25 May, 2021

A new species in the rare genus Somalibuthus from Kenya


Some genera are monotypic and very rare. Somalibuthus Kovarik, 1998 (Buthidae) is an example of this and no specimens have been found since the genus' description based on a few specimens collected in 1971 and 1973 in a coastal dune system in southern Somalia. Until now.

Kovarik and Njoroge have recently published an article describing a new species from Kiwayu Island, Kenya.

Somalibuthus sabae Kovarik & Njoroge, 2021

The poorly known buthid genus Somalibuthus Kovařík, 1998, is recorded for the first time from Kenya, with the description of a new species, S. sabae sp. n., from Kiwayu Island in the Kiunga Marine National Reserve. Based on a detailed study of the new materials, a revised diagnosis is given for the genus. Several generic characters suggest affinities with three other genera of small buthids found in the Horn of Africa: Neobuthus Hirst, 1911, Gint Kovařík, Lowe, Plíšková et Šťáhlavský, 2013, and Lanzatus Kovařík, 1998.

Kovarik F, Njoroge L. Somalibuthus sabae sp. n., a new buthid scorpion from Kenya (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2021(332):1-19. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

12 May, 2021

A revision of the genus Buthacus from the Middle East with several taxonomical changes


The Sand Scorpions, also known as the genus Buthacus Birula, 1908 (Buthidae) are widespread in in the sandy deserts of the Palearctic, from West Africa to India. No modern revision has been done for this sand-loving genus.

Shlomo Cain and co-workers have now published a systematic revision of the Buthacus species of the Levant (the Middle East including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt)). 

Here are the taxonomical highlights:

New species:

Buthacus amitaii Caine, Gefen & Prendini, 2021 (Israel)

Buthacus arava Caine, Gefen & Prendini, 2021 (Israel and Jordan)

Buthacus levyi Caine, Gefen & Prendini, 2021 (Egypt, Israel and maybe Libya)

New species status/re-validations:

Buthacus armasi Lourenço, 2013 (Southern Algeria)

Buthacus spatzi (Birula, 1911) (Southern Tunisia and western Libya)

Buthacus fuscata Pallary, 1929 (Southern Algeria)

Buthacus nitzani Levy et al., 1973 (Israel and probably also in the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt))

Buthacus tadmorensis (Simon, 1892) (Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey)*

Buthacus yotvatensis Levy et al., 1973 (Israel and Jordan)

*) B. tadmorensis was listed as a valid species in The Scorpion Files before this article. It seems that the 2005 synonymization was missed by me.


Buthacus macrocentrus (Ehrenberg, 1828) synonymized with Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829)

See abstract and article for more results and details.

The article has an updated identification key for the genus.

Scorpions of the genus Buthacus Birula, 1908 (Buthidae C.L. Koch, 1837), commonly known as “sand scorpions,” are widespread in the sandy deserts of the Palearctic, from West Africa to India. Although many new species of Buthacus were described in recent years, no modern revision exists for the genus and the limits of many infrageneric taxa remain unclear. The present contribution addresses the species of Buthacus recorded from the Levant, defined here as the region of the Middle East including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt). Prior to this study, five species and subspecies, including several synonyms, were recognized from the region. Based on extensive new collections, a reassessment of the morphology (including multivariate statistical analysis), and a phylogenetic analysis of morphological and DNA sequence data, published elsewhere, seven species of Buthacus are now recognized from the Levant, raising the number of species in the genus to 30. Three new species are described: Buthacus amitaii, sp. nov., endemic to Israel; Buthacus arava, sp. nov., endemic to Israel and Jordan; and Buthacus levyi, sp. nov., endemic to Egypt, Israel, and perhaps Libya. Buthacus arenicola (Simon, 1885) is redescribed and restricted to northeastern Algeria and central Tunisia, and Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829) redescribed and restricted to Egypt, Sudan, and perhaps Libya. Buthacus armasi Lourenço, 2013, stat. rev., from southern Algeria, and Buthacus spatzi (Birula, 1911), stat. rev., from southern Tunisia and western Libya, are revalidated, and Buthacus fuscata Pallary, 1929, stat. nov. et stat. rev., from southern Algeria, revalidated and elevated to the rank of species. Buthacus nitzani Levy et al., 1973, stat. nov., currently restricted to Israel but probably present in the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), is elevated to the rank of species. Buthacus tadmorensis (Simon, 1892), stat. rev., recorded from Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey, and Buthacus yotvatensis Levy et al., 1973, stat. rev., endemic to Israel and Jordan, are redescribed and revalidated. Three new synonyms are presented: Androctonus (Leiurus) macrocentrus Ehrenberg, 1828 = Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829), syn. nov.; Buthus pietschmanni Penther, 1912 = Buthacus tadmorensis (Simon, 1892), syn. nov.; Buthacus granosus Borelli, 1929 = Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829), syn. nov. Buthacus arenicola and the seven species of Buthacus occurring in the Levant are diagnosed and illustrated to modern standards, with updated distribution maps. A list of the currently recognized species of Buthacus, and a key to identification of the species occurring in the Levant are also presented.

Cain S, Gefen E, Prendini L. Systematic Revision of the Sand Scorpions, Genus Buthacus Birula, 1908 (Buthidae C.L. Koch, 1837) of the Levant, with Redescription of Buthacus arenicola (Simon, 1885) from Algeria and Tunisia. Bulletin of The American Museum of Natural History. 2021(450):1-134. [Open access]

Family Buthidae

11 May, 2021

Sexual stings in scorpion courtship are not just rituals


Sexual stings during courtship is probably one of the most fascinating behavior in scorpions. This has been documented in many species, but so far it has not been proven the the male actually penetrate the skin of the female  and if venom is injected. Some authors have characterized this behavior as "a ritual". 

Laura Olguin-Perez and co-workers have recently published a very interesting study on sexual sting in Megacormus gertschi Diaz-Najera, 1966 (Euscorpiidae). The confirm that the male penetrate the female repeatedly in the pedipalp tibia-patella intersegmental membrane just before the promenade a deux part of the courtship starts. They also confirm for the first time that the male actually injects venom into the female during the sexual stinging. Interestingly, the authors also demonstrate that the venom composition in males and females differs.

The combination of these results provide evidence that the sexual sting in scorpion courtships are more than a ritualistic behavior, but seem to have a direct role to ensure a successful courtship and mating. More research is needed to unravel the proximate effects the male venom injection has on the females and their behavior against the male.

The males of the Mexican species Megacormus gertschi Diaz-Najera, 1966 (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae: Megacorminae) sting the female repeatedly in the pedipalp tibia-patella intersegmental membrane (TPIM) during the initiation of the promenade a deux. It has been suggested that the male’s venom introduced during this ‘‘sexual sting’’ behavior could generate some sedative effect and reduce the possibility of being cannibalized by the female. However, this is unsupported by evidence regarding venom transference. Here, we provide evidence of perforation of the TPIM by the male aculeus and venom transfer during sexual sting performance. We also provide the first venom characterization of this species and show that it has a sexually dimorphic composition. These results, in combination with observations that the sexual sting is displayed in successful matings with non-defensive females, lead us to consider the pre-insemination sexual stinging as a non-genitalic sexual interaction with a potential role as a courtship element.

Olguin-Perez L, Francke OF, Carbajal-Saucedo A. Evidence of piercing and sexual differences in venom composition in a sexual stinging scorpion (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). J Arachnol. 2021;49:98-107. [Open Access]

Thanks to Oscar Francke for sending me their article!