26 October, 2018

A revision of the Central Asian scorpion genus Anomalobuthus with three new species

Rolando Teruel, Frantisek Kovarik and Victor Fet have recently published a review of the little known, psammophilic ("sand loving") genus Anomalobuthus Kraepelin, 1900 (Buthidae). This genus is mainly distributed Central Asia. Here are the main conclusions from this study:

New species:

Anomalobuthus krivochatskyi Teruel, Kovarik & Fet, 2018 (Central Uzbekistan and extreme southern Kazakhstan).

Anomalobuthus lowei Teruel, Kovarik & Fet, 2018 (Southeastern Kazakhstan).

Anomalobuthus pavlovskyi Teruel, Kovarik & Fet, 2018 (South-central Kazakhstan and extreme northern Turkmenistan).

New combination:

 The genus Psammobuthus Birula, 1911 is synonymized with Anomalobuthus and its only species is transfered to the latter genus.

Anomalobuthus zarudnyi (Birula, 1911)

The article presents an updated identification key for the genus.

We revise the Central Asian endemic genus Anomalobuthus Kraepelin, 1900, which was considered monotypic for more than 100 years until the recent addition of a second species from Iran (Teruel et al., 2014). We redefine the generic diagnosis of Anomalobuthus and reveal that it is composed of no less than six species, three of which are described as new: A. krivochatskyi, sp. n. (central Uzbekistan and extreme southern Kazakhstan), A. lowei, sp. n. (southeastern Kazakhstan), and A. pavlovskyi, sp. n. (south-central Kazakhstan and extreme northern Turkmenistan). The monotypic genus Psammobuthus Birula, 1911 (described from the Ferghana Valley at the border of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) is synonymized under Anomalobuthus; its single species is transferred as Anomalobuthus zarudnyi (Birula, 1911), comb. n. We also clarify the type locality of the type species A. rickmersi Kraepelin, 1900, from accurate data published by its collector Rickmer Rickmers (1913) but overlooked since its very original description: it is Baljuvon in Tajikistan. Occurrence of A. rickmersi in southern and southeastern Turkmenistan is confirmed. All available species are fully illustrated with color photos of habitus and morphologically diagnostic characters, and a key covering all six recognized species of Anomalobuthus is included.

Teruel R, Kovarik F, Fet V. Revision of the Central Asian scorpion genus Anomalobuthus Kraepelin, 1900, with descriptions of three new species and a generic synonymy (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2018(270):1-45. [Open Access]

Thanks to Rolando Teruel for informing me about their article!

Family Buthidae

Book News: New edition of Scorpions of Southern Africa

Jonathan Leeming's great book on scorpions of southern Africa is now available in a new edition. It was originally published in 2003 and the new edition has updated information and several new topics are included. I have not seen the new edition as it is scheduled for publications in the end of November, but you can follow this link to get more information about whats new in the new edition and information on how to order.

16 October, 2018

A global review of medically important scorpions and scorpionism

Micaiah Ward and co-workers at Florida State University recently published an extensive review of medically important scorpions, epidemiology and scorpionism. The number of medical important species is raised to 104 (Buthidae: 101, Hemiscorpiidae: 2, Scorpionidae: 1). Of these, 36 species are considered dangerous (causing class II and III symptoms).

It is important to understand that a list like this can not be perfect. The species identification in many sting cases can be missing or wrong. Taxonomy is changing, and a species may turn out to be a species complex with potentially different venom potency (e.g. The Buthus occitanus complex). We should be careful not to label all species not on this list as harmless. A dangerous species may never have stung a human or the sting case was never reported. Also, many stings are dry or a reduced amount of venom is used, causing minor/mild symptoms and by this camouflaging a dangerous species. The article discuss some of these conserns.

 The article also has information about the distribution of medically important species, venom composition and the use of scorpion venom in biomedical research.

Scorpions are an ancient and diverse venomous lineage, with over 2200 currently recognized species. Only a small fraction of scorpion species are considered harmful to humans, but the often life-threatening symptoms caused by a single sting are significant enough to recognize scorpionism as a global health problem. The continued discovery and classification of new species has led to a steady increase in the number of both harmful and harmless scorpion species. The purpose of this review is to update the global record of medically significant scorpion species, assigning each to a recognized sting class based on reported symptoms, and provide the major toxin classes identified in their venoms. We also aim to shed light on the harmless species that, although not a threat to human health, should still be considered medically relevant for their potential in therapeutic development. Included in our review is discussion of the many contributing factors that may cause error in epidemiological estimations and in the determination of medically significant scorpion species, and we provide suggestions for future scorpion research that will aid in overcoming these errors.

Ward MJ, Ellsworth SA, Nystrom GS. A global accounting of medically significant scorpions: Epidemiology, major toxins, and comparative resources in harmless counterparts. Toxicon. 2018;151:137-55. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this article!

10 October, 2018

A review of the scorpions (and other arachnid groups) from Sudan

The Republic of the Sudan is one of the largest countries in East Africa with a large diversity when it comes to habitats and climate. A few new scorpion taxa have been described from Sudan in the last years, but no recent review of the scorpion fauna has been published.

Jason Dunlop and co-workers have recently published a review of the scorpions and other arachnid groups from Sudan. 17 species from the families Buthidae (15) and Scorpionidae (2) were recorded.

Literature-based species lists for arachnids, excluding spiders and mites, found in the Republic of the Sudan are provided. We summarize records, references, and localities for 17 scorpions (Scorpiones), one harvestman (Opiliones), nine pseudoscorpions (Pseudoscorpiones), 21 camel spiders (Solifugae) and one whip spider (Amblypygi). There are no published records of palpigrades (Palpigradi), whip scorpions (Thelyphonida), schizomids (Schizomida) or ricinuleids (Ricinulei), although at least whip scorpions and ricinuleids would not be expected in East Africa based on their current distribution. Key literature for mites and ticks (Acari) is also mentioned. In general, the Sudanese arachnid fauna has not been documented in detail. Many more species, particularly among the harvestmen and pseudoscorpions, are to be expected, and we offer the data gathered here as a baseline for future work.

Dunlop JA, Siyam M, Kovarik F. Smaller orders of Arachnida in Sudan: a literature review. Arachnology. 2018;17:449-57.

Thanks to Frantisek Kovarik for sending me their article!

08 October, 2018

Several synonymizations and redescriptions in the family Buthidae

Frantisek Kovarik has conducted a critical review on several taxa in the family Buthidae. These are the main conclusions:

Buthacus armasi Lourenço, 2013 is synonymized with Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829).

Buthacus maliensis Lourenço & Qi,2007 is synonymized with Androctonus aleksandrplotkini Lourenço & Qi, 2007.

Compsobuthus williamsi Lourenço, 1999 is synonymized with Compsobuthus matthiesseni (Birula, 1905).

In addition a couple of old synonymzations are confirmed and several taxa have been revised and new descriptions are presented.

The taxonomic position of Buthacus armasi Lourenço, 2013, B. clevai Lourenço, 2001, B. huberi Lourenço, 2001, B.maliensis Lourenço & Qi, 2007, B. nigerianus Lourenço & Qi, 2006, Compsobuthus andresi Lourenço, 2004, C.simoni Lourenço, 1999, C. tassili Lourenço, 2010, C. tofti Lourenço, 2001, C. williamsi Lourenço, 1999, and Sabinebuthus elegans Lourenço, 2001 is revised and fictitious characters in their original descriptions are discussedand corrected. Buthacus armasi Lourenço, 2013 is synonymized with Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829) syn. n., B. huberi Lourenço, 2001 is confirmed to be a synonym of Buthacus occidentalis Vachon, 1953, B. maliensis Lourenço & Qi,2007 is synonymized with Androctonus aleksandrplotkini Lourenço & Qi, 2007 syn. n., Compsobuthus williamsi Lourenço, 1999 is synonymized with Compsobuthus matthiesseni (Birula, 1905) syn. n., and Sabinebuthus elegans Lourenço, 2001 is confirmed to be a junior synonym of Lanzatus somalicus Kovařík, 2001.

Kovarik F. Notes on the Genera Buthacus, Compsobuthus, and Lanzatus with Several Synonymies and Corrections of Published Characters (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2018(269):1-12. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

04 October, 2018

Sexual dimorphism and reproductive behavior in Tityus pusillus from Brazil

Behavior studies of scorpions are not that common and we still have much to learn about different types of scorpion behavior. Andre Lira and co-workers have now published a new study investigating the sexual dimorphism and reproductive behavior in Tityus pusillus Pocock, 1893 (Buthidae) from Brazil. They have mapped the different behavior components involved in reproduction in this species and have analyzed the sexual dimorphism present in T. pusillus. See abstract and article for further details.

We studied sexual dimorphism (SD) and reproductive behavior in the litter-dwelling scorpion, Tityus pusillus. SD was determined by measuring seven body structure attributes (prosoma, mesosoma, and metasoma lengths, and pedipalp chelae and metasomal segment V lengths and widths) in 634 individuals (211 males and 423 females) from the Arachnological Collection of the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco. Reproductive behavior was observed in 55 couples during nocturnal activity observations conducted in the laboratory. In addition, we evaluated gestation time, hemispermatophore replacement, and sequential courtship. Individuals of T. pusillus exhibited typical reproductive behavior, with a short courtship time (averaging 10 5 min). Males only accepted new partners at least 48 h after first mating, suggesting that this period may be necessary for hemispermatophore production. Females did not accept new partners for 24–48 h after their first mating. The average gestation period was 85 12 d, ranging 60–100 d. Our results showed a more complex picture of SD than previously described for this species, including features characteristic of both sexual size dimorphism (SSD) and sexual body component dimorphism in scorpions. In general, considering the relatively large size of the prosoma and mesosoma in T. pusillus, it seems reasonable to conclude that female-biased SSD exists in the species, and that male-biased sexual body component dimorphism is evident in the metasoma and chelae.

Lira AF, Pordeus LM, Rego FN, Iannuzzi K, Albuquerque CMJIB. Sexual dimorphism and reproductive behavior in the Brazilian scorpion Tityus pusillus (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Invertebr Biol. 2018;137(3):221-30. [Subscritpion required for full text]

Thanks to Andre Lira for sending me their article!