in the genera Hadrurus and Hoffmannihadrurus Fet & Soleglad, 2004 and (4) we treat Uroctonus and Belisarius as insertae sedis with respect to superfamilial placement. Our systematic actions engender the monophyly of both Iuroidea and Caraboctonidae. Future phylogenomic investigations should target similar taxon-poor and understudied

Santibáñez-López CE, Ojanguren-Affilastro AA, Sharma PP. Another one bites the dust: Taxonomic sampling of a key genus in phylogenomic datasets reveals more non-monophyletic groups in traditional scorpion classification. Invertebrate Systematics. 2020;34(2):133-43. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Carlos E. Santibáñez-López and Prashant P. Sharma who have kept me informed about their study. I have also been informed about this article by Kari McWest and Matt Simon. Big thanks to them!

Family Caraboctonidae
Family Hadruridae

21 April, 2020

Two new species of Janalychas from India

Zeeshan Mirza has recently published an article describing two new species of Janalychas Kovarik, 2019 (Buthidae) from the Western Ghats, India.

Janalychas granulatus Mirza, 2020

Janalychas keralaensis Mirza, 2020

In addition, the species Lychas aareyensis Mirza & Sanap, 2010 has been re-analysed an moved to the genus Reddyanus Vachon, 1972.

Reddyanus aareyensis (Mirza & Sanap, 2010)

The buthid scorpion Janalychas tricarinatus Simon, 1884 is a species distributed in most parts of the Indian peninsula. I
assessed morphological and molecular data for representatives of this species from peninsular India, which hints at the presence of multiple species within the broadly distributed J. tricarinatus sensu lato. Conjugation of morphological and molecular data allow me to describe two new species of the genus Janalychas that were, until now, considered conspecific with J. tricarinatus. Re-examination of the type specimens of Lychas aareyensis Mirza & Sanap, 2010 revealed the lack of a tibial spur, a character of the genus Reddyanus Vachon, 1972 and not Lychas Koch, 1845 or Janalychas Kovařík, 2019, which leads me to transfer the species to the genus Reddyanus (Reddyanus aareyensis (Mirza & Sanap, 2010) comb. nov. as db is situated between et and est on the pedipalp manus. Discovery of two new species highlights the need for employing integrated taxonomic approaches to define and delimit species.

Mirza ZA. Two new species of buthid scorpion of the genus Janalychas Kovařík, 2019 (Arachnida: Scorpiones: Buthidae) from the Western Ghats, India. Arachnology. 2020;18(4):316–24. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Zeeshan Mirza for sending me his article!

Family Buthidae

Molecular phylogeny of three species of the genus Buthacus from Saudi Arabia and Egypt

The genus Buthacus Birula, 1908 (Buthidae) is a widespread genus with a complex taxonmy with several unresolved taxa. Abdulaziz Alqahtania and Ahmed Badry have recently published a study investigating the molecular phylogeny of three species of the genus from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. One main result is a support for a monophyletic status of the genus Buthacus. See abstract and article for more details and results.

The molecular phylogeny of three species of genus Buthacus, based on 16S rRNA mitochondrial DNA gene from Egypt and Saudi Arabia is presented. The inferred phylogeny based on maximum-parsimony, neighbor-joining and bayesian inference, indicates the monophyletic status of the genus Buthacus. A clear deep splitting between the “Egyptian clade” consisting of B. arenicola and B. leptochyles and the “Arabian clade” consisting of B. nigroaculatus was shown.

Alqahtani AR, Badry A. Interspecific phylogenetic relationship among different species of the genus Buthacus (Scorpiones: Buthidae) inferred from 16S rRNA in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Zoology in the Middle East. 2020. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Dr. Badry for sending me information about their article!

Family Buthidae

13 April, 2020

Two new species of Isometrus from India

Shauri Sulakhe and co-workers have recently published an article describing two new cryptic species of Isometrus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) from the northern Western Ghats in India.

Isometrus amboli Sulakhe, Dandekar, Padhye & Bastawade, 2020

Isometrus tamhini Sulakhe, Dandekar, Padhye & Bastawade, 2020

The new species and their habitats are illustrated with color photos.

Integrated taxonomic approach is used to describe two new cryptic species of the genus Isometrus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from the northern Western Ghats of India. Isometrus tamhini sp. n. and I. amboli sp. n. are closely related to each other and differ from two other Indian species of the genus, I. thurstoni and I. maculatus, by the morphological features and araw genetic divergence of over 10%.

Sulakhe S, Dandekar N, Padhye A, Bastawade D. Two new cryptic species of Isometrus (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from the northern Western Ghats, India. Euscorpius. 2020(305):1-24. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

03 April, 2020

Four new species in the endemic Cuban genus Tityopsis

Rolando Teruel and Tomás M. Rodríguez-Cabrera have recently published a revision of the endemic Cuban genus Tityopsis Armas, 1974 (Buthidae). Four new species have been described from western Cuba, bringing the total number of species in the genus up to six.

Tityopsis canizaresorum Teruel & Rodríguez-Cabrera, 2020*
Tityopsis mulata Teruel & Rodríguez-Cabrera, 2020* 
Tityopsis pumila Teruel & Rodríguez-Cabrera, 2020*
Tityopsis sheylae Teruel & Rodríguez-Cabrera, 2020*

The article has many color pictures of the new species and their habitats.

The buthid scorpion genus Tityopsis Armas, 1974, endemic to western Cuba, is herein revised. In total, 428 specimens were examined from 127 localities, including the primary types of the two species currently recognized as valid; this led to realize that several populations actually represent taxa new to science. Four of them are described in the present paper: a presumed troglobite and three others from epigean habitats. A thorough photographic complement and data on natural history are given for each species and for the genus in general, for which known geographical distribution is verified and updated. With this contribution, the scorpion fauna of Cuba reaches now 61 species, with 56 of them (92%) being endemic to this Caribbean archipelago.

Teruel R, Rodríguez-Cabrera TM. Revision of the genus Tityopsis Armas, 1974 (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Part 1. General updates and description of four new species. Euscorpius. 2020(304):1-40. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

31 March, 2020

A new species of Vaejovis from Arizona, USA

I hope that everyone are safe in this difficult time and stay away from the Corona virus. At the moment Norway is partly in lock down and I have now had home office for more than 14 days and that will probably continue into April. Because of the situation I'm not able to update The Scorpion Files as often as usual, but the articles and taxonomical changes that I have on the waiting list will hopefully appear in the blog soon. Please take care of yourself!

Richard Ayrey has discovered yet another new Vaejovis C.L. Koch, 1836 (Vaejovidae) from northern Arizona.

Vaejovis elii Ayrey, 2020

A new scorpion species, Vaejovis elii sp. n., is described. This small, dark brown species is found on Mingus Mountain, Yavapai County, northern Arizona, USA. It is geographically closest to V. crumpi Ayrey & Soleglad. We compare it to that species and two other species found in northern Arizona. The pedipalp fixed finger has 6 ID denticles and the movable finger has 7, like in most, but not all, of the other northern Arizona Vaejovis. Carapace of female is longer than metasomal segment V.

Ayrey RF. A new species of Vaejovis from Mingus Mountain, northern Arizona (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius. 2020(303):1-13. [Open Acces]

20 March, 2020

Anniversary issue of the open access scorpion journal Euscorpius with list of all new taxa published in the journal since 2002

Congratulations to Victor Fet and Michael E. Soleglad with issue 300 of the open access scorpion journal Euscorpius! In issue 3000, Victor Fet and Frantisek Kovarik present a list of all new taxa described in the journal in 2002–2020. No less than 295 new species and 24 new genera of scorpions have been described since the start of the journal.

This anniversary issue of the electronic, open-access journal “Euscorpius” contains a list of all new taxa described in the journal in 2002–2020. The list includes 295 new species and 24 new genera of scorpions. A chronological list of all 299 journal issues is appended.

Fet V, Kovarik F. New scorpion taxa (Arachnida: Scorpiones) described in the journal “Euscorpius” in 2002–2020. Euscorpius. 2020(300):1-31. [Open access]

Nine new species of Scorpiops described from Asia

Frantisek Kovarik recently published a new article describing nine new species of Scorpiops Peters, 1861 (Euscorpiidae or Scorpiopidae depending on which famly structure you choose) from from China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

Scorpiops furai Kovarik, 2020 (India)
Scorpiops grosseri Kovarik, 2020 (India)
Scorpiops harmsi Kovarik, 2020 (Nepal)
Scorpiops hofereki Kovarik, 2020 (Pakistan) 
Scorpiops kejvali Kovarik, 2020 (India)
Scorpiops tryznai Kovarik, 2020 (India)
Scorpiops wrzecionkoi Kovarik, 2020 (China)
Scorpiops yagmuri Kovarik, 2020 (Pakistan)
Scorpiops zubairi Kovarik, 2020 (Pakistan)

The following species is raised to species from subspecies status:

Scorpiops vonwicki Birula, 1913

All species are illustrated with color pictures.

Nine new species are described: Scorpiops furai sp. n. (India), S. grosseri sp. n. (India), S. harmsi sp. n. (Nepal), S. hofereki sp. n. (Pakistan), S. kejvali sp. n. (India), S. tryznai sp. n. (India), S. wrzecionkoi sp. n. (China), S. yagmuri sp. n. (Pakistan), and S. zubairi sp. n. (Pakistan), fully complemented with color photographs of preserved specimens. New species are distinguished from all other species of the family Scorpiopidae by combinations of eight major characters: position of pedipalp chelal trichobothrium Eb3; number of pedipalp patella ventral trichobothria; shape of pedipalp fingers; number of inner accessory denticles (IAD) of pedipalp movable finger; chela length to width ratio; telson length to depth ratio; total length; and pecten morphology. Also, Scorpiops vonwicki Birula, 1913 stat. n. (India) is elevated to species rank; a new diagnosis of its only known specimen (female holotype) is given, fully illustrated with color photographs; and the fascinating story of its discovery is revealed for the first time.

Kovarik F. Nine new species of Scorpiops Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones: Scorpiopidae) from China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Euscorpius. 2020(302):1-43. [Open Access]

Family Euscorpiidae

03 March, 2020

Super toad eats one of the world's most venomous scorpion for dinner

Tityus serrulatus Lutz & Mello, 1922 (Buthidae) is one of the world's most venomous scorpions and a public health problem in parts of Brazil. This is an invasive species that has spread to many regions and are also found in urban habitats increasing the probability of human interactions.

Help reducing the populations of this potent species can be found in unusual places. Carlos Jared and co-workers have recently publish an article showing that the “cururu toads” Rhinella icterica (Spix, 1824) capture and eat the deadly Tityus species with great appetite. In addition, the toad seems resistant to the venom of Tityus serrulatus. A group of toads were injected with both letal dose and five-time lethal dose of venom (for mice), but none of the toads died or showed any effects of the venom. Quite a super-toad!

So keeping the toads in your garden or vicinity may be a helpful tool in the biological control of this dangerous scorpion in Brazil.

In recent years, SE Brazil, the most populous region in the country with an estimated population of 88 million, has been experiencing an alarming increase in scorpions accidents (scorpionism), mainly caused by the yellow scorpion (Tityus serrulatus), or “escorpi~ao amarelo” in Portuguese. This species is considered particularly dangerous to humans and can reproduce by parthenogenesis favouring rapid dispersal and colonization of new environments. Since the 1940s, owing to the growing danger represented by scorpionism, public control policies have been developed, including active search for scorpions, together with the use of toxic substances applied in places most likely to serve as their refuges. Even so, the number of accidents is increasing year by year, presently at an alarming rate. It seems evident that the increase in accidents is directly (or primarily) related to the lack of predators that in healthy environmental conditions would naturally control scorpion populations. However, due to environmental changes, leading to a lack of predators, scorpions have been gradually invading the urban environment. Arachnids and insects in general, as well as some other invertebrates, are preyed upon by anuran amphibians (toads, frogs and tree frogs). Toads (family Bufonidae) are nocturnal, large, and highly voracious animals, capable of actively exploring extensive areas and consuming large numbers of insects and arachnids daily. One of the most common toad species in southeastern Brazil is Rhinella icterica. Both R. icterica and T. serrulatus inhabit the same nocturnal environment. The predatory action of toads, specifically on scorpions, is practically unknown from behavioural and toxinological points of view. Thus, we studied the predatory behaviour of this toad against the yellow scorpion and evaluated the resistance of the amphibian to scorpion venom. Our results show that R. icterica is a voracious predator of T. serrulatus and is extremely resistant to its venom. Human/toad relationship throughout western history has always been very conflicted and possibly one of the factors that most has contributed to human ignorance of the role of these amphibians in maintaining ecological balance. Presently, the control of scorpionism is being performed through active search and/or the use of chemical agents, although showing little efficacy in reducing human accidents. In the medium or long term, more effective actions taking into account the biology of scorpions and their predators have never been taken to reduce these accidents.

Jared C, Alexandre C, Mailho-Fontana PL, Pimenta DC, Brodie ED, Jr., Antoniazzi MM. Toads prey upon scorpions and are resistant to their venom: A biological and ecological approach to scorpionism. Toxicon. 2020;178:4-7.[Subscription required for full text]

02 March, 2020

Remarkable cave scorpion finding in Sardinia reveals new genus and species

Sometimes you get surprise by remarkable scorpions findings and this time it is actually in Europe. Gioele Tropea and Carlo Onnis recently published an article describing the finding of a new genus and species in a cave system in Sardinia (Italy). I'm thrilled that there are still hidden scorpion gems like this around!

Sardoscorpius Tropea & Onnis, 2020 (new genus)

Sardoscorpius troglophilus Tropea & Onnis, 2020 (new species)

As the name implies, the new species has been only collected inside two natural caves. Interestingly, the new scorpion lacks marked adaptations to the life in caves like missing eyes, reduced pigmentation etc. Sardoscorpius has not been found outside the cave system and seems to prefer a troglobitc life style despite missing traditional cave dwelling characteristics.

The new species looks very much like the troglomorphic (eutroglophile) Belisarius Simon, 1879 found in and outside caves in the Pyrenees, in Spain and France, except for having well developed eyes. And this species is actually Sardoscorpius' closest relative. Belisarius has so far been placed in the family Troglotayosicidae together with the genus Troglotayosicus Lourenço, 1981, but the taxonomic position of these genera are unclear. Until further investigations, Tropea & Onnis have chosen to elevate Belisariidae Lourenco, 1998 to family status and include Belisarius and Sardoscorpius in this family.

A remarkable discovery in the Italian scorpion fauna is herein presented with the description of a new scorpion genus and species from Sardinia, Sardoscorpius troglophilus gen. n. et sp. n., known only from natural caves. It is related to the Pyrenean relict endogean genus Belisarius Simon, 1879, and placed in the family Belisariidae Lourenço, 1998 stat. n., which is here elevated to family status. With this description, a member of Belisariidae stat. n. is registered for the first time in Italy. At the moment, the Italian fauna of scorpions includes three families (Belisariidae stat. n., Buthidae and Euscorpiidae), five genera (Buthus, Alpiscorpius, Euscorpius, Tetratrichobothrius and Sardoscorpius gen. n.) and 23 species. The new taxon is the first and only endemic scorpion genus found in Italy.

Tropea G, Onnis C. A remarkable discovery of a new scorpion genus and species from Sardinia (Scorpiones: Chactoidea: Belisariidae). Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2020;VI(XXVI):3-25.

Thanks to Gioele Tropea for sending me this very interesting article!

Family Belisariidae

25 February, 2020

The potential impact of climate change on the future distribution of scorpion species in two different ecosystems in Brazil

Climate changes and subsequent habitat changes or destruction is high on the agenda these days. But how will climate change impact on scorpions? Andre Lira and co-workers published a study in December trying to answer this question.

And not surprisingly their study showed that all 10 species in the study presented a drastic reduction in potential distribution du to expected climate changes, ranging from 44% to 72%, when compared with their current distribution. Interestingly, this applied both to generalist and specialist species. It was expected that latter was more vulnerable to changes than the former.

Current predictions about the responses of species to climate change strongly rely on projecting altered environmental conditions on their distributions. In this study, we investigated the effects of future climate change scenarios on the potential distribution of 10 species of scorpions in north-eastern Brazil in the context of their degree of specialisation to closed (Atlantic and Amazon Forests) and open (Caatinga and Cerrado) habitats. Scorpion species were classified as habitat specialists or generalists according to the IndVal index, and present and future species distribution models were prepared using minimum volume ellipsoids. According to IndVal, four species were classified as closed-forest specialists (Ananteris mauryi, Tityus brazilae, Tityus pusillus and Tityus neglectus), four as open-forest specialists (Jaguajir agamemnon, Jaguajir rochae, Physoctonus debilis and Bothriurus rochai), and two as generalists (Tityus stigmurus and Bothriurus asper). All species presented a drastic reduction in potential distribution, ranging from 44% to 72%, when compared with their current distribution. In addition, we found a reduction in scorpion species richness under future climate change scenarios. This finding has implications for scorpion conservation. Further, the results show that climate change may impact the composition of scorpion assemblages in north-eastern Brazil, revealing important implications for human–scorpion interactions.

Lira AFDA, Badillo-Montaño R, Lira-Noriega A, de Albuquerque CMR. Potential distribution patterns of scorpions in north-eastern Brazil under scenarios of future climate change. Austral Ecol. 2019. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andre Lira for sending me their article!

17 February, 2020

Are trichobothria really necessary in scorpion prey capture?

It is a well known fact that the scorpion trichobothria on their pedipalps are very important in how the scorpions sense their environment. They use these small hairs to detect vibrations in the air and in the substrate, but direct behavioral studies on the use of trichobothria and natural prey capture are scarce.

Gabriel Pimenta Murayama and Rodrigo Hirata Willemart have recently published an interresting  study where they tested if the trichobothria are important in prey capture in Tityus serrulatus Lutz & Mello, 1922 (Buthidae). I must admit I assumed the answer was yes, but surprisingly their results suggested that the trichobothria of T. serrulatus was not essential to capture terrestrial prey.

It is important to remember that scorpions do have other types of sensory hairs (sensilla) on different parts of their body and these may play a role in detecting prey in the scorpions vicinity.

Many arachnids rely on substrate-borne vibrations and air displacement to detect prey. Air-flow stimuli may be detected by long setae called trichobothria, which occur on scorpion pedipalps, but seldom have their functions been addressed in these animals. We tested the hypothesis that trichobothria on scorpion pedipalps are important for capturing terrestrial prey in the scorpion Tityus serrulatus. We predicted that scorpions with trichobothria experimentally removed would be less successful in capturing terrestrial prey than the control groups. We also predicted that scorpions without trichobothria would have a higher number of capture attempts, that the latency to detect prey and to the first capture attempts would be higher, and the number of times that scorpions oriented their body towards the prey would be lower. We used an experimental subject and a cricket in an arena with a paper sheet as substrate. We did not find differences in the measured variables between the groups. Other sensory organs, such as basitarsal compound slit sensilla and tarsal hairs would enable scorpions to detect prey by substrate-borne vibrations, compensating for the lack of trichobothria. Our results suggest that the trichobothria of T. serrulatus may not be essential to capture terrestrial prey.

Murayama GP, Willemart RH. Are trichobothria used in terrestrial prey capture by the yellow scorpion Tityus serrulatus Lutz & Mello, 1922 (Buthidae)? Arachnology. 2019;18(3):287-90.

14 February, 2020

The role of sexual dimorphism in prey capture in two scorpion genera with different degree of male and female dimorphism

Sexual differences in morphology and other traits occur in many scorpion species, while the male and female are quite similar in others. In scorpions, sexual dimorphism is usually associated with mating and associated behavior.

Morphological differences in pedipalps and cauda have an impact in prey capture tactics, sting use and venom use in scorpions. Scorpions with large, powerful pedipalps will often not use their stinger and rely on the power of the pedipalps compared to species with more slender pedipalp.

Julio Cesar Gonzalez-Gomez and co-workers have recently published an article combining the above mentioned characteristics in scorpions by looking into the role of sexual dimorphism in prey capture in one group of scorpions with large sex differences and another group with minor differences. As espected they found significant differences between males and females in the group with large sexual dimorphism, and no differences in the group with minor differences.

Morphological differences between the sexes are a common feature in many groups of animals and can have important ecological implications for courtship, mating, access to prey and, in some cases, intersex niche partitioning. In this study, we evaluated the role of sexual dimorphism in the performance of the two structures that mediate the ability to access prey, the pinchers or chelae and the venomous stinger, in two species of scorpions with contrasting morphologies: Chactas sp., which has marked sexual dimorphism in the chelae, and Centruroides sp., which does not have such marked dimorphism in the chelae. We evaluated aspects such as chela pinch force, toxicity to prey (LD50) and the volume of venom in males and females of each species. We found significant differences between males and females of Chactas sp. in the chela pinch force, volume of venom and LD50. In contrast, for Centruroides sp., no differences between males and females were found in any of these traits. We discuss several potential selective regimes that could account for the pattern observed.

González-Gómez JC, Valenzuela-Rojas JC, García LF, Franco Pérez LM, Guevara G, Buitrago S, et al. Sexual dimorphism in the biomechanical and toxicological performance in prey incapacitation of two morphologically distinct scorpion species (Chactas sp. and Centruroides sp.). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 2020;129(1):190-8. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Luis Fer for sending me this article!

13 February, 2020

A description of the hemispermatophore and mating plug of Vaejovis lapidicola

The hemispermatophore and mating plug have become important structures in scorpion taxonomy. Brandon Myers and Richard Ayrey have now published a description of these structures in the vaejovid Vaejovis lapidicola Stahnke, 1940.

While doing research on an undescribed scorpion species, we needed to examine the hemispermatophore and mating plug of Vaejovis lapidicola Stahnke, 1940. Included are photographs and a description of these structures from a topotype specimen collected in the same “red sandstone quarry” (Flagstaff, Arizona, USA), from which Herbert Stahnke collected the original specimens in 1938.

Myers B, Ayrey RF. Vaejovis lapidicola Stahnke, 1940: hemispermatophore and mating plug from a topotype male (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius. 2020(299):1-7. [Open Access]

Family Vaejovidae

07 February, 2020

Two new species of Compsobuthus from North Africa

Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have recently publish a paper on species in the genus Compsobuthus Vachon, 1949 (Buthidae) from Arabia and North Africa. Two new species are described.

Compsobuthus turieli Kovarik, Lowe, Stockmann & Stahlavsky, 2020 (Western Sahara and Morocco)

Compsobuthus ullrichi Kovarik, Lowe, Stockmann & Stahlavsky, 2020 (Egypt)

The article has also a redescription of Compsobuthus arabicus Levy, Amitai & Shulov, 1973.

Two new species of Compsobuthus Vachon, 1949, are described: C. turieli sp. n. from Western Sahara and Morocco, and C. ullrichi sp. n. from Egypt. The species C. arabicus Levy et al., 1973 is redescribed based on analysis of the holotype plus extensive material from Oman and the United Arab Emirates. These species are compared to others from their respective regions: C. kabateki Kovařík, 2003, C. levyi Kovařík, 2012, and C. polisi Lowe, 2001, for which new illustrations and biometrics are provided based on types and topotypic material. The hemispermatophores of C. arabicus, C. turieli sp. n. and C. ullrichi sp. n. are illustrated and described. We also record the karyotypes of C. acutecarinatus, C. arabicus, C. maindroni and C. ullrichi sp. n. All examined specimens possess 2n=22 and chromosomes gradually decreasing in length.

Kovarik F, Lowe G, Stockmann M, Stahlavsky F. Notes on Compsobuthus: redescription of C. arabicus Levy et al., 1973 from Arabia, and description of two new species from North Africa (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2020(298):1-40.

Congratulations on your "own" species, Carlos and Alex! :)

Family Buthidae

A new species of Ananteris from Panama

Roberto Miranda and Luis de Armas have recently published a new species of Ananteris Thorell, 1891 (Buthidae) from Panama.

Ananteris canalera Miranda & Armas, 2020

A new buthid species belonging to the genus Ananteris Thorell, 1891 is herein described from Panama Oeste Province, Panama. This is the second Ananteris species known from this Central American country and clearly differs from Ananteris platnicki Lourenço, 1993, distributed in Costa Rica and Panama, by its smaller size and male having a different hemispermatophore and telson similar to that of the female.

Miranda RJ, de Armas LF. A new species of Ananteris (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Panama. Euscorpius. 2020(297):1-7. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

21 January, 2020

Fossil of oldest scorpion known to science discovered

Scorpions have been around for a long time and researchers think they were among the first animals to become terrestrial. There is a debate going on whether these old scorpion ancestors were living in water or developed on land. Some think the latter, and that the water living species found developed later.

Andrew J. Wendruff and co-workers have discovered a 430 million years old preserved fossil scorpion from the Waukesha Biota (early Silurian, ca. 437.5–436.5 Ma) of Wisconsin, USA. This is the oldest scorpion fossil ever found. In their interesting article the authors discuss whether Parioscorpio venator, which is the name of grand, grand, grand .........father of today's scorpions, lived on land or in water. Their conclusion is that it probably could live in both environments, similar to today's horseshoe crabs.

Scorpions are among the first animals to have become fully terrestrialised. Their early fossil record is limited, and fundamental questions, including how and when they adapted to life on land, have been difficult to answer. Here we describe a new exceptionally preserved fossil scorpion from the Waukesha Biota (early Silurian, ca. 437.5–436.5 Ma) of Wisconsin, USA. This is the earliest scorpion yet reported, and it shows a combination of primitive marine chelicerate and derived arachnid characteristics. Elements of the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems are preserved, and they are essentially indistinguishable from those of present-day scorpions but share similarities with marine relatives. At this early point in arachnid evolution, physiological changes concomitant with the marine-to-terrestrial transition must have occurred but, remarkably, structural change in the circulatory or respiratory systems appear negligible. Whereas there is no unambiguous evidence that this early scorpion was terrestrial, this evidence suggests that ancestral scorpions were likely capable of forays onto land, a behavior similar to that of extant horseshoe crabs.

Wendruff AJ, Babcock LE, Wirkner CS, Kluessendorf J, Mikulic DG. A Silurian ancestral scorpion with fossilised internal anatomy illustrating a pathway to arachnid terrestrialisation. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):14.  [Open Access]

17 January, 2020

Scorpions use different defensive behavior depending on sex, age and the threat level

Scorpions have developed multiple strategies for the defense against predators ranging from playing dead, running away to fighting back with the use of sting and venom. Interestingly, there seems to be differences in defensive behavior within the same species depending on the sex, age, size/strength of the threat and time of the day.

Andre Lira and co-workers published a study last Fall on the defensive behavior in the scorpion Tityus pusillus Lourenço, 2013 (Buthidae) from Brazil. A plasticity in defensive behavior was observed in this species, seeming to be influenced by the sex, age, diel period, and the body part targeted by the predator.

Differences in gender and age and the balance between aggressive behavior and the ability to escape are fundamental in predator–prey interactions, as well as for survival, foraging, and mating success. We investigated the defensive behavior of the scorpion Tityus pusillus and assessed possible differences in their behavior responses associated with sex, age, and diel period, by simulating a predation threat. Predator attacks were simulated by pressing the telsons with forceps, dropping the animals from a height of 25 cm on a plastic tray, restraining the pincers using large rubber-tipped tweezers, or restricting the prosoma. Tityus pusillus (Buthidae) showed five defensive behaviors: thanatosis, fleeing, stinging, standing still, and tail wagging. The scorpions responded with thanatosis or fleeing when their telsons were restricted. The frequency of these responses varied with sex and diel period. Stinging was the primary behavior response to prosoma restriction in both adults and juveniles while standing still was the most frequently observed behavior response to restraining pincers. These results indicate that the plasticity of defensive behavior in T. pusillus in response to predation is influenced by sex, age, diel period, and the body part targeted by the predator.

Lira AFA, Almeida FAF, Albuquerque CMR. Reaction under the risk of predation: effects of age and sexual plasticity on defensive behavior in scorpion Tityus pusillus (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Journal of Ethology. 2019;38(1):13-9. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to André for sending me this interesting article that I have been way to slow to read!