21 June, 2019

Scorpion venom can kill dangerous, resistant bacterias in a safe way


I usually do not post much about biochemical and toxicology research on scorpion venom as I have very little expertise on these topics. As many of you probably have noticed, there is a lot of research on scorpion venom trying to identify components in the venom that can be used for medical and/or commercial purposes. Because of this, scorpion venom is now considered one of the most expensive materials on earth. This week a very interesting study was published.

Edson Norberto Carcamo-Noriegaa and co-workers have identified twopreviously unknown benzoquinones in the venom of the Mexican scorpion Diplocentrus melici Armas, Martin-Frias & Berea, 2004 (Scorpionidae). The study shows that these two compounds can kill dangerous staphylococcus and tuberculosis bacteria in a safe way. The researchers also were able to synthesize the two compounds, making this a very promising tool for a future medicine against dangerous and resistant bacterias.

If you can not access the article, you can check out this news report from Stanford University summing up the main findings.

Abstract:
Two 1,4-benzoquinone derivatives, found in the venom of the scorpion Diplocentrus melici following exposure to air, have been isolated, characterized, synthesized, and assessed for antimicrobial activities. Initially a white, viscous liquid, the extracted venom colors within minutes under ambient conditions. From this colored mixture, two compounds, one red, the other blue, were isolated and purified using chromatography. After a variety of NMR and mass spectrometry experiments, the red compound was determined to be 3,5- dimethoxy-2-(methylthio)cyclohexa-2,5-diene-1,4-dione, and the blue compound was determined to be 5-methoxy-2,3- bis(methylthio) cyclohexa-2,5-diene-1,4-dione. Because extremely small amounts of these compounds were isolated from the scorpion venom, we developed laboratory syntheses from commercially available precursors, allowing us to produce sufficient quantities for crystallization nd biological assays. The red benzoquinone is effective against Staphylococcus aureus [minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) = 4 μg/mL], while the blue benzoquinone is active against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MIC = 4 μg/mL) and even against a multidrug-resistant (MDR) strain with nearly equal effectiveness. The bactericidal effects of both benzoquinones show comparable activity to commercially available antibiotics used against these pathogens and were cytotoxic to neoplastic cell lines, suggesting
their potential as lead compounds for the development of novel antimicrobial and anticancer drugs. Importantly, the blue benzoquinone was also effective in vivo with mouse models of MDR tuberculosis infection. After treatment for 2 mo, four mice with late-stage active MDR tuberculosis had a significant decrease in pulmonary bacillary loads and tissue damage. Healthy mice served as negative controls and tolerated treatment well, without adverse side effects.


Reference:
Carcamo-Noriega EN, Sathyamoorthi S, Banerjee S, Gnanamani E, Mendoza-Trujillo M, Mata-Espinosa D, et al. 1,4-Benzoquinone antimicrobial agents against Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis derived from scorpion venom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2019:201812334. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this interesting article!

20 June, 2019

A new species of Euscorpiops from China


Eric Ythier has recently published a new species of Euscorpiops Vachon, 1980 (Euscorpiidae) from China.

Euscorpiops zhangshuyuani Ythier, 2019

An identification key for the genus in the Yunnan Province is included.

Abstract:
A new species of scorpion belonging to the genus Euscorpiops Vachon, 1980 (family Scorpiopidae Kraepelin, 1905) is described on the basis of two adult females collected in a montane rainforest formation located in Tong Bi Guan Xiang, Yingjiang County, Yunnan Province, China, close to the border with Myanmar. This new scorpion taxon represents the 27th known species of the genus Euscorpiops, the tenth reported from China and the eighth reported from Yunnan Province.

Reference:
Ythier E. A new species of Euscorpiops Vachon, 1980, from China (Scorpiones, Scorpiopidae). Bulletin de la Société entomologique de France. 2019;124(2):189-96. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Eric Ythier for sending me his article!

Family Euscorpiidae

12 June, 2019

Two new species of Hottentotta from Iran and Pakistan


Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have published an article where the revise the species of Hottentotta Birula, 1908 (Buthidae) described by the famous Russian arachnologist Alexei A. Byalynitskii-Birulya (or A. A. Birula).

Two new species are described:

Hottentotta juliae Kovarik, Yagmur & Fet, 2019 (Iran)

Hottentotta krivokhatskyi Kovarik, Yagmur & Fet, 2019 (Pakistan)

See abstract and article for further taxonomical conclusions.

Abstract:
The types of Hottentotta species described by A. A. Birula and deposited in the Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia are revised. The types of H. buchariensis (Birula, 1897), H. niloticus (Birula, 1928), H. penjabensis (Birula, 1897) stat. nov. and H. schach (Birula, 1905) are fully illustrated with color photographs of morphology. Their taxonomic position is discussed. Lectotypes are designated for H. niloticus and H. schach. We confirm synonymy of Buthus (Hottentotta) minax niloticus Birula, 1928 (Sudan) with Buthus minax L. Koch, 1875, syn. n. Two new species, Hottentotta juliae sp. n. from Iran (Fars Province) and H. krivokhatskyi sp. n. from Pakistan (Balochistan Province), are described, based on specimens which were in previous publications incorrectly identified as H. schach and H. penjabensis.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Yagmur EA, Fet V. Review of Hottentotta described by A. A. Birula, with descriptions of two new species and comments on Birula’s collection (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(282):1-30. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

31 May, 2019

Mating in scorpions: Better condition = More successful reproduction?


Sexual selection often favors larger body size and/or greater weight in males. Larger males have better condition and are able to perform more impressive courtships, and because of this, will be more attractive for females. This may also be the case in scorpions.

Oliverio and co-workers have published a paper studying mating and courtship behavior in Bothriurus bonariensis (C.L. Koch, 1842) (Bothriuridae) and relating this to the size and body condition of both males and females.

The results showed that better condition (larger size) provided a mating advantage to males (e. g. larger males performed the mating dance quicker than smaller males) and that sexual selection is acting on courtship in B. bonariensis.

Abstract:
In most animal species, body condition has a fundamental role in fitness. In males, sexual selection generally favors larger body size or greater weight. This may result in males with better condition performing more vigorous courtships, and biasing female preferences. The effects of body condition on mating performance have been extensively studied in different animal groups. Among arachnids, scorpions are an interesting group for evaluating the effects of these sexual traits on mating performance, since they exhibit an ancient mode of indirect sperm transfer. Scorpion males deposit a single spermatophore on the soil to transfer the sperm to the females, and therefore, the production of spermatophores involves a high cost for them. In this study, we use the scorpion Bothriurus bonariensis as a model to evaluate different patterns of sexual behavior as a function of the body condition of both males and females. We found that males with a better body condition performed the mating dance stage more quickly than males with a lower condition. In addition, males performed the sexual sting behavior for a longer time with females in a better condition. Our results suggest that a better condition provides a mating advantage to males and represents an indicator of courtship performance. Given that female quality is usually correlated with fecundity, males mating with females with a better body condition probably have higher reproductive success.

Reference:
Olivero PA, Vrech DE, Oviedo-Diego MA, Mattoni CI, Peretti AV. Courtship performance as function of body condition in an ‘ancient’ form of sperm transfer. Animal Biology. 2019;69:33-46. [Open Access]

Thanks to Camilio Mattoni for sending me their article!

The scorpion distribution in the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin, Mexico


Oscar Francke has written a chapter about the scorpion distribution in the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin in Mexico in the recently published book "Animal Diversity and Biogeography of the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin".

Abstract:
Twelve species of scorpions, belonging to three families and seven genera, have been recorded from the Cuatro Cienegas Basin (CCB). Two are considered endemic, but this might be due to poor sampling efforts in other areas of the state of Coahuila; the other ten species are widely distributed in the Chihuahuan Desert and are not threatened at the time. However, there is concern about the populations inside the Basin because the increasing aridification is causing a loss in primary productivity, which in turn has an impact on the arthropods that scorpions feed upon.

Reference:
Francke OF. Scorpions (Arachnida: Scorpiones) from the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin. In: Álvarez F, Ojeda M, editors. Animal Diversity and Biogeography of the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin Cuatro Ciénegas Basin: An Endangered Hyperdiverse Oasis. Cham: Springer; 2019. p. 53-9. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Oscar Francke for sending me a copy of his publication!

24 May, 2019

A new species of Barbaracurus from Somaliland



Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have published a new species of Barbaracurus Kovarik, Lowe & Stahlavsky, 2018 (Buthidae) from Somaliland.

Barabaracurus feti Kovarik, Lowe &Stahlavsky & Hurre, 2019

 In addition, the species Babycurus borellii Rossi, 2019 is synonymized with B. yemenensis Kovarik, Lowe, Seiter, Pliskova & Stahlavsky, 2015.  

The article has an identification key for the genus.

Editors note:

B. borellii was not previously listed in The Scorpion Files because it was published in the journal "Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana", which I'm not able to get articles from by myself. I'm aware of several recent publications with taxonomical changes from this journal, but I only add updates to The Scorpion Files after having read the articles. I cannot update The scorpion Files based on information in article titles.

Abstract:
Barbaracurus feti sp. n. from Somaliland is described and compared with other species of the genus. Additional information is provided on the taxonomy and distribution of the genus Barbaracurus, fully complemented with color photos of specimens of both sexes of the new species, as well as of their habitat. In addition to morphology and hemispermatophores, we also describe the karyotypes of B. feti sp. n. (2n=23). Included is a key for Barbaracurus. Babycurus borellii Rossi, 2019 is synonymized with Barbaracurus yemenensis Kovařík et al., 2018 syn. n. as a junior synonym because the description dated in February 2018 was in reality published/accessible in March 2019.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Lowe G, Stahlavsky F, Hurre AA. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida, Scorpiones). Part XX. Barbaracurus feti sp. n. from Somaliland (Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(280):1-11. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

A revision of the genus Grosphus and the creation of a new genus Teruelius


Madagascar has always been a hotspot for biodiversity and has many endemic taxa, also among scorpions. The genus with the largest number of endemic species is Grosphus Simon, 1880 (Buthidae). Many new species have been described in this genus in the last year, but no modern revision has been done.

Graeme Lowe and Frantisek Kovarik have now published a revision of the genus Grosphus on Madagascar. The most notable conclusion of this work is that they split the genus into two and establish the new genus Teruelius Lowe & Kovarik, 2019. Here is the content of the two genera after the split:

Grosphus Simon, 1880 (10)
G. ambre Lourenço, Wilmé & Waeber, 2018
G. darainensis Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004
G. goudoti Lourenço & Goodman, 2006
G. hirtus Kraepelin, 1900
G. madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843)
G. mayottensis Lourenço & Goodman, 2009
G. polskyi Lourenço, Qi & Goodman, 2007
G. rakotoariveloi Lourenço, Wilme, Soarimalala & Waeber, 2017
G. tavaratra Lourenço, Soarimalala & Goodman, 2009
G. voahangyae Lourenço & Wilme 2015

Teruelius Lowe & Kovarík, 2019 (18)
T. ankarafantsika (Lourenço, 2003)
T. ankarana (Lourenço & Goodman, 2003)
T. annulatus (Fage, 1929)
T. bemaraha (Lourenço, Wilmé & Waeber, 2018)
T. bicolor (Lourenço, 2012)
T. bistriatus (Kraepelin, 1900)
T. eliseanneae (Lourenço & Wilme, 2016)
T. feti (Lourenço, 1996)
T. flavopiceus (Kraepelin, 1900)
T. ganzhorni (Lourenço, Wilme & Waeber, 2016)
T. grandidieri (Kraepelin, 1900)
T. intertidalis (Lourenço, 1999)
T. limbatus (Pocock, 1889)
T. magalieae (Lourenço, 2014)
T. mahafaliensis (Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004)
T. olgae (Lourenço, 2004)
T. sabineae (Lourenço & Wilme, 2016)
T. waeberi (Lourenço & Wilme, 2016)

The following species have been synonymized:

Grosphus simoni Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004 is synonymized with Grosphus madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843).

Grosphus halleuxi Lourenço, Wilmé, Soarimalala & Waeber, 2017 is synonymized with Grosphus madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843).

Grosphus mandena Lourenço, 2005 is synonymized with  Grosphus madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843).

Grosphus makay Lourenço & Wilmé, 2015 is synonymized with Teruelius feti (Lourenço, 1996).

Grosphus rossii Lourenço, 2013 is synonymized with Teruelius mahafaliensis (Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004).

See article for further details and descriptions.

Abstract:
We review the taxonomy of the Madagascar endemic buthid genus Grosphus Simon, 1880. We split the genus and describe Teruelius gen. n. on the basis of nine morphological characters, six of them new for Grosphus: positions of trichobothria d2 on pedipalp femur and Eb3 on chela manus, number of pectine teeth, shape of female basal pectinal tooth, form of hemispermatophore capsule posterior lobe, spiracle shape, metasoma I ventromedian carination, telotarsal setation and UV fluorescence. We discuss functional and taxonomic aspects of these characters, and propose that Teruelius gen. n. is monophyletic, while Grosphus (sensu stricto) is paraphyletic. Some characters of Teruelius gen. n. suggest adaptations to xeric environments, some of Grosphus to humid environments. Neogrosphus Lourenço, 1995 shares characters with both Grosphus and Teruelius gen. n.Scenarios for origins of these genera by vicariance or dispersal are discussed. New synonymies proposed are: Grosphus simoni Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004 = Grosphus madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843), syn. n.; Grosphus halleuxi Lourenço, Wilmé, Soarimalala & Waeber, 2017 = Grosphus madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843), syn. n.; Grosphus mandena Lourenço, 2005 = Grosphus madagascariensis (Gervais, 1843), syn. n.; Grosphus hirtus garciai Lourenço, 2001 = Grosphus hirtus Kraepelin, 1900, syn. n.; Grosphus makay Lourenço & Wilmé, 2015 = Teruelius feti (Lourenço, 1996) comb. n., syn.n.; Grosphus rossii Lourenço, 2013 = Teruelius mahafaliensis (Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004) comb. n., syn. n.

Reference:
Lowe G, Kovarik F. Review of Grosphus Simon, 1880, with description of Teruelius gen. n., a new buthid genus from Madagascar (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(281):1-128. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

10 May, 2019

Five new species of Vaejovis from Mexico


Gerard Contreras-Felix and Oscar Francke have recently published a taxonomic revision of the “mexicanus” group of the genus Vaejovis C. L. Koch, 1836 (Vaejovidae) from Mexico. Five new species are described:

Vaejovis ceboruco Contreras-Felix & Francke, 2019
Vaejovis nanchititla Contreras-Felix & Francke, 2019
Vaejovis santibagnezi Contreras-Felix & Francke, 2019
Vaejovis talpa Contreras-Felix & Francke, 2019
Vaejovis tapalpa Contreras-Felix & Francke, 2019

The paper have updated diagnosis for all species in the species group. Keys for identification of males and females are provided.

Abstract:
Within the scorpion genus Vaejovis C.L. Koch, the “mexicanus” group is composed of species distributed in the mountains of México. This group presents taxonomic problems, because its characterization and the species included in the group have varied through the years. In the present work, we redefine this group based on several morphological characters, and we differentiate it from the other two species groups within the genus: “vorhiesi” and “nit dulus+nigrescens”. Additionally, five new species are described: Vaejovis ceboruco sp. nov., Vaejovis nanchititla sp. nov., Vaejovis santibagnezi sp. nov., Vaejovis talpa sp. nov. and Vaejovis tapalpa sp. nov; the males of three species are described for the first time (V. dugesi, V. nigrofemoratus and V. tesselatus); and the updated diagnosis for all species is included. Keys for the identification of males and females of the 30 species included in this group are given. Lastly, notes on the natural history and distribution of some species are provided, with maps of known distribution for all the species.

Reference:
Contreras-Felix G, Francke OF. Taxonomic revision of the “mexicanus” group of the genus Vaejovis C. L. Koch, 1836 (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Zootaxa. 2019;4596(1):1-100. [Subscritpion required for full text]

Thanks to Oscar Francke and Carlos Santibanez Lopez for sending me this article!

Family Vaejovidae

26 April, 2019

Tityus serrulatus - A natural born killer


A very tabloid headline for this post, but I felt I couldn't plagiarize the nice original article title "Selected to survive and kill". Scorpion stings in Brazil have increased in the last decade and the main culprit has been Tityus serrulatus Lutz and Mello, 1922 (Buthidae). This very invasive species has spread in Brazil in the last decades and has adapted very well to urban habitat. In addition, the species can reproduce by parthenogenesis, making this species a very expanding taxa.

Ricardo Jose Gonzaga Pimenta and co-workers have recently published a study on how well Tityus serrulatus handles food and water deprivation. The authors found that this medical important scorpion has an impressive capacity to survive starvation for long periods. Lack of water, on the other hand, caused a large decrease in survival rates. Reproduction occurred throughout the year for food-deprived scorpions and controls, but not in the water-deprived groups.

The results of this study have implications for how scorpion control should be conducted for this expanding, hard to kill, dangerous species in urban areas.

Abstract:
Annually, more than 1.2 million scorpion stings and more than 3,000 deaths occur worldwide. Tityus serrulatus Lutz and Mello, 1922 (Scorpiones, Buthidae) is the most medically relevant species in Brazil where it is spreading rapidly and causing over 90,000 cases of envenomation yearly. We monitored T. serrulatus longevity and ability to reproduce under conditions of food and/or water deprivation. We found that T. serrulatus is highly tolerant to food deprivation, with individuals enduring up to 400 days without food. On the other hand, access to water played a pivotal role in T. serrulatus survival. Food and water deprived scorpions showed weight reduction. Reproduction occurred throughout the year for fooddeprived scorpions and controls, but not in the water-deprived groups. Remarkably, fooddeprived animals were able to give birth after 209 days of starvation. Tityus serrulatus resistance to food and water deprivation is likely to be an additional factor underlying this species’ geographic expansion and the difficulties encountered in controlling it.

Reference:
Pimenta RJG, Brandao-Dias PFP, Leal HG, Carmo AOD, Oliveira-Mendes BBR, Chavez-Olortegui C, et al. Selected to survive and kill: Tityus serrulatus, the Brazilian yellow scorpion. PLoS One. 2019;14(4):e0214075. [Open Access]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this article!

The origin of the buthid scorpion fauna of the Caribbean islands


The Caribbean islands have a large scorpion population where many species are endemic for this area. But how did this unique fauna originate? There have been three theories of the origins of the flora and fauna diversity seen in The Caribbean: 1. Connections via land bridges, 2. Vicariance events, 3. Overwater dispersal from continents and among islands.

Lauren Esposito and Lorenzo Prendini have now published a study investigating the biogeographical diversification of the New World buthid scorpion subfamily Centruroidinae Kraus, 1955 and trying to understand the origin of the Caribbean populations of these taxa.

The results of this study show that the centruroidine scorpions colonized the Caribbean islands on two independent occasions (35 mya ago from South America and the Greater Antilles and 20 mya ago North America, probably via Cuba). Interestingly, the results also point to a case of "reverse-colonization" event for the genus Heteroctenus Pocock, 1893. This genus seems to have a Caribbean ancestor, which subsequently colonized Central America and North America, and eventually re-colonized the Greater Antilles.

Abstract:
Scorpions are an excellent system for understanding biogeographical patterns. Most major scorpion lineages predate modern landforms, making them suitable for testing hypotheses of vicariance and dispersal. The Caribbean islands are endowed with a rich and largely endemic scorpion fauna, the origins of which have not been previously investigated with modern biogeographical methods. Three sets of hypotheses have been proposed to explain present patterns of diversity in the Caribbean: (1) connections via land bridges, (2) vicariance events, and (3) overwater dispersal from continents and among islands. The present study investigates the biogeographical diversification of the New World buthid scorpion subfamily Centruroidinae Kraus, 1955, a clade of seven genera and more than 110 species; infers the ancestral distributions of these scorpions; and tests the relative roles of vicariance and dispersal in the formation of their present distributions. A fossil calibrated molecular phylogeny was estimated with a Bayesian criterion to infer the dates of diversification events from which ancestral distributions were reconstructed, and the relative likelihood of models of vicariance vs. dispersal, calculated. Although both the timing of diversification and the ancestral distributions were congruent with the GAARlandia land-bridge hypothesis, there was no significant difference between distance-dependent models with or without the land-bridge. Heteroctenus Pocock, 1893, the Caribbean-endemic sister taxon of Centruroides Marx, 1890 provides evidence for a Caribbean ancestor, which subsequently colonized Central America and North America, and eventually re-colonized the Greater Antilles. This ‘reverse colonization’ event of a continent from an island demonstrates the importance of islands as a potential source of biodiversity.

Reference:
Esposito LA, Prendini L. Island Ancestors and New World Biogeography: A Case Study from the Scorpions (Buthidae: Centruroidinae). Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):3500. [Open Access]

25 April, 2019

Scorpions as environmental indicators


Andre Lira and co-workers have recently publised a study looking into how scorpion diversity, species richness, and species composition respond to bioclimatic changes (like forests with different gradients of humidity).

The study indicated that much of the scorpion composition and diversity in the study area were explained by a longitudinal bioclimatic gradient (wet-dry forest) and that species richness increased with increasingly dry conditions along the longitudinal gradient. Based on the results presented in this study, the authors belive that scorpions can be used as environmental indicators due to the high detectability, sensitivity to environmental attributes, and well known and stable taxonomy.

Abstract:
Understanding large-scale patterns of biological diversity is one of the most important issues in ecology. Parameters of scorpion assemblages may serve as a proxy to understand how arthropods respond to bioclimatic changes by adjusting their spatially structured distribution. We analysed how scorpion species richness, abundance, and composition respond to climatic variations found along a longitudinal gradient between wet (Atlantic Forest) and dry (Caatinga hypo and hyperxerophilic) forests in Brazil. A total of 20 sites were sampled four times along a 712 km longitudinal wet-dry bioclimatic gradient in north-eastern Brazil. We recorded 2653 scorpions from 12 species, belonging to five genera and two families. Environmental variables associated with precipitation and temperature had a strong effect on scorpion distribution, resulting in a distinct faunal composition at both extremes of the gradient. Species composition presented a turnover along the bioclimatic gradient, with beta diversity increasing towards the drier sites. The increase of dryness coincide with increases in temperature, moisture reduction, and a general environmental harshness. Our study, therefore, indicates that species sensitivity to climatic variation determines scorpion distribution in Neotropical forests.

Reference:
Lira AFA, Salomão RP, Albuquerque CMR. Pattern of scorpion diversity across a bioclimatic dry-wet gradient in Neotropical forests. Acta Oecologica. 2019;96:10-7. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andre Lira for sending me their study!

24 April, 2019

A review of the scorpion fauna of Greece


Since Aristoteles first mentioned the presence of scorpions in Greece, the number of taxa belonging to this country have increased very much in the last decade thanks to more studies and better taxonomical and phylogentic tools.

Victor Fet and co-workers have written av chapter in book published last Fall summing up the current knowledge of the scorpion fauna in Greece.

Abstract:
A remarkable diversity of scorpion fauna and its distribution in Greece is discussed. The current list of Greek scorpions includes 32 confirmed species belonging to three families (one of Buthidae, seven of Iuridae, and 24 of Euscorpiidae), as well as a number of unassigned euscorpiid taxa. Uncovered only in the last decade, mainly through the use of DNA markers, ‘cryptic’ scorpion fauna of Greece is the most diverse in Europe and rivals that of many other countries.

Reference:
Fet V, Parmakelis A, Stathi I, Tropea G, Kotsakiozi P, Kardaki L, et al. Fauna and zoogeography of scorpions in Greece. In: Sfenthourakis S, Pafilis P, Parmakelis A, Poulakakis N, Triantis KA, editors. Biogeography and Biodiversity of the Aegean In honour of Prof Moysis Mylonas. Nicosia: Broken Hill Publishers Ltd; 2018. p. 123-34. [Full text available on Victor Fet's Research gate profile]

01 April, 2019

Scorpion envenomations in South Africa during a 10-year period


South Africa harbors a large diversity of scorpions, including many species in the medical important genus Parabuthus Pocock, 1890 (Buthidae). Carine J. Marks and co-workers have recently published a retrospective analysis of the scorpion cases managed by the Tygerberg Poisons Information Centre over a 10 year period.

The main conclusion is that the incidence of severe scorpionism were low in this period. 65% of the sting cases had no or minor symptoms, mainly local pain. As usual, children may be more vulnerable and extra vigilance is needed in cases involving small children. The species involved in the study were usually not involved, but it is well known that Parabuthus granulatus (Ehrenberg, 1831) and P. transvaalicus (Purcell, 1899) are the most dangerous species in South Africa.

Abstract:
Introduction: South Africa has a wide distribution of scorpion species, yet limited data are available regarding the incidence and severity of scorpion envenomation. The aim of this study was to analyse South African epidemiological data of scorpion stings and envenomation as reported to the Tygerberg Poisons Information Centre (TPIC).
Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted of scorpion-related telephonic consultations to the TPIC over a ten year period (1 January 2005 to 31 December 2014). Data were entered onto a Microsoft Excel® spreadsheet and descriptive statistics are presented for all variables. Associations with severity of envenomation are presented as odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (95%CI).
Results: During the study period 52,163 consultations were processed by the TPIC of which 740 (1.4%) cases involved scorpion stings. Of these, 146 (19.7%) cases were deemed serious envenomations. Antivenom was recommended to be administered in 131 (90%) of these cases. Healthcare professionals made most calls (63%), but were less likely to phone for non-serious cases (OR 0.16; 95%CI 0.09 to 0.29). The Western Cape Province had the highest incidence of calls (6.9 scorpion-related calls/100 000 people). Adults (> 20 years) were victims in 71.4% of cases, and were more likely to experience less serious stings (OR 0.57; 95%CI 0.37 to 0.86). The TPIC was consulted within six hours of the sting occurring in 356 (48.1%) cases with a significant association to less severity (OR 3.51; 95%CI 1.9 to 6.3). Only 2% (15) of the scorpions were available for identification.
Conclusion: The incidence of severe scorpionism to the TPIC was low. Care should be taken when children are involved and when calls are received more than six hours after the sting. TPIC consultants as well as healthcare professionals working in semi-arid regions should be aware of these high risk populations.


Reference:
Marks CJ, Muller GJ, Sachno D, Reuter H, Wium CA, Du Plessis CE, et al. The epidemiology and severity of scorpion envenoming in South Africa as managed by the Tygerberg Poisons Information Centre over a 10-year period. African journal of emergency medicine : Revue Africaine de la Medecine d'Urgence. 2019;9(1):21-4. [Open Access]

Jaguajir rochae is able to perceive differences between small and large prey and make decisions regarding venom usage


Several studies have shown that scorpions have different strategies for optimizing the venom use. The reason for this is of course because it take times to renew the venom and it is costly as the venom is a mixture of complex proteins. This is often called the venom optimization hypothesis. This also means that optimizing venom usage might directly affect the predatory behavior and physiology of scorpions.

Meykson Alexandre da Silva and co-workers have recently published an article showing that the amount of venom available for individuals of Jaguajir rochae (Borelli, 1910) (Butidae) did have an effect on their prey capture behavior. Individuals with depleted venom glands did not attack large prey, but did try to catch smaller prey that could be handled with pedipalps only. The study shows that this scorpion is able to perceive differences between small and large prey and make decisions regarding venom usage. These results are in accordance with the the venom optimization hypothesis

Abstract:
Animal venom is composed of a complex mixture of protein-rich chemicals. Synthesis of animal venom incurs a high metabolic cost and is a prolonged process; consequently, animals use their venom cautiously and economically. Some studies have shown that venomous animals modulate the amount and/or type of venom used depending on certain factors, such as prey size or the intensity of predation threat. Here, we investigated how the quantity of venom that is available for use by the scorpion Jaguajir rochae interferes with its choice of prey.We used two types of prey of contrasting size (small 200–300-mg and large 600–700-mg cockroaches). The results showed that the amount of venom influences the feeding behavior of this species. Most scorpions without venom exhibited a low interest when large prey was present, but frequently attacked small prey. The scorpions also showed a distinct pattern in the time between venom extraction and the initiation of hunting behavior. In conclusion, J. rochae is able to perceive differences between small and large prey and make decisions regarding venom usage, supporting the "venom optimization hypothesis" (or "venom metering hypothesis"), by minimizing the venom use due to it being an energetically expensive resource.

Reference:
Silva MA, Silvia NA, Lira AFA, Martins RD. Role of venom quantity in the feeding behavior of Jaguajir rochae (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Acta Ethologica. 2019;Published Online 09 March 2019. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Meykson Alexandre da Silva for sending me their interesting article which confirm some of the assumptions that I did in my old studies of sting use in scorpions.

29 March, 2019

A new species of Chaerilus from Vietnam



Wilson Lourenco has recently published a new species of Chaerilus Simon, 1877 (Chaerilidae) from Vietnam.

Chaerilus honba Lourenco, 2019

Abstract:


Reference:
Lourenco WR. The genus Chaerilus Simon, 1877 (Scorpiones: Chaerilidae) in Vietnam, with the description of a new species. Arachnology. 2019;18(1):32-6.

Family Chaerilidae

28 March, 2019

A new phylogenomic study reassessing the relationships of Vaejovidae and a new high-level classification of Scorpiones


The higher-level systematics of scorpions has been significantly revised and discussed in the recent year, not without controversies.The family division chosen in The Scorpion Files are not accepted by all researchers, but fortunately more research are being done making the picture more clearly. There may be changes in the family structure in The scorpion Files in the time to come when I have the time to review recent contributions on higher-level systematics.

Carlos E. Santibáñez-López and co-workers have recently published a study  reassessing the relationships of Vaejovidae and a new high-level classification of Scorpiones. According to co-author Prashant Sharma, the main conclusions are:

1. As presently defined, Vaejovidae is diphyletic (Uroctonus are not true vaejovids).

2. The true Vaejovidae (excluding Uroctonus) are the sister group of Scorpionoidea.

3. To accommodate this tree topology, the study established two  superfamilies to redress the paraphyly of Chactoidea: Vaejovoidea and Superstitionoidea.

The scorpion Files doesn't list higher-level systematics, but it is important to note that status of Uroctonus Thorell, 1876 has to be set to incertae sedis because it doesn't belong to either Vaejovidae or Chactidae. More studies are necessary before its family placement can be decided. Until this happens, I keep the genus in Chactidae.

Abstract:
The Neartic family Vaejovidae (Scorpiones: Chactoidea) has long been treated as a diverse and systematically cohesive group of scorpions, but its monophyly and relationship to other scorpion families have historically been questioned. Morphological data have supported its monophyly and a variety of phylogenetic placements within the superfamily Chactoidea. Recent phylogenomic analyses have instead recovered vaejovids as polyphyletic (albeit with minimal taxonomic sampling) and Chactoidea as paraphyletic. Here, we reexamined the monophyly and phylogenetic placement of the family Vaejovidae, sampling 17 new vaejovid libraries using high throughput transcriptomic sequencing. Our phylogenomic analyses revealed a previous misplacement of Smeringurus mesaensis. Regardless, we recovered Vaejovidae as diphyletic due to the placement of the enigmatic genus Uroctonus. The remaining vaejovids formed a clade that was strongly supported as the sister group of the superfamily Scorpionoidea, a placement insensitive to matrix completeness or concatenation vs. species tree approaches to inferring the tree topology. Chactoidea was invariably recovered as a paraphyletic group due to the nested placement of Scorpionoidea. As first steps to resolving the paraphyly of Chactoidea, we take the following systematic actions: (1) we establish the superfamily Superstitionoidea (new superfamily) to accommodate Superstitioniidae; (2) we restore Vaejovoidea (status revalidated) as a valid superfamily that excludes Uroctonus; and (3) we treat the families Caraboctonidae, Troglotayosicidae, and the subfamily Uroctoninae as incertae sedis with respect to superfamilial placement. Our systematic actions thus establish the monophyly of the presently redefined Chactoidea and Vaejovoidea.

Reference:Santibanez-Lopez C, Gonzalez-Santillan E, Monod L, Sharma PP. Phylogenomics facilitates stable scorpion systematics: Reassessing the relationships of Vaejovidae and a new high-level classification of Scorpiones (Arachnida). Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2019;135:22-30. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Dr. Prashant Sharma for sending me this article and for explaining to me the main points of this study. Thanks also to Carlos E. Santibáñez-López for sending me the paper.

14 March, 2019

Cytogenetic and molecular approaches reveal cryptic diversity in Alpine scorpions in the genus Euscorpius


Phenotypic conservatism is typical for many scorpion taxa.In layman's term, this mean that many scorpion species look morphologically similar making it almost impossible to separate them by traditional taxonomical methods. The European genus Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) is an excellent example of this. Originally this genus contained less than then species, while today it contains no less than 64 species.

And it seems that there is still more to come. By using a new combination of cytogenetic and molecular methods, Jana Štundlováa and co-workers have recently published a study of the three Alpine species of the subgenus Euscorpius (Alpiscorpius): E. (A.) alpha, E. (A.) germanus, and E. (A.) gamma.

Their study reveals a cryptic diversity in the populations of the Alpine species, with several "races" (highly distinct karyotypic races) within each species. These races had discrete geographical distributions. Even though these results clearly shows several independent taxa, a thorough taxonomical revision with morphological studies of the subgenus is necessary before any taxonomical decisions can be made.

Some of the methods used in this study are new and open new possibilities for our understanding of the species diversity of scorpions.

Abstract:
Over time, mountain biota has undergone complex evolutionary histories that have left imprints on its genomic arrangement, geographical distribution and diversity of contemporary lineages. Knowledge on these biogeographical aspects still lags behind for invertebrates inhabiting the Alpine region. In the present study, we examined three scorpion species of the subgenus Euscorpius (Alpiscorpius) from the European Alps using cytogenetic and molecular phylogenetic approaches to determine the variation and population structure of extant lineages at both chromosome and genetic level, and to provide an insight into the species diversification histories. We detected considerable intraspecific variability in chromosome complements and localization of the 18S rDNA loci in all studied species. Such chromosome differences were noticeable as the existence of three [in E. (A.) alpha and E. (A.) germanus] or four [in E. (A.) gamma] range-restricted karyotypic races. These races differed from one another either by 2n [in E. (A.) alpha 2n=54, 60, 90; in E. (A.) gamma 2n=58, 60, 88, 86–92], or by the karyotypic formula [in E. (A.) germanus 2n=34m+12sm; 36m+10sm; 42m+4sm]. Using mitochondrial (16S rRNA, COI) and nuclear (28S rDNA) genetic markers, we examined genetic variation and reconstructed phylogenetic relationships among the karyotypic races. Both approaches provided evidence for the existence of ten deeply divergent lineages exhibiting the features of local endemics and indicating the presence of cryptic species. Molecular dating analyses suggest that these lineages diversified during the Plio-Pleistocene and this process was presumably accompanied by dynamic structural changes in the genome organization.

Reference:
Stundlova J, Smid J, Nguyen P, Stahlavsky F. Cryptic diversity and dynamic chromosome evolution in Alpine scorpions (Euscorpiidae: Euscorpius). Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2019;134:152-63. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Victor Fet and Frantisek Kovarik for sending me this interesting article!

Distribution and habitat of Euscorpius carpathicus in Romania


Euscorpius carpathicus (Linnaeus, 1767) (Euscorpiidae) was previously distributed all over Europe, but modern taxonomy revealed that it was a major species complex hiding many unique species. Today, E. carpathicus is limited to Romania only.

Severus-Daniel Covaciu-Marcov & Sára Ferenţi have recently published an article on the distribution of E. carpathicus in parts on Romania. Data on habitat is also presented.

Abstract:
In 2016-2018, we identified 48 distribution records of Euscorpius carpathicus in the Cozia National Park, from the Romanian Southern Carpathians. The Carpathian scorpion was found between 300 and 847 m a.s.l., in forested regions, being more numerous in the lower areas situated along the Olt River. E. carpathicus is a native species in the region; it populates natural areas with low human impact.

Reference:
Covaciu-Marcov S-D, Ferenti S. An Endemic Species in a Protected Area: Euscorpius carpathicus (L., 1767) in the Cozia National Park, Romania (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Euscorpius. 2019(279):1-6. [Open Access]

Family Euscorpiidae

28 February, 2019

New Orthochirus species from The Middle East


Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have recently published a revision of the genus Orthochirus Karsch, 1891 (Buthidae) from Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Three new species are described and one species is elevated from subspecies status.

Orthochirus fomichevi Kovarik, Yagmur, Fet & Hussen, 2019 (New species from Turkey & Iraq)

Orthochirus gantenbeini Kovarik, Yagmur, Fet & Hussen, 2019 (New species from Iran)

Orthochirus navidpouri Kovarik, Yagmur, Fet & Hussen, 2019 (New species from Iran)

Orthochirus mesopotamicus Birula, 1918 (Elevated to species status. Previous status: Orthochirus scrobiculosus mesopotamicus Birula, 1918)

The article has an identification key for the species in the region.

Abstract:
Three new species, Orthochirus fomichevi sp. n. from Turkey and Iraq, O. gantenbeini sp. n. from Iran (Khoozestan Province), and O. navidpouri sp. n. from Iran (Khoozestan and Lorestan Provinces) are described, compared with other Orthochirus species from the region, and fully illustrated with color photos. Lectotype of O. mesopotamicus Birula, 1918 stat. n. from Iran (Khoozestan Province) is designated. Emended diagnoses are given for O. iranus Kovařík, 2004, O. iraqus Kovařík, 2004, O. mesopotamicus Birula, 1918 stat. n., and O. zagrosensis Kovařík, 2004. A key and a distribution map are included.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Yagmur EA, Fet V, Hussen FS. A review of Orthochirus from Turkey, Iraq, and Iran (Khoozestan, Ilam, and Lorestan Provinces), with descriptions of three new species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(278):1-31. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

25 February, 2019

A new genus of burrowing scorpion from the Arabian Peninsula


Graeme Lowe and co-workers have recently published an article describing a new genus and and a new species i the family Buthidae from the Arabian Peninsula. A second species is transferred to the new genus.

Trypanothacus Lowe, Kovarik, Stockmann & Stahlavsky, 2019 - New genus from Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Trypanothacus barnesi Lowe, Kovarik, Stockmann & Stahlavsky, 2019 - New species from Oman.

Trypanothacus buettikeri (Hendrixson, 2006) - New combination. Previously name Buthacus buettikeri Hendrixson, 2006.

Abstract:
We define a new fossorial buthid genus Trypanothacus gen. n., similar to Buthacus Birula, 1908, differing primarily in telson shape, with a bulbous vesicle and aculeus shorter than the vesicle, and in heavier dentition on metasomal segments II–III and IV. The new genus includes two species: T. barnesi sp. n. from Oman and T. buettikeri (Hendrixson, 2006) comb. n. from Saudi Arabia, the latter transferred from Buthacus. We provide detailed illustrations of both species from preserved materials, and in vivo habitus and natural habitat are shown for T. barnesi sp. n.. Information is also provided on ecology and captive rearing of T. barnesi sp. n., and on its karyotype (2n=26). The new genus is compared to genera Buthacus and Vachoniolus Levy et al., 1973. Telson morphology of these genera is analyzed and compared with other psammophilous and pelophilous buthids. In certain subgroups of scorpions, we find that aculeus length can be related to psammophily and body size. As a highly diverse multifunctional organ, the telson is shaped by complex environmental and genetic factors. We propose that telson morphology can nevertheless be useful for taxonomy if it is carefully applied.

Reference:
Lowe G, Kovarik F, Stockmann M, Stahlavsky F. Trypanothacus gen. n., a new genus of burrowing scorpion from the Arabian Peninsula (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(277):1-29. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

19 February, 2019

A new species of Orthochirus from Iran


Shahrokh Navidpour and co-workers have published a new paper on the scorpion fauna of Iran and a new species of Orthochirus Karsch, 1891 (Buthidae) is described.

Orthochirus carinatus Navidpour, Kovarik, Soleglad & Fet, 2019

Abstract:
Nine species of scorpions belonging to two families are reported from the Alborz, Markazi and Tehran Provinces of Iran. Of these, Compsobuthus kaftani Kovařík, 2003 is recorded from Tehran Province for the first time; Compsobuthus matthiesseni (Birula, 1905) is recorded from Alborz Province for the first time; Hottentotta saulcyi (Simon, 1880) is recorded for Alborz and Markazi Provinces for the first time; Iranobuthus krali Kovařík, 1997 is recorded for Tehran Province for the first time; Mesobuthus eupeus eupeus (C. L. Koch, 1839) is recorded from Alborz, Markazi and Tehran Provinces for the first time; Odontobuthus doriae (Thorell, 1876) is recorded from Alborz Province for the first time; and Scorpio kruglovi Birula, 1910 is recorded for Alborz and Markazi Provinces for the first time. Orthochirus carinatus sp. n. from Iran (Alborz and Tehran Provinces) is described and fully complemented with color photos of preserved specimens, as well as of its habitat.

References:
Navidpour S, Kovarik F, Soleglad ME, Fet V. Scorpions of Iran (Arachnida, Scorpiones). Part X. Alborz, Markazi and Tehran Provinces with a Description of Orthochirus carinatus sp. n. (Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(276):1-20. [Open Access]

Familiy Buthidae


14 February, 2019

A new species of Pandinurus from Somaliland


Thanks to Frantisek Kovarik and his team we have in the last years seen a much needed update of the scorpion fauna of East Africa. In a new contribution recently published, Kovarik and co-workers present a new species of Pandinurus Fet, 1997 (Scorpionidae) from Somaliland.

Pandinurus fulvipes Kovarik, Lowe & Mazuch, 2019

The male of Pandiborellius meidensis (Karsch, 1879) from the same area is described from the first time.

Abstract:
The male of Pandiborellius meidensis (Karsch, 1879) is introduced for the first time and illustrated in detail with color photos, and sexual dimorphism and occurrence of the species are discussed. Pandinurus fulvipes sp. n. from Somaliland is described and fully complemented with color photos of live and preserved specimens, as well as of its habitat.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Lowe G, Mazuch T. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part XIX. Pandiborellius meidensis (Karsch, 1879) and Pandinurus fulvipes sp. n. (Scorpionidae) from Somaliland. Euscorpius. 2019(275):1-18. [Open Access]

Family Scorpionidae

13 February, 2019

A new species of Chaerilus from Malaysia


Frantisek Kovarik has recently published a new species of Chaerilus Simon, 1877 (Chaerilidae) from Malaysia.

Chaerilus alberti Kovarik, 2019

Abstract:
Chaerilus alberti sp. n. from Malaysia (Cameron Highlands) is described and fully illustrated with color photographs of preserved specimens, as well as of their habitat. Males of C. alberti sp. n. have a unique shape of chela which is stout with the manus swollen anteriorly. They are compared to other species from Southeast Asia from all of which C. alberti sp. n. differs by the shape of pedipalp chela parallel or swollen posteriorly or medially. Pedipalp chela is illustrated with color photographs of 21 of these species.

Reference:
Kovarik F. Chaerilus alberti sp. n. from Malaysia (Scorpiones: Chaerilidae). Euscorpius. 2019(274):1-9. [Open Access]

Family Chaerilidae

11 February, 2019

A new species of Centruroides from Mexico


Mexico is a hotspot for the medical important genus Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Buthidae) with appr. 45 species registered and now Javier Ponce-Saavedra and Oscar F. Francke have described a new species from Sonora State, Mexico.

Centruroides lauriadnae Ponce-Saavedra & Francke, 2019

Abstract:
Centruroides lauriadnae sp. n. is described from Sonora State, Mexico. This species belongs to the so called “striped” group in the genus (sensu Hoffmann, 1932). It is compared with the 2 other species recorded for Sonora: C. pallidiceps Pocock and C. sculpturatus Ewing, as well as compared with C. suffusus (Pocock) of northern México.

Reference:
Ponce-Saavedra J, Francke OF. Una especie nueva de alacrán del género Centruroides (Scorpiones: Buthidae) del noroeste de México. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad. 2019;90:e902660. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

01 February, 2019

Scorpion pectines are probably important in finding the way home


Burrowing scorpions are usually good at finding their way home to their burrows. But how to they manage this? Gaffin and Brayford published a study late in 2017 studying the importance of the pectines in navigation. It has been well known that the pections has chemo- and mechano (vibration) sensitive sensors that are important in reproduction and prey capture, but can they also play a role in navigation?

Their study seems to confirm that the massive amount of peg sensillas on the pectins help the scorpion create a sort of chemical texture map of the area the scorpion moves in. This map can be used to quickly find the way home to the burrow after a successful prey capture.

Abstract:
The navigation by scene familiarity hypothesis provides broad explanatory power for how bees and ants navigate from the hive to distant food sources and back. The premise is that the visual world is decomposed into pixelated matrices of information that are stored and readdressed as the insects retrace learned routes. Innate behaviors in these insects (including learning walks/flights and path integration) provide the important goal-directed views to allow the initial retracing (i.e., the insect must learn the scene while moving toward the goal because everything looks different while moving away). Scorpion navigation may use a similar premise, with the chemical and textural features of the environment substituting for visual input. Scorpion pectines support thousands of chemo- and mechano-sensitive units called peg sensilla, each containing at least 10 energetically expensive sensory neurons. We have long wondered why pectines have so many pegs and associated neurons. Many sand scorpions emerge onto the surface from their home burrows at night to pursue insect prey and somehow find their way back to their burrows. Based on the measured resolution of peg sensilla, we have calculated that sufficient information exists in sand’s texture to enable scorpions to retrace previously experienced paths with little to no chance of confusion. Preliminary evidence of learning walks and path integration in scorpions is also congruent with the navigation by chemo-textural familiarity hypothesis.

Reference:
Gaffin DD, Brayfield BP. Exploring the chemo-textural familiarity hypothesis for scorpion navigation. J Arachnol. 2017;45:265-70. [Open Access]

Thanks to Matt Simon for telling me about this "old", but interesting paper that I seem to have missed when it was published!

24 January, 2019

A new species of Microtityus from Southeast Cuba


Rolando Teruel has recently published an article describing a new species of Microtityus Kjellesvig-Waering, 1966 (Buthidae) from semidesert habitats in Southeastern Cuba.

Microtityus vulcanicus Teruel, 2019

Abstract:
A new species of the buthid scorpion genus Microtityus Kjellesvig-Waering, 1966, is herein described from specimens of both sexes collected at three nearby localities in the western part of the Guantánamo Bay Area, southeast Cuba. It belongs in the "jaumei" species-group of the subgenus Microtityus (Parvabsonus) Armas, 1974 and is very peculiar not only by its external morphology (very distinct from its other Cuban congeners), but also by the unusual habitat where it occurs in and seems to be restricted to (dry and hot cactus scrub on volcanic sandy plain). The present contribution reinforces the position of this genus as the second most diverse in Cuba, with 10 nominal species.

Reference:
Teruel R. A New Semidesert Microtityus Kjellesvig-Waering, 1966 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Southeast Cuba, Greater Antilles. Euscorpius. 2019(273):1-15. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

17 January, 2019

Refilling your venom glands - step by step


Scorpions use their venom for prey capture and defense. Several studies have shown that scorpions have different strategies for optimizing the venom use. The reason for this is of course because it take times to renew the venom and it is costly as the venom is a mixture of complex proteins.

Edson Norberto Carcamo-Noriega and co-workers have studied the toxicity regeneration dynamics by the scorpion Centruroides limpidus (Karsch, 1879) (Buthidae) after full venom depletion by electrical stimulation. Interestingly, the regeneration happens in steps. The normal venom volume is restored in 5 days, but the content will change in the days to come because the toxins need more time to be restored. It takes 10 days before the venom is effective against insects and it takes 13 days before the toxicity has normal levels and the venom is also effective against predators (mammals).

Abstract:
The scorpion venom is a cocktail of many components. Its composition can exhibit a level of plasticity in response to different behavioral and environmental factors, leading to intraspecific variation. The toxicity and specificity of scorpion venoms appear to be taxon-dependent, due to a co-evolutionary interaction with prey and predators, which shaped the composition at the molecular level. The venom regeneration by the venom glands is an asynchronous process, in which particular components are expressed at different stages and at different rates. According to this, it can be reasonably assumed that the regeneration of toxicity in the venom is also asynchronous. In this work, we studied the toxicity regeneration dynamics by the scorpion Centruroides limpidus after full venom depletion by electrical stimulation. For this, we evaluated the toxicity of venom samples extracted at different days post depletion, against insects (crickets) and mammals (humans, by assessing the venom activity on the human voltage-dependent Na+ channel Nav1.6). The regeneration of toxicity against humans lagged behind that against crickets (13 vs 10 days, respectively). Thirteen days after depletion the venom seems to be replenished. Our results show asynchrony in the regeneration of species-specific toxic activity in the venom of Centruroides limpidus. The understanding of the venom regeneration kinetics for the different scorpion species will help to design venom extraction protocols that could maximize the yield and quality of the collected venoms.

Reference:
Carcamo-Noriega EN, Possani LD, Ortiz E. Venom content and toxicity regeneration after venom gland depletion by electrostimulation in the scorpion Centruroides limpidus. Toxicon. 2019;157:87-92. [Subscription required for full text]

14 January, 2019

A new species of Gint from Somaliland


Frantisek Kovarik and Graeme Low recently published a new species of Gint from Somaliland.

Gint banfasae Kovarik & Lowe, 2019

The article has an updated identification key for the genus.

Abstract:
Gint banfasae sp. n. from Somaliland is described and compared with other species of the genus. Additional information is provided on the taxonomy and distribution of the genus Gint, fully complemented with color photos of specimens of both sexes of the new species, as well as of their habitat. Included is a key for Gint.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Lowe G. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida, Scorpiones). Part XVIII. Gint banfasae sp. n. from Somaliland (Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2019(272):1-14. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

10 January, 2019

Bothriuridae in Asia - No more


In 1996, Wilson Lourenco described the species Cercophonius himalayensis Lourenco, 1996 (Bothriuridae) from the Himalayas of India. This was the only known bothriurid from Asia, and no other members of this family have been recorded from this region afterwards.

Andres Ojanguren-Affilastro and co-workers have now examined the holotype of Cercophonius himalayensis and conclude that it should be synonymized with the South American species Phoniocercus sanmartini Cekalovic, 1968. The authors conclude that the holotype of C. himalayensis probably was mislabeled and it was not collected in India. This also means that there are now no Bothriuridae in Asia, only in South America, Africa and Australia.

Abstract:
We studied the male holotype of Cercophonius himalayensis Louren¸co, 1996, the sole member of the scorpion family Bothriuridae from India, and concluded that it belongs to a species of the genus Phoniocercus Pocock, 1893, which is endemic to the temperate forests of Patagonia. The presence of a Patagonian genus in India is extremely unlikely; therefore, we consider this to be a case of mislabeling of the specimen, and consequently exclude the scorpion family Bothriuridae from Indian fauna. Cercophonius himalayensis is transferred to the genus Phoniocercus, and formally synonymized with Phoniocercus sanmartini Cekalovic, 1968. A brief illustrated description of the type specimen is made, emphasizing important diagnostic characters and some body parts not previously described, such as the hemispermatophore. We also present a probable explanation for the origin of the material.

Reference:
Ojanguren Affilastro AA, Volschenk ES, Mattoni CI. The identity of Cercophonius himalayensis Lourenco, 1996, and the exclusion of the scorpion family Bothriuridae from the Indian fauna. J Arachnol. 2018;46:473–80. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andres Ojanguren-Affilastro for sending me their article!

Family Bothriuridae

Five new species of Brachistosternus from deserts in Chile and Peru


Andres Ojanguren-Affilastro and co-workers have published a new paper on the Brachistosternus Pocock, 1893 (Bothriuridae) fauna in deserts in Chile and Peru. Five new species are described.

Brachistosternus anandrovestigia Ojanguren Affilastro, Pizarro-Araya & Ochoa, 2018 (Peru)

Brachistosternus contisuyu Ojanguren Affilastro, Pizarro-Araya & Ochoa, 2018 (Peru)

Brachistosternus gayi Ojanguren Affilastro, Pizarro-Araya & Ochoa, 2018 (Chile)

Brachistosternus misti Ojanguren Affilastro, Pizarro-Araya & Ochoa, 2018 (Peru)

Brachistosternus philippii Ojanguren Affilastro, Pizarro-Araya & Ochoa, 2018 (Chile)

Some diagnostic characters for the genus is also discussed.

Abstract:
Five new scorpion species of genus Brachistosternus of Chile and Peru are described. Brachistosternus gayi n. sp. is a high Andean species of north central Chile. Brachistosternus philippii n. sp. occurs near the coast of Antofagasta. Brachistosternus misti n. sp. occurs at intermediates altitudes of southern Peru. Brachistosternus contisuyu n. sp. occurs in Lomas formation in southern Peru. Brachistosternus anandrovestigia n. sp. occurs in coastal areas of southern Peru, and is the second known species of the genus without metasomal glands or androvestigia. Two diagnostic characters are discussed: the Internal Laminar Apophysis of the right hemispermatophore, and the sternum macrosetae.

Reference:
Ojanguren Affilastro AA, Pizarro-Araya J, Ochoa JA. Five new scorpion species of genus Brachistosternus (Scorpiones: Bothriuridae) from the deserts of Chile and Peru, with comments about some poorly studied diagnostic characters of the genus. Zootaxa. 2018;4531(2):151-94. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andrés Ojanguren-Affilastro for sending me their article!

Family Bothriuridae

04 January, 2019

A new species of Auyantepuia from Brazil


Eric ythier has recently published an article describing a new species of Auyantepuia González Sponga, 1978 (Chactidae) from Brazil.

Auyantepuia royi Ythier, 2018

The article has an identification key for the genus.

Editors note: The status of the genus Auyantepuia is controversial. The genus has been synonymized and reinstated several times. At the moment, the genus is not listed in an ordinary way in The scorpion Files. Old species are listed in other genera (based on the latest synonymization), while new species described in the genus after 2010 are listed under Auyantepuia as it is not possible for me to assign them to other genera.This is a temporary solution until someone publish a revision of the genus and/or the Chactidae family. Se family page for more information. The following species is listed in the genus in the current article:

Auyantepuia parvulus (Pocock, 1893) (Brazil) [Neochactas parvulus (Pocock, 1897) in SF]
Auyantepuia scorzai (Dagert, 1957) (Venezuela) [Broteochactas. scorzai Dagert, 1957 in SF]
Auyantepuia fravalae Lourenço, 1983 (French Guiana) [Neochactas fravalae (Lourenço, 1983) in SF]
Auyantepuia gaillardi Lourenço, 1983 (French Guiana) [Neochactas gaillardi (Lourenço,1983) in SF]
Auyantepuia sissomi Lourenço, 1983 (French Guiana) [Neochactas sissomi (Lourenço, 1983) in SF]
Auyantepuia kelleri Lourenço, 1997 (French Guiana) [Neochactas kelleri (Lourenço, 1997) in SF]
Auyantepuia mottai Lourenço et Araujo, 2004 (Brazil) [Neochactas mottai (Lourenço & Araujo, 2004) in SF]
Auyantepuia amapaensis Lourenço et Qi, 2007 (Brazil)
Auyantepuia surinamensis Lourenço et Duhem, 2010 (Suriname)
Auyantepuia laurae Ythier, 2015 (French Guiana)
Auyantepuia aluku Ythier, 2018 (French Guiana)
Auyantepuia aurum Ythier, 2018 (French Guiana)
Auyantepuia royi Ythier, 2018 (Brazil)

Abstract:
A new species of scorpion belonging to the Guiano Amazonian genus Auyantepuia González Sponga, 1978 (family Chactidae Pocock, 1893) is described on the basis of one specimen collected in a rainforest formation located in Oiapoque, Amapá State, Brazil. This is the thirteenth species of the genus Auyantepuia and the fourth reported from Brazil.

Reference:
Ythier E. A new species of Auyantepuia GonzálezSponga, 1978 (Scorpiones, Chactidae) from Brazil. Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2018;4(20):13-22.

Thanks to Eric Ythier for sending me his article!

Family Chactidae

03 January, 2019

A new cave-dwelling Chaerilus species from the Philippines


Happy New Year!

Wilson Lourenco and Andrea Rossi have recently published an article on the cave population of Chaerilus Simon, 1877 (Chaerilidae) from Palawan, Philippines. A new species is described.

Chaerilus agnellivanniorum Lourneco & Rossi, 2018

The biogeography of the genus in Borneo and Palawan is also discussed.

Abstract:
The study of an important collection of scorpions, belonging to the genus Chaerilus, recently collected from a cave in the Palawan Island, Philippines, allows the clarification of the identity of this population, often misidentified with Chaerilus chapmani Vachon & Lourenco, 1985 known from caves in the Gunong Mulu National Park in Sarawak (Borneo). Chaerilus agnellivanniorum sp. n. is described from the Puerto Princesa Underground River Cave in Palawan Island based on 14 specimens, males, females, and juveniles. The new species is totally distinct morphologically from Chaerilus chapmani, a true troglobitic species. Chaerilus agnellivanniorum sp. n. may also be a true troglobitic element, but with a less marked degree of regression for several characters. Some comments on the ecology of the new species and on regional biogeography of Borneo and Palawan islands are also proposed.

References:
Lourenco WR, Rossi A. The cave population of Chaerilus Simon, 1877 from Palawan, Philippines, and description of a new species (Scorpiones: Chaerilidae). C R Biol. 2018. In Press. [Subscription required for full text]

Family Chaerilidae