29 May, 2020

An update on the scorpion fauna of Puerto Rico and its satellite islands

Luis F. de Armas has recently published an update on the scorpion fauna of Puerto Rico with an annotated list of taxa and a key for the genera for the island.

An annotated list of the scorpions of Puerto Rico and its satellite islands (mainly Vieques, Culebra, Caja de Muertos, Magueyes, Desecheo, and Mona), a key for the seven genera present in those insular territories, a key for the three species of Microtityus, and the basic bibliography on taxonomy and natural history are provided. Of the 16 confirmed species described from these Greater Antillean islands, four are known only from a single sex and only one or two adult specimens. Seven species (six of them from the genus Tityus), are endemic to the Puerto Rico Island; Vieques has two species, whereas Mona Island and Culebrita Island have one species each. At least two species are shared with Hispaniola, whereas one is also found in the Virgin Islands. The only introduced species is Isometrus maculatus (De Geer, 1778). The buthid Tityus dasyurus Pocock, 1897, described from “Porto Rico”, likely is not a Puerto Rican taxon.

de Armas LF. Scorpions of Puerto Rico and its satellite islands (Scorpiones: Buthidae, Diplocentridae): an аnnotated list, key for genera, and bibliography. Euscorpius. 2020(311):1-8. [Open Access]

20 May, 2020

A new species of Isometrus from southern India

Shauri Sulakhe and several co-authors have recently published an article describing a new species of Isometrus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) from southern India.

Isometrus kovariki Sulakhe, Dandekar, Mukherjee, Pandey, Ketkar, Padhye & Bastawade, 2020

A new species of Isometrus (Buthidae) is described from India using integrated taxonomic approach. Isometrus kovariki sp. n. is closely related to I. thurstoni, and differs in morphological features and raw genetic divergence of more than 9%.

Sulakhe S, Dandekar N, Mukherjee S, Pandey M, Ketkar M, Padhye A, et al. A new species of Isometrus (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from southern India. Euscorpius. 2020(310):1-13. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

15 May, 2020

A new species of Leiurus from Somaliland

Frantisek Kovarik and Graeme Lowe recently presented the discovery of a new species of Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) from Somaliland.

Leiurus gubanensis Kovarik & Lowe, 2020

Until 2002, Leiurus only comprised of one, very venomous species Leiurus quinquestriatus (Ehrenberg, 1828). As with many other scorpion species with a wide distribution, this taxa also turned out to be a species complex with many hidden species. With the present species, the genus now consists of 13 species.

The genus Leiurus has always been infamous for having the most potent venom of all scorpion species. But it is unclear wether this also apply for all the new species. Until we know more, the best is to regard all the species in the genus as potential dangerous scorpions.

New data are presented on the distribution of the genus Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 in the Horn of Africa, Somaliland, acquired during expeditions in 2011–2019. Leiurus gubanensis sp. n. is described from the Guban area, an extremely warm and dry place. The description is fully complemented with color photographs of live and preserved specimens, as well as of their habitats. This increases the known diversity of the genus to 14 species.

Kovarik F, Lowe G. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part XXIV. Leiurus (Buthidae), with description of Leiurus gubanensis sp. n. Euscorpius. 2020(309):1-19. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

14 May, 2020

A new species of Euscorpius from caves in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

Gioele Tropea and Roman Ozimec have recently published an article describing a new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscirpiidae) found in more than 20 cave systems in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Euscorpius biokovensis Tropea & Ozimec, 2020

Ecological notes for the new species are presented and its cave preference is discussed.

Another new, subtroglophile scorpion species is described from Croatia, Euscorpius biokovensis sp. n. It is morphologically and ecologically similar to E. feti Tropea, 2013 but can be distinguished from the latter by a lower number of trichobothria (Pv = 8–9, with mostly 8, and usually et = 6) and pectinal teeth (usually Dp = 7 in males and 6 in females). The new species also has a more northern distribution although in some areas the two species overlap. E. biokovensis sp. n. has been found in more than 20 caves in Croatia, which makes it the most common Euscorpius species found in caves. It has also been found in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ecological notes on this species are presented.

Tropea G, Ozimec R. Another new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 from the caves of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae), with notes on biogeography and cave ecology. Euscorpius. 2020(308):1-13. [Open Access]

Thanks to Gioele for sending me their article!

Family Euscorpiidae

06 May, 2020

Three new species of Buthus from Somaliland

Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have recently published a new article in their series of article on the scorpions of the Horn of Africa. This time materials from Somaliland revealed three new species from this country.

Buthus pococki Kovarik, Stahlavsky & Elmi, 2020 (New species)

Buthus somalilandus Kovarik, Stahlavsky & Elmi, 2020 (New species)

Buthus zeylensis  Pocock, 1900 (Restored from synonymy with Buthus berberensis Lourenço, 2008)

The article has an identification key and a distribution map for the genus Buthus in the Horn of Africa.

New data are presented on the distribution of the genus Buthus Leach, 1815 in the Horn of Africa, mainly in Somaliland, acquired during expeditions in 2011–2019. Buthus berberensis Pocock, 1900, for which the exact locality was not known, was collected again. B. zeylensis Pocock, 1900 is restored from synonymy and elevated to species rank, based on a study of 75 recently collected specimens. Two new species, B. pococki sp. n. and B. somalilandus sp. n., are described, fully complemented with color photographs of live and preserved specimens, as well as their habitats. In addition to the analyses of external morphology we also described karyotypes of selected species. B. awashensis, B. pococki sp. n. and B. zeylensis have karyotypes with 2n=22. The karyotype of B. berberensis possesses 21 chromosomes, probably as a consequence of heterozygous fusion that is evident as a trivalent during postpachytene in this species. A key and distribution map of Buthus in the Horn of Africa (five species) are included.

Kovarik F, Stahlavsky F, Elmi HSA. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part XXIII. Buthus (Buthidae), with description of two new species. Euscorpius. 2020(307):1-32. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

03 May, 2020

Phylogenetic study gives Hadruridae family status ("Another one bites the dust")

There have been buzz about Carlos E. Santibáñez-López' and co-worker's new phylogenetic study of the family Caraboctonidae Kraepelin, 1905 for several months, but due to several reasons I have been slow to post this on the blog. But here it is and The Scorpion Files' family pages have also been updated.

I'm not going to go into details about the study here as I must admit that the more technical stuff is above my head, but I will list the main conclusions from the study:

Hadrurinae Stahnke, 1973 is split from Caraboctonidae and elevated to family status, Hadruridae. Hadruridae consists of nine species in the two genera Hadrurus Thorell, 1876 and Hoffmannihadrurus Fet & Soleglad, 2004. Distributed in North America.

Caraboctonidae now consists of 23 species in two two genera Caraboctonus Pocock, 1893 and Hadruroides Pocock, 1893. Distributed in South America.

Two new superfamilies have been created: Caraboctonoidea Kraepelin, 1905 (Caraboctonidae and Superstitioniidae) and Hadruroidea Stahnke, 1974 (Hadruridae).

The genera Uroctonus Thorell, 1876  (currently in Chactidae)  and Belisarius Simon, 1879 (currently in Belisaridae) are regarded as insertae sedis with respect to superfamilial placement.

More phylogenomic analyses will probably give us more insight in the complicated higher-level relationships in scorpions.

Historically, morphological characters have been used to support the monophyly, composition, and phylogenetic relationships of scorpion families. Although recent phylogenomic analyses have recovered most of these traditional higher level relationships as non-monophyletic, certain key taxa have yet to be sampled using a phylogenomic approach. Salient among these is the monotypic genus Caraboctonus Pocock, 1893, the type species of the family Caraboctonidae Kraepelin, 1905. Here, we examined the putative monophyly and phylogenetic placement of this family, sampling the library of C. keyserlingi Pocock, 1893 using high throughput transcriptomic sequencing. Our phylogenomic analyses recovered Caraboctonidae as polyphyletic due to the distant placement of the genera Caraboctonus and Hadrurus Thorell, 1876. Caraboctonus was stably recovered as the sister-group of the monotypic family Superstitioniidae Stahnke, 1940, whereas Hadrurus formed an unstable relationship with Uroctonus Thorell, 1876 and Belisarius Simon, 1879. Fourcluster likelihood mapping revealed that the instability inherent to the placement of Hadrurus, Uroctonus and Belisarius was attributable to significant gene tree conflict in the internodes corresponding to their divergences. To redress the polyphyly of Caraboctonidae, the following systematic actions have been taken: (1) the family Caraboctonidae has been delimited to consist of 23 species in the genera Caraboctonus and Hadruroides Pocock, 1893; (2) Caraboctonidae, previously included in the superfamily Iuroidea Thorell, 1876 or as incertae sedis, is transferred to the superfamily Caraboctonoidea (new rank); (3) the superfamily Hadruroidea (new rank) is established and the status of Hadrurinae Stahnke, 1973 is elevated to family (Hadruridae new status) including 9 species in the genera Hadrurus and Hoffmannihadrurus Fet & Soleglad, 2004 and (4) we treat Uroctonus and Belisarius as insertae sedis with respect to superfamilial placement. Our systematic actions engender the monophyly of both Iuroidea and Caraboctonidae. Future phylogenomic investigations should target similar taxon-poor and understudied

Santibáñez-López CE, Ojanguren-Affilastro AA, Sharma PP. Another one bites the dust: Taxonomic sampling of a key genus in phylogenomic datasets reveals more non-monophyletic groups in traditional scorpion classification. Invertebrate Systematics. 2020;34(2):133-43. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Carlos E. Santibáñez-López and Prashant P. Sharma who have kept me informed about their study. I have also been informed about this article by Kari McWest and Matt Simon. Big thanks to them!

Family Caraboctonidae
Family Hadruridae