22 December, 2017

2017 Season's Greetings from The scorpion Files

Mymecophily in Birulatus israelensis

Yoram Zvik recently published an interesting article presenting evidence for myrmecophily in Birulatus israelensis Lourenço, 2002 (Buthidae) from Israel. The author observed this scorpion exclusively on active foraging trails of the ant species Messor ebeninus Santschi, 1927 or around their nests. Birulatus israelensis seemed also to be disregarded by the ants, while other scorpion species were attacked. This is the first observation of myrmecophily in scorpions.

The authors discuss the potential benefits from this relationship for the scorpions. Further research is needed to understand this unusual relationship between a scorpion species and an ant species.

The buthid scorpion genus Birulatus Vachon, 1974 includes three species, endemic to the Levant, each from a different location in Jordan, Israel and Syria, and all described from a single specimen. Fewer than ten specimens of the genus were collected so far. Nothing is known regarding their biology and ecology. During three collecting expeditions in the summer of 2016 near Mehola in the Jordan Valley, Palestine, 31 individuals of Birulatus israelensis Lourenço, 2002 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) were collected, all found exclusively on active foraging trails of the ant species Messor ebeninus Santschi, 1927, around their nests or coming in and out of the nests. These findings suggest that Birulatus has a myrmecophilous relationship with M. ebeninus ants.

Zvik Y. First record of myrmecophyly in the scorpion Birulatus israelensis (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Arachnologische Mitteilungen. 2017;54(21-23). [Open Access]

Thanks to Alexander Ullrich for sending me this article!

18 December, 2017

A new species of Liocheles from India

Zeeshan Mirza recently published an article with the description of a new species of Liocheles Sundevall, 1833 (Hormuridae) from northeastern India.

Liocheles schalleri Mirza, 2017

Scorpions of the genus Liocheles Sundevall, 1833 are widespread in forests of the Indo-Pacific region; however, its species diversity is poorly resolved. A new species of the genus Liocheles is herein described from northeast India after examination of freshly collected specimens and available museum material. The new species, Liocheles schalleri sp. nov., occurs in the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, a region that has been poorly explored for its arachnid diversity.

Mirza ZA. Description of a new species of Liocheles Sundevall, 1833 (Hormuridae) from India. Zootaxa. 2017;4365(2):217-30. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Zeeshan Mirza for sending me his article!

Family Hormuridae

13 December, 2017

Three new species of Teuthraustes from Ecuador

Eric Ythier and Wilson Lourenco have recently published an article discussing the geographical distribution of the genus Teuthraustes Simon, 1878 (Chactidae) in Ecuador. Three new species are described.

Teuthraustes giupponii Ythier & Lourenço, 2017

Teuthraustes khodayarii Ythier & Lourenço, 2017

Teuthraustes kuryi Ythier & Lourenço, 2017

Three new species of scorpions belonging to the genus Teuthraustes Simon, 1878 (Scorpiones: Chactidae) are described from the Amazonian and Pacific regions of Ecuador. The new descriptions raise to four the number of Teuthraustes species in Ecuadorian Amazonia and raise to two the number of species described from the Pacific region. The total number of species of Teuthraustes is now 27, including 15 in Ecuador. The geographical distribution of the genus in Ecuador is enlarged and its pattern of distribution in the country is also commented upon.

Ythier E, Lourenco WR. The geographical patterns of distribution of the genus Teuthraustes Simon, 1878 in Ecuador and description of three new species (Scorpiones, Chactidae). ZooKeys. 2017(721):45-63. [Open Access]

Thanks to Eric Ythier for sending me the link to the article!

Family Chactidae

12 December, 2017

A review of four species of Pandinops from the Horn of Africa

Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have recently published a review of four Pandinops Birula, 1913 (Scorpionidae) from the Horn of Africa. These are the main conclusions:

Pandinops platycheles (Werner, 1916) is move from the genus Pandinurus Fet, 1997.

Pandinops pugilator (Pocock, 1900) is a valid species that is diagnosed in this paper.

Pandinops hawkeri (Pocock, 1900) and Pandinops peeli (Pocock, 1900) are synonymized with Pandinops pugilator (Pocock, 1900).

The article has several color pictures of both live and preserved specimens.

Pandinops platycheles (Werner, 1916) is diagnosed and fully complemented with color photos of types, and Pandinops pugilator (Pocock, 1900) is diagnosed and fully complemented with color photos of live and preserved specimens, as well as its habitat. The hemispermatophore of P. pugilator is illustrated and described for the first time. Pandinus hawkeri Pocock, 1900 and Pandinus peeli Pocock, 1900 are synonymized with Pandinops pugilator (Pocock, 1900).

Kovarik F, Lowe G, Elmi HSA. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part XIII. Review of Pandinops hawkeri, P. peeli, P.platycheles, and P. pugilator (Scorpionidae). Euscorpius. 2017(254):1-20. [Open Access]

Family Scorpionidae

07 December, 2017

A new species of Pandinurus from Somaliland

Frantisek Kovarik and his group have recently described a new species of Pandinurus Fet, 1997 (Scorpionidae) from Somaliland.

Pandinurus hangarale Kovarik, Lowe, Mazuch, Awale, Stundlowa & Stahlavsky, 2017

The distribution of Pandinurus smithi (Pocock, 1899) is also discussed and it is concluded that this species probably is endemic to Ethiopia.

Pandinurus hangarale sp. n. from Somaliland is described and fully complemented with color photos of live and preserved specimens, as well as its habitat. Hemispermatophore of P. hangarale sp. n. is illustrated and described. In addition to the analyses of external morphology and hemispermatophores, we also describe the karyotype of P. hangarale sp. n. (2n=120). Known localities of Pandinurus smithi (Pocock, 1897) are compiled; the type locality is not in Somaliland but in Ethiopia (Turfa) and in reality it is probably an endemic of Ethiopia.

Kovarik F, Lowe G, Mazuch T, Awale AI, Stundlova J, Stahlavsky F. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part XII. Pandinurus hangarale sp. n. (Scorpionidae) from Somaliland and a Review of Type Locality and True Distribution of Pandinurus smithi (Pocock, 1897). Euscorpius. 2017(253):1-18. [Open Access]

Family Scorpionidae

06 December, 2017

A new Centruroides from Southwestern Caribbean

Rolando Teruel and Brandon Myers recently published a new species of Centruroides Marz, 1890 (Buthidae) from Southwestern Caribbean.

Centruroides caribbeanus Teruel & Myers, 2017

Herein we describe a new species of the Buthidae scorpion genus Centruroides Marx, 1890. It occurs at least in two small offshore islands of the southwestern Caribbean: Cozumel in Mexico and Guanaja in Honduras, based upon type specimens from the former and photographic evidence from the latter. It belongs in the "gracilis" species-group and is most closely related to both Centruroides gracilis (Latreille, 1805) and Centruroides nigrescens (Pocock, 1898).

Teruel R, Myers B. A New Island Species of Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from the Southwestern Caribbean. Euscorpius. 2017(252):1-14. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

05 December, 2017

Dangerous arachnids - Fake news or reality?

I have taken the liberty of stealing the title of an interesting article recently published by Tobias Hauke and Volker Herzig. We all know that our favorite animal group, scorpions, are infamous in the public among laypersons (and sometimes also among scholars), but there aren't that many reviews addressing the facts concerning the medical importance of scorpions and other arachnid groups.

The present paper walks us through the spiders and scorpions of the world and lists taxa with medical significance, all based on scientific evidence. The article also discuss the results in connection with the growing number of arachnids kept as pets. Scorpions of medical importance is one of my main areas of interest, and based on my experience the article's conclusions are valid.

I recommend this article for all that are interested in spider and scorpion envenomations. It will also be interesting for scorpion enthusiasts keeping scorpions as pets, as the article's language is not too advanced and easily understandable for laypersons.

The public perception of spiders and scorpions is skewed towards the potential harm they can inflict in humans, despite recent scientific evidence that arachnid venom components might be useful as bioinsecticides or even human therapeutics. Nevertheless, arachnids are becoming more popular as pets in Europe, America and Asia, raising the question for regulatory agencies in these regions as to whether they need to take measurements to protect their citizens. In order to decide upon the necessary regulatory steps, they first need to determine which arachnids are actually dangerous to humans. This review therefore provides an overview of the current literature on verified bites and stings from spiders and scorpions with the aim of assessing their potential danger for human health. As a guideline, we also provide a list of those arachnid genera that we consider as potentially dangerous, which includes 10 spider and 11 scorpion genera. The arachnid genera classified as dangerous comprise less than a quarter of all extant scorpion species and only 0.5% of all spiders species, with the actual number most likely being much lower than that, as not all species in those genera might turn out to pose an actual threat for humans. In conclusion, we found that only a small percentage of scorpions and a minute percentage of all spiders can be considered as potentially dangerous to humans. While in some countries of origin the high incidence of envenomations by dangerous arachnids can result in a serious problem to the health system, we assessed the risk that the same species pose when kept as pets under controlled maintenance conditions as significantly lower.

Hauke TJ, Herzig V. Dangerous arachnids-Fake news or reality? Toxicon. 2017;138:173-83. [Subscription required for full text]