31 March, 2020

A new species of Vaejovis from Arizona, USA

I hope that everyone are safe in this difficult time and stay away from the Corona virus. At the moment Norway is partly in lock down and I have now had home office for more than 14 days and that will probably continue into April. Because of the situation I'm not able to update The Scorpion Files as often as usual, but the articles and taxonomical changes that I have on the waiting list will hopefully appear in the blog soon. Please take care of yourself!

Richard Ayrey has discovered yet another new Vaejovis C.L. Koch, 1836 (Vaejovidae) from northern Arizona.

Vaejovis elii Ayrey, 2020

A new scorpion species, Vaejovis elii sp. n., is described. This small, dark brown species is found on Mingus Mountain, Yavapai County, northern Arizona, USA. It is geographically closest to V. crumpi Ayrey & Soleglad. We compare it to that species and two other species found in northern Arizona. The pedipalp fixed finger has 6 ID denticles and the movable finger has 7, like in most, but not all, of the other northern Arizona Vaejovis. Carapace of female is longer than metasomal segment V.

Ayrey RF. A new species of Vaejovis from Mingus Mountain, northern Arizona (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius. 2020(303):1-13. [Open Acces]

20 March, 2020

Anniversary issue of the open access scorpion journal Euscorpius with list of all new taxa published in the journal since 2002

Congratulations to Victor Fet and Michael E. Soleglad with issue 300 of the open access scorpion journal Euscorpius! In issue 3000, Victor Fet and Frantisek Kovarik present a list of all new taxa described in the journal in 2002–2020. No less than 295 new species and 24 new genera of scorpions have been described since the start of the journal.

This anniversary issue of the electronic, open-access journal “Euscorpius” contains a list of all new taxa described in the journal in 2002–2020. The list includes 295 new species and 24 new genera of scorpions. A chronological list of all 299 journal issues is appended.

Fet V, Kovarik F. New scorpion taxa (Arachnida: Scorpiones) described in the journal “Euscorpius” in 2002–2020. Euscorpius. 2020(300):1-31. [Open access]

Nine new species of Scorpiops described from Asia

Frantisek Kovarik recently published a new article describing nine new species of Scorpiops Peters, 1861 (Euscorpiidae or Scorpiopidae depending on which famly structure you choose) from from China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

Scorpiops furai Kovarik, 2020 (India)
Scorpiops grosseri Kovarik, 2020 (India)
Scorpiops harmsi Kovarik, 2020 (Nepal)
Scorpiops hofereki Kovarik, 2020 (Pakistan) 
Scorpiops kejvali Kovarik, 2020 (India)
Scorpiops tryznai Kovarik, 2020 (India)
Scorpiops wrzecionkoi Kovarik, 2020 (China)
Scorpiops yagmuri Kovarik, 2020 (Pakistan)
Scorpiops zubairi Kovarik, 2020 (Pakistan)

The following species is raised to species from subspecies status:

Scorpiops vonwicki Birula, 1913

All species are illustrated with color pictures.

Nine new species are described: Scorpiops furai sp. n. (India), S. grosseri sp. n. (India), S. harmsi sp. n. (Nepal), S. hofereki sp. n. (Pakistan), S. kejvali sp. n. (India), S. tryznai sp. n. (India), S. wrzecionkoi sp. n. (China), S. yagmuri sp. n. (Pakistan), and S. zubairi sp. n. (Pakistan), fully complemented with color photographs of preserved specimens. New species are distinguished from all other species of the family Scorpiopidae by combinations of eight major characters: position of pedipalp chelal trichobothrium Eb3; number of pedipalp patella ventral trichobothria; shape of pedipalp fingers; number of inner accessory denticles (IAD) of pedipalp movable finger; chela length to width ratio; telson length to depth ratio; total length; and pecten morphology. Also, Scorpiops vonwicki Birula, 1913 stat. n. (India) is elevated to species rank; a new diagnosis of its only known specimen (female holotype) is given, fully illustrated with color photographs; and the fascinating story of its discovery is revealed for the first time.

Kovarik F. Nine new species of Scorpiops Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones: Scorpiopidae) from China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Euscorpius. 2020(302):1-43. [Open Access]

Family Euscorpiidae

03 March, 2020

Super toad eats one of the world's most venomous scorpion for dinner

Tityus serrulatus Lutz & Mello, 1922 (Buthidae) is one of the world's most venomous scorpions and a public health problem in parts of Brazil. This is an invasive species that has spread to many regions and are also found in urban habitats increasing the probability of human interactions.

Help reducing the populations of this potent species can be found in unusual places. Carlos Jared and co-workers have recently publish an article showing that the “cururu toads” Rhinella icterica (Spix, 1824) capture and eat the deadly Tityus species with great appetite. In addition, the toad seems resistant to the venom of Tityus serrulatus. A group of toads were injected with both letal dose and five-time lethal dose of venom (for mice), but none of the toads died or showed any effects of the venom. Quite a super-toad!

So keeping the toads in your garden or vicinity may be a helpful tool in the biological control of this dangerous scorpion in Brazil.

In recent years, SE Brazil, the most populous region in the country with an estimated population of 88 million, has been experiencing an alarming increase in scorpions accidents (scorpionism), mainly caused by the yellow scorpion (Tityus serrulatus), or “escorpi~ao amarelo” in Portuguese. This species is considered particularly dangerous to humans and can reproduce by parthenogenesis favouring rapid dispersal and colonization of new environments. Since the 1940s, owing to the growing danger represented by scorpionism, public control policies have been developed, including active search for scorpions, together with the use of toxic substances applied in places most likely to serve as their refuges. Even so, the number of accidents is increasing year by year, presently at an alarming rate. It seems evident that the increase in accidents is directly (or primarily) related to the lack of predators that in healthy environmental conditions would naturally control scorpion populations. However, due to environmental changes, leading to a lack of predators, scorpions have been gradually invading the urban environment. Arachnids and insects in general, as well as some other invertebrates, are preyed upon by anuran amphibians (toads, frogs and tree frogs). Toads (family Bufonidae) are nocturnal, large, and highly voracious animals, capable of actively exploring extensive areas and consuming large numbers of insects and arachnids daily. One of the most common toad species in southeastern Brazil is Rhinella icterica. Both R. icterica and T. serrulatus inhabit the same nocturnal environment. The predatory action of toads, specifically on scorpions, is practically unknown from behavioural and toxinological points of view. Thus, we studied the predatory behaviour of this toad against the yellow scorpion and evaluated the resistance of the amphibian to scorpion venom. Our results show that R. icterica is a voracious predator of T. serrulatus and is extremely resistant to its venom. Human/toad relationship throughout western history has always been very conflicted and possibly one of the factors that most has contributed to human ignorance of the role of these amphibians in maintaining ecological balance. Presently, the control of scorpionism is being performed through active search and/or the use of chemical agents, although showing little efficacy in reducing human accidents. In the medium or long term, more effective actions taking into account the biology of scorpions and their predators have never been taken to reduce these accidents.

Jared C, Alexandre C, Mailho-Fontana PL, Pimenta DC, Brodie ED, Jr., Antoniazzi MM. Toads prey upon scorpions and are resistant to their venom: A biological and ecological approach to scorpionism. Toxicon. 2020;178:4-7.[Subscription required for full text]

02 March, 2020

Remarkable cave scorpion finding in Sardinia reveals new genus and species

Sometimes you get surprise by remarkable scorpions findings and this time it is actually in Europe. Gioele Tropea and Carlo Onnis recently published an article describing the finding of a new genus and species in a cave system in Sardinia (Italy). I'm thrilled that there are still hidden scorpion gems like this around!

Sardoscorpius Tropea & Onnis, 2020 (new genus)

Sardoscorpius troglophilus Tropea & Onnis, 2020 (new species)

As the name implies, the new species has been only collected inside two natural caves. Interestingly, the new scorpion lacks marked adaptations to the life in caves like missing eyes, reduced pigmentation etc. Sardoscorpius has not been found outside the cave system and seems to prefer a troglobitc life style despite missing traditional cave dwelling characteristics.

The new species looks very much like the troglomorphic (eutroglophile) Belisarius Simon, 1879 found in and outside caves in the Pyrenees, in Spain and France, except for having well developed eyes. And this species is actually Sardoscorpius' closest relative. Belisarius has so far been placed in the family Troglotayosicidae together with the genus Troglotayosicus Lourenço, 1981, but the taxonomic position of these genera are unclear. Until further investigations, Tropea & Onnis have chosen to elevate Belisariidae Lourenco, 1998 to family status and include Belisarius and Sardoscorpius in this family.

A remarkable discovery in the Italian scorpion fauna is herein presented with the description of a new scorpion genus and species from Sardinia, Sardoscorpius troglophilus gen. n. et sp. n., known only from natural caves. It is related to the Pyrenean relict endogean genus Belisarius Simon, 1879, and placed in the family Belisariidae Lourenço, 1998 stat. n., which is here elevated to family status. With this description, a member of Belisariidae stat. n. is registered for the first time in Italy. At the moment, the Italian fauna of scorpions includes three families (Belisariidae stat. n., Buthidae and Euscorpiidae), five genera (Buthus, Alpiscorpius, Euscorpius, Tetratrichobothrius and Sardoscorpius gen. n.) and 23 species. The new taxon is the first and only endemic scorpion genus found in Italy.

Tropea G, Onnis C. A remarkable discovery of a new scorpion genus and species from Sardinia (Scorpiones: Chactoidea: Belisariidae). Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2020;VI(XXVI):3-25.

Thanks to Gioele Tropea for sending me this very interesting article!

Family Belisariidae