31 January, 2009

Beware of Odontobuthus

Medical important scorpions in the Middle East are mainly found in the buthid genera Androctonus, Buthus and Leiurus and the hemiscorpiid genus Hemiscorpius. Razi & Malekanrad (2008) has recently reported about a serious case from Iran in a 12-year old boy caused by Odontobuthus doriae.

The boy was stung in a toe, and developed an acute asymmetric pulmonary edema (fluids in the lungs) after a few hours. Antivenom- and symptomatic treatment reduced the serious symptoms, and the boy was discharged from hospital after six days.

Acute pulmonary edema due to scorpion sting is common, but asymmetric pulmonary edema is very rare with few reported cases.

Based on the above case report, scorpions in the genus Odontobuthus should be treated as potential medical important (especially for children). Scorpions of the genus Odontobuthus are sold in the pet trade, and keepers should beware that this taxa may cause more serious symptoms than previously thought.

A 12-year-old boy was referred with acute asymmetric pulmonary edema (APE) four-hour after scorpion sting to Emergency department. On admission, the main clinical manifestations were: dyspnea, tachypnea, and tachycardia. Chest x-ray revealed APE predominantly on the right hemithorax. The patient was treated with oxygen, intravenous frusemide and digoxin and discharged on the sixth hospital day in a good condition. This case report emphasizes the occurrence of asymmetric pulmonary edema after severe scorpion envenomation within few hours immediately after the sting.

Razi E, Malekanrad E. Asymmetric pulmonary edema after scorpion sting: a case report. Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo. 2008 Nov-Dec;50(6):347-50. [Free fulltext]

Family Buthidae

27 January, 2009

Part V of the major review of the scorpions of Iran has been published

Part V of a major review of the scorpions of Iran has been published in issue 78 of the journal Euscorpius.

The paper lists ten species (nine new records) in three families from the Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiyari Province and their distribution. An identification key for the species in the province is given. Good color photos are presented for most species and also some habitat pictures.

Pirali-Kheirabadi K, Navidpour S, Fet V, Kovarik F, Soleglad ME. Scorpions of Iran (Arachnida, Scorpiones). Part V. Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiyari Province. Euscorpius. 2009(78):1-23. [Fulltext freely available]

Family Buthidae
Family Scorpionidae
Family Hemiscorpiidae

18 January, 2009

Can the morpholgy of the scorpion book lung help us in the understanding of the evolutionary relationship among scorpions?

Carsten Kamenz and Lorenzo Prendini (2008) have just published an atlas with a lot of SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) pictures of the morphology and fine structure of scorpion book lungs from 200 specimens from 100 genera and 18 families (156 plates with SEM pictures).

Differences in book lung fine structure is described and discussed, and the authors show how the observed differences can be use to better understand the evolutionary relationship between scorpions. External morphology has always been an important source in scorpion taxonomy and phylogeny, but this study show that the morphology of internal organs also can be a very important source of information. Modern microscopy technology make it possible to better see the fine structures that previously were not available for the researchers.

PhYSorg.com has a more thorough presentation of the study and an interview with the authors.

The fine structure of the book lungs of scorpions is diverse and phylogenetically informative, but has not been comprehensively investigated across the major lineages of the order. In this contribution, we present a fully illustrated atlas of the variation in book lung fine structure among 200 exemplars from 100 genera and 18 families of extant scorpions. We document variation in the surface sculpturing of the respiratory lamellae, the edges of the lamellae in the atrial chamber, and the posterior valvelike edges of the spiracles. These data provide insights into the phylogenetic relationships among Recent scorpions at several branches of the tree.

I thank the authors for sending me the article (which actually is more like a book because of all the plates with SEM pictures of the fine structure of book lungs)!

Kamenz C, Prendini L. an atlas of book lung fine structure in the order Scorpiones (Arachnida). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 2008(316):1-45. [Free fulltext - it is possible to download the large work in parts!]

16 January, 2009

New Oiclus species from the Lesser Antilles

Rolando Teruel (2008) has described a new species in the genus Oiclus from the island of Saint-Barthelemy (Lesser Antilles):

Oiclus questeli Teruel, 2008 (Scorpionidae)

This is the seccond species described for this previous monotypic, endemic genus from the Lesser Antilles.

The papers also discuss some topics on the taxonomy and distribution of the genus.

Teruel R. A new species of Oiclus Simon 1880 (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae: Diplocentrinae) from Saint-Barthelemy, Lesser Antilles. Boletin Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa. 2008(43):95-9. [Subscription required for fulltext for recent years, but free fulltext for older issues]

Family Scorpionidae

Centruroides ornatus restored as valid species

de Armas & Martin-Frias (2008) has done a study on the genus Centruroides in the Mexican state Veracruz. Nine species are described from the state and a key to the species is given. In the context of this, the authors restore Centruroides ornatus Pocock, 1902 as a valid species. This taxa has previously been regarded as a subspecies of Centruroides infamatus.

de Armas LF, Martin Frias E. El genero Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) en el estado de Veracruz, Mexico. Boletin Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa. 2008(43):7-22. [Subscription required for fulltext for recent years, but free fulltext for older issues]

Family Buthidae

15 January, 2009

Tityus ythieri has been synonymized with Tityus magnimanus

Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers (2009) has studied Tityus ythieri Lourenco, 2007 and Tityus magnimanus Pocock, 1897. Based on morphological, chromosomal and mitochondial DNA studies and hybridization studies, they conclude that these two species are the same.

Based on this Tityus ythieri Lourenco, 2007 is a synonym of Tityus magnimanus Pocock, 1897.

Kovarik F, Stahlavsky F, Korinkova T, Kral J, van der Ende T. Tityus ythieri Lourenco, 2007 is a synonym of Tityus magnimanus Pocock, 1897 (Scorpiones: Buthidae): a combined approach using morphology, hybridization experiments, chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA. Euscorpius. 2009(77):1-12. [Free fulltext]

Family Buthidae

07 January, 2009

A new medical important scorpion from Argentina

It is well known that several species in the South American genus Tityus can cause serious morbidity and even death in humans (especially in children). In Argentina, envenomation by scorpions is a increasing medical problem. The species associated with severe human envenomations have been Tityus trivittatus and T. bahiensis (at least 10 deaths are reported in the last 10 years).

Adolfo de Roodt and co-workers (2008) now report about a handful scorpion related deaths in children in the last years that have not been attributed to the above mentioned species, but to Tityus confluens. An investigation of the venom and the effects of the venom on mice confirmed the potency of the venom. A LD50 value of 0.7 mg/kg in mice is reported and this is quite low and an indication of medical importance.

Based on this study, Tityus confluens should be listed as medical important species that can cause the same degree of morbidity as Tityus trivittatus and other medical important Tityus species.

In Argentina the scorpions of medical importance belong to the genus Tityus (T.), particularly the species T. trivittatus, the only scorpion whose sting is recognized to be associated with severe human envenoming and death. This genus is distributed from the north of the Patagonian region to the center and some provinces in the north of the country. During the period 2003–2006 four children died following scorpion stings, of which one was certainly and three were probably by T. confluens. In 2006, in the province of Tucumán, a girl died by scorpion envenoming and the scorpion responsible for the death, found in her shoe, was T. confluens. We thus studied the toxicity of venom gland homogenates from T. confluens from the provinces of Jujuy and Catamarca, and of crude venom from specimens from Catamarca and the province of La Rioja. The lethal potencies of the telson homogenates were 7.0 and 18.6 μg/g for Jujuy and Catamarca, respectively, while the lethal potency of the crude venom was 0.7 μg/g. Injected mice showed generalized congestion and hepatic lesions. Pancreatic damage was observed in some animals. Lungs showed congestion and foci of hemorrhage and mild edema. The heart showed injury in the muscular fibers. The venom showed high reactivity against anti-T. trivittatus antivenom and against two anti-T. serrulatus antivenoms. The anti-T. trivittatus antivenom neutralized the lethal activity of T. confluens venom. In addition, the venom reacted very slightly against an anti-Centruroides antivenom. Therefore, the stings of this scorpion must be considered of risk for humans to the same degree as the stings of T. trivittatus.

de Roodt AR, Lago NR, Salomón OD, Laskowicz RD, Neder de Román LE, López RA, et al. A new venomous scorpion responsible for severe envenomation in Argentina: Tityus confluens. Toxicon. 2009;53(1):1-8. [Subscription required for fulltext]

Family Buthidae

06 January, 2009

A new Chaerilus species from China

Zhu, Han & Lourenco (2008) have recently reviewed the chaerilid scorpions of China and in this paper a new species is described:

Chaerilus conchiformus Zhu, Han & Lourenco, 2008

The other Chinese Chaerilus (C. tessellatus and C. triznai) are redescribed. C. pictus has previously been reported from China, but the authors doubt the presence of this species in China (probably missidentifications).

The paper includes an identification key for the chaerilid scorpions of China.

Zhu MS, Han GX, Lourenco WR. The chaerilid scorpions of China (Scorpiones: Chaerilidae). Zootaxa. 2008(1943):37-52. [Subscritpion required for fulltext]

Family Chaerilidae

05 January, 2009

Scorpio maurus - A species complex?

Happy New Year!

The Scorpionidae genus Scorpio is presently considered a monotypic genus with one species (Scorpio maurus) , but with 17 subspecies described (Birula's 1910 paper on Scorpio maurus is available online at The Scorpion Files).

There has not been any modern revision of Scorpio, but now Elsa Froufe and co-workers (2008) have done a study to assess genetic diversity within specimens from Morocco. They conclude that the results demonstrate that Scorpio maurus includes highly genetically divergent mtDNA linages within Morocco and that this is a strong indication that Scorpio maurus is a species complex with two or more "hidden" species. More research and testing of all subspecies within Scorpio is necessary before any taxonomical decisions can be made.


The large-clawed scorpion, Scorpio maurus, is a medically important scorpion and yet nothing is known regarding genetic diversity within this species. As a preliminary analysis we determined variation within the cytochrome oxidase 1 (CO1) mitochondrial gene from specimens from Morocco. High levels of genetic diversity were found that presented some geographical coherence. Of the two identified subspecies from Morocco, S. maurus birulai and S. maurus fuliginosus, the latter included genetically distinct lineages (8.0% uncorrected sequence divergence), indicating a detailed morphological and molecular revision is needed for this species.

I have one problem with this article: The authors end the article by saying "Our preliminary results from S. maurus, another scorpion of considerable medical importance, ....". As far as I know, there are no evidence in the medical literature that Scorpio maurus is a dangerous scorpion. It is possible that the authors have adopted the error in the book "Scorpions of Medical Importance" (Keegan, 1980), where the author has mixed information from a primary source (the information concerning the potential danger of Scorpio maurus was actually for Buthus occitanus). Please let me know if anyone has any information about any serious morbidity connected with Scorpio maurus!

Froufe E, Sousa P, Alves PC, Harris DJ. Genetic diversity within Scorpio maurus (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae) from Morocco: Preliminary evidence based on CO1 mitochondrial DNA sequences. Biologia (Bratisl). 2008;63(6):1157-60. [Subscription required for fulltext]

Family Scorpionidae