30 March, 2012

Two new species from the Arabian Peninsula

Wilson Lourenco and Bernard Duhem have recently described two new species from the Khatan Al'Atash Ridge in the border area between the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Butheolus pallidus Lourenco & Duhem, 2012 (Buthidae)
Compsobuthus lowei Lourenco & Duhem, 2012 (Buthidae)

Two new species of scorpion belonging to the genera Butheolus Simon, 1882 and Compsobuthus Vachon, 1949 are described from the region of Khatan Al'Atash Ridge in the border area between the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Species of Compsobuthus have already been cited from UAE, but this is the first record of the genus Butheolus from this country.

Lourenço WR, Duhem B. Two new species of scorpions from the Arabian Peninsula belonging to the genera Butheolus Simon and Compsobuthus Vachon. Zoology in the Middle East. 2012;55:121-6.

Thanks to professor Wilson Lourenco for sending me this paper!

Family Buthidae

26 March, 2012

How to treat scorpion sting pain

Amucheazi and Umeh have recently published a paper discussing the use of Chloroquine as a potential pain medicine in scorpion sting cases with severe and/or sustained local pain. Interestingly, Chloroquine is a common anti-malaria drug.

The objective of reporting this case is to highlight the clinical usefulness of chloroquine in the management of scorpion sting pain with the hope of stimulating interest and research, especially in areas where local anesthetic agents may not be available. In this case reported here, lidocaine failed to provide sustained analgesia for pain relief following scorpion sting. Two milliliters of parenteral chloroquine was injected intradermally around the bite site. Chloroquine provided immediate pain relief within 3 minutes of injection. The pain relief was sustained beyond 24 hours. The use of local anesthetic agents should be continued while other agents such as chloroquine, which may also have relevant clinical usefulness, should be considered.

Amucheazi AO, Umeh BU. Scorpion sting pain: Which way to treat? Niger J Clin Pract. 2012;15(1):93-4. [Free full text]

25 March, 2012

A new species discovered in California, USA

Most of you probably already know, as there have been an unusual amount of news buzz on the Internet, about the discovery of an ultra-rare species in the elusive genus Werneri Soleglad & fet, 2008 (Vaejovidae) in the Inyo Mountains in California by Webber, Graham & Jaeger.

Werneri inyoensis Webber, Graham & Jaeger, 2012

Interestingly, the authors have a new theory on why the members on this genus is so rare. This may be because they are mainly subterranean in their habitats and not because they exist in low densities.

A new scorpion species is described from the Inyo Mountains of California (USA). The presence of a strong subaculear spine, along with other characters, places the new species within Wernerius, an incredibly rare genus that until now consisted of only two species. Wernerius inyoensis sp. n. can be most easily distinguished from the other members of the genus by smaller adult size, femur and pedipalp dimensions, and differences in hemispermatophore morphology. Previous studies have suggested that the elusive nature of this genus may be attributed to low densities and sporadic surface activity. Herein, we provide another hypothesis, that Wernerius are primarily subterranean. Mitochondrial sequence data are provided for the holotype.

Webber M, Graham M, Jaeger J. Wernerius inyoensis, an elusive new scorpion from the Inyo Mountains of California (Scorpiones, Vaejovidae). ZooKeys. 2012;177:1-13. [Free full text]

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me this paper!

Family Vaejovidae

22 March, 2012

A new troglobitic Vietbocap species described from caves in Laos

Vietnam and Laos have cave system with enigmatic scorpion fauna with cave adaptions (troglobites). Previously, two species have been described in the genus Vietbocap Lourenco & Pham, 2010 (Pseudochactidae). In a forthcoming paper Wilson Lourenco describes a new species from the Tham Nam Lot cave in Laos.

Vietbocap lao Lourenco, 2012

A new subfamily, Vietbocapinae Lourenco, 2012 is suggested to accommodate the species in the genus Vietbocap.

A new species of scorpion belonging to the family Pseudochactidae and the genus Vietbocap is described from the Tham Nam Lot cave, located in the Laotian part of the Khammouan-Ke Bang karst in Southeast Asia. Like the previously described species of the genus, Vietbocap lao sp. n. is a true troglobiont, but presents an even greater degree of adaptation to cave life, with a total lack of pigmentation and a very weak sclerotization of the tegument. This is the third troglobitic element known for the family Pseudochactidae. It represents the fifth known species of pseudochactid, four of which are from the Khammouan-Ke Bang karst system. Taking into account some marked differences between Vietbocap and the other two pseudochactid genera, a new subfamily, Vietbocapinae subfam. n., is proposed to accommodate this genus.

Wilson R L. The genus Vietbocap Lourenço & Pham, 2010 (Scorpiones: Pseudochactidae); proposition of a new subfamily and description of a new species from Laos. Comptes Rendus Biologies. 2012. 335:232-237. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to professor Lourenco for informing me about this paper!

Family Pseudochactidae

Autopsy diagnosis of deaths due to scorpion stinging

Lavlesh Kumar and co-workers are publishing a paper in a forthcoming issue of Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine presenting a case report of an autopsy after a scorpion induced death. The paper also discuss the problems and challenges connected to post-mortem investigation after suspected scorpion induced deaths.

Post-mortem diagnosis of envenomation by a scorpion with or without a reliable history is a herculean task for any forensic pathologist. The challenge is compounded when stinging occurs at night, with the history remaining unreliable. The autopsy diagnosis is further complicated when the inflicted wound is small, and the mark is obliterated by healing within few days. As the venom of a scorpion is a mixture of enzymes, most of the forensic science laboratories in India fail to diagnose the poisoning. We present a case in which there was no external evidence of stinging, but the internal post-mortem findings along with histology of the organ systems pointed towards the diagnosis and were corroborated by the history. We reemphasise the importance of pathological sampling of organ systems, whenever there is death due to a suspicious, unknown insect bite.

Kumar L, Naik SK, Agarwal SS, Bastia BK. Autopsy diagnosis of a death due to scorpion stinging - A case report. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. 2012;In Press. [Subscription required for full text]

19 March, 2012

New scorpion book in Portuguese

Tania Kobler Brazil and Tiago Porto have recently published a small book in Portuguese entitled "Os Escorpioes". This is a popular science book dealing mainly with Brazilian scorpions. Main topics are:

Scorpions in general
How to collect and keep scorpions
Scorpion diversity in Brazil
Medical important scorpions in Brazil
Studies and research on Brazilian scorpions

Brazil TK, Porto TJ. Os Escorpioes. Salvador: EDUFBA; 2011.

A big thanks to Tiago Porto for sending me a copy of his book!

15 March, 2012

Taxonomic emendations in Liocheles - Three new species

Lionel Monod has recently published an article on the genus Liocheles Sundevall, 1833 (Hemiscorpiidae). Two species are revalidated and one species is restored from synonymy.

Liocheles boholiensis (Kraepelin, 1914) - Philippines
Liocheles longimanus (Werner, 1939) - Indonesia (north-western Sumatra)
Liocheles neocaledonicus (Simon, 1877) - New Caledonia

In addition, Liocheles australasiae brevidigitatus Werner, 1936 is synonymized with Liocheles australasiae (Fabricius, 1775).

The new species are redescribed and illustrated.

Examination of an extensive material that includes the type series and recently collected specimens enable a precise reassessment of the status of several taxa belonging to the genus Liocheles Sundevall, 1833 (Scorpiones, Liochelidae). Two species previously in synonymy, i. e. Liocheles boholiensis (Kraepelin, 1914) and Liocheles neocaledonicus (Simon, 1877), are revalidated. Liocheles australasiae longimanus (Werner, 1939) is elevated to species rank and Liocheles australasiae brevidigitatus Werner, 1936 is synonymized with Liocheles australasiae (Fabricius, 1775). L. boholiensis (Kraepelin, 1914), L. neocaledonicus (Simon, 1877) and L. longimanus (Werner, 1939) are thoroughly redescribed, diagnosed and illustrated, and their distribution ranges are accurately mapped.

Monod L. Taxonomic emendations in the genus Liocheles Sundevall, 1833 (Scorpiones, Liochelidae). Revue Suisse de Zoologie. 2011;118(4):723-58.

Family Hemiscorpiidae

A new checklist of Iranian scorpions

Omid Mirshamsi and co-workers published last fall a new checklist of the scorpion fauna of Iran.

An updated checklist of the scorpion fauna of Iran, as well as a brief history of taxonomic research on scorpions of Iran is presented. The checklist is based on records of scorpion species whose presence has been confirmed in Iran through field expeditions, examination of scorpion collections, literature review, and personal communications from researchers. The scorpion fauna consists of 51 species (30 endemic to Iran) belonging to 18 genera and four families.

Mirshamsi O, Sari A, Hosseinie S. History of study and checklist of the scorpion fauna (Arachnida: Scorpiones) of Iran. Progress in Biological Sciences. 2011;1(2):16-28. [Free fulltext]

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me this paper!

09 March, 2012

Orobothriurus - Phylogeny, biogeography and diagnostic characters

The Andean genus Orobothriurus Maury, 1976 was recently revised. The same authors have now published a follow-up paper looking into the phylogeny, Andean biogeography and the importance of some diagnostic characters of Orobothriurus.

The paper confirms the validity of the genera Pachakutej Ochoa, 2004 and Rumikiru Ojanguren-Affilastro, Mattoni, Ochoa & Prendini, 2012.

The genus Orobothriurus Maury, 1976 (Bothriuridae Simon, 1880) displays an Andean pattern of distribution, most of its species occurring at high altitudes (over 2000–2500 m to a maximum altitude record of 4910 m) from central Peru to Argentina. The recent discovery of several new species and the uncertain phylogenetic position of Orobothriurus lourencoi Ojanguren Affilastro, 2003, required a reanalysis of Orobothriurus phylogeny. Thirty bothriurid taxa, including all species of Orobothriurus and Pachakutej Ochoa, 2004, were scored for 65 morphological characters and analysed with parsimony under equal and implied weighting. The resulting topology justifies the establishment of a new genus, Rumikiru Ojanguren Affilastro et al., in press, for O. lourencoi and a closely related, new species, Rumikiru atacama Ojanguren Affilastro et al., in press. It also offers new insights about the phylogeny and biogeography of Orobothriurus and related genera. Characters from the male genitalia (i.e. hemispermatophore), comprising approximately 26% of the morphological matrix, were found to be less homoplastic than those from somatic morphology, contradicting suggestions that genitalia are uninformative or potentially misleading in phylogenetic studies.

Mattoni CI, Ochoa JA, Ojanguren Affilastro AA, Prendini L. Orobothriurus (Scorpiones: Bothriuridae) phylogeny, Andean biogeography, and the relative importance of genitalic and somatic characters. Zoologica Scripta. 2012;41(2):160-76. [Subscription required for full text]

08 March, 2012

Scorpion diversity in an area of western India

Satish Pande and co-workers have published a survey of the scorpion fauna of Saswad-Jejuri in the Pune District (Maharashtra), western India. Six species of five genera (and two families) were registered.

The paper has several habitat pictures (and information) that may be of interest for peoples keeping some Indian species in captivity.

Our paper deals with the diversity of the scorpion fauna of Saswad-Jejuri region in western India, and highlights the conservation implications of quantitative studies. Eight species of scorpions from five genera and three families are recorded in 10 microhabitats. Some of these areas are categorized as ‘wastelands’ and hence are vulnerable for land use modifications. The interdependence of such microhabitats and their neglected inhabitants like scorpions is highlighted in this study. This information provides a baseline biological data for further demographic and ecological studies and stresses the need for impact assessment prior to undertaking developmental projects in ‘wastelands’, since

Pande S, Bastawade D, Padhye A, Pawashe A. Diversity of scorpion fauna of Saswad-Jejuri, Pune District, Maharashtra, western India. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 2012;4(2):2381-9. [Free full text]

Thanks to Jacek Szubert for informing me about this paper!

Chactas camposi redescribed and transfered to Teuthraustes

Jose Ochoa & Ricardo Pinto da Rocha have rediscovered the type for Chactas camposi Mello-Leiato, 1939 (Chactidae) that where believed to be lost. A redescription of the type revealed that this scorpion should be placed in the genus Teuthraustes Simon, 1878. New status is:

Teuthraustes camposi (Mello-Leiato, 1939)

The true taxonomic status of the chactid scorpion Chactas camposi Mello-Leitão, 1939 from Ecuador is established based in the recently discovered holotype female, until now considered lost, at the Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro. In base on the analysis of the external morphology, we transfer this species to the genus Teuthraustes Simon, 1878. A detailed redescription and diagnosis according to modern standards are provided. Teuthraustes camposi comb. n. is closely related with Teuthraustes whymperi (Pocock, 1893) from Ecuadorian provinces Pichincha and Cotopaxi.

Ochoa JA, Pinto da Rocha R. On the taxonomical status of Chactas camposi Mello-Leitao, 1939. Zootaxa. 2012(3210):61-8. [Subscription required for access]

Thanks to Jacek Szubert for informing about this paper.

Family Chactidae

06 March, 2012

The enigmatic scorpion Tityus timendus from Ecuador is a valid species

The enigmatic scorpion Tityus timendus Pocock, 1898 is only known from one specimen (holotype) collected in Ecuador. It was later synonymized with T. asthenes Pocock, 1893, but this decision was made without the holotype being examined. Wilson Lourenco has now reanalysed and redescribed Tityus timendus, concluding that this is a valid species.

The status of the enigmatic buthid scorpion, Tityus timendus Pocock, 1898 is discussed. Described from Cavachi in Ecuador, the species remains known by the male holotype only. A reanalysis of the several characteristics of the holotype demonstrates that the species is valid. Previous suggestions that T. timendus could represented a junior synonym of Tityus asthenes Pocock, 1893 are due to misinterpretations, and the new analysis shows that T. timendus is in fact close related to Tityus pachyurus Pocock, 1897, known from Colombia and Panama. New diagnosis and redescription are also proposed.

Lourenco WR. Tityus (Atreus) timendus Pocock, 1898 (Scorpiones, Buthidae), an enigmatic scorpion from Ecuador. Acta Biologica Paranaense, Curitiba. 2012;41(1-2):1-8.

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me this paper!

Family Buthidae

Buthus diversity, genetics and geographic isolation in North Africa

Jan Habel and co-workers have published a paper discussing how geographical barriers in North Africa may be the origin of the great diversity seen in the genus Buthus Leach, 1815 (Buthidae) in North Africa.

The high mountains in the region have probable acted (and stil act) as strong barriers to gene flow resulting in genetically distinct clusters found within the area. The clusters found are not necessarly congruent with current taxonomy, and the current taxonomy of the North African Buthus is in need of revision. Additional diagnostic characters must be identified and new species kleys must be developed, as the current keys available are incomplete or based on doubtful characters.

The immense biodiversity of the Atlas Mountains in North Africa might be the result of high rates of microallopatry caused by mountain barriers surpassing 4000 meters leading to patchy habitat distributions. We test the influence of geographic structures on the phylogenetic patterns among Buthus scorpions using mtDNA sequences. We sampled 91 individuals of the genus Buthus from 51 locations scattered around the Atlas Mountains (Antiatlas, High Atlas, Middle Atlas and Jebel Sahro). We sequenced 452 bp of the Cytochrome Oxidase I gene which proved to be highly variable within and among Buthus species. Our phylogenetic analysis yielded 12 distinct genetic groups one of which comprised three subgroups mostly in accordance with the orographic structure of the mountain systems. Main clades overlap with each other, while subclades are distributed parapatrically. Geographic structures likely acted as long-term barriers among populations causing restriction of gene flow and allowing for strong genetic differentiation. Thus, genetic structure and geographical distribution of genetic (sub)clusters follow the classical theory of allopatric differentiation where distinct groups evolve without range overlap until reproductive isolation and ecological differentiation has built up. Philopatry and low dispersal ability of Buthus scorpions are the likely causes for the observed strong genetic differentiation at this small geographic scale.

Habel JC, Husemann M, Schmitt T, Zachos FE, Honnen AC, Petersen B, et al. Microallopatry Caused Strong Diversification in Buthus scorpions (Scorpiones: Buthidae) in the Atlas Mountains (NW Africa). PloS one. 2012;7(2):e29403. Epub 2012/03/03. [Free fultext]