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.

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.

Kovarik F. A revision of the genus Hottentotta Birula, 1908, with descriptions of four new species (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2007(58):1-107. [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.

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.

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".

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!