23 December, 2011

Tityus championi restored to species status

Rolando Teruel has recently restored Tityus championi Pocock, 1898 (Buthidae) to species status. This species was previously regarded as a junior synonym of Tityus asthenes Pocock, 1893.

The present paper clarifies the taxonomic identity of Tityus championi Pocock 1898. This species is clearly distinct from Tityus asthenes Pocock 1893 (regarded as its senior synonym since 1988), and appears to be endemic to the southem watershed of the Talamanca Range, in the border region between Costa Rica and Panama.

Teruel R. La verdadera identidad Tityus championi Pocock, 1898 (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Boletin de la SEA. 2011(48):367-73.

Family Buthidae

Mite infestation in scorpions from Egypt

Ibrahim & Abdel-Rahman published previously this year a paper on parasitic infestations of the acarine parasite Pimeliaphilus joshuae in various scorpion species from Egypt.

The main goal of this study was to study the acarine parasite, Pimeliaphilus joshuae (Prostigmata: Pterygosomatidae) on various scorpion species from Egypt to determine its prevalence, abundance and intensity in relation to host species, size and sex. A total of 95 Leiurus quinquestriatus, 98 Androctonus australis, 40 A. amoreuxi, 30 Scorpio maurus palmatus and 46 Orthochirus scrobicuosus were examined during August 2009. Prevalence and mean abundance of P. joshuae varied significantly in relation to host species, host size and sex. In L. quinquestriatus, A. australis, and A. amoreuxi, the prevalence was 76.8, 13.3, and 50.0%, whereas the mean abundance was 47.6, 6.7 and 14.3%, respectively. Prevalence and mean abundance of P. joshuae were both positively correlated with host size in L. quinquestriatus and A. australis. We conclude that P. joshuae is found in a wide range of scorpion species exhibiting a low degree of host specificity. Controlled laboratory infection experiments are required to explain why S. m. palmatus and O. scrobicuosus are not susceptible to infestation by P. joshuae.

Ibrahim MM, Abdel-Rahman MA. Natural infestation of Pimeliaphilus joshuae on scorpion species from Egypt. Exp Appl Acarol. 2011;55(1):77-84. [Subscription required for fulltext]

20 December, 2011

Euscorpius flavicaudis fanzagoi is a synonym of Euscorpius flavicaudis

Eric Ythier has collected several specimens of Euscorpius flavicaudis (De Geer, 1778) from the region in France where E. flavicaudis fanzagoi Simon, 1879 was originally described. He concludes that the latter is a synonym of E. flavicaudis (De Geer, 1778).

The paper also presents an identification key for French Euscorpius.

46 specimens of the genus Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 were collected in ten localities surrounding the type locality of Euscorpius carpathicus fanzagoi Simon, 1879. All of them were identified as belonging to the species Euscorpius flavicaudis (De Geer, 1778). E. c. fanzagoi is therefore suggested to be a synonym of E. flavicaudis.

Ythier E. On the taxonomic validity of Euscorpius carpathicus fanzagoi Simon, 1879. Le bulletin d’Arthropoda. 2011(45):14-20.

Thanks to Eric for sending me this paper!

Family Euscorpiidae

16 December, 2011

A new Vaejovis from Arizona (USA) and a redescription of five other Vaejovis

Garrett Hughes have a published an interesting study of the montane Vaejovis (Vaejovidae) from Arizona (USA). A new species is described:

Vaejovis electrum Hughes, 2011

A morphological analysis of five other related species is presented with a revised diagnosis.

Several scorpions of the genus Vaejovis in Arizona are restricted in range to mountain-top forests. These scorpions, informally referred to as the ‘‘vorhiesi complex’’ are very similar morphologically, but their geographic distribution has attracted the attention of several researchers, resulting in the description of a few new species in recent years. However, these species were described from small sample sizes and were diagnosed with questionable characters that were not sufficiently analyzed. This study evaluates the morphology of scorpions of the ‘‘vorhiesi complex’’ from seven regions in Arizona to verify the validity of the species and their accompanying diagnoses. Morphological characters examined include morphometrics, hemispermatophores, size and shape of subaculear tubercles of the telson vesicle, pectinal tooth counts, pedipalp chela denticle counts, metasomal setal counts, development of metasomal carinae, and tarsal spinule counts. New diagnoses are given for previously described species (V. vorhiesi Stahnke 1940, V. lapidicola Stahnke 1940, V. paysonensis Soleglad 1973, V. cashi Graham 2007 and V. deboerae Ayrey 2009), which are considered valid, based on the morphological evidence gathered. A new species of Vaejovis, V. electrum, is described from the Pinaleno Mountains in Arizona.

Hughes GB. Morphological analysis of montane scorpions of the genus Vaejovis (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) in Arizona with revised diagnoses and description of a new species. J Arachnol. 2011;39(3):420-38. [Subscription required for fulltext, but free fulltext after 12 months]

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for informing me about this paper!

Family Vaejovidae

New locality of Mesobuthus eupeus thersites in Kazakhstan

Alexander Fomichev has published a new location for Mesobuthus eupeus thersites (C. L. Koch, 1839) (Buthidae) in East Kazakhstan. This species' distribution in Kazakhstan is the second northernmost distribution for scorpions in Asia.

A new locality of Mesobuthus eupeus thersites (C. L. Koch, 1839) is reported, found during the fieldtrip to East Kazakhstan, one of the most northern areas where scorpions are found in Asia. Notes on the habitats, map and photographs of specimens are given.

Fomichev AA. A new locality of Mesobuthus eupeus thersites (C. L. Koch, 1839) (Scorpiones: Buthidae) in East Kazakhstan. Euscorpius. 2011(136):1-3. [Free fultext]

15 December, 2011

A new Orthochirus from southern Morocco

Lourenco and Leguin have described a new species of Orthochirus Karsch, 1891 (Buthidae) from southern Morocco.

Orthochirus maroccanus Lourenco & Leguin, 2011

Following the recent considerations proposed on the African species of the genus Orthochirus Karsch, 1891, one new species is described from the south of Morocco. The total number of African species is now raised to six.

Lourenco WR, Leguin E-A. One more new species of the genus Orthochirus Karsch, 1891 from Africa (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2011(135):1-6. [Free fulltext]

Family Buthidae

14 December, 2011

New Centruroides from Mexico

Javier Ponce-Saavedra and Oscar Francke have recently described a new species of Centruroides (Buthidae) from the state of Jalisco in Mexico.

Centruroides chamela Ponce-Saavedra & Francke, 2011

Unable to copy English abstract from pdf file - See fulltext for abstracts.

Ponce-Saavedra J, Francke OF. Especie nueva de la alacran del genero Centruroides (Scorpiones: Buthidae) de la costa del estado de Jalisco, Mexico. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad. 2011;82:1163-75. [Free fulltext]

Thanks to Dr. Francke for sending me this paper!

12 December, 2011

The medical significance of Leiurus abdullahbayrami in Turkey

It is well known that Leiurus quinquestriatus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) is the most venomous scorpion based on the LD50 value. In the last decade, three more Leiurus species have been described, but no data has been published on their medical significance (except that it has been safe to assume that they have the same potential as L. quinquestriatus).

Ozkan, Yagmur & Ark have now published a study of the venom of Leiurus abdullahbayrami Yagmur, Koc & Kunt, 2009 from southeastern Turkey and its lethal potency. LD50 studies on mice showed a LD50 value of 0.19 mg/kg, which is an extremely low value meaning a very potent venom. This means that Leiurus abdullahbayrami is a medical significant and potential lethal scorpion.

Currently, medically significant scorpion species belong to the Buthidae family and are represented by the genera Androctonus, Buthus, Mesobuthus, Hottentotta, Parabuthus, Tityus, Centruroides, Leiurus. Although Leiurus was originally considered a monotypic genus, four additional species have since been described. Leiurus abdullahbayrami (previously identified as L. quinquestriatus in Turkey) was classified as a new Leiurus species. This is the first report conducted on the lethality and biologic effects of L. abdullahbayrami scorpion venom in mice. In this study, the electrophoretic protein pattern of its venom was also determined. Two protein bands with molecular masses of 4 and 6 kDa were more strongly detected than other protein bands in the venom sample. Electrophoresis showed that L. abdullahbayrami scorpion venom possesses both short- and long-chain neurotoxins. The median lethal dose of this venom was found to be 0.19 mg/kg by subcutaneous (SC) injection in mice. Animals experimentally envenomed with L. abdullahbayrami venom exhibited hyperexcitability, agitation, aggressive behavior, squeaking and fighting, tachypnea, weakness, convulsions, and death due to cardiac and respiratory failure. In further studies, the potency of antivenom should be investigated in relation to the scorpion venom. Molecular and pharmacological studies are also required to identify and characterize L. abdullahbayrami scorpion venom.

Ozkan O, Yagmur EA, Ark M. A newly described scorpion species, Leiurus abdullahbayrami (Scorpion: Buthidae), and the lethal potency and in vivo effects of its venom. Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins Including Tropical Diseases. 2011;17(4):414-21.

Thanks to Dr. Ersen Yagmur for sending me this paper!

08 December, 2011

A new scorpion fossil from cretaceous amber found in Myanmar (Burma)

Wilson Lourenco and Alex Beigel have published a new family, genus and species of fossil scorpions based on a specimen found in cretaceous amber from Burma.

Chaerilobuthidae Lourenco & Beigel, 2011
Chaerilobuthus Lourenco & Beigel, 2011
Chaerilobuthus complexus Lourenco & Beigel, 2011

A fossil scorpion belonging to a new family, genus and species, Chaerilobuthus complexus gen. n., sp. n., is described from Cretaceous amber of Myanmar (Burma). This is the third species and the fourth scorpion specimen to have been found and described from Burmese amber. The new family seems quite distinct from the family Archaeobuthidae Lourenco, 2001 described from Cretaceous amber of Lebanon.

Lourenço WR, Beigel A. A new scorpion fossil from the Cretaceous amber of Myanmar (Burma). New phylogenetic implications. Comptes Rendus Palevol. 2011;10(8):635-9. [subscription required for fulltext]

Thanks to Professor Lourenco for sending me this paper!

07 December, 2011

Scorpion fauna of northern Saudi Arabia

Mahmoud Desouky and Ahmed Alshammari have published a survey of the scorpion fauna of the Ha'il Region of northern Saudi Arabia. A molecular phylogenetics for Androctonus crassicauda (Buthidae) and Scorpio maurus kruglovi (Scorpionidae) is also presented.

The present work is a systematic approach to the scorpion fauna of the Ha'il region (Saudi Arabia), based on morphology. In addition, a phylogenetic study of two common species, Androctonus crassicauda and Scorpio maurus kruglovi, was carried out, based on 16S gene sequences. The purpose is to provide an updated account of the scorpion fauna, and to present a brief description on the distribution of the scorpions of this
region, which has been largely neglected and remains poorly known. Eight species of scorpions were identified: seven species and one subspecies belonging to the family Buthidae, and one subspecies belonging to Scorpionidae. Geographic distribution and relative abundance of the species collected were recorded in the study area. We report the 16S gene sequence for two scorpion species, Androctonus crassicauda aud Scorpio maurus krug!ovi, which are the most abundant scorpions in the study area and represent the two reported scorpion families. The gene sequences of these two species were deposited into GenBank with accession numbers HM125965 and 1-IM 125964 for A. crassicauda and S. m. kruglovi respectively. 16S gene sequences from these two taxa were compared with those from other species prevalent in Saudi Arabia, retrieved from GenBank, and aligned sequences were used to constnjct a phylogenetic tree. The results presented provide the first molecular phylogenetic study of the scorpion fauna of Saudi Arabia. Moreover, searching the data base revealed that the 16S gene of S. m. kruglovi was sequenced for the first time. The goal was to evaluate the potential of 16S gene sequencing to provide better resolution of the systematic problems of the Saudi scorpion fauna, and to resolve the phylogenetic relationships among them.

Desouky MMA, Alshammari AM. Scorpions of the Ha'il Region, northern Saudi Arabia, and molecular phylogenetics of two common species, Androctonus crassicauda and Scorpio maurus kruglovi. Bull Br Arach Soc. 2011;15(6):193-200.

05 December, 2011

A revision of the South American genus Orobothriurus with six new species

Jose Ochoa, Andres Ojanguren Affilastro, Carlos Mattoni and Lorenzo Prendini have now published a systematic revision of the Andean genus Orobothriurus Maury, 1976 (Bothriuridae). The following new species are described:

Orobothriurus calchaqui Ochoa, Ojanguren Affilastro, Mattoni & Prendini, 2011 (Argentina)
Orobothriurus campagnuccii Ochoa, Ojanguren Affilastro, Mattoni & Prendini, 2011 (Argentina)
Orobothriurus huascaran Ochoa, Ojanguren Affilastro, Mattoni & Prendini, 2011 (Peru)
Orobothriurus quewerukana Ochoa, Ojanguren Affilastro, Mattoni & Prendini, 2011 (Peru & Chile)
Orobothriurus ramirezi Ochoa, Ojanguren Affilastro, Mattoni & Prendini, 2011 (Chile)
Orobothriurus tamarugal Ochoa, Ojanguren Affilastro, Mattoni & Prendini, 2011 (Chile)

Most Orobothriurus occur at high altitudes in the Andes Mountains. The paper discuss the occurence of scorpions in high altitudes and a list of scorpions found above 3000 meters in the Andes is presented. The altitude record for scorpions is held by O. huascaran. This species has been found in the Ishinca ravine (Peru) at 4910 meters. Please note that the previous altitude record mentioned in the literature (5500 meters) is not correct (see paper for details).

The systematics of the Andean scorpion genus, Orobothriurus Maury, 1976 (Bothriuridae Simon, 1880), is revised. New locality records, obtained during recent field expeditions, distribution maps, and a key to identification of the 15 known species, are provided. Six new species are described: Orobothriurus calchaqui, n. sp., from northwestern Argentina; Orobothriurus compagnuccii, n. sp., from the central Andes of Argentina; Orobothriurus huascaran, n. sp., from central Peru; Orobothriurus quewerukana, n. sp., from southern Peru and northern Chile; Orobothriurus ramirezi, n. sp., from central Chile; and Orobothriurus tamarugal, n. sp., from northern Chile. The known distribution of Orobothriurus and the altitude record for scorpions are discussed. The world’s altitude record for a scorpion, previously reported as 5550 m, is demonstrated to be 4910 m.

Ochoa JA, Ojanguren Affilastro AA, Mattoni CI, Prendini L. Systematic revision of the Andean scorpion genus Orobothriurus Maury, 1976 (Bothriuridae), with discussion of the altitude record for scorpions. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 2011(359):1-90. [Free fultext]

Thanks to Jacek Szubert for informing me about this paper!

Family Bothriuridae

01 December, 2011

New information on the enigmatic cave scorpion Akrav from Israel

In 2006 cave explorers found the remains of a very unusual troglobitic scorpion in the Ayyalon Cave in Israel. Later, this scorpion was described as Akrav israchanani Levy, 2007 in a brand new family Akravidae.

Victor Fet, Michael Soleglad and Sergei Zonstein have now been able to examine available Akrav materials (it has been found 20 more or less complete specimens), and have published a detailed redescription and analysis of the species, genus and family.

Interestingly, no live specimens have been found. It also looks like all scorpions died at the same time, indicating a catastrophic extinction event in the cave environment. One theory is that there was a lethal H2S gas event. The scorpions found are not considered fossils, but at the present time it is not known if Akrav is an extinct taxa or not.

The paper has many detailed color pictures of the specimens found. The authors conclude that Akrav probably belongs to the family Superstitioniidae and that the Akravidae family status is not justified. No formal decisions on this matter are done in this paper, as this will be addressed in a forthcoming paper.

And what did Akrav eat in the closed, isolated caves with no large, terrestrial prey items? The authors suggest that the scorpion actually prey on the aquatic crustaceans that are also present in pools of water in the cave. The strange, beak-shaped fingers of the pedipalps seen in this scorpion may be a specialization for catching this kind of prey.

Akrav israchanani, a relict chactoid scorpion from the famous Ayyalon Cave in Israel, is analyzed for the first time since its original description by Gershom Levy (2007). All scorpions found in this cave (20 specimens) were dead, represented by exoskeletons; they are mostly fragmented during collection, many incomplete, but extremely well preserved, and have no evidence of fossilization. Time and cause of death are unknown. Diagnostic characters described by Levy are largely confirmed, and some are further clarified. An exhaustive set of microscopic images is published, encompassing data from all best preserved specimens. Previously unpublished morphological details are illustrated such as exact pattern of trichobothria, finger dentition, structure of pectinal organs, etc. Measurements of type series are provided. Presence of mites (Acari) in the Ayyalon Cave is not confirmed: the only specimen tentatively identified as a mite proved to be a late-stage scorpion embryo found inside one of the females; it is described and illustrated. Phylogenetic placement of Akrav within Recent scorpions is discussed, and its affinity to New World Chactoidea (Superstitioniidae: Typhlochactinae) is demonstrated. Biogeographic and ecological observations are provided. Unusual structure of pedipalp fingertips is suggested to be a device for foraging on aquatic crustaceans abundant in the cave’s pool.

Fet V, Soleglad ME, Zonstein SL. The genus Akrav Levy, 2007 (Scorpiones: Akravidae) revisited. Euscorpius. 2011(134):1-49. [Free fulltext]

Family Akravidae