28 July, 2009

A couple of Pandinus updates

Update 1:

Even though I try my best to keep the Scorpion Files' species list updated, I discover changes that I've missed in the past. Tonight, I discovered that Pandinus militaris Pocock, 1900 was synonymised with Pandinus cavimanus (Pocock, 1888) back in 2002. The Scorpion Files is updated accordingly.

2941 specimens of scorpions deposited in the collection are determined and revised. The collection contains 229 species, 62 genera, and 14 families and includes types of 26 species and subspecies, of which 13 are valid. Heterometrus petersi luzonensis Couzijn, 1981 is synonymized with Heterometrus (Javanimetrus) cyaneus (C. L. Koch, 1836). Revision of specimens identified by Roewer makes doubtful the occurrences of Parabuthus capensis (Ehrenberg, 1831) in Namibia, Parabuthus granulatus (Ehrenberg, 1831) in Kenya, Tityus androcottoides (Karsch, 1879) in Venezuela, Tityus carinatoides Mello-Leităo, 1945 in Brazil, Tityus lutzi Giltay, 1928 in Argentina, Tityus magnimanus Pocock, 1897 in Venezuela, Opisthacanthus asper (Peters, 1862) in Tanzania, Heterometrus liurus (Pocock, 1897) in Sri Lanka, and Pandinus militaris Pocock, 1900 in Sudan. Comparison of types leads to the conclusion that Pandinus militaris Pocock, 1900 is a junior synonym of Pandinus cavimanus (Pocock, 1888).

Kovarik F. A checklist of scorpions (Arachnida) in the collection of the Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum Senckenberg, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Serket. 2002 April;8 (1):1-23.

Update 2:

In 2003, Kovarik synonymized Pandinus gregoryi Pocock, 1896 with Pandinus exitialis (Pocock, 1888). In his recent book (Illustrated catalog of scorpions. Part I), Kovarik has restored Pandinus gregoryi Pocock, 1896 back to species status after investigating new materials. The Scorpion Files is updated accordingly.

Kovarik F. Illustrated catalog of scorpions. Part I. Introductory remarks; keys to families and genera; subfamily Scorpioninae with illustrated keys to Heterometrus and Pandinus species. Prague: Clarion Production; 2009.

Family Scorpionidae

Aristotle and scorpions

Did you know that Aristotle was probably the first to publish zoological information about scorpions (although the ancient Egyptians did have medical prescriptions and magical spells to heal scorpion stings)?

“locality is an important
element in regard to the bite of an animal. Thus, in
Pharos and other places, the bite of the scorpion is not
dangerous; elsewhere – in Caria, for instances – where
scorpions are venomous as well as plentiful and of large
size, the sting is fatal to man or beast…”

[Aristotle in Hist. Anim. VIII.29 - translated by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Cited in Fet et al. (2009)]

Victor Fet and co-workers have now published a discussion on Aristotle's scorpion text and show that Aristotle probably wrote about Euscorpius in the Greek colony of Pharos (now Hvar Island, Croatia) and Mesobuthus gibbosus in mainland Greece and their difference in toxicity.

During 2300 years of rather extensive commentary on Aristotle’s works, the sentence in his History of Animals addressing scorpion distribution has escaped scrutiny. We demonstrate that when Aristotle wrote (350 BC) that “in Pharos and other places, the bite of the scorpion is not dangerous”, he most likely meant not the Pharos of Egypt (the later site of the fabled Lighthouse of Alexandria) but the Greek colony of Pharos in the Adriatic Sea, the modern island of Hvar, Croatia. The northern range of toxic scorpions (genus Mesobuthus, fam. Buthidae, common in the Ancient Greece) in the Balkans does not reach Croatia, while non-dangerous species of Euscorpius (fam. Euscorpiidae).

Fet V, El-Hennawy H, Braunwalder ME, Cloudsley Thompson JL. The first observation on scorpion biogeography by Aristoteles. Boletin Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa. 2009; (44):147-50.

27 July, 2009

A revision of the Diplocentrinae of Jamaica

Rolando Teruel has recently done a review of the Diplocentrinae (subfamily of Scorpionidae - Note that some authors have kept the family status, Diplocentridae for this taxa) found in Jamaica. This is the first comprehensive investigation in 30 years and is based on newly obtained materials.

The subfamily is represented in Jamaica only by the genus Heteronebo and species Heteronebo elegans Francke, 1978 and Heteronebo scaber (Pocock, 1893).

Heteronebo scaber (Pocock, 1893) is a new combination. Previous name is Cazierius scaber (Pocock, 1893). In addition, the following taxa are considered as junior synonyms of H. scaber:

Heteronebo franckei Stockwell, 1985
Heteronebo jamaicae jamaicae Francke, 1978
Heteronebo jamaicae occidentalis Francke, 1978
Heteronebo jamaicae portlandensis Francke, 1978

The paper presents new diagnosis for H. elegans and H. scaber and their distribution is updated with new reccords.

Teruel R. Los escorpiones Diplocentrinos de Jamaica (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae: Diplocentronae). Boletin Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa. 2009; (44):103-10.

Family Scorpionidae

A new Buthus species from Mauritania

The "Buthus species complexes" of North Africa have been under investigation by Wilson Lourenco and co-workers for several years. Research on the "Buthus occitanus species complex" and the "Buthus atlantis species complex" have revealed several new species.

Lourenco, Sun & Zhu have now described a new Buthus species from Mauritania:

Buthus occidentalis Lourenco, Sun & Zhu, 2009 (Buthidae)

This is the first confirmed presence of this genus in Mauritania. The new species belongs to the "Buthus occitanus species complex" and is related to Buthus draa Lourenco & Slimani, 2004 from southern Morocco.

Lourenco WR, Sun D, Zhu M-S. About the presence of the genus Buthus Leach, 1815 in Mauritania, with description of a new species (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Boletin Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa. 2009; (44):71-5.

Family Buthidae

New buthid genera and species from Western Sahara and Afghanistan

Lourenco and Duhem has described two new genera and species of Saharo-Sindian buthids:

Pantobuthus Lourenco and Duhem, 2009 (Afghanistan)
Pantobuthus complicatus Lourenco and Duhem, 2009 (Afghanistan)

Saharobuthus Lourenco and Duhem, 2009 (Occidental Sahara (Western Sahara))
Saharobuthus elegans Lourenco and Duhem, 2009 (Occidental Sahara (Western Sahara))

The paper also discuss the distribution of related genera like Odontobuthus, Mesobuthus, Hottentotta, Compsobuthus, Buthus, Leiurus and Vachoniolus.

Two new genera and species of Saharo-Sindian buthid scorpions are described on the basis of single specimens collected respectively in the deserts of Occidental Sahara and the North of Afghanistan. These new scorpion taxa represent further endemic relicts in the Saharo-Sindian faunas. Comments are also included on the evolution of the desert regions of North Africa and the Middle East, as well as the possible consequences of these events on the distribution of the extant scorpion fauna.

Lourenco WR, Duhem B. Saharo-Sindian buthid scorpions; description of two new genera and species from Occidental Sahara and Afghanistan. ZooKeys. 2009;14:37-54. [Free fulltext]

Family Buthidae

15 July, 2009

A new troglomorphic scorpion in the genus Typhlochactas described from Mexico

The genus Typhlochactas Mitchell, 1971 (Superstitioniidae) contains six troglomorphic (cave adapted with reduced pigmentation and/or reduced or missing eyes) species that all are endemic to Mexico. Four species are troglobitic (cave dwelling) while the others are leaf litter inhabitants.

Francke, Vignoli & Prendini (2009) have now described a new species from Mexico:

Typhlochactas sissomi Francke, Vignoli & Prendini, 2009 (Superstitioniidae)

The new species was found under a stone and seems not to be troglobitic.

A key to the genus is presented in the paper.

Typhlochactas sissomi, a new species of troglomorphic scorpion in the subfamily Typhlochactinae Mitchell, 1971, is described, based on a single subadult male collected under a stone in a mesophilous forest in the mountains of the state of Queretaro, Mexico. This is the seventh species in the genus Typhlochactas Mitchell, 1971. Although all seven species are troglomorphic, four are troglobitic and two are humicolous. The new species described here is probably also humicolous. A key to the identification of Typhlochactas species is presented.

Francke OF, Vignoli V, Prendini L. A new species of Typhlochactas (Scorpiones, Typhlochatcrinae) from Eastern Mexico. American Museum Novitates. 2009; (3647):1-11. [Free fulltext]

Family Superstitioniidae

03 July, 2009

Scorpion stings in Khuzestan, Iran

It is well known that scorpions are a medical problem in parts of Iran. The most dangerous species are Androctonus crassicauda (Buthidae) and Hemiscorpius lepturus (Hemiscorpiidae). Ruhollah Dehghani and co-workers have now published an epidemiological study on scorpion stings in Khuzestan, Iran.

The study showed that in 418 cases, A. crassicauda and H. lepturus were involved in 120 and 104 cases respectivly. Interestingly, the study showed that Compsobuthus matthiesseni (Buthidae) was involved in 86 cases. This is the first time that this species has been reported as a major cause of scorpion stings. There is no indications, though, that C. matthiesseni cause serious morbidity in humans. Other species reported in the study were Mesobuthus eupeus (91), Hottentotta saulcyi (14), Orthochirus scrobiculosis (2) and H. schach (1), all belonging to the family Buthidae.

Khuzestan province has the highest rate of scorpion sting in Iran. This is a study to identify these scorpions in Khuzestan. In this study 418 scorpions were kept in the ethyl alcohol 70%, each being studied by stereomicroscopy and diagnosis key separately. 120 (28.7%) Androctonus crassicauda, 104 (24.9%) Hemiscorpius lepturus, 91 (21.7%) Mesobuthus eupeus, 86 (20.65%) Compsobuthus matthiesseni, 14 (3.35%) Hottentotta saulcyi, 2 (0.5%) Orthochirus scrobiculosus and 1 (0.25%) Hottentotta schach were identified. H. lepturus is in the Hemiscorpiidae family and the rest are in Buthidae. C. matthiesseni is the most frequent and O. scrobiculosus is the least frequent newly identified scorpion. This study adds two new sting scorpions to the previous list of 8 identified scorpions in Iran.

Dehghani R, Djadid ND, Shahbazzadeh D, Bigdelli S. Introducing Compsobuthus matthiesseni (Birula, 1905) scorpion as one of the major stinging scorpions in Khuzestan, Iran. Toxicon. 2009;54:272-5. [Subscription required for fulltext]

Family Buthidae
Family Hemiscorpiidae

A new species of Grosphus from the Comoros Archipelago

Lourenco & Goodman have recently described a new species of Grosphus (Buthidae) from the island of Mayotte (Maore), which is a part of the Comoros Archipelago (but under the administration of France):

Grosphus mayottensis Lourenco & Goodman, 2009 (Buthidae)

This is the first reccord of Grosphus outside Madagascar and the existence of this genus on the island is probably due to introductions from Madagascar through water rafting on vegetation etc. Human introduction is not likely due to late human colonization of the island (there have not been enought time for speciation).

A new species, Grosphus mayottensis sp. n., is described from the isolated volcanic island of Mayotte (Maore) in the Comoros archipelago. With this description, the total number of species in this genus, which previously was known only from Madagascar, is 20. Some ideas are presented on the possible means of dispersion of Grosphus from Madagascar to Mayotte, which is best explained by rafting on floating vegetation.

Lourenco WR, Goodman SM. Scorpions from the Comoros Archipelago: Description of a new species of Grosphus Simon (Scorpiones, Buthidae) from Mayotte (Maore). Boletin Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa. 2009; (44):35-8.

Family Buthidae

A new eyeless forest litter scorpion from Indonesia

Pale and eyeless scorpions are a fascinating phenomena that is usually associated with cave adapted species (troglobites). Eyeless scorpions living outside caves and among leaf litter are rare, but are found in Belisarius, Typhlochactas and Troglotayosicus. Such scorpions are said to have troglomorphic adaptions. The origin of such characteristics are under debate. One theory is that the ancestors of eyeless leaf litter species were true troglobites (cave dwellers) that moved outside again, but this theory has not been confirmed.

Wilson Lourenco has now described the first eyeless rain forest litter species in the genus Chaerilus from the island of Halmahera (Moluccas), Indonesia.

Chaerlius telnovi Lourenco, 2009 (Chaerilidae)

The theories about the origin of troglomorphic characters among leaf litter scorpions are also discussed.

A new species belonging to the genus Chaerilus Simon, 1877, Chaerilus telnovi sp. n., is described from the south of the island of Halmahera (Moluccas) in Indonesia. The new species is the first eyeless scorpion of the genus Chaerilus to be found in leaf litter. A short discussion about the evolutionary meaning of eyeless scorpions living in leaf litter or soil is also attempted.

Lourenco WR. Eyeless forest litter scorpions; A new species from the island of Halmahera (Moluccas), Indonesia (Scorpiones, Chaerilidae). Boletin Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa. 2009; (44):93-7.

Family Chaerilidae

02 July, 2009

A review of the Tityus stigmurus complex - ERRATUM

An erratum to the paper "On the Tityus stigmurus complex (Scorpiones, Buthidae)" (click on the link for more info) has been published. The erratum corrects errors on several figures in the original paper.

De Souza CAR, Candido DM, Lucas SM, Brescovit AD. On the Tityus stigmurus complex (Scorpiones, Buthidae) - Erratum. Zootaxa. 2009; (2030):66-8. [Free fulltext?]

Family Buthidae

Eight new species described from Puerto Rico

Jorge Santiago-Blay has recently published an investigation of the scorpion fauna of Puerto Rico. Eight new species from two families are described:

Cazierius tatae (Diplocentrinae, Scorpionidae)

Centruroides jorgeorum (Buthidae)
Centruroides mariaorum (Buthidae)
Centruroides sasae (Buthidae)

Rhopalurus virkkii (Buthidae)

Tityus angelesae (Buthidae)
Tityus estherae (Buthidae)
Tityus juliorum (Buthidae)

The paper has a key to all species known from Puerto Rico.

Eight new species of scorpions are briefly described for the Greater Puerto Rico Region. The new species are: Cazierius tatae (Diplocentrinae), Centruroides jorgeorum, C. mariaorum, C. sasae, Rhopalurus virkkii, Tityus angelesae, T. estherae, and T. juliorum (Buthidae). A key to the identification of the Greater Puerto Rico Region scorpiofauna and biological remarks are provided.

Santiago-Blay JA. Systematics and some aspects of the biology of the scorpions (Arachnida) of the greater Puerto Rico region: A biosystematic synopsis. Entomological News. 2009 Jan-Feb;120 (1):109-24.

Family Buthidae
Family Scorpionidae

01 July, 2009

Courtship and mating in Heterometrus petersii

Jiao & Zhu has recently published a study on mating behavior and courtship in the Asian scorpion Heterometrus petersii (Scorpionidae). The study confirms most previously observed behavior components in other species (suggested readings: Polis & Sissom (1990), Benton (2001), Tallarovic et al. (2000) and Ross (2009)).

Heterometrus is a popular genus for captive breeding, and this paper is interesting for those that want to breed scorpions in this genus.

Courtship and mating in Heterometrus petersii (Thorell, 1876) (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae) was observed in the laboratory. In this paper the behavior components displayed in courtship and mating are identified, analyzed and discussed.

Jiao G-B, Zhu MS. Courtship and mating in Heterometrus petersi (Thorell, 1876) (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae). Euscorpius. 2009; (84):1-5. [Free fulltext]

Suggested Readings:
Polis, G. A. & W. D. Sissom. 1990. Life history. Pp. 161–223 in G. A. Polis (ed.) The Biology of Scorpions. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Benton, T. G. 2001. Reproductive ecology. Pp. 288–294 in Brownell, P. H. & G. A. Polis (eds.) Scorpion Biology and Research. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Tallarovic, S. K., J. M. Melville & P. H. Brownell. 2000. Courtship and mating in the giant hairy desert scorpion, Hadrurus arizonensis (Scorpionidae, Iuridae). Journal of Insect Behavior, 13(6): 827–838.

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

Family Scorpionidae