31 January, 2017

Some biological aspects of the genus Brachistosternus in Chile

Andres Ojanguren Affilastro and co-workers recently published an article with new data on prey capture and habitat of the genus Brachistosternus Pocock, 1893 (Bothriruidae) in Chile. In addition, a new type of pedipalp macroseta was described.

New data about several aspects of the biology of scorpions of genus Brachistosternus of the Atacama Desert are provided. Predatory techniques on tenebrionid larvae, and large spiders in their burrows are described, as well as the method used to transport large preys. The habitat of Brachistosternus mattonii Ojanguren-Affilastro 2005, by the tide line, is described for the first time. Finally a new type of pedipalp macroseta of Bothriuridae is described.

Ojanguren Affilastro AA, Botero-Trujillo R, Castex A, Pizarro-Araya J. Biological aspects of the genus Brachistosternus (Bothriuridae) in the Atacama Desert (Chile), with the description of a new type of pedipalp macroseta. Gayana. 2016;80(2):169-74. [Open Access]

Thanks to Andres Ojanguren Affilastro for sending me their paper!

23 January, 2017

A new study on the anatomy of the scorpion stinger

Arie van der Meijden and Thomas Kleinteich have recently published a study on the diversity of the scorpion stinger. The stinger is an essential tool for scorpions and there is a great diversity in both anatomy and the use of the stinger. This study shows that scorpion stingers may be biomechanically optimized, and this may indicate different usage of the stinger in different species.

Scorpions have elongated metasomas that bear a telson, which is used as a stinger for venom injection. There is a remarkable diversity in the use of the stinger among scorpions, comprising defensive behavior, prey subjugation and mating. This diversity could be reflected by the shape of the telson, as different stinging behaviors will result in very different functional demands. Here we explored the diversity of telson shapes in scorpions by providing morphological measurements, such as curvature and tip angle, as well as by testing stingers under load using finite element analysis (FEA). FEA models were loaded with forces scaled to the surface area of the models, to allow comparison of the relative strain energy based on shape alone. Load force angle was rotated to identify the optimal stinging angle based on the lowest strain energy. Aculeus length and mean aculeus height correlated with minimal strain energy. Optimal stinging angle correlated with tip angle, and differed from the tip angle by about 28.4 6.22 °. We found that species that are more venomous have long aculei (stinger barbs) with a larger radius of curvature. FEA models of these longer aculei showed basal stress concentrations, indicating a potential greater risk of basal breakage due to shape alone. Telsons with shorter and thicker aculeus shapes showed stress concentrations at the tip only. Despite these marked differences in shape, we found no difference in the scaled strain energy between groups of species that are more venomous and less venomous groups of species. These results show that scorpion stingers may be biomechanically optimized, and this may indicate different usage of the stinger in different species.

van der Meijden A, Kleinteich T. A biomechanical view on stinger diversity in scorpions. J Anat. 2016. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Arie van der Meijden for sending me their article!

18 January, 2017

Scorpions inhabiting islands or archipelagos

Gerard Dupre has recently published a literature review listing all scorpion species that inhabit islands or archipelagos around the world. The article is in French.

The scorpions are spread across the continents in various biogeographical zones, confirming their extreme ecological plasticity. However, a number of them are quite deeply rooted outside the continental areas, namely on islands or archipelagos in numerous seas and oceans. We consulted many scientific texts of various authors about their distribution in the islands.

Dupre G. Etude preliminaire de la faune scorpionique insulaire. Aracnida - Rivista Arachnologica Italiana. 2016;2(10, Supplemento):3-80.

Thanks to Gerard for sending me his article!

A checklist of the scorpion fauna of Vietnam

The scorpion fauna of Vietnam has previously received little attention. Dinh-Sac Pham and co-workers have now published a checklist of the scorpion fauna of Vietnam based on the available literature. The aim of the study is to make ready for future taxonomic studies of the scorpions of Vietnam.

In the article the authors raise the subgenus Vietscorpiops (Lourenço and Pham, 2015) (Euscorpiidae) to genus status and the species Scorpiops dentidactylus Lourenço and Pham, 2015 is moved to the new genus (as Vietscorpiops dentidactylus (Lourenço and Pham, 2015) ).

A faunistic inventory is proposed for the known Vietnamese scorpion species. The aim of this contribution is to bring an up-to-date checklist of all known species in Vietnam, prior to a more detailed study of the Vietnamese fauna to be performed by one of the authors (T.- H.T.) in the context of the preparation of a doctoral degree. Final taxonomic decisions should be taken at the end of the doctoral dissertation.

Pham DS, Tran TH, Lourenco WR. Diversity and endemicity in the scorpion fauna of Vietnam. A preliminary synopsis. C R Biol. 2016. [Open Access]

Family Euscorpiidae

17 January, 2017

A review on scorpions living in high altitudes

Some of the Euorpean Euscorpius species can be found in high altitudes with snow in periods of the year. Photo: Stelios Kokkas (C).

Gerard Dupre recently published a literature review summing up the available knowledge on scorpions living in higher altitudes. He found 227 species from 56 genera living at 2000 meters or above (some living permanently in this height, while others having their distribution area touching these heights).

The height record is being held by the bothriurid Orobothirurus huascaran Ochoa, Ojanguren Affilastro, Mattoni & Predini, 2011, found at 4910 meters. A previous record (5560 meters) reported for Pachakutej crassimanus (Maury, 1975) is considered to be erroneous.

Très peu d'études sur les scorpions d'altitude ont été menées. La seule synthèse est celle de Goyffon (1993). Par la suite ce sont des synthèses partielles par région comme par exemple sur les espèces andines (Ochoa, Ojanguren-Affilastro & Prendini, 2011; Mattoni, Ochoa, Ojanguren-Affilastro & Prendini, 2012) ou himalayennes (Zambre, Sanap & Mirza, 2014). Nous avons consulté la presse scientifique de plus de deux siècles pour aboutir à cette synthèse qui ne prétend pas à l'exhaustivité.

Dupre G. Les scorpions d'altitude. Arachnides. 2016(79):20-36.

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me his article!

On the venom of Superstitionia donensis

There has been and is a lot of research on scorpion venoms, but the majority of these studies have been on species in the family Buthidae. Several families are not represented in the venom literature at all. Carlos E. Santibáñez-López and co-workers have now published a study on the venom of the enigmatic scorpion Superstitionia donensis Stahnke, 1940 (Superstitioniidae).

Venom gland transcriptomic and proteomic analyses have improved our knowledge on the diversity of the heterogeneous components present in scorpion venoms. However, most of these studies have focused on species from the family Buthidae. To gain insights into the molecular diversity of the venom components of scorpions belonging to the family Superstitioniidae, one of the neglected scorpion families, we performed a transcriptomic and proteomic analyses for the species Superstitionia donensis. The total mRNA extracted from the venom glands of two specimens was subjected to massive sequencing by the Illumina protocol, and a total of 219,073 transcripts were generated. We annotated 135 transcripts putatively coding for peptides with identity to known venom components available from different protein databases. Fresh venom collected by electrostimulation was analyzed by LC-MS/MS allowing the identification of 26 distinct components with sequences matching counterparts from the transcriptomic analysis. In addition, the phylogenetic affinities of the found putative calcins, scorpines, La1-like peptides and potassium channel toxins were analyzed. The first three components are often reported as ubiquitous in the venom of different families of scorpions. Our results suggest that, at least calcins and scorpines, could be used as molecular markers in phylogenetic studies of scorpion venoms.

Santibanez-Lopez CE, Cid-Uribe JI, Batista CV, Ortiz E, Possani LD. Venom Gland Transcriptomic and Proteomic Analyses of the Enigmatic Scorpion Superstitionia donensis (Scorpiones: Superstitioniidae), with Insights on the Evolution of Its Venom Components. Toxins (Basel). 2016;8(12). [Open Access]

Thanks to Carlos E. Santibáñez-López for sending me their article!

16 January, 2017

Two new species of Razianus from Pakistan

Correction: Publication date for this article has been corrected to 2014.

T. Muhammad Tahir and co-workers published an article on the little known genus Razianus Farzanpay, 1987 (Buthidae) in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan last summer. In addition to a redescription of Razianus zarudnyi (Birula, 1903), the paper describes two new species from Pakistan.

Razinaus birulai Tahir, Navidpour & Prendini, 2014

Razinaus farzanpayi Tahir, Navidpour & Prendini, 2014

An identification key for the four species known from Iraq, Iran and Pakistan is presented.

The scorpion fauna of Pakistan, like that of the rest of the Indian subcontinent, is poorly known and many new species may await discovery. We describe two new species of the buthid genus Razianus Farzanpay, 1987, i.e., Razianus birulai, sp. nov., and Razianus farzanpayi, sp. nov., the first records of this genus from Pakistan, raising the number of species in the genus to four and extending its distribution southeast. In addition, we redescribe the type species, Razianus zarudnyi (Birula, 1903), report the first record from Iraq, extending the distribution of Razianus further west, plot the known locality records of the three species occurring in Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan, and provide a key to their identification.

Muhammad Tahir H, Navidpour S, Prendini L. First reports of Razianus (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Iraq and Pakistan, descriptions of two new species, and redescription of Razianus zarudnyi. American Museum Novitates. 2014(3806):1-26. [Open Access]

Thanks to Joel Hallan for informing me about these two missing species from The Scorpion Files!

Family Buthidae

13 January, 2017

A new species of Pseudouroctonus from Texas, USA

Richard Ayrey and Michael Soleglad have recently described a new species of Pseudouroctonus Stahnke, 1974 (Vaejovidae) from Western Texas, USA.

Pseudouroctonus brysoni Ayrey & Soleglad, 2017

A new species of the “apacheanus” group of genus Pseudouroctonus is described from western Texas, USA, Pseudouroctonus brysoni, sp. nov. This new species is closely related to P. apacheanus (Gertsch et Soleglad, 1972) and two other species recently described from southern Arizona. A combination of morphological differences in the hemispermatophore, the mating plug, and several morphometric-based characters are identified as diagnostic.

Ayrey RF, Soleglad ME. A New Species of the “apacheanus” Group of Genus Pseudouroctonus from Western Texas (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius. 2017(237):1-23. [Open Access]

Family Vaejovidae

11 January, 2017

Two new Euscorpius species from Greece and a redescription of Euscorpius tauricus

The new year starts with more news about the large European scorpion genus Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae). More materials from new locations combined with improved methods in genetics have revealed many new species in the last decade.

In a recent paper Gioele Tropea and co-workers described two new species from the Cyclades Islands, Greece:

Euscorpius amorgensis Tropea, Fet, Parmakelis, Kotsakiozi & Stathi, 2017 (Amorgos Island)

Euscorpius curcici Tropea, Fet, Parmakelis, Kotsakiozi & Stathi, 2017 (Ios and Sikinos Islands)

In addition, investigations revealed that the previous endemic Ukrain Euscorpius tauricus (C. L. Koch, 1837), actually is also found in Cyclades Islands (Greece) and northwestern Anatolia (Turkey). E. tauricus is redescribed. These investigations have also caused the following synonymizations:

Euscorpius rahsenae Yağmur & Tropea, 2013 and Euscorpius carpathicus aegaeus Di Caporiacco, 1950 are both synonymized with E. tauricus (C. L. Koch, 1837).

Euscorpius tauricus (C. L. Koch, 1837) was previously known only from the Crimea Peninsula, Ukraine. We report an unexpected presence of this species in the Cyclades Islands (Greece) and northwestern Anatolia (Turkey). In addition we designate a neotype for this species. We synonymize Euscorpius carpathicus aegaeus Di Caporiacco, 1950 syn. n., from Antiparos Island and Euscorpius rahsenae Yağmur et Tropea, 2013 syn. n., from Anatolia, with E. tauricus. In addition, we describe two new species related to E. tauricus, from the Cyclades Islands: E. curcici sp. n., from Ios and Sikinos Islands, and E. amorgensis sp. n., from Amorgos Island. Identity and level of divergence of these taxa is confirmed by multiple DNA markers.

Tropea G, Fet V, Parmakelis A, Kotsakiozi P, Stathi I. Redescription of Euscorpius tauricus (C.L. Koch, 1837), with the description of two new related species from Greece (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Ecol Mont. 2017;7:614-38. [Open Access]

Thanks to Gioele Tropea for sending me their paper!

Family Euscorpiidae

04 January, 2017

Scorpionism in the world - A new systematic review

Happy New Year!

Maria Santos and co-workers recently published a systematic review on the clinical and epidemiological aspects of scorpion envenomations around the world. Scorpionism is an important health problem around the world and especially in some regions with higher incidents and more severe envenomations.Because of this, the present paper is an important contribution to the knowledge of scorpionism.


Scorpion stings are registered worldwide, but the incidence and the features of the envenomations vary depending on the region. The aim of this review was to summarize the epidemiological, clinical, diagnostic, and therapeutic data worldwide regarding humans stung by scorpions.


A systematic review of the literature was conducted through the online databases of the Virtual Health Library (VHL), which hosts Medline and the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Informational (LILACS) database. We selected articles published between January 1, 2002 and July 31, 2014.


Scorpion envenomation reports were found throughout the world, mainly in subtropical and tropical regions. The clinical manifestations were sympathetically and parasympathetically mediated, depending on the species of scorpion. Some of the most common severe complications of scorpionism included respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary edema, cardiac dysfunction, impaired hemostasis, pancreatitis, and multiple organ failure. Scorpion envenomation could be classified as mild, moderate, and severe, and the therapeutic approach was based on the case severity. The treatment comprised 3 components: symptomatic measures, vital functions support, and injection of antivenom. Moreover, the time that elapsed between the sting and administration of the appropriate medical care was extremely important to the patient’s prognosis.


The large number of scorpion stings worldwide is concerning and reaffirms the need for new prevention measures and policies to reduce the incidence, prevalence, morbidity, and mortality rates from these poisonous arachnids.

Santos MS, Silva CG, Neto BS, Grangeiro Junior CR, Lopes VH, Teixeira Junior AG, et al. Clinical and Epidemiological Aspects of Scorpionism in the World: A Systematic Review. Wilderness Environ Med. 2016;27(4):504-18. [Subscription required for full text]