29 May, 2009

The scorpion Files has technical problems

Due to server instability, The Scorpion Files is not available in periods. Hopefully, this will be fix soon, but I'm in the hands of the university computer peoples and can not do anything myself.

28 May, 2009

Body malformations in a few Iranian scorpions

Body malformations and anomalies in scorpions are reported from time to time. One of the most famous cases was Pepe - The two-tailed scorpion (a Centruroides excilicauda with two tails).

Jahanifard and co-workers have now reported cases of pedipalp and telson anomalies in a few Iranian scorpions.

The developmental anomalies are reported in this study. The first and second abnormally are presented in right pedipalps of Paraorthochirus and Orthochirus (Buthidae) while Paraorthochirus pedipalp just includes coxa, trochanter and without other parts (femur, patella, movable and fixed finger). The right pedipalp of Orthochirus specimen has abnormally too; it has all parts of pedipalp except complete fixed finger. In both of scorpions, the left pedipalp is normal. Another case is present in venom vesicle of Hemiscourpius (Hemiscorpiidae). Pictures and morphometric measurements for three specimens are given.

Jahanifard E, Navidpour S, Masihipour B. Pedipalps and venom vesicle anomalies in two families of scorpions (Scorpiones: Hemiscorpiidae, Buthidae) from Iran. Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences. 2008;11 (2):309-11. [Free fultext]

26 May, 2009

A review of the genus Calchas and the description of two new species

The enigmatic genus Calchas (Iuridae) has been of great interest among scorpion taxonomists due to its phylogenetic position. This rare scorpion has so far been known from parts of Turkey and from the two Greek islands Megesti and Samos.

In a major review of the genus, Fet, Soleglad & Kovarik conclude that three distinct, disjunct species exist rather than one widespread species (C. nordmanni) as previously thought. Based on morphological examinations, the authors describe two new species with limited distribution:

Calchas birulai Fet, Soleglad & Kovarik, 2009 with distribution in Southeastern Turkey & Northern Iraq. The author also mentioned a potential sighting in Syria, but a distribution here has not been verified.

Calchas gruberi Fet, Soleglad & Kovarik, 2009 with distribution in Southern Turkey and Greece (only islands Megisti & Samos).

The distribution of Calchas nordmanni Birula, 1899 is now restricted to notheastern Turkey.

The article presents many illustrations, updated distribution maps and an identification key for the genus.

The relict, phylogenetically important scorpion genus Calchas Birula, 1899 (Iuridae) remained monotypic since its description. Its sole species, Calchas nordmanni Birula, 1899, was known only from northeastern Turkey until Kinzelbach (1980) published first records from southern and southeastern Turkey. A few more localities have been reported from Turkey; the species was also found on two Greek islands, Samos and Megisti. We analyzed significant material (63 specimens, including a previously unpublished large series from Naturhistorisches Museum Wien), and concluded that three distinct, disjunct species exist rather than one widespread species as previously thought. Two new species are described: Calchas birulai sp. nov. (southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq; 30 specimens studied) and Calchas gruberi sp. nov. (southern Turkey; Megisti Island and Samos Island, Greece; 23 specimens studied). The type species Calchas nordmanni Birula, 1899 (10 specimens studied) is restricted to northeastern Turkey.

Fet V, Soleglad ME, Kovarik F. Etudes on Iurids, II. Revision of the genus Calchas Birula, 1899, with the description of two new species (Scorpiones: Iuridae). Euscorpius. 2009; (82):1-72. [Free fulltext - large file (27 mb)]

Family Iuridae

20 May, 2009

Centruroides tecomanus Hoffmann, 1932 raised to species status

Javier Ponce-Saavedra and co-workers have recently raised Centruroides tecomanus Hoffmann, 1932 (Buthidae) from subspecies to species status based on morphological and molecular evidence. Previous name was Centruroides limpidus tecomanus.

Morphological and molecular evidence are provided to recognize Centruroides limpidus tecomanus Hoffmann (Scorpiones: Buthidae), as a valid species rather than a subspecies of Centruroides limpidus (Karsch). A diagnosis is provided.

Saavedra JP, Francke OF, Cano-Camacho H, Hernandez-Calderon E. Evidencias morfologicas y moleculares que validan como especie a Centruroides tecomanus (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad. 2009;80:71-84.

Family Buthidae

Another Tityus of medical importance

It is well known that several species in the South American genus Tityus can cause serious morbidity and even death, especially in children. Apart for a few well known perpetrators like Tityus serrulatus, there is not too much information about other species in the genus that can cause morbidity.

Cleide Maria Ribeiro de Albuquerque and co-workers have now published two case reports of mild and moderate symptoms after a Tityus pusillus Posock,1893 sting in Brazil. Even though the systemic symptoms were moderate, this species should be treated as potential medical significant (especially for young children).

This paper is written in Portuguese so my comments are based on the english abstract.

This paper presents the first reports on scorpion accidents caused by Tityus pusillus (Buthidae). The accidents took place within the home environment, in rural areas located in the municipalities of Paudalho and São Lourenço da Mata, Pernambuco, Brazil. The two cases described (a child and a pregnant woman) were classified as mild and moderate, respectively. The clinical symptoms presented were local disorders (pain and paresthesia) and systemic disorders (chills, dizziness, headache and vomiting). These records make it possible to including Tityus pusillus as a species of medical importance in Brazil.

de Albuquerque CM, Porto TJ, Amorim ML, Santana Neto Pde L. Scorpionism caused by Tityus pusillus Pocock, 1893 (Scorpiones; Buthidae) in State of Pernambuco. Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2009 Mar-Apr;42 (2):206-8. [Free fulltext]

Family Buthidae

18 May, 2009

Morphological variation in Mesobuthus martensii from China

Mesobuthus martensii (Buthidae) is a very common and widespread scorpion in China. The species has an important role in traditional Chinese medicine (and also in cocking in some areas), and over the past decade more than 70 different peptides or toxins have been isolated from the venom. Elements from the venom are often used as "tools" in biomedical and biochemical research (often under the old name Buthus martensii). The species is also seen in the western pet industry.

Zhang & Zhu has now published a study of the intraspecific geographic variation within this species. The study also compare M. martensii against the other Chinese species member of the genus, M. eupeus. It is concluded that these two species are indeed separate species with different ecological and habitat preferences (even though they are found sympatric in some areas).

Comparative statistical analysis of morphology of Mesobuthus martensii and Mesobuthus eupeus (Scorpiones: Buthidae) indicated highly significant differences between these two species. Mann-Whitney U test showed that: except Ca_L/AW, Ca_AW/PW and Met-V_L/H in female, Ca_AW/PW and Met-V_L/H in male, all morphometric ratios demonstrated significant differences between M. martensii and M. eupeus. Principal component analysis (PCA) showed that M. martensii and M eupeus are clearly different species in morphology. Three statistical analyses (Kruskal-Wallis one-way ANOVA, PCA and cluster analysis) were applied to M.martensii from 27 confirmed localities in five provinces of northern China. The results suggested that: (a) Although M. martensii is common and widespread in northern China, its morphology does not vary significantly, but there is more variation in females than males, and the variation both in males and females is below species level; (b) the populations from Hebei, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, and Liaoning Provinces were similar to each other while the populations from Qinghai were separated from the others; (c) except Met-I_L/W and Met-V_L/W, each ratio of metasoma in both females and males of Qinghai populations was smaller and the ratio of Ca_L/AW was larger than those from other provinces.

Zhang L, Zhu MS. Morphological variation of Mesobuthus martensii (Karsch, 1879) (Scorpiones: Buthidae) in Northern China. Euscorpius. 2009; (81):1-18. [Free fulltext]

Family Buthidae

New Buthus species

The taxonomy of the genus Buthus has a long and complex history with many subspecies and "variations". In the last 10 years, several new species have been raised from the "Buthus occitanus species complex" in Europe and North Africa.

The presence of the genus Buthus in the Arabian Peninsula has previously not been confirmed properly, but Wilson Lourenco has now described a new species from Yemen (and thereby confirming the presence of Buthus in the Arabian Peninsula:

Buthus yemenensis Lourenco, 2008 (Buthidae)

In the same paper, Buthus occitanus berberensis Pocock, 1900 from Somalia is raised to species status:

Buthus berberensis Pocock, 1900 (Buthidae)

Detailed justification for this new combination is not given in the paper, but other subspecies of B. occitanus have been given species status previously. A molecular study of the genus is strongly needed to sort out which species in the Buthus occitanus and Buthus atlantis species complexes that are valid. This is especially important because members of the Buthus occitanus species complex in North Africa cause serious morbidity in several countries.

In recent years several contributions to the genus Buthus Leach, 1815 (the family Buthidae) and in particular to the ‘Buthus occitanus’ complex of species were proposed. These led to the definition of several species, previously considered only as subspecies or varieties, but also the description of new species. The species considered in these studies come mostly from North and Western Africa. At present, the questionable presence of the genus Buthus in the Arabian Peninsula is rediscussed and one new record from Yemen is confirmed with the description of a new species.

Lourenco WR. About the presence of the genus Buthus Leach, 1815 in the Arabian Peninsula and description of a new species (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Entomol Mitt Zool Mus Hamburg. 2008;15 (179):45-52.

Family Buthidae

14 May, 2009

Experimental Mexican antivenom seems to be effective in treating critically ill children after Centruroides sting in USA

Many peoples get stung by scorpions in North America every year, especially in Mexico. Most cases cause mild symptoms, but moderate and serious symptoms are also observed, especially in children. In Arizona (USA), appr. 200 cases of severe scorpion envenomation are seen each year. The involved scorpion is the buthid Centruroides sculpturatus (previous in synonymy with C. excilicauda).

Between 1965 and and 1999, a goat derived antivenom was available in Arizona. The use of this product was controversial for many years and the drug was never FDA approved. Around 2005, there was no antivenom available in Arizona for serious sting cases.

In Mexico, a new antivenom has been commersically available. The antivenom has been produced using the venom of several Mexican species causing serious morbidity. Presently, this drug is not approved by the FDA.

Leslie Boyer and co-workers have now published a randomized, double-blind study showing a positive clinical effects of the antivenom compared to the use of plasebo medicine in children with severe neurotoxic symptoms after Centruroides envenomations. Also, no serious adverse effects of the use of antivenom were observed.

Background: Clinically significant scorpion envenomation by Centruroides sculpturatus produces a dramatic neuromotor syndrome and respiratory insufficiency that often necessitate intensive supportive care. We hypothesized that a scorpion-specific F(ab')2 antivenom would promptly resolve clinical symptoms in children with this syndrome.
Methods: In a randomized, double-blind study, the efficacy of scorpion-specific F(ab')2 antivenom, as compared with placebo, was assessed in 15 children 6 months to 18 years of age who were admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit with clinically significant signs of scorpion envenomation. The primary end point was the resolution of the clinical syndrome within 4 hours after administration of the study drug. Secondary end points included the total dose of concomitant midazolam for sedation and quantitative plasma venom levels, before and after treatment.
Results: The clinical syndrome resolved more rapidly among recipients of the antivenom than among recipients of placebo, with a resolution of symptoms in all eight antivenom recipients versus one of seven placebo recipients within 4 hours after treatment (P=0.001). More midazolam was administered in the placebo recipients than in the antivenom recipients (mean cumulative dose, 4.61 vs. 0.07 mg per kilogram of body weight; P=0.01). Plasma venom concentrations were undetectable in all eight antivenom recipients but in only one placebo recipient 1 hour after treatment (P=0.001).
Conclusions: Among critically ill children with neurotoxic effects of scorpion envenomation, intravenous administration of scorpion-specific F(ab')2 antivenom resolved the clinical syndrome within 4 hours, reduced the need for concomitant sedation with midazolam, and reduced the levels of circulating unbound venom. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00685230 .)

Boyer LV, Theodorou AA, Berg RA, Mallie J, the Arizona Envenomation Investigators, Chavez-Mendez A, et al. Antivenom for Critically Ill Children with Neurotoxicity from Scorpion Stings. N Engl J Med. 2009 May 14, 2009;360 (20):2090-8. [Free fulltext]

Family Buthidae

A major review on the genus Euscorpius has been published

The genus Euscorpius is the main scorpion genus in Europe and is also one of my favorite genera. In the last 10 years there have been a major increase in the knowledge of these small scorpions. Before 1999, there was only known four valid species (E. carpathicus, E. flavicaudis, E. germanus and E. italicus). Today, the number of valid species is 17 (!).

Thanks to better systematic investigations of morphological characters and the introduction of molecular studies of genetic divergence, many of the traditional old species have turned out to be species complex with "hidden" species. The number of species will rise in the future, as there are still several populations and subspecies that not yet have been properly investigated (e.g. Euscorpius carpathicus candiota in Crete and many Balkan populations).

My friend Valerio Vignoli and Nicola Salomone have now written a great review summing up the current status and knowledge of the genus Euscorpius. Most species are illustrated with color pictures and the article also has an identification key for all species in the genus.

The present work provides a general survey of the scorpion genus Euscorpius Thorell, 1876. Each species is briefly summarized, with notes on taxonomy, morphology, geographic distribution and ecology. The distribution and diagnostic characters are shown in easy to read tables and an identification key is provided. All the current valid species of Euscorpius (except Euscorpius koschewnikowi Birula, 1903) and several peculiar morphotypes are illustrated, with the first images of Euscorpius beroni Fet, 2000. The main aim of this work is to provide a complete review which will be useful both to have clearance on current systematics of the complex genus Euscorpius and to interpret possible future taxonomic rearrangements. Euscorpius italicus (Herbst, 1800) was found for the first time in Siena (central-western Italy), a record that represents a new allochthonous population, probably due to anthropogenic origin.

Vignoli V, Salomone N. A review of and additions to the current knowledge of the scorpion genus Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Scorpiones, Euscorpiidae). Fragmenta Entomologica, Roma. 2008;40 (2):189-228.

Family Euscorpiidae

Two new papers on the reproduction in Tityus magnimanus

My friend Luc Ross has now published two papers dealing on various aspects of the reproduction of the Venezuelan buthid Tityus magnimanus Pocock, 1897.

The frequency of spermatophore production and the amount of time between matings for laboratory-reared males of Tityus (Atreus) magnimanus to regenerate spermatophores were examined. Males attain sexual maturity at the fifth or sixth instar (after a period of 137 to 155 days) and can produce initial spermatophores shortly after maturation. After mating, males can regenerate spermatophores within a single 24-hour period and remate. The present contribution represents the first report on an aspect of reproductive biology in this species and is part of a continuing study of the life history and post-embryonic development of Tityus (Atreus) magnimanus.

Courtship and mating behaviors of the scorpion Tityus (Atreus) magnimanus are herein described, consisting of various components that pertain to four distinct behavioral stages. The courtship and mating rituals of Tityus (Atreus) magnimanus are similar to those of other scorpions. Behavioral components are presented in an ethogram to demonstrate their occurrence during mating sequences. The current report is presented as observational data that were acquired during life history studies of this species.

Ross LK. Frequency of spermatophore production and regeneration in the males of Tityus (Atreus) magnimanus Pocock, 1897 (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins Including Tropical Diseases. 2009 2009;15 (1):157-62.

Ross LK. Notes and observations on courtship and mating in Tityus (Atreus) magnimanus Pocock, 1897 (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins Including Tropical Diseases. 2009 2009;15 (1):43-53.

Family Buthidae

06 May, 2009

A new Buthacus species from United Arab Emirates

Lourenco & Leguin have recently described a new species of Buthacus (Buthidae) from United Arab Emirates:

Buthacus williamsi Lourenco & Leguin, 2009 (Buthidae)

Since the revision of the genus Buthacus Birula, 1908 given by Lourenço (2006), further new species have been recorded from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. One new species, collected in United Arab Emirates, is described here. It was collected in the region of Fujairah, in sandy desert with sparse bushes. It is associated with Buthacus buettikeri Hendrixson, 2006, recently described from Saudi Arabia, and Buthacus tadmorensis (Simon, 1892), described from Syria. The new species is distinguished by its smaller overall size, a smaller number of pectinial teeth, and an aculeus that is only slightly longer than vesicle.

Lourenco WR, Leguin E-A. A new species of the genus Buthacus Birula, 1908 from the United Arab Emirates (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Zoology in the Middle East. 2009;46:103-11.

Family Buthidae

04 May, 2009

A review of the scorpion fauna of The Eastern Mediterranean

The Eastern Mediterranean region has a large and interesting scorpion fauna with representatives both from Europe, Africa and Asia. Kaltsas, Stathi & Fet have now published an updated review of the scorpion fauna of this region.

The scorpiofauna of the Eastern Mediterranean region is presented. Taxonomy and distribution data of species are reviewed based on scientific literature until August 2008. We report the presence of 48 valid species in the area, belonging to four families and 16 genera. Examined material of nine buthid species collected from Egypt (including the Sinai Peninsula) and Libya is recorded. The current knowledge on taxonomy, chorotypic status, and origins of species, complexes, and genera in relation to their biogeography and phylogeny is also discussed.

Kaltsas D, Stathi I, Fet V. Scorpions of the Eastern Mediterranean. In: Makarov SE, Dimitrijevic RN, editors. Advances in arachnology and developmental biology - Papers dedicated to professor Bozidar Curcic. Vienna-Belgrade-Sofia 2008. p. 209-46.