30 November, 2021

New method for scorpion venom research spares the scorpion's life


Scorpion venom is highly investigated, both because of the medical important of this animal group, but also because the different scorpion venom types are candidates of pharmaceutically active molecules with potential drug applications.

The most popular method today to study scorpion venoms is transcriptome studies. The current method for obtaining a scorpion venom gland transcriptome is based on sacrificing the animal to extract the venom gland from the telson (they cut of the telson). This means a lot of dead scorpions each year in the name of science.

Freek J. Vonk and several co-workers have now published an article describing a new method of generating a scorpion venom gland transcriptome without sacrificing the animal. This is good news as it will spare many scorpion lives, but also opens up new possibilities for testing the venom from the same scorpion several times (e.g. by allowing the study of the transcriptome at various time points within a single individual).

Scorpion venoms are mixtures of proteins, peptides and small molecular compounds with high specificity for ion channels and are therefore considered to be promising candidates in the venoms-to-drugs pipeline. Transcriptomes are important tools for studying the composition and expression of scorpion venom. Unfortunately, studying the venom gland transcriptome traditionally requires sacrificing the animal and therefore is always a single snapshot in time. This paper describes a new way of generating a scorpion venom gland transcriptome without sacrificing the animal, thereby allowing the study of the transcriptome at various time points within a single individual. By comparing these venom-derived transcriptomes to the traditional whole-telson transcriptomes we show that the relative expression levels of the major toxin classes are similar. We further performed a multi-day extraction using our proposed method to show the possibility of doing a multiple time point transcriptome analysis. This allows for the study of patterns of toxin gene activation over time a single individual, and allows assessment of the effects of diet, season and other factors that are known or likely to influence intraindividual venom composition. We discuss the gland characteristics that may allow this method to be successful in scorpions and provide a review of other venomous taxa to which this method may potentially be successfully applied.

Vonk FJ, Bittenbinder MA, Kerkkamp HMI, Grashof DGB, Archer JP, Afonso S, et al. A non-lethal method for studying scorpion venom gland transcriptomes, with a review of potentially suitable taxa to which it can be applied. PLoS One. 2021;16(11):e0258712. [Open Access]

Thanks to Arie van der Meijden for sending me their interesting article!

29 November, 2021

A new species of Buthus from the Eastern Pyrenees, France


Eric Ythier has discovered a new species of Buthus Leach, 1815 (Buthidae) from the Eastern Pyrenees, in the South of Franc.

 Buthus pyrenaeus Ythier, 2021

This species is probably a result of microendemism, as seen in other Buthus species in the Iberian Peninsula.

A new species of Buthus is described on the basis of six specimens collected in the Eastern Pyrenees, in the South of France. Buthus pyrenaeus sp. n. is mainly characterized by a general yellowish coloration with a dark univittate pattern on tergites, chela fingers with lobe/notch combination obsolete, male slightly larger than same size-class female with chela manus wider than patella and telson laterally compressed, and female with metasomal segment I as wide as long to wider than long. The new species shows affinities with B. alacanti Teruel & Turiel, 2020 (most similar species) and B. occitanus (Amoreux, 1789) but can be easily distinguished from these two species by a combination of several key characters. This new scorpion taxon represents the 2nd known species of the genus Buthus reported from France and the 15th reported from Western Europe.

Ythier E. The genus Buthus Leach, 1815 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) in France with description of a new species from the Eastern Pyrenees. Faunitaxys. 2021;9(38):1-10. [Open Access]

Thanks to Eric for sending me his new article!

Family Buthidae

25 November, 2021

Major work on the phylogeny and systematics of Euscorpiinae in the eastern Adriatic region


The systematics and taxonomy of the members of the family Euscorpiidae is still a major challenge in site of numerous research papers in the last decades.  The four traditional European taxa known some decades ago, are now split into a huge diversity of genera and species. And there is still more to come as there are many cryptic species and geographic areas that are still not properly investigated.

Martina Podnar and co-workers have recently published an extensive phylogenetic analysis where they have reviewed the scorpions of the genera Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 and Alpiscorpius Gantenbein et al., 1999 (Euscorpiidae) with a focus on the eastern Adriatic region. 

This is a very extensive study full of new information and data, and some of it is above my head. But the main conclusions are that their analyses point to the existence of several new taxa and the ranges of several species have been revised. In addition they have made the following taxonomic conclusions:

Euscorpius lagostae Di Caporiacco, 1950 from Lastovo Island, Croatia is raised to species status (formerly Euscorpius carpaticus lagostae Di Caporiacco, 1950).

Euscorpius croaticus is moved to the genus Alpiscorpius as Alpiscorpius croaticus (Di Caporiacco, 1950). 

Why do have so many species? The current article indicate that this is probably due to complex topography creating many microhabitats, but also due to microrefugia in the Pleistocene that allowed new taxa to evolve.

The systematics and taxonomy of the scorpion family Euscorpiidae are still unresolved, and, within it, the eastern Adriatic scorpiofauna is largely unknown and under-researched. Based on two mitochondrial sequences (COI and 16S rRNA) and one nuclear marker sequence (ITS1), we put 107 newly analyzed samples originating from the Alps, the Eastern Adriatic, and the adjacent Dinaric karst area into phylogenetic context. Several species delineation approaches were applied to reveal cryptic diversity. Divergence time dating was used to highlight the major events in the evolutionary history of the genera Euscorpius and Alpiscorpius. The deep intraspecific genetic divergences observed in some clades warrant taxonomic revision of several taxa (Euscorpius tergestinus, Euscorpius hadzii, Euscorpius biokovensis, and Euscorpius (Alpiscorpius) croaticus). In this study, the population of E. hadzii from Lastovo Island (formerly Euscorpius carpaticus lagostae) is elevated to species level as Euscorpius lagostae Di Caporiacco, 1950, stat. nov. Euscorpius croaticus is moved to the genus Alpiscorpius as Alpiscorpius croaticus (Di Caporiacco, 1950) comb. nov. The distribution ranges of several species are revised, and based on the new data, a more detailed revision of species distribution is necessary. We attribute the major divergence events to the impact of the Middle Miocene Climate Transition, the Messinian Salinity Crisis, and the Middle Pleistocene Climate Transition. The observed patterns are therefore a direct consequence of the geological history and complex topography of the region, which provided numerous microhabitats, as well as of the Pleistocene microrefugia that enabled their persistence.

Podnar M, Grbac I, Tvrtković N, Hörweg C, Haring E. Hidden diversity, ancient divergences, and tentative Pleistocene microrefugia of European scorpions (Euscorpiidae: Euscorpiinae) in the eastern Adriatic region. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research. 2021;Accepted Manuscript:1-26. [Subscriotion required for full text]

Thanks to Luis Roque for sending me this article.

Family Euscorpidae

23 November, 2021

New taxa from a new study of Balkan Euscorpiidae populations


Gioele Tropea has recently published a major study of Balkan Euscorpiidae populations. As usual these days, there are still many cryptic species hiding in European Euscorpiidae populations. These are the new taxa described in this article:

New subgenera in the genus Alpiscorpius Gantenbein et al., 1999:

Balkanscorpius Tropea, 2021

Hadzius Tropea, 2021

New species:

Alpiscorpius (Hadzius) karamani Tropea, 2021 (Central and west Serbia)

Alpiscorpius (Balkanscorpius) pavicevici Tropea, 2021 (Southern Serbia, south-west Bulgaria (?))

Alpiscorpius (Balkanscorpius) zloporubovici Tropea, 2021 (Central and west Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina (?))

New status and new combination (raised to species from subspecies):

Alpiscorpius (Balkanscorpius) caporiaccoi (Bonacina, 1980)

Alpiscorpius (Balkanscorpius) dinaricus (Di Caporiacco, 1950)


Alpiscorpius beroni (Fet, 2000) is synonymized with A. (Balkanscorpius) dinaricus (Di Caporiacco, 1950)

Some Euscorpiinae populations with the trichobothrial series em = 3 from the Balkans, mainly from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, are examined, resulting in the description of two new subgenera, Balkanscorpius subgen. n. and Hadzius subgen. n., three new species, Alpiscorpius (Hadzius subg. n.) karamani sp. n., A. (Balkanscorpius subg. n.) pavicevici sp. n. and A. (Balkanscorpius subg. n.) zloporubovici sp. n., and elevation to species status in the genus Alpiscorpius Gantenbein et al., 1999 and subgenus Balkanscorpius subgen. n. of A. (Balkanscorpius subg. n.) dinaricus (Di Caporiacco, 1950) stat. n. et comb. n. and A. (Balkanscorpius subg. n.) caporiaccoi (Bonacina, 1980) stat. n. et comb. n. A. beroni (Fet, 2000) has been synonymized with A. (Balkanscorpius subg. n.) dinaricus stat. n. et comb. n. The lectotype for A. (Balkanscorpius subg. n.) caporiaccoi stat. n. et comb. n. is designated. The forgotten species Scorpius bosnensis Mollendorf, 1873 is considered nomen dubium.

Tropea G. Concerning some Balkan Euscorpiidae populations (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Biologia Serbica. 2021;43.

Thanks to Gioele Tropea for sending me his article!

Family Euscorpiidae


17 November, 2021

A new species of Androctonus from Turkey


Ersen Yagmur has recently published the description of a new species of Androctonus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) from the Şanlıurfa Province in Turkey.

Androctonus turkiyensis Yagmur, 2021

The populations of this species have previously been identified as Anrodoctonus crassicauda (Olivier, 1807).

A new species Androctonus turkiyensis sp. n. is described and illustrated from the Şanlıurfa Province of Turkey. The new species is compared with A. crassicauda (Olivier, 1807), which was previously misidentified from Turkey. A. crassicauda specimens used for comparison were collected from Kashan County (Iran), the type locality of this species; a neotype from Kashan is designated.

Yagmur EA. Androctonus turkiyensis sp. n. from the Şanlıurfa Province, Turkey (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2021(341):1-18. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

16 November, 2021

A remarkable find of two new troglobitic species from the Dominican Republic


Rolando Teruel and co-workers have recently published an article describing two new fully troglomorphic species in the genus Cazierius Francke, 1978 (Diplocentridae) from isolate limestone caves in the Dominican Republic.

Cazierius cayacoa Teruel, Jimenez & de los Santos, 2021

Cazierius ciguayo Teruel, Jimenez & de los Santos, 2021 

There are little information available for the new species as only one specimen has been found of each species, but hopefully further exploration of the cave systems that are assumed to host these interesting species  will reveal more information about them.

Two new species of the Greater Antillean endemic scorpion genus Cazierius Francke, 1978, are herein described from the island of Hispaniola. They were found inside isolate limestone caves in the Dominican Republic and are fully troglomorphic, thus, apparently being strict troglobites that represent the first ever documented for this genus. The present additions raise the number of Hispaniolan species of both Cazierius and the family Diplocentridae Karsch, 1880, to five and ten, respectively.

Teruel R, Jimenez C, de los Santos G. The first troglobitic scorpions from Hispaniola, Greater Antilles: two new species of Cazierius Francke, 1978 (Scorpiones: Diplocentridae). Euscorpius. 2021(340):1-9. [Open Access]

Family Diplocentridae

The identity of Centruroides hoffmanni and a new species of Centruroides from Chiapas, Mexico


Luis de Armas & Rolando Teruel have recently published an article discussion the identity of Centruroides hoffmanni Armas 1996 (Buthidae) in Mexico. This work has also resulted in the description of a new species of Centruroides from Chiapas, Mexico, previously misidentified as C. hoffmanni.

Centruroides concordia Armas & Teruel, 2021

The Mexican scorpion Centruroides hoffmanni Armas, 1996 was described on the basis of a supposed adult female (actually a juvenile) from La Gloria, Arriaga Municipality, southwest of the Chiapas State. In its redescription, this species was also recorded from the southeastern of Oaxaca State. Nevertheless, in the recent revision of the “thorellii” species-group of the genus Centruroides Marx, 1890, a new species from Chiapas was misidentified as C. hoffmanni and, also, an erroneous new diagnosis was given for C. hoffmanni. In the present contribution, this new species is named Centruroides concordia sp. n., and the correct identity of C. hoffmanni is established.

de Armas LF, Teruel R. The correct identity of Centruroides hoffmanni Armas, 1996 (Scorpiones: Buthidae), with the description of a new species from Chiapas, Mexico. Euscorpius. 2021(339):1-5. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

05 November, 2021

A new, troglomorphic species in the enigmatic genus Troglotayosicus from Ecuador


One of the rarest and most enigmatic genera in South America is the troglomorphic genus Troglotayosicus Lourenço, 1981 (Troglotayosicidae). Ricardo Botero-Trujillo and co-workers have recently described a new species in this fascinating genus from Ecuador.

Troglotayosicus ballvei Botero-Trujillo, Ochoa & Prendini, 2021

The new species has troglomorphies, but doesn't seem to be troglobitic in nature as the specimens were collected in the leaf-litter on walls/stones of a collapse cave. It is only T. vachoni Lourenço, 1981 of the six species the genus that has been reported from a cave habitat.

For several decades, Troglotayosicus Lourenço, 1981, remained an enigmatic, monotypic scorpion genus believed to be troglobitic. The discovery and description in recent years of several endogean species of the genus, inhabiting the leaf litter of tropical rainforests in Colombia and Ecuador, advanced knowledge about these scorpions. The known distribution of Troglotayosicus was considerably expanded along the Andes, and it was demonstrated that, despite the absence of median ocelli, the genus is composed primarily of species that inhabit leaf litter. In the present study, Troglotayosicus ballvei, sp. nov., is described from Sacha Huagra Lodge, adjacent to Archidona Municipality, in Napo Province, Ecuador, raising the number of Troglotayosicus species to six, three each in Colombia and Ecuador. An updated map of the known distribution of the genus is presented.

Botero-Trujillo R, Ochoa JA, Prendini L. A New Troglomorphic, Leaf-litter Scorpion from Ecuador (Troglotayosicidae: Troglotayosicus). American Museum Novitates. 2021(3981):1-24. [Open Access]

Thanks to Luis Roque for sending me this article!

Family Troglotayosicidae

03 November, 2021

A new species of Trypanothacus from Jordan


Mohammad Al-Saraireh and co-workers have recently described a new species of Trypanothacus Lowe, Kovarik, Stockmann & Stahlavsky, 2019 (Buthidae) from Jordan.

Trypanothacus azraqensis Al-Saraireh, Afifeh, Aloufi, Amr & Lourenco, 2021

The genus Trypanothacus Lowe, Kovařík, Stockmann & Šťáhlavský, 2019 (Family Buthidae) is recorded for the first time in Jordan and a new species is described based on specimens collected in the region of Al Azraq.

Al-Saraireh M, Afifeh BA, Aloufi A, Amr ZS, Lourenco WR. First record of the genus Trypanothacus Lowe, Kovařík, Stockmann & Šťáhlavský, 2019 in Jordan and description of a new species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Serket. 2021;18(1):11-21. [Open Access]

Thanks to Dr.Hisham K. El-Hennawy for sending me this article from the journal Serket!

Family Buthidae

02 November, 2021

A new species of Leiurus from Nigeria


Wilson Lourenco has recently published an article describing a new species of the medical important genus Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) from a savannah-like habitat in Nigeria.

Leiurus nigerianus Lourenco, 2021

One more African new species belonging to the genus Leiurus Ehrenberg is described. The description is based on two pre-adult male specimens collected in the region of Kaura Namoda, NW of Nigeria. The new species shows affinities with other Leiurus species distributed in the Western portion of Africa; however several characteristics attest that this population is certainly distinct. The ecological features of the type locality are particular since the area is characterised by savannah-like vegetation, instead of arid-desert formations; formation previously defined exclusively for Leiurus savanicola described from Cameroon. The type locality of the new species is the most Southwestern region of Africa in which a Leiurus species was collected.

Lourenco WR. A new species of Leiurus Ehrenberg (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Nigeria, with extension of the distribution range of the genus to the Southwestern portion of the African continent. Serket. 2021;18(1):1-10. [Open Access]

Thanks to Dr.Hisham K. El-Hennawy for sending me this article from the journal Serket!