23 December, 2021

Season's Greetings from The Scorpion Files

Picture: The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, https://twitter.com/USCPSC/status/1464238132023504900 (Public domain).

I'm illustrating this Christmas holiday greeting with a tweet from The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, using a Heterometrus scorpion as an example of a "dangerous" Christmas present for children. Even though the purpose is well meant, this doesn't improve the image of scorpions in the general public. But it is also a little funny as I guess quite a few of you reading this blog would have loved to get a scorpion gift! :)

Thanks to Matt Simon for sending me the tweet!

I wish you all Merry Chistmas and a Happy New Scorpion Year!

Best wishes

Jan Ove Rein

20 December, 2021

A new species in the micro-scorpion genus Pseudouroplectes from Madagascar


Wilson Lourenco has recently described a new species of Pseudouroplectes Lourenço, 1995  (Buthidae), a genus of micro-scorpions endemic to Madagascar. 

Pseudouroplectes jacki Lourenco, 2021

The article as an updated identification key for the genus.

Among Malagasy scorpion genera, Pseudouroplectes Lourenço, 1995 (Buthidae) remains one of the less speciose. All species are extremely rare and known only by a few or even for a single individual. A new species is described from the tropical dry forest of Tsimembo in the Melaky Region, confirming the distribution of the genus to a further northern locality. As for several previous cases, the single holotype specimen was obtained by extraction with the use of Berlese method. The description of one more new species, confirms the distributional pattern of Pseudouroplectes as a typical element of dry forest formations which range from the south to the middle of the island.

Lourenco WR. A further new species for the Malagasy genus Pseudouroplectes Lourenço, 1995 (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Faunitaxys. 2021;9(41):1-7. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

A new species of Buthus from Burkina Faso


Eric Ythier has recently described a new species of Buthus Leach, 1815 (Buthidae) from Burkina Faso.

Buthus bobo Ythier, 2021

A new species of Buthus Leach, 1815 is described on the basis of one adult female specimen collected in the savannas of Western Burkina Faso. The new species is mainly characterized by a brownish yellow coloration with dark brownish to blackish confluent spots on tergites forming a blurred dark trivittate pattern, most carinae and granulations marked with dark brownish to blackish pigment, ventral carinae of metasomal segments II-III strongly marked and pedipalp chela manus of female quite slender. This new taxon represents the 7th known scorpion species reported from Burkina-Faso and the 5th described species for the genus Buthus in the sub-Saharan region of Western Africa. The presence of B. elhennawyi Lourenço, 2005 in Mali is also herewith reported.

Ythier E. A new species of Buthus Leach, 1815 from the savannas of Burkina Faso (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Faunitaxys. 2021;9(40):1-5. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

Amphibians and reptiles as prey of Heteroctenus junceus in Cuba


Scorpions prey on a wide variety of invertebrate prey and generally you can say that they will catch and eat any prey they can subdue without to much risk.  As most of you probably know, they can catch and eat vertebrate prey too as long as the can subdue them. Cases of predation on amphibians, reptiles and even small mammals have been reported.

Tomás M. Rodríguez-Cabrera and co-workers recently publised an article presenting obervations of the Cuban scorpion Heteroctenus junceus (Herbst, 1800) (Buthidae) catching and eating frogs and lizzards.

Vertebrate predation by scorpions has been scarcely documented in the literature. Contrary to large scorpions of the genera Centruroides, Hadrurus, Opistophthalmus, and Pandinurus from North America and Africa, which are capable of subduing even small rodents and bats, West Indian scorpions of the genera Centruroides, Heteroctenus, and Tityus seem to limit their prey to amphibians and reptiles. Herein we present new cases of a frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis; Hylidae) and three lizards (Anolis allisoni, A. ophiolepis, and A. sagrei; Dactyloidae) preyed upon by Heteroctenus junceus (Herbst, 1800), at the time we summarize all cases of vertebrate predation by scorpions in the region.

Rodriguez-Cabrera TM, Savall EM, Teruel R. Amphibians and reptiles as prey of Heteroctenus junceus (Scorpiones: Buthidae), with a summary of vertebrate predation by scorpions in the West Indies. Euscorpius. 2021(342):1-6. [Open Access]

14 December, 2021

A major and important review on scorpionism, toxicology, medical important species and their distribution in Amazonia


Amazonia hosts a large numbers of scorpions, many of which are of medical importance in humans. All of these belong to the species rich genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Buthidae). There have been a lot of research on scorpionism in South America and Tityus in particular, but few reviews looking on the larger picture.

Adolfo Borges and co-workers have now published a major review going through the literature on scorpionism in Amazonia, but also mapping all Tityus species in the region and their medical importance. Updated knowledge on taxonomy and phylogeny of the Tityus populations is essential in the context of public health and preventing accidents involving dangerous scorpions. The article also sum up the knowledge on venom toxicology and physiopathology of the species in the region.

This is an important article that sums up much of the currently known information on scorpionism in Amazonia, species involved and their distribution.

Venom from Amazonian scorpions of the genus Tityus contains components capable of eliciting a distinct clinical, mostly neurological, syndrome. This contrasts with the mainly autonomic manifestations produced after envenomation by congeneric southern and northern South American species. Herein, we summarize Pan-Amazonian scorpionism by synthesizing available toxinological, clinical, and molecular data gathered from all affected areas in Amazonia, including Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and French Guiana. We searched multiple databases, as well as our own records, for reports of scorpion envenomations in Amazonia by confirmed Tityus spp., and compared the clinical manifestations. To help uncover clinical and venom relationships among problematic species, we explored phylogenetic relationships with a rate-calibrated analysis of mitochondrial COI data from available species. The possible existence of diversity gradients for venom toxic and immunogenic components despite the predicted strong phylogenetic association among species is underscored by discussed clinical and toxinological findings. A multicentric effort, involving all nations affected by this neglected disease, is urgently needed to offer alternatives for treating and understanding this pathology, including the preparation of neutralizing antibodies with a broad range of efficacy.

Borges A, Graham MR, Cândido DM, Pardal PPO. Amazonian scorpions and scorpionism: integrating toxinological, clinical, and phylogenetic data to combat a human health crisis in the world’s most diverse rainfores. J Venom Anim Toxins Incl Trop Dis. 2021;27:Published online: 29 November 2021. [Open Access]

Thanks to Adolfo Borges and Victor Fet for sending me this article!

09 December, 2021

A new species of Vaejovis from Arizona, USA


The isolated habitats of the "Sky Islands" mountain range in Arizona, New Mexico and northern Mexico have produced a new species recently described by Brandon Myers and Rich Ayrey. 

Vaejovis miscionei Myers & Ayrey, 2021

A new scorpion species, Vaejovis miscionei sp. n. (Vaejovidae) is described from the Mule Mountains above Bisbee, Cochise County, Arizona. The pedipalp fixed finger has 5 ID denticles and the movable finger has 6, like in most other southern Arizona Vaejovis.

Myers B, Ayrey RF. A new species of Vaejovis from the Mule Mountains above Bisbee, Arizona (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius. 2021(343):1-15. [Open Access]

Thanks to Matt Simon for reminding med about this article!

Family Vaejovidae

08 December, 2021

On the complex taxonomy of Tityus and a new cave-dwelling species from Brazil


Few genera among the scorpions are more specious and complex than the South American genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Buthidae). There are many challenges that need to be solved before we can understand this genus completly and there is a need for using modern phylogenetic analysis and molecular taxonomy in future research.

Jairo A. Moreno-González and co-workers have now published a study presenting a molecular phylogenetic analysis of the genus. They present several phenotypic characters that can be use to resolve the taxonomy of Tityus.

A new cave-dwelling species is also described from Russão II cave, Posse, state of Goiás, Central Brazil. This species seems to be a troglophile (all specimens so far have been found inside the cave), but lack troglomorphic characteristic and cannot be classified as a trogolobite. 

Tityus spelaeus Moreno-Gonzalez, Pinto-da-Rocha & Gallao, 2021

The article also present an overview of cave-dwelling scorpions from Brazil and discuss the different types of cave-dwelling species of Scorpions.

We present a molecular phylogenetic analysis including a survey for overlooked phenotypic characters. Based on both analysis and characters a new cave-dwelling species is described: Tityus (Tityus) spelaeus sp. nov. from the Russão II cave, Posse, state of Goiás, Central Brazil. Characters such as the glandular regions of the female pectinal basal piece and basal middle lamellae of pectines, and the distribution of the ventral setae of telotarsi I–IV proved to be useful to constructing the taxonomy of species and species groups of Tityus. The new species is a member of the Tityus trivittatus species-group of Tityus (Tityus) and can be readily recognized by the immaculate coloration pattern and the more developed glandular region on the female pectinal basal piece. In addition, we provide a discussion of the phylogenetic relationships observed within Tityus, on the relevance of the new phenotypic characters to the modern taxonomy of the genus Tityus, and to the records of Brazilian cave scorpions.

Moreno-González JA, Pinto-da-Rocha R, Gallão JE. Bringing order to a complex system: phenotypic and genotypic evidence contribute to the taxonomy of Tityus (Scorpiones, Buthidae) and support the description of a new species. ZooKeys. 2021;1075:33-75. [Open Access]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this article!

Family Buthidae

01 December, 2021

Three new species of Olivierus from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan


Victor Fet and co-workers published this summer an article describing three new species of Olivierus Farzanpay, 1987 (Buthidae) from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. These species were previously classified as Olivierus gorelovi (Fet et al., 2018). The latter species is now restricted to Turkmenistan and southern Uzbekistan.

Oliverius mikhailovi Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein & Graham, 2021 (Southern Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan)

Oliverius tarabaevi Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein & Graham, 2021 (Kazakhstan)

Oliverius voldemari Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein & Graham, 2021 (Uzbekistan)

The new species were discovered mainly due to genetic analysis. They are very cryptic and identification based on morphological characters is very difficult.

Following Graham et al. (2019), the recently described desert species Olivierus gorelovi (Fet et al., 2018) from Central Asia is herein restricted to Turkmenistan and southern Uzbekistan. In this contribution, we described other populations formerly included in O. gorelovi as three new species: O. mikhailovi sp. n. (southern Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan), O. tarabaevi sp. n. (Kazakhstan) and O. voldemari sp. n. (Uzbekistan: Ferghana Valley).

Fet V, Kovak F, Gantenbein B, Graham MR. Three new species of Olivierus (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Zootaxa. 2021;5006(1):54-72. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Professor Fet for sending me their article!

Family Buthidae