08 September, 2020

Yet another remarkable cave scorpion finding in Europe

 In Mars I blogged about the remarkable finding of the troglophile cave scorpion Sardoscorpius troglophilus Tropea & Onnis, 2020 (Belisariidae) from Sardinia (Italy). Now I can inform about a remarkable new troglobitic scorpion species from a cave system in Montenegro.

Euscorpius studentium Karaman, 2020 (Euscorpiidae)

The new species is a true troglobite missing eyes and having reduced pigmentation and is actually the first true troglobitic scorpion species in Europe. Only two specimens have been found and it is assumed that the population is very small and critical endangered due to human activities in the cave system it inhabits.

The article also has an interesting discussion about the evolution of troglobitic scorpions.

A troglobite, Euscorpius studentium n. sp. is described based on a single immature male specimen from Skožnica, a relatively small cave in the coastal region of Montenegro. The characteristics of the new species are compared with the characteristics of an immature male specimen of troglophile Euscorpius feti Tropea, 2013 of the same size, from another cave in Montenegro. Some identified differences indicate evolutionary changes that are the result of the process of adaptation of troglobite scorpions for life under conditions found in underground habitats: reduced eyes, depigmentation, smooth teguments with reduced granulation and tubercles, elongated sharp and thin ungues of the legs and narrowed body. The settlement of limestone caves by large troglobionts such as scorpions follows karstification processes. Lithophilic forms that evolved under these conditions possess the necessary climbing abilities that are prerequisite for settlement of hypogean habitats. Uncontrolled visits by tourists in recent years have seriously threatened the fauna of Skožnica cave, including this new and first recognized troglobite scorpion species among European fauna.

Karaman I. A new Euscorpius species (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) from a Dinaric cave - the first record of troglobite scorpion in European fauna. Biologia Serbica. 2020;42. [Open Access]

Thanks to professors Ivo Karaman and Victor Fet for sending me this very interesting article!

Family Euscorpiidae

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