12 May, 2021

A revision of the genus Buthacus from the Middle East with several taxonomical changes

 


The Sand Scorpions, also known as the genus Buthacus Birula, 1908 (Buthidae) are widespread in in the sandy deserts of the Palearctic, from West Africa to India. No modern revision has been done for this sand-loving genus.

Shlomo Cain and co-workers have now published a systematic revision of the Buthacus species of the Levant (the Middle East including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt)). 

Here are the taxonomical highlights:

New species:

Buthacus amitaii Caine, Gefen & Prendini, 2021 (Israel)

Buthacus arava Caine, Gefen & Prendini, 2021 (Israel and Jordan)

Buthacus levyi Caine, Gefen & Prendini, 2021 (Egypt, Israel and maybe Libya)

New species status/re-validations:

Buthacus armasi Lourenço, 2013 (Southern Algeria)

Buthacus spatzi (Birula, 1911) (Southern Tunisia and western Libya)

Buthacus fuscata Pallary, 1929 (Southern Algeria)

Buthacus nitzani Levy et al., 1973 (Israel and probably also in the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt))

Buthacus tadmorensis (Simon, 1892) (Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey)*

Buthacus yotvatensis Levy et al., 1973 (Israel and Jordan)

*) B. tadmorensis was listed as a valid species in The Scorpion Files before this article. It seems that the 2005 synonymization was missed by me.

Synonymizations:

Buthacus macrocentrus (Ehrenberg, 1828) synonymized with Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829)

See abstract and article for more results and details.

The article has an updated identification key for the genus.

Abstract:
Scorpions of the genus Buthacus Birula, 1908 (Buthidae C.L. Koch, 1837), commonly known as “sand scorpions,” are widespread in the sandy deserts of the Palearctic, from West Africa to India. Although many new species of Buthacus were described in recent years, no modern revision exists for the genus and the limits of many infrageneric taxa remain unclear. The present contribution addresses the species of Buthacus recorded from the Levant, defined here as the region of the Middle East including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt). Prior to this study, five species and subspecies, including several synonyms, were recognized from the region. Based on extensive new collections, a reassessment of the morphology (including multivariate statistical analysis), and a phylogenetic analysis of morphological and DNA sequence data, published elsewhere, seven species of Buthacus are now recognized from the Levant, raising the number of species in the genus to 30. Three new species are described: Buthacus amitaii, sp. nov., endemic to Israel; Buthacus arava, sp. nov., endemic to Israel and Jordan; and Buthacus levyi, sp. nov., endemic to Egypt, Israel, and perhaps Libya. Buthacus arenicola (Simon, 1885) is redescribed and restricted to northeastern Algeria and central Tunisia, and Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829) redescribed and restricted to Egypt, Sudan, and perhaps Libya. Buthacus armasi Lourenço, 2013, stat. rev., from southern Algeria, and Buthacus spatzi (Birula, 1911), stat. rev., from southern Tunisia and western Libya, are revalidated, and Buthacus fuscata Pallary, 1929, stat. nov. et stat. rev., from southern Algeria, revalidated and elevated to the rank of species. Buthacus nitzani Levy et al., 1973, stat. nov., currently restricted to Israel but probably present in the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), is elevated to the rank of species. Buthacus tadmorensis (Simon, 1892), stat. rev., recorded from Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey, and Buthacus yotvatensis Levy et al., 1973, stat. rev., endemic to Israel and Jordan, are redescribed and revalidated. Three new synonyms are presented: Androctonus (Leiurus) macrocentrus Ehrenberg, 1828 = Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829), syn. nov.; Buthus pietschmanni Penther, 1912 = Buthacus tadmorensis (Simon, 1892), syn. nov.; Buthacus granosus Borelli, 1929 = Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829), syn. nov. Buthacus arenicola and the seven species of Buthacus occurring in the Levant are diagnosed and illustrated to modern standards, with updated distribution maps. A list of the currently recognized species of Buthacus, and a key to identification of the species occurring in the Levant are also presented.

Reference:
Cain S, Gefen E, Prendini L. Systematic Revision of the Sand Scorpions, Genus Buthacus Birula, 1908 (Buthidae C.L. Koch, 1837) of the Levant, with Redescription of Buthacus arenicola (Simon, 1885) from Algeria and Tunisia. Bulletin of The American Museum of Natural History. 2021(450):1-134. [Open access]

Family Buthidae

11 May, 2021

Sexual stings in scorpion courtship are not just rituals

 


Sexual stings during courtship is probably one of the most fascinating behavior in scorpions. This has been documented in many species, but so far it has not been proven the the male actually penetrate the skin of the female  and if venom is injected. Some authors have characterized this behavior as "a ritual". 

Laura Olguin-Perez and co-workers have recently published a very interesting study on sexual sting in Megacormus gertschi Diaz-Najera, 1966 (Euscorpiidae). The confirm that the male penetrate the female repeatedly in the pedipalp tibia-patella intersegmental membrane just before the promenade a deux part of the courtship starts. They also confirm for the first time that the male actually injects venom into the female during the sexual stinging. Interestingly, the authors also demonstrate that the venom composition in males and females differs.

The combination of these results provide evidence that the sexual sting in scorpion courtships are more than a ritualistic behavior, but seem to have a direct role to ensure a successful courtship and mating. More research is needed to unravel the proximate effects the male venom injection has on the females and their behavior against the male.

Abstract:
The males of the Mexican species Megacormus gertschi Diaz-Najera, 1966 (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae: Megacorminae) sting the female repeatedly in the pedipalp tibia-patella intersegmental membrane (TPIM) during the initiation of the promenade a deux. It has been suggested that the male’s venom introduced during this ‘‘sexual sting’’ behavior could generate some sedative effect and reduce the possibility of being cannibalized by the female. However, this is unsupported by evidence regarding venom transference. Here, we provide evidence of perforation of the TPIM by the male aculeus and venom transfer during sexual sting performance. We also provide the first venom characterization of this species and show that it has a sexually dimorphic composition. These results, in combination with observations that the sexual sting is displayed in successful matings with non-defensive females, lead us to consider the pre-insemination sexual stinging as a non-genitalic sexual interaction with a potential role as a courtship element.

Reference:
Olguin-Perez L, Francke OF, Carbajal-Saucedo A. Evidence of piercing and sexual differences in venom composition in a sexual stinging scorpion (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). J Arachnol. 2021;49:98-107. [Open Access]

Thanks to Oscar Francke for sending me their article!

29 April, 2021

A new species of Leiurus from Egypt

 


Wilson Lourenco and Hisham El-Hennawy have recetly published the discovery of a second species of Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) from Egypt.

Leiurus aegyptiacus Lourenco & El-Hennaway, 2021

Pictures of the new species' super-dry habitat are also presented.

Abstract:
One more new species is described for the genus Leiurus Ehrenberg from Africa. The description is based on one juvenile female collected in the region NE of Maghra, east of the Qattara Depression, Egypt. Although some affinities may be suggested with L. quinquestriatus and L. hebraeus, species distributed in Egypt and Israel, several characteristics attest however that this population is certainly distinct. The type locality of the new species corresponds to a very poorly prospected zone in Egypt and further studies in the area should provide new material confirming the present decision.

Reference:
Lourenco WR, El-Hennawy HK. New considerations on the Leiurus Ehrenberg (Scorpiones: Buthidae) distributed in Africa and description of a particular species from Egypt. Serket. 2021;17(4):325-34. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

A few taxonomical changes in the genus Orthochirus

 


Wilson Lourenco and Eric Ythier have recently published an article with some taxonomical changes in the genera Orthochirus Karsch, 1891 and Orthochiroides Kovarik, 1998 in Africa (Buthidae).

 Genus Orthochiroides Kovarik, 1998 is synonymized with Orthochirus Karsch, 1891 and the three species belonging to to the former is now in Orthochirus.

Orthochirus arenicola Lourenco & Ythier, 2021 - New species from the coasts of Somalia.

Orthochirus aristidis (Simon, 1882) is restored from its synonymy with Orthochirus olivaceus (Karsch, 1881). 

Abstract:
A new species of buthid scorpion, Orthochirus arenicola sp. n. is described from the coasts of Somalia. The scorpion was collected on the beach sand under bush-like herbaceous vegetation by our late Italian colleague Professor P. M. Brignoli. New considerations are also proposed for other related taxa. Orthochirus afar Kovařík & Lowe, 2016 described from Afar, Ethiopia is suggested to be a synonym of Orthochirus aristidis (Simon, 1882); no final decision is taken however face to the impossibility of consulting the types of Orthochirus afar. Orthochirus aristidis is restored from its synonymy with Orthochirus olivaceus (Karsch, 1881). Finally, the genus Orthochiroides Kovařík, 1998 is placed as a junior synonym of Orthochirus Karsch, 1891.

References:
Lourenco WR, Ythier E. A particular new species of Orthochirus Karsch, 1891 from Somalia (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Serket. 2021;17(4):335-49. [Open Access]

Thanks to Eric for sending me their article!

Family Buthidae

 

 

04 April, 2021

A new species of Buthus from Jordan


 Wilson Lourenco and co-workers recently described a new species of Buthus Leach, 1815 (Buthidae) from south-western Jordan.

Buthus nabataeus Lourenço, Abu Afifeh & Al-Saraireh, 2021

Abstract:
We describe here a new species of Buthus from south-western Jordan. The new species shows several common morphological features with Buthus amri Lourenço, Yağmur & Duhem, 2010, described from the region of Aqaba suggesting that both species may correspond to vicariant elements of a common ancestry.

Reference:
Lourenco WR, Abu Afifeh B, Al-Saraireh M, Abu Baker M, Amr Z. New insights into the taxonomy of the genus Buthus Leach, 1815 in Jordan and description of a new species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Zoology in the Middle East. 2021 [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Jeroen Kooijman for sending me this article!

Family Buthidae

 

02 April, 2021

A new species of Vaejovis from Mexico

 


Gerardo Contreras-Félix and Oscar Francke have recently published a new species of Vaejovis C.L. Koch, 1836 (Vaejovidae) from the State of Guerrero in Mexico.

Vaejovis mendozai Contreras-Félix & Francke, 2021

Abstract:
We describe a new species of Vaejovis C.L. Koch from a forest of pine (Pinus Linnaeus) and oak (Quercus Linnaeus) in the State of Guerrero in Mexico. In addition, the lateral aculear serration (LAS) was examined during the life of several specimens from the species, showing gradual deterioration, ending with complete loss of the structure before the adult stage. Phylogenetic and taxonomic implications of the new findings were discussed, both for the family and for the genus.

Reference:
Contreras-Félix GA, Francke O. New Species of Vaejovis CL Koch, 1836 (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) with Comments on Lateral Aculear Serrations. Southwestern Entomologist. 2021;46(1):197-210. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for informing me about this article!

Family Vaejovidae

30 March, 2021

Two new species of Hadruroides from Peru and Ecuador

 


Eric Ythier recently publish an article describing two new species in the genus Hadruroides Pocock, 1893 (Caraboctonidae) from Peru and Ecuador.

Hadruroides inti Ythier, 2021

Hadruroides pachamama Ythier, 2021

Abstract:
Two new species belonging to the genus Hadruroides Pocock, 1893 (family Caraboctonidae Kraepelin, 1905) are described on the basis of specimens collected in Arequipa region in southern Peru, and Loja province in southern Ecuador. H. inti sp. n. represents the 17th known species of the genus Hadruroides reported from Peru, and the 22nd species of the subgenus Lourencoides Rossi, 2014. H. pachamama sp. n. represents the 7th known species of the genus Hadruroides reported from Ecuador, and the second species of the subgenus Hadruroides Rossi, 2014. The total number of Hadruroides species is now raised to 24.

Reference:
Ythier E. Two new species of Hadruroides Pocock, 1893 from Peru and Ecuador (Scorpiones, Caraboctonidae). Faunitaxys. 2021;9(11):1-8. [Open Access]

Thanks to Eric for sending me his article!

Family Caraboctonidae