27 June, 2014

Two-tailed scorpions

Two-tailed female Centruroides nitidus with scorplings on her back.

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). In a recent article, Michael Seiter and Rolando Teruel report of two more cases of metasomal duplication (two-tailed scorpions). Interestingly, the female Centruroides nitidus (Thorell, 1876) with two tails grew up, mated and got offspring.

Herein we report two further cases of metasoma duplication in buthid scorpions: a second instar juvenile Tityus obscurus (Gervais, 1843) and an adult female Centruroides nitidus Thorell, 1876. Both individuals were born in captivity; the former died after its first ecdysis, but the latter reached adulthood and reproduced normally. This represents the first published record of the occurrence of such an anomaly in either species.

Seiter M, Teruel R. Two new cases of metasomal duplication in scorpions, with notes on their reproductive biology (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2014 (24):127-9.

Thanks to Rolando for sending me his article!

26 June, 2014

A new species of fossil scorpion in Mexican amber

Scorpions are rarely found in amber and specimens like this one is uncommon.
Wilson Lourenco has recently described a new species of fossil scorpion found in amber from Chiapas, Mexico.

Tityus knodeli Lourenco, 2014 (Buthidae)

The new species is quite similar to extant members of Tityus, but this genus is not present in Mexico today. As this is a fossil species, it is not listed in the species list of The Scorpion Files.

Tityus (Brazilotityus) knodeli sp. n., a new species of fossil scorpion, is described from a specimen in amber from Chiapas, Mexico. The new species is clearly related to the extant fauna of the Neotropical region and is tentatively placed in the genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836, presently largely distributed in the Neotropical region but not in Mexico.

Lourenco WR. A new species of scorpion from Chiapas amber, Mexico (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2014 (24):59-63.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his paper!

25 June, 2014

High altitude scorpions in Cuba

Tomás M. Rodríguez-Cabrera and Rolando Teruel have recently published a review of scorpions found above 800 meters altitude in Cuba.

All findings of scorpions above 800 m altitude in Cuba are herein revised; this contour is seen to be exceeded only by four members of Buthidae: Centruroides anchorellus Armas, 1976, Centruroides baracoae Armas, 1976, Centruroides stockwelli Teruel, 2000, and Rhopalurus junceus (Herbst, 1800). Some of the previous records from the literature are corrected and the upper limit is found to correspond to C. baracoae in eastern Cuba (1,600 m at the source of Palma Mocha River). Also, the occurrence of C. stockwelli is documented at the highest mountain of central Cuba (1,140 m at Pico San Juan, Cienfuegos), as well as new upper records for C. anchorellus (1,362 m on the southern slope of Pico Martí) and R. junceus (1,231 m at Pico El Toldo).

Rodríguez-Cabrera TM, Teruel R. On the highest altitudinal occurrences of scorpions in Cuba (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2014 (24):119-22.

Thanks to Rolando for sending me his paper!

23 June, 2014

Redescription and corrected distribution of Chactas rubrolineatus

Lourenco & Leguin have recently confirmed the species status of Chactas rubrolineatus Simon, 1880 (Chactidae) after rediscovering the type specimen. A redescription is presented and the species' confirmed distribution is corrected to Brazil.

The type specimen of Chactas rubrolineatus, described by Simon in 1880, was considered lost, or at least mislaid, for long time. After several months of research in the collections of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, the female type specimen was located in the vial labelled RS-0778. A precise diagnosis of this species and also of several personal notes of E. Simon leads to two new conclusions: (i) Chactas rubrolineatus is a valid species and not a synonym of Chactas vanbenedenii Gervais, 1843, neither of Chactas brevicaudatus (Karsch, 1879); (ii) Chactas rubrolineatus was described by Simon from Rio Içá, which is not located in Ecuador but rather in Brazil. The presence of this species in Ecuador has yet to be proved.

Lourenco WR, Leguin E-A. Le véritable statut de l’espèce Chactas rubrolineatus Simon, 1880 (Scorpiones: Chactidae). Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2014 (24):87-9.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his article!

Family Chactidae

A new species in the rare genus Lissothus in Northern Africa

Wilson Lourenco and Salah Eddine Sadine have recently discovered a new species in the rare, North African genus Lissothus Vachon, 1948 from Central Algeria (Buthidae).

Lissothus chaambi Lourenco & Sadine, 2014

This is only the third species in this rarely collected genus, the other two species originating in Libya and Mauritania.

Taxonomic considerations are given for the genus Lissothus Vachon, 1948 (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Two species are currently known, Lissothus bernardi Vachon, 1948 from Libya and Lissothus occidentalis Vachon, 1950 from Mauritania. In this contribution, a new species, Lissothus chaambi sp. n., is described from the desert of Central Algeria. The new species is most closely related to L. bernardi. The geographical distribution of the genus is discussed.

Lourenço WR, Sadine SE. A new species of the rare buthid scorpion genus Lissothus Vachon, 1948 from Central Algeria (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Comptes Rendus Biologies. 2014;337(6):416-22.[Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Dr. Sadine for sending me his paper!

Family Buthidae

20 June, 2014

A new species of Hottentotta from the Hoggar Mountains in Algeria

Hottentotta hoggarensis Lourenco & Leguin, 2014 is probably endemic to the Hoggar Mounatins in Algeria.

Wilson Lourenco and Elise-Anne Leguin have recently described a new species of Hottentotta Birula, 1908 (Buthidae) from the Hoggar Mountains in Algeria.

Hottentotta hoggarensis Lourenco & Leguin, 2014

A new species of scorpion belonging to the genus Hottentotta Birula, 1908 is described on the basis of a single female specimen collected in the Mountains of Hoggar, southern Algeria. This new species may yet represent another endemic and relict element of the Saharan mountain system. It can also constitute a possible link between the northern and southern Hottentotta populations in Africa. Some comments are also included on the geographical distribution of the genus Hottentotta in Africa.

Lourenco WR, Leguin E-A. Une nouvelle espèce d’Hottentotta Birula, 1908 pour le massif du Hoggar en Algérie (Scorpiones, Buthidae); conséquences biogéographiques sur la répartition du genre. Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2014 (24):15-8.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me his article!

Family Buthidae

19 June, 2014

The World's smallest scorpion

Say hello to the smallest scorpion in the world, Microtityus minimus from the Dominican Republic. The scorpion seen in this pictures is actually an adult pregnant female. Photo: Dr. Rolando Teruel (C).

I'm happy to present the smallest scorpion in the world, recently described from the southernmost foothills of the Cordillera Central Mountains in the Dominican Republic by Kovarik & Teruel. The name of the new species is Microtityus minimus Kovarik & Teruel, 2014 (Buthidae). Mature adults in this species are usually not longer than 10 mm.

This species lives in subcoastal desert scrub on gypsum-sandy soil, at an elevation of 160–170 m. Collected specimens  were found hanging to the underside of small limestone rocks half-buried in the dry leaf litter of thorny shrubs and cacti, at the base of hills.

Scorpion enthusiasts are mostly interested in large size, potent venom etc., but incredible small species like this one is also very fascinating.

See original article (free full text) for more pictures of the new species and its habitat.

Thanks to Dr. Rolando Teruel for informing me about his interesting discovery and for sharing this great picture with me and the readers of The Scorpion Files!

18 June, 2014

Phylogeny of the genus Odontobuthus in Iran

Sara Azghadi and co-workers have recently published a phylogenetic analysis of the Iranian species of the genus Odontobuthus Vachon, 1950 (Buthidae). The validity of the species so far described was confirmed and a new species was identified from the Kerman Province. The new species is not formally described and named in the current publication.

The molecular phylogeny of the genus Odontobuthus Vachon, 1950 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) in Iran was evaluated using two mitochondrial DNA genes, cytochrome c oxidase, subunit I (COI) and 16S ribosomal RNA (16S rRNA). The molecular phylogenetic analyses were performed using Maximum Parsimony, Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian inference methods. The resulting topologies supported two main clades: the clade comprising Odontobuthus doriae, O. bidentatus, and O. tavighiae, and another one which is the O. tirgari clade. The results clearly presented additional support for the taxonomic validity of the recently described species, O. tirgari and O. tavighiae. In addition, the monophyly of two previously described species O. doriae and O. bidentatus was confirmed. According to the data presented here, three taxonomically valid species belonging to the genus Odontobuthus occur in Iran.

Azghadi S, Mirshamsi O, Navidpour S, Aliabadian M. Scorpions of the genus Odontobuthus Vachon, 1950 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Iran: Phylogenetic relationships inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequence data. Zoology in the Middle East. 2014;60(2):169-79. [Subscription required for full text]

Family Buthidae

17 June, 2014

Three new species from the Dominican Republic

The new species, Microtityus minimus, is probably the smallest scorpion of the world with adult sizes barely exceeding 10 mm.

Frantisek Kovarik and Rolando Teruel have recently published three new species from the Dominican Republic.

Microtityus minimus Kovarik & Teruel, 2014 (Buthidae)

Tityus kindli Kovarik & Teruel, 2014 (Buthidae)

Cazierius neibae Kovarik & Teruel, 2014 (Scorpionidae)

The paper have several color pictures of species and habitats.

We describe herein three new species of scorpions from the Dominican Republic, in the Greater Antillean Island of Hispaniola: Microtityus minimus sp. n. (probably the smallest scorpion in the world from the southernmost foothills of the Cordillera Central Mountains), Tityus kindli sp. n. (from the high peaks of eastern Cordillera Central Mountains), and Cazierius neibae sp. n. (from the southern slope of the Sierra de Neiba Mountains). Additional information is given on their taxonomy, distribution, ecology, and reproductive biology, fully complemented with color photos of live and preserved specimens, as well as their habitat. Figure 20 shows the smallest scorpion female (total length 11.4 mm) photographed with the newborn.

Kovarik F, Teruel R. Three New Scorpion Species from the Dominican Republic, Greater Antilles (Scorpiones: Buthidae, Scorpionidae). Euscorpius. 2014 (187):1-27. [Free full text]

Family Buthidae

Family Scorpionidae

13 June, 2014

New Centruroides species from Panama

Diomedes Quintero Arias and Lauren Esposito have recently published a new species of Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Buthidae) from the province of Chiriqui in Panama.

A new species, Centruroides panamensis n. sp., from the foothills of Volcán Barú in the Province of Chiriquí, Panama is described with a extremely narrow distributional range. New distribution records of Centruroides bicolor (Pocock, 1898) are also presented.

Arias DQ, Esposito LA. A new species of Centruroides Marx (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Panama and new distribution records for Centruroides bicolor (Pocock, 1898) and Centruroides granosus (Thorell, 1876). Zootaxa. 2014;3795(3):373-82. [Subscritpion required for full text]

Family Buthidae

11 June, 2014

New species of Diplocentrus from Mexico

Carlos Santibanez-Lopez has recently published a new species of Diplocentrus Peters, 1861 (Scorpionidae) from Oaxaca, Mexico.

Diplocentrus franckei Santibanez-Lopez, 2014

A new species of the genus Diplocentrus Peters, 1861 is described, based on several specimens collected in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. It is characterized by a high telotarsal spiniform setae count (4- 5/5:5/6:6/6:6/6-7), and the pectinal tooth counts of 12–15, mode = 13 (male) or 11–13, mode = 12 (female). With the description of this species, the diversity of the genus is increased to 51 species in Mexico.

Santibanez-Lopez CE. A new species of the genus Diplocentrus Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones, Diplocentridae) from Oaxaca, Mexico. Zookeys. 2014 (412):103-16. [Free full text]

Thanks to Oscar Francke for sending me this paper!

A new high altitude Scorpiops from the Himalays, India

Amod Zambre and co-workers have described a new and fascinating species of Scorpiops Peters, 1861 (Euscorpiidae) from Indian Himalays in a forthcoming issue of the journal Comptes Rendus Biologies.

Scorpiops spitiensis Zambre, Sanap & Mirza, 2014

The new species was found while ground being dug for the construction of houses in Spiti Valley at an altitude of 4000 - 4200 m. Mean summer temperature in this area is around 25 °C, but can drop to minus 35 °C during winters. Precipitation is in the form of snow during months of December to March.The new species must have an interesting strategy to cope with this kind of climatic challenges (burrowing and hibernation is probably involved).

A new high-elevation scorpion species of the genus Scorpiops is described from the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Scorpiops spitiensis sp. nov. is the second highest-elevation scorpion species in Asia and the first one from India occurring at elevations above 4200 m. The new species closely resembles Scorpiops petersii, but it can be distinguished from it based on a suit of characters, one of which is the presence of 16 trichobothria on the external aspect of the patella, which is unique to the new species.

Zambre A, Sanap RV, Mirza ZA. A new high-elevation scorpion species of the genus Scorpiops Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae: Scorpiopinae) from the Himalayas, India. Comptes Rendus Biologies. 2014;In Press. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Zeeshan Mirza for sending me their paper!

Family Euscorpiidae

10 June, 2014

A new species of Androctonus from Tunisia

Rolando Teruel and Frantisek Kovarik have described a new species of Androctonus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) from Tunisia.

Androctonus turieli Teruel & Kovarik, 2014

Androctonus bicolor Ehrenberg, 1828 is redescribed. This widespread species reported from Africa and the Middle East need further investigations to establish its real distribution and to see if there are hidden species within these populations.

We redescribe Androctonus bicolor Ehrenberg, 1828, a scorpion species widely distributed across northeast Africa and the Middle East, on the basis of the study of nine original syntypes and supplementary material from its entire distribution area. In order to stabilize nomenclature, we also designate a lectotype, update its diagnosis according to modern standards, and provide a full illustrated complement to facilitate the recognition of this species as compared to all of its congeners. Also, a new, closely related species from eastern Tunisia is described.

Teruel R, Kovarik F. Redescription of Androctonus bicolor Ehrenberg, 1828, and Description of Androctonus turieli sp. n. from Tunisia (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2014 (186):1-15. [Free full text]

Family Buthidae

05 June, 2014

Fine structure of the stinger in Euscorpius

Rainer Foelix and co-workers have recently published an interesting study investigating the fine structure of the aculeus (stinger) in scorpions in the genus Euscorpius (Euscorpiidae). In addition to showing the presence of two venom ducts open to the outside, the authors also report of several small dimples containing sunken sensory hairs. Its seems from these observations that the aculeus is not merely an injection device, but also able to integrate mechanical and chemical stimuli.

A scorpion’s last metasomal segment (telson) consists of a bulbous base that contains two venom glands and a curved tip (aculeus) where two venom ducts open to the outside. These two openings lie laterally just before the very tip of the aculeus; to see both of them at the same time, the stinger has to be looked at ‘‘tail-on’’ from the dorsal side. The two venom ducts have a distinct cuticular lining, which can be recognized in a transparent exuvia as long tubes (1 mm) extending from the distal pores back to the venom glands. Whereas the proximal bulb has many long sensory hairs on its surface, the distal aculeus is very smooth but contains small pits with tiny club-shaped hairs. These are probably contact chemoreceptors. The advantage of such sunken sensory hairs is certainly that the stinger can penetrate into prey (or foe) but can still perceive mechanical or chemical stimuli. Additionally, the aculeus bears several slit sensilla and numerous fine pores of unknown function. The aculeus is thus not only a well-adapted injection device but also contains sensory structures, which provide information on mechanical and chemical input.

Foelix R, Erb B, Braunwalder M. Fine structure of the stinger (aculeus) in Euscorpius. Journal of Arachnology. 2014;42(1):119-22. [Subscription required for full text]

Male sprinters and fighting females: Morphology and anti-predator strategies in Bark scorpions

Sexual dimorphism is present in many scorpion species. In many species, the males are more slender and having longer tails, while the females are larger and heavier with shorter tails. Bradley Carlson and co-workers have tested if these differences in morphology have an impact on the genders anti-predator strategies in the errant scorpion Centruroides vittatus (Say, 1821) (Buthidae).

Males sprinted faster than females, while females were more aggressive and used their stinger significantly more often than males. The larger and heavier females (burdened by being pregnant 80% of the year) can not run away from potential predators and have in stead evolved a higher aggression and sting use as the main defense. Males, unburdened by a load of developing embryos in the their abdomen, have developed morphological traits enhancing their running abilities as the main defensive behavior.

This article is also mentioned in the ScienceNews blog under the title "Beware of the pregnant scorpion".

Sexual dimorphism can result from sexual or ecological selective pressures, but the importance of alternative reproductive roles and trait compensation in generating phenotypic differences between the sexes is poorly understood. We evaluated morphological and behavioral sexual dimorphism in striped bark scorpions (Centruroides vittatus). We propose that reproductive roles have driven sexually dimorphic body mass in this species which produces sex differences in locomotor performance. Poor locomotor performance in the females (due to the burden of being gravid) favors compensatory aggression as part of an alternative defensive strategy, while male morphology is coadapted to support a sprinting-based defensive strategy. We tested the effects of sex and morphology on stinging and sprinting performance and characterized overall differences between the sexes in aggressiveness towards simulated threats. Greater body mass was associated with higher sting rates and slower sprinting within sexes, which explained the greater aggression of females (the heavier sex) and, along with longer legs in males, the improved sprint performance in males. These findings suggest females are aggressive to compensate for locomotor costs of reproduction while males possess longer legs to enhance sprinting for predator evasion and mate finding. Sexual dimorphism in the metasoma (‘‘tail’’) was unrelated to stinging and sprinting performance and may best be explained by sexual selection.

Carlson BE, McGinley S, Rowe MP. Meek Males and Fighting Females: Sexually-Dimorphic Antipredator Behavior and Locomotor Performance Is Explained by Morphology in Bark Scorpions (Centruroides vittatus). PLoS One. 2014;9(5):e97648. [Free full text]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this paper!

04 June, 2014

A review of the scorpion biogeography of Southeast Asia

Wilson Lourenco has written a book chapter on the biogeography of scorpions of Southeast Asia in the book "Biodiversity, Biogeography and Nature Conservation in Wallacea and New Guinea, volume II". See abstract below for more details.

Biogeographic patterns observed among modern scorpions are the consequence of different major events which can be integrated in the schematic scales proposed by M. Udvardy. The distribution of the principal modern groups (i.e. families and genera) is derived from elements (protofamilies and protogenera of Pulmonate- Neoscorpionina) which originated in Pangea. The main factor in the phylogenetic/palaeobiogeographic scale was probably not the latitudinal and longitudinal overland migration (dispersion) of the ancestors Neoscorpionina, which followed the predominantly southward shift of the warm tropical belt, but a rather more passive vicariant process in association with dispersal in Haffer’s sense, in response to the progressive fragmentation of Pangea. This was followed by continental drift which led to the present configuration of the continents and climates. This suggestion seems to be in accordance with the very poor vagility observed in modern scorpions. On the millennial scale, Pleistocene and post-Pleistocene biogeography has been responsible for the regional level of the distribution pattern which, during its settlement, has led to the selection of some new specific lineages and to the extinction of others. On the secular scale, the ecological biogeography is a consequence of recent natural or anthropic events. This scale has been little used by scorpion biogeographers, mostly because of lack of data on scorpion life history strategies. In this chapter, examples from Southeast (and Wallacea) scorpions are proposed for and discussed in relation to the three biogeographic scales of Udvardy.

Lourenco WR. Biogeography of Southeast Asia (and Wallacea) scorpions, a review. In: Telnov D, editor. Biodiversity, Biogeography and Nature Conservation in Wallacea and New Guinea, volume II. Riga: Entomological Society of Latvia; 2014. p. 27-46.

Thanks to professor Lourenco for sending me this paper!