18 April, 2018

A new species of Compsobuthus from Somaliland


Frantisek Kovarik recently published an article presenting a new species of Compsobuthus Vachon, 1949 (Buthidae) from Somaliland.

Compsobuthus maidensis Kovarik, 2018

Abstract:
Compsobuthus maidensis sp. n. from Somaliland is described and fully complemented with color photos of specimens, as well as its habitat. Data on the occurrence of the genus Compsobuthus Vachon, 1949 in the Horn of Africa is summarized.

Reference:
Kovarik F. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida, Scorpiones). Part XVI. Compsobuthus maidensis sp. n. (Buthidae) from Somaliland. Euscorpius. 2018(260):1-11. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

13 April, 2018

A revision of some Italian populations of Euscorpius with five new species


Gioele Tropea published an article in 2017 where he studied several populations of Euscorpius sicanus (C. L. Koch, 1872) (Euscorpiidae) in Italy. I just recently learned about this article, but better late than never.

Tropea's analyses show that Euscorpius sicanus is a species complex and he have done the following taxonomical deccisions:

New species:

Euscorpius altadonnai Tropea, 2017 (Northeastern Sicily and southern Calabria, Italy)
Euscorpius salentinus Tropea, 2017 (Southern Puglia (Salento), Italy)

The following species have been raised to species status from synonymy with Euscorpius sicanus:

Euscorpius calabriae Di Caporiacco, 1950 (Calbria and Basilicata (southern part), Italy)
Euscorpius canestrinii (Fanzago, 1872) (Sardinia, Italy)
Euscorpius garganicus Di Caporiacco, 1950 (Puglia, Molise, Campania and Basilicata, Italy and Pelagosa Island, Croatia)

Abstract:
After Fet et al. (2003), Euscorpius sicanus (C. L. Koch, 1837) was considered a highly polymorphic species, widespread in Italy, North Africa, Malta and Greece, having the characters eb = 5 + eba = 45. In this study, a neotype is designated for E. sicanus. The following forms, synonymized with E. sicanus by Fet et al. (2003), are herein revalidated and elevated to species status: E. calabriae Di Caporiacco, 1950 stat. n.; E. canestrinii (Fanzago, 1872) stat. n.; E. garganicus Di Caporiacco, 1950 stat. n. The latter species is herein recorded for the first time in the Italian regions of Molise and Campania, and in Pelagosa Island, Croatia. Two new species and one new subspecies are described, E. salentinus sp. n. from southern Apulia, E. altadonnai sp. n. from northeastern Sicily and southern Calabria, and E. garganicus molisanus subsp. n. from northeastern Apulia, Molise and southeastern Abruzzo. With these taxonomic changes the number of species in Italy has increased to 18.

Reference:
Tropea G. Reconsideration of some populations of Euscorpius sicanus complex in Italy (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2017;3(11):2-60.

Thanks to Gioele Tropea for sending me his interesting article!

Family Euscorpiidae
 

06 April, 2018

Three new species of Gint from Somaliland and a revision of the genus


Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have published a new article in their ongoing research on the scorpion fauna of the Horn of Africa. This time they have done a revision of the genus Gint Kovarik, Lowe, Pliskova & Stahlavsky, 2013 (Buthidae) and theree new species are described from Somaliland.

Gint amoudensis Kovarik, Lowe, Just, Awale, Elmi & Stahlavsky, 2018

Gint gubanensis Kovarik, Lowe, Just, Awale, Elmi & Stahlavsky, 2018

Gint maidensis Kovarik, Lowe, Just, Awale, Elmi & Stahlavsky, 2018

Additional information is provided on the taxonomy and distribution of the other species in the genus. The following three species are declared nomen dubium because of insufficient descriptions and justifications:

Gint insolitus (Borelli, 1925)
Gint marialuisae Rossi, 2015
Gint monicae Rossi, 2015

The three species are still listed in The Scorpion Files, but are labeled nomen dubium until future research clarify their status.

An identification key for the members of the genus is provided.

Abstract:

We describe herein three new species of Buthidae: Gint amoudensis sp. n., G. gubanensis sp. n., and G. maidensis sp. n. from Somaliland. Additional information is provided on the taxonomy and distribution of other species of the genus Gint, fully complemented with color photos of live and preserved specimens, as well as of their habitat. The hemispermatophores of most Gint species are illustrated and described for the first time. In addition to the analyses of external morphology and hemispermatophores, we also describe the karyotype of four Gint species. The number of chromosomes is different for every one of the analysed species (G. dabakalo 2n=23, G. gaitako 2n=30, G. amoudensis sp. n. 2n=35–36, and G. maidensis sp. n. 2n=34).

Reference:
Kovarik F, Lowe G, Just P, Awale AI, Elmi HSA, Stahlavsky F. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part XV. Review of the genus Gint Kovařík et al., 2013, with description of three new species from Somaliland (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2018(259):1-41. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

05 April, 2018

Two new, troglobitc species discovered 3000-5000 meters inside a cave system in Vietnam


The family Pseudochactidae Gromov, 1998 contains several enigmatic genera and species, many of them troglobites living in cave systems in Asia. In a recent article, Wilson Lourenco and co-workers present the discovery of two new, troglobitic species in the genus Vietbocap Lourenço & Pham, 2010 from the Thien Duong cave in Vietnam.

Vietbocap aurantiacus Lourenço, Pham, Tran & Tran, 2018

Vietbocap quinquemilia Lourenço, Pham, Tran & Tran, 2018

The two species were discovered 3000-5000 meters inside the cave system. This is a new record of distance from a cave entrance for scorpions.

Abstract:
Two new species of scorpion belonging to the family Pseudochactidae and to the genus Vietbocap are described based on specimens collected in the Thien Duong cave, which belongs to the Vom cave system, in the Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam. The previously described species from this cave, Vietbocap thienduongensis Lourenco & Pham, 2012 was collected in the initial section of the cave (1500 to 1800 m from the cave entrance) and proved to be a true troglobitic element. The diagnosis of this species, only known from males, is completed based on females collected at 750 m from the cave entrance. The two new species described here were collected respectively at 3000 and 5000 m from the cave entrance and are also true troglobitic elements, very similar to V. thienduongensis, but showing some clear morphological differences. This observed situation suggests a possible case of speciation within the cave system, the first one ever reported for scorpions. The population found at 5000 m from the entrance of the cave is a total new record of distance from a cave entrance for scorpions.

Reference:
Lourenco WR, Pham DS, Tran TH, Tran TH. The genus Vietbocap Lourenco & Pham, 2010 in the Thien Duong cave, Vietnam: A possible case of subterranean speciation in scorpions (Scorpiones: Pseudochactidae). C R Biol. 2018. [Subscription required for full text]

Family Pseudochactidae

13 March, 2018

Environmental factors predicting distribution of Androctonus in Morocco


Predicting the occurrence of potential dangerous scorpions in an area may be an important tool in preventing serious sting cases. Moulay Abdelmonaim El Hidan and co-workers have published a study where they have identified environmental factors related to scorpion species occurrence in Morocco (the medical important genus Ancrotonus was chosen), and based on this they have developed scorpion envenomation risk maps for the same areas.

Abstract:
Aim: The objective of this study was to establish environmental factors related to scorpion species occurrence and their current potential geographic distributions in Morocco, to produce a current envenomation risk map and also to assess the human population at risk of envenomation.
Materials and Methods: In this study, 71 georeferenced points for all scorpion species and nine environmental indicators were used to generate species distribution models in Maxent (maximum entropy modeling of species geographic distributions) version 3.3.3k. The models were evaluated by the area under the curve (AUC), using the omission error and the binomial probability. With the data generated by Maxent, distribution and envenomation risk maps were produced using the “ESRI® ArcGIS 10.2.2 for Desktop” software.
Results: The models had high predictive success (AUC >0.95±0.025). Altitude, slope and five bioclimatic attributes were found to play a significant role in determining Androctonus scorpion species distribution. Ecological niche models (ENMs) showed high concordance with the known distribution of the species. Produced risk map identified broad risk areas for Androctonus scorpion envenomation, extending along Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz, Souss-Massa-Draa, and some areas of Doukkala-Abda and Oriental regions.
Conclusion: Considering these findings ENMs could be useful to afford important information on distributions of medically important scorpion species as well as producing scorpion envenomation risk maps.


Reference:
El Hidan MA, Touloun O, Bouazza A, Laaradia MA, Boumezzough A. Androctonus genus species in arid regions: Ecological niche models, geographical distributions, and envenomation risk. Veterinary World. 2018;11(3):286-92. [Open Access]

Thanks to Carlos Turiel for informing me about this article!

08 March, 2018

A review on the scorpionism by the genus Hemiscorpius in Iran


The majority of the literature on scorpionism and medical important scorpions is focused on species on the family Buthidae. But many of the species in the family Hemiscorpiidae can also cause death or serious morbidity. Interestingly, the symptoms of Hemiscorpius Peters, 1861 envenomations are different from the traditional envenomations by buthids. E. g. a sting by the latter will immediately cause pain, while the sting of a Hemiscorpius is usually painless and the patient risk not knowing that a sting has occurred until more serious symptoms occur.

Rouhullah Dehghani and co-workers have now published an interesting review on the scorpionism by Hemiscorpius scorpions in Iran summing up the knowledge on envenomations from these potential dangerous species.

Abstract:
Scorpions are distributed throughout Iran and the genus Hemiscorpius is particularly important in this region. Hemiscorpius lepturus is the most significant species within the genus in the country. Since scorpionism provoked by Hemiscorpius comprises a medical emergency, the present study is focused on this important issue. In order to perform the present work, a review of the medical and health-related literature was carried out in several databases. The current findings indicate that six species of Hemiscorpius are found in 15 states of Iran, mainly in the south and southwest. Deaths caused by stings were reported only for two species. The morphological characteristics and geographical distribution of H. lepturus in Iran, its venom and the toxic compounds, epidemiologic data and clinical manifestations of envenomation as well as treatment for affected people are herein reviewed and described. H. lepturus venom toxicity differs from other Iranian scorpions regarding duration and severity. Scorpionism is an important public health problem in Iran, especially in southwest and south regions and in urban areas. It is more prevalent in children and young people. H. lepturus venom is primarily a cytotoxic agent and has hemolytic, nephrotoxic and to some extent hepatotoxic activity. The use of polyvalent antivenom to prevent scorpion sting symptoms is recommended. A well-planned health education program might be useful in preventing scorpionism.

Reference:
Dehghani R, Kamiabi F, Mohammadi M. Scorpionism by Hemiscorpius spp. in Iran: a review. J Venom Anim Toxins Incl Trop Dis. 2018;24:8. [Open Access]

Family Hemiscorpiidae


A new species of Leiurus from Algeria


Until 2002, the genus Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Buthidae) was monotypic with Leiurus quinquestriatus (Ehrenberg, 1828) as the only species. In a recent article, Lourenco and co-workers describe the twelfth species in the genus, this time from Algeria.

Leirurus hoggarensis Loreunco, Kourim & Sadine, 2018

Abstract:
A new species of buthid scorpion belonging to the genus Leiurus Ehrenberg 1828 is described on the basis of four males and six females collected in the region of AmesmessaTamanrasset in the south of Algeria. The new species, Leiurus hoggarensis sp. n., most certainly corresponds to the Leiurus population previously cited by Vachon from both the Hoggar and the Tassili N’Ajjer as Leiurus quinquestriatus. Several characteristics, however, attest that this population is unquestionable distinct from these found in Egypt, and both species can be distinguished by a distinct coloration pattern, different morphometric values and different number of teeth on the pectines. The type locality of the new species represents the most westerly record of the genus Leiurus in Africa, and the new species also inhabit a more mesic zone when compared to the central compartment of the Saharan desert. Leiurus hoggarensis sp. n., apparently does not present characteristics of a psamophilic species and may be considered as a lithophilic species. This is the 12th species to be described for this buthid genus.

Reference:
Lourenco WR, Kourim ML, Sadine SE. Scorpions from the region of Tamanrasset, Algeria. Part II. A new African species of the genus Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2018;4(16):3-14.

Thanks to Dr. Salah Eddine Sadine for informing me about their article!

Family Buthidae

23 February, 2018

On the phylogenetic placement of the family Bothriuridae and new insight into the complicated high-level scorpion systematics


The higher level phylogeny and systematics of scorpions is complicated and there are several models for this. Prashant P. Sharmaa and several co-workers have now published an article on the phylogenetic placement of the family Bothriuridae. The article also presents new data on the high- level scorpion systematics and the first phylogenomic dating of the arachnid order Scorpiones.

Abstract:
The scorpion family Bothriuridae occupies a subset of landmasses formerly constituting East and West temperate Gondwana, but its relationship to other scorpion families is in question. Whereas morphological data have strongly supported a sister group relationship of Bothriuridae and the superfamily Scorpionoidea, a recent phylogenomic analysis recovered a basal placement of bothriurids within Iurida, albeit sampling only a single exemplar. Here we reexamined the phylogenetic placement of the family Bothriuridae, sampling six bothriurid exemplars representing both East and West Gondwana, using transcriptomic data. Our results demonstrate that the sister group relationship of Bothriuridae to the clade (“Chactoidea”+Scorpionoidea) is supported by the inclusion of additional bothriurid taxa, and that this placement is insensitive to matrix completeness or partitioning by evolutionary rate. We also estimated divergence times within the order Scorpiones using multiple fossil calibrations, to infer whether the family Bothriuridae is sufficiently old to be characterized as a true Gondwanan lineage. We show that scorpions underwent ancient diversification between the Devonian and early Carboniferous. The age interval of the bothriurids sampled (a derived group that excludes exemplars from South Africa) spans the timing of breakup of temperate Gondwana.

Reference:
Sharma PP, Baker CM, Cosgrove JG, Johnson JE, Oberski JT, Raven RJ, et al. A revised dated phylogeny of scorpions: Phylogenomic support for ancient divergence of the temperate Gondwanan family Bothriuridae. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2018;122:37-45. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this article!

Family Bothriuridae

Two new species in the vaejovid genus Kovarikia from California, USA


The last decades have revealed many new species that have been morphologically "hidden" in species complexes. Fortunately, the development in DNA sequencing and species delimitation modeling has made it easier for taxonomist to find and describe similar-looking, yet evolutionary distinct species.

In a recent article, Robert Bryson Jr. and co-workers have described two new species in the enigmatic genus Kovarikia Soleglad, Fet & Graham, 2014 (Vaejovidae) that are endemic to California, USA.

Kovarikia oxy Bryson, Graham & Soleglad, 2018

Kovarikia savaryi Bryson, Graham & Soleglad, 2018

The article has an identification key for the genus Kovarikia.

Abstract:
Morphologically conserved taxa such as scorpions represent a challenge to delimit. We recently discovered populations of scorpions in the genus Kovarikia Soleglad, Fet & Graham, 2014 on two isolated mountain ranges in southern California. We generated genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism data and used Bayes factors species delimitation to compare alternative species delimitation scenarios which variously placed scorpions from the two localities with geographically adjacent species or into separate lineages. We also estimated a time-calibrated phylogeny of Kovarikia and examined and compared the morphology of preserved specimens from across its distribution. Genetic results strongly support the distinction of two new lineages, which we describe and name here. Morphology among the species of Kovarikia was relatively conserved, despite deep genetic divergences, consistent with recent studies of stenotopic scorpions with limited vagility. Phylogeographic structure discovered in several previously described species also suggests additional cryptic species are probably present in the genus.

Reference:
Bryson Jr RW, Wood DA, Graham MR, Soleglad ME, McCormack JE. Genome-wide SNP data and morphology support the distinction of two new species of Kovarikia Soleglad, Fet & Graham, 2014 endemic to California (Scorpiones, Vaejovidae). ZooKeys. 2018(739):79-106. [Open Access]

Family Vaejovidae

21 February, 2018

First report of a Liocheles/Hormuridae from Sri Lanka


Holidays can be used for many things. As me, Alexander Ullrich looks for scorpions when being on holiday. And this time his holiday activities in Sri Lanka resulted in finding the first scorpion in the family Hormuridae on the island, more precisely the species Liocheles australasiae (Fabricius, 1775). The finding is presented in a recently published article authored by Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers.

Abstract:
Liocheles australasiae (Fabricius, 1775) is reported for the first time from Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan population is fully complemented with color photos of live and preserved females, as well as its habitat.

Reference:
Kovarik F, Ranawana KB, Sanjeewa Jayarathne VA, Karunarathna S, Ullrich A. Scorpions of Sri Lanka (Arachnida, Scorpiones). Part II. Family Hormuridae. Euscorpius. 2018(258):1-5. [Open Access]

Family Hormuridae

20 February, 2018

Scorpionism in the Shiraz Province in Iran and Hotentotta jayakari as a medical important species


Hossein Sanaei-Zadeh and co-workers published an article on the scorpionism in the Shiraz Province in Iran in late 2017. I refer to the abstract and the article for details, but will mention one interesting and inportant conclusion: The article reports about sting cases involving Hottentotta jayakari (Pocock, 1895) (Buthidae) and concludes that this species should be listed as medical important (at least in Iran).

Abstract:
Background: Scorpionism is a public health problem in some provinces in Iran. The present study aimed to assess the clinical manifestations of scorpion envenomation in Shiraz and determine a clinical severity grading for Iranian scorpion envenomation in order to suggest a treatment guideline for emergency physicians.

Methods: In this analytic retrospective study, all medical charts of patients with scorpion sting admitted in the adult medical toxicology center in Shiraz during July 2012 to July 2016 were assessed. Data regarding the patient's age, gender, sting site, month of envenomation, time of sting, clinical manifestations, vital signs, presence of blood or hemoglobin in urine analysis, duration of admission, color of scorpion, received treatments, and administration of scorpion antivenin were recorded.


Results: The scorpions in Shiraz and its suburban area were classified into two groups: yellow scorpions (Mesobuthus eupeus, Mesobuthus caucasicus, and Compsobuthus matthiesseni) and Hottentotta scorpions (Hottentotta jayakari and Hottentotta zagrosensis). A total of 126 cases of scorpion stings were assessed. About 59% (n=74) were males. The patients aged 8-63 years (mean age, 33.8±11.5 years). About 38.4% (n=48) of the stings occurred during summer. More than 40% of patients (n=51) referred to the emergency department (ED) at night. Localized pain was the most frequent presenting complaint (76.2%). The most frequent general symptom was nausea (6.3%). The most prevalent envenomation site was the lower extremities followed by upper extremities (43.5% and 41.9%, respectively). Based on the clinical severity grading for Iranian scorpion envenomation, 65, 43, and 18 patients (51.6%, 34.1%, and 14.3%) were classified in the grades I, II, and III, respectively. Eighty-one (73%) patients stayed in the ED from 1 to 6 hours, and 30 (27%) patients stayed for >6 hours for observation. Severe localized pain was more prevalent in stings with Hottentotta scorpions than yellow scorpions (P=0.01). The season of envenomation with Hottentotta scorpions was summer in all cases, but envenomation with yellow scorpions was seen throughout the year. All patients received symptomatic treatment, and five were given scorpion antivenin. No death was reported.


Conclusion: Hottentotta jayakari is recommended to be listed among the medically important scorpions in Iran. Moreover, scorpion-stung patients in geographical regions where Hemiscorpius lepturus and Androctonus crassicauda are not prevalent may be treated in outpatient departments. The presented grading system can be used for treating patients with scorpion envenomation.


Reference:
Sanaei-Zadeh H, Marashi SM, Dehghani R. Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of scorpionism in Shiraz (2012-2016); development of a clinical severity grading for Iranian scorpion envenomation. Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2017;31:27. [Open Access]

19 February, 2018

Two new speciec of Tityus from Haiti and The Dominican Republic


Rolando Teruel and Gabriel de los Santos have recently published a new article presenting two new species of Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Buthidae) from Hispaniola, Greater Antilles.

Tityus haetianus Teruel & Santos, 2018 (Haiti)

Tityus schrammi Teruel & Santos, 2018 (The Dominican Republic)

Abstract:
Two new species of Buthidae scorpions of the genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 are herein described from the Greater Antillean island of Hispaniola. One of them belongs to the "crassimanus" species-group and is known from an adult pair collected at Massif de la Hotte, in southwestern Haiti. The other belongs to the "quisqueyanus" species-group and is known from a single adult female from a high peak in the Central Range (= Cordillera Central), in northwestern Dominican Republic. Moreover, two fossil taxa from this island are retained as junior synonyms of Tityus geratus Santiago-Blay, 1988†.

Reference:
Teruel R, de los Santos G. Two New Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) From Hispaniola, Greater Antilles. Euscorpius. 2018;257:1-16. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

14 February, 2018

A new species of Hottentotta from Somalia



Frantisek Kovarik has recently published a new species of Hottentotta Birula, 1908 (Buthidae) from Somalia.

Hottentotta somalicus Kovarik, 2018

Abstract:
Hottentotta somalicus sp. n. from Somalia is described and fully complemented with color photos. Morphologically it is similar to H. polystictus (Pocock, 1896). These two species have very narrow metasomal segments (1.63–1.73 in both sexes versus 1.31–1.61 in both sexes of other Hottentotta species from the Horn of Africa). H. polystictus and H. somalicus sp. n. occur in separate areas (Somaliland versus Somalia) and can be differentiated by color.

Reference:
Kovarik F. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida, Scorpiones). Part XIV. Hottentotta somalicus sp. n. (Buthidae) from Somalia. Euscorpius. 2018(256):1-8. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

08 February, 2018

The Scorpion Files Newsblog 10 Year Anniversary


Dear All!

Today it is 10 year since I started The Scorpion Files Newsblog.

The Scorpion Files started a couple of year before this, but I soon realized that I needed a way of telling you when new stuff was added to the species lists and when new interesting research on scorpions were published. In the old day we had a couple of mailing lists for scorpion researchers and enthusiasts, but when web 2.0 with its social media platforms emerged, it was clear that a news blog could be a good thing.

And I think that the Scorpion Files has been quite a success. Since the beginning the blog has received 500 467 page views, a number I feel is good for such a small topic as scorpions. Hopefully, this indicates that the news blog and The Scorpion Files are useful information resources both for scorpion scientists and enthusiasts. I'm happy to see that in the last years The Scorpion Files have been cited in an increasing number of scientific papers as a source for the taxonomic status for a species, genus or a family.

I couldn't have done this all by myself. I big thanks to all the researchers and enthusiasts who send me articles or inform me about new research! The Scorpion Files would be possible without your help!

Best wishes

Jan Ove Rein
Editor of The Scorpion Files & The Scorpion Files Newsblog


A revision of the Mesobuthus caucasicus complex with 10 new or restored species from Central Asia


Victor Fet and several co-workers have recently published a major review of the widespread Central Asian species complex Mesobuthus caucasicus (Nordmann, 1840) (Buthidae). Here are the main taxonomical conclusions:

Mesobuthus caucasicus (Nordmann, 1840), s.str. is now restricted to the Caucasus Moutnains. Its is distributed in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia (northern Caucasus), Turkey, Ukraine (unclear if this population is native or introduced).

New species:

Mesobuthus brutus Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein, Kaiser, Stewart & Graham, 2018 (Iran),
Mesobuthus elenae Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein, Kaiser, Stewart & Graham, 2018 (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan)
Mesobuthus gorelovi Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein, Kaiser, Stewart & Graham, 2018 (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan)
Mesobuthus kreuzbergi Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein, Kaiser, Stewart & Graham, 2018 (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan)
Mesobuthus mischi Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein, Kaiser, Stewart & Graham, 2018 (Afghanistan)
Mesobuthus nenilini Fet, Kovarik, Gantenbein, Kaiser, Stewart & Graham, 2018 (Uzbekistan).

Species status after restoration from synonymy:

Mesobuthus fuscus (Birula, 1897) (Tajikistan)
Mesobuthus intermedius (Birula, 1897) (Tajikistan)
Mesobuthus kaznakovi (Birula, 1904) (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan)
Mesobuthus parthorum (Pocock, 1889) (Afghanistan, Iran, Turkmenistan).

Synonymizations:

Afghanobuthus Lourenço, 2005 is synonymized with Mesobuthus Vachon, 1950
Afghanobuthus naumanni Lourenço, 2005 is synonymized with Mesobuthus parthorum (Pocock, 1889)

The article has an identification key to the Mesobuthus complexes and species (excluding taxa from China, Mongolia and Korea).

Abstract:
A widespread Mesobuthus caucasicus complex, which includes some of the most common scorpions found from the Caucasus to China, is revised for the first time based on new extensive collections from Central Asia, using both morphological and DNA marker data. Mesobuthus caucasicus (Nordmann, 1840), s.str. is restricted to the Caucasus Mts. Four taxa are elevated to species rank: M. fuscus (Birula, 1897) (Tajikistan), M. intermedius (Birula, 1897) (Tajikistan), M. kaznakovi (Birula, 1904) (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan), and M. parthorum (Pocock, 1889) (Afghanistan, Iran, Turkmenistan). Six new species are described: M. brutus sp. n. (Iran), M. elenae sp. n. (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan), M.gorelovi sp. n. (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), M. kreuzbergi sp. n. (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan), M. mischi sp. n. (Afghanistan), and M. nenilini sp. n. (Uzbekistan). The most common species in Central Asia is a psammophilic Mesobuthus gorelovi sp. n., widespread through lowland sand deserts across Turkmenistan (Karakum),Uzbekistan (Kizylkum), and Kazakhstan (north to Baigakum and Moyinkum). A key to all studied species isprovided. A DNA phylogeny based on COI and 16S rRNA markers is presented including nine Central Asian species (M. elenae sp. n., M. fuscus, M. gorelovi sp. n., M. intermedius, M. kaznakovi, M. kreuzbergi sp. n., M.mischi sp. n., M. nenilini sp. n., and M. parthorum) and M. caucasicus from Turkey. A deep phylogenetic diversity across Central Asia is revealed. Historical biogeographic scenarios for this scorpion group are discussed, including fragmentation in mountain valleys and expansion across sand deserts in Central Asia. The monotypic scorpion genus Afghanobuthus Lourenço, 2005 and its single species A. naumanni Lourenço, 2005, from Afghanistan, are demonstrated to be junior synonyms, respectively, of Mesobuthus Vachon, 1950, and M. parthorum (Pocock, 1889) from the same area.

Reference:
Fet V, Kovarik F, Gantenbein B, Kaiser RC, Stewart AK, Graham MR. Revision of the Mesobuthus caucasicus Complex from Central Asia, with Descriptions of Six New Species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius. 2018(255):1-77. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

25 January, 2018

The effect of habitat loss and habitat restoration on scorpions in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest


Andre Lira and co-workers have recently published a study on the effects of habitat loss in scorpions in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. The study also looks at the status on the populations after the original habitat is being restored and what other factors may affect the populations.

Abstract:
Habitat loss due to forest degradation can induce changes in species richness due to variation in species susceptibility to environmental stress. This is particularly important for species with highly specific microhabitats, such as scorpions that inhabit forest habitats. In this study, the richness and abundance of these arachnids were compared between an old-growth (mature) and secondary (65 years under natural restoration) forests. Seasonal influence was also evaluated by comparing diversity between dry and wet seasons. The animals were collected through nocturnal active search using UV lamps and pitfall traps in both areas (old-growth and secondary). Both environments showed similar breast heights of trees, litter depth, litter dry mass, and understory density, indicating a high level of restoration. Scorpion diversity (characterized by Tityus pusillus, T. neglectus, T. brazilae, Bothriurus asper, and Ananteris mauryi) and abundance were not influenced by the different historical usage of both areas. In contrast, the abundance of these arachnids was highly affected by rain regimes, and increased during the dry season. These results suggest that 65 years was a sufficient time period for restoration, making it possible to maintain similar scorpion assemblages in both environments.

Reference:
de Araujo Lira AF, Damasceno EM, Silva-Filho AAC, Albuquerque CMRd. Linking scorpion (Arachnida: Scorpiones) assemblage with fragment restoration in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment. 2017:1-6. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andre Lira for sending me their paper!

23 January, 2018

On the distribution of the genus Opisthacanthus and a new species


Wilson Lourenco has recently published an updated review of the geographic distribution and the biogeography of the genus Opisthacanthus Peters, 1861 (Hormuridae). This interesting genus is found both in parts of Africa, Madagascar and in South America.

A new species from Madagascar is also described.

Opisthacanthus titanus Lourenco, 2018

In this article I discovered an valid Opisthacanthus species that was not listed in The Scorpion Files.

Opisthacanthus heurtaultae Lourenco, 1980

This species was previously synonymized, but restored in 1995 by Lourenco. This was not mentioned in the sources that I used to build The Scorpion Files. The species is now listed as valid.

Abstract:
New comments are proposed on the geographic distribution of genus Opisthacanthus, and the Gondwanian model is further supported. The diversity of the genus is extraordinary in Madagascar, with the same number of species as in continental Africa, but sub-Saharan Africa is home to six out of the nine groups currently recognized of Opisthacanthus. Given the affinities of the Opisthacanthus groups and their current distribution, a center of origin in Africa could be favored for these ancient scorpions. The proposed Gondwana model suggests that the Madagascar Opisthacanthus are closer to those of the New World, which is consistent with the affinities observed in morphological characters. A new species, Opisthacanthus titanus sp. n., is described from the Torotorofotsy Forest, located in Eastern Madagascar. The new species shows affinities with both Opisthacanthus madagascariensis Kraepelin, 1894 known from dry regions in the western portion of the island and Opisthacanthus lavasoa Lourenc¸o, Wilme´ & Waeber, 2016 only known from the extreme southeast of the island. The new species and O. madagascariensis have similar external morphologies but the morphometric values are markedly distinct. Moreover, O. madagascariensis is exclusively found in spiny forest thickets and open woodlands, whereas the new species was found in the humid forest of Torotorofotsy. The total number of species in Madagascar is now raised to twelve. Biogeographical scenarios are also proposed to infer the origin of the Opisthacanthus and better understand its distribution in the New World, in Africa and Madagascar.

Reference:
Lourenco WR, Wilme L, Waeber PO. The genus Opisthacanthus Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones: Hormuridae), a remarkable Gondwanian group of scorpions. C R Biol. 2018, In Press. [Subscription required for full text]

Lourenco WR. Nouvelles considérations sur la classification et la biogéographie des Opisthacanthus néotropicaux (Scorpiones, Ischnuridae). Biogeographica. 1995;71(2):75-82.

Family Hormuridae

17 January, 2018

A new species of Tityus from Ecuador


A new species of Tityus C. L. Koch, 1876 (Buthidae) has recently been described from Ecuador by Wilson Lourenco and Eric Ythier.

Tityus cisandinus Lourenço & Ythier, 2017

I have only read the abstract of this article as authors publishing in Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana are not allowed to send pdfs/copies of their article to other scientists (contrary to the practice of most other scientific journals) and my library's interlending department are not able to get copies either.

Abstract:
The status of the enigmatic buthid scorpion Tityus asthenes Pocock, 1893 is once more discussed. Described from Poruru in Peru, the species remains known by the female holotype only. A reanalysis of the several characteristics of the holotype demonstrates that the species is valid, but not a member of the subgenus Atreus (group Tityus americanus as suggested by Pocock) but rather belongs to the subgenus Tityus and to the group of Tityus bolivianus, consequently distinct from all other populations of Tityus (Atreus) distributed from Ecuador to Costa Rica. Previous suggestions that T. asthenes could represent a senior synonym of several other Tityus (Atreus) species were due to inadequate interpretations of their biogeographic pattern of distribution. Although the validity of Tityus asthenes is unquestionable, its precise range of distribution remains enigmatic since its type locality Poruru is not known from Peru and no further details are available about the collection of this species. A new species of Tityus (Atreus) is described from the cis-Andean rainforests of Ecuador and some taxonomic considerations are proposed for some related species within the subgenus Atreus.


Reference:
Lourenco WR, Ythier E. Another new species from the rainforests of Ecuador (Tityus cisandinus Lourenço & Ythier, 2017). Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2017;3(15):18-34.

Thanks to Eric Ythier for informing me about their article and for allowing me to use a picture from the article.

Family Buthidae 

16 January, 2018

A comparative cytogenetic study of a three Hadogenes species results in a new species from South Africa



Frantisek Stahlavsky and co-workers have recently published the first comparative cytogenetic study in Hadogenes species (Hormuridae) using both standard and molecular cytogenetic approaches. A new species from South Africa is also described.

Hadogenes weygoldti Stahlavsky, Stundlova, Lowe, Stockmann & Kovarik, 2018

Abstract:
In the present study, we performed the first comparative cytogenetic study in Hadogenes species using both standard and molecular cytogenetic approaches. Information about the diploid set, number and distribution of 18S rDNA and telomeric sequences was obtained from three South African species, Hadogenes trichiurus (Gervais, 1843), H. zuluanus Lawrence, 1937 and H. weygoldti sp. n. All species analysed differ considerably in the number of chromosomes (H. trichiurus 2n=48, H. zuluanus 2n=80, H. weygoldti sp. n. 2n=113). In contrast, the number of 18S rDNA clusters and distribution of telomeric sequences represent rather stable cytogenetic characters in Hadogenes. Within all karyotypes, we identified one pair of 18S rDNA clusters. The telomeric signals were exclusively on the terminal chromosomal regions. Interestingly, the chromosomal location of 18S rDNA clusters varied from terminal to interstitial in species karyotypes, indicating the presence of hidden structural chromosomal changes. Additionally, the present comparative study is complemented by the description of a new species, H. weygoldti sp. n., based on specific karyotype features and morphological characters. Finally, our cytogenetic results are compared with known chromosomal data of other Hadogenes species, and the use of cytogenetic approaches in the taxonomy of scorpions is discussed.

Reference:
Šťáhlavský F, Štundlová J, Lowe G, Stockmann M, Kovařík F. Application of cytogenetic markers in the taxonomy of flat rock scorpions (Scorpiones: Hormuridae), with the description of Hadogenes weygoldti sp. n. Zoologischer Anzeiger. 2018;Accepted Manuscript. [Subscritpion required for full text]

Family Hormuridae

11 January, 2018

The evolution of dangerous scorpions and their distribution


Wilson Lourenco has recently published an interesting article where he discuss the evolution of scorpion venom and why some species are more dangerous to humans than others. The article also discuss the global distribution of dangerous species. The article mainly focus on the family Buthidae, where we find most dangerous scorpions.

The article is written in a popular science language making it interesting for both experts and laypersons.

Abstract:
This contribution attempts to bring some general information on the evolution and, in particular, on the geographic distribution of scorpion species noxious to humans. Since 95% of the scorpions incidents are generated by specimens of the family Buthidae C. L. Koch, the analysis will be limited to this familial group. As in previous similar contributions, the content of this work is mostly addressed to non-specialists whose research embraces scorpions in several fields such as venom toxins and public health. Only in recent years, efforts have been made to create better links between ‘academic scorpion experts’ and other academic non-specialists who use scorpions in their research. Even if a larger progress can yet be expected from such exchanges, crossed information proved to be useful in most fields of scorpion studies. Since the taxonomy of scorpions is complex, misidentifications and even more serious errors concerning scorpion classification/ identification are often present in the general literature. Consequently, a precise knowledge of the distribution patterns presented by many scorpion groups and, in particular, those of infamous species, proves to be a key point in the interpretation of final results, leading to a better treatment of the problems caused by infamous scorpion species.

Reference:
Lourenco WR. The evolution and distribution of noxious species of scorpions (Arachnida: Scorpiones). J Venom Anim Toxins Incl Trop Dis. 2018;24:1. [Open Access]

03 January, 2018

A review of the scorpion fauna of Egypt


Ahmed Badry and co-workers have recently published a review of the scorpion fauna of Egypt. A total of 35 species belonging to four families are reported, of which 6 are endemic to Egypt. The article has an identification guide for the Egyptian taxa. 

The article also has interesting information about the different species' habitat preferences. 

There is a supplement to the article on the article homepage with location information and color pictures of most of the species reported from Egypt.

Abstract:
The taxonomy and diversity of the scorpion fauna of Egypt was examined based on a large collection from most parts of the
country and in view of recent revisionary systematics. We assessed the validity of listed records in light of new taxonomic findings and geographic distribution data and present a new list and an identification key to the scorpion fauna of Egypt consisting of 31 species, 18 of which were collected during this survey. Four species were not accepted for the list because no voucher material was available.

Reference:
Badry A, Younes M, Sarhan MMH, Saleh M. On the scorpion fauna of Egypt, with an identification key (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Zoology in the Middle East. 2017:1-13. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Dr. Ahmed Badry for sending me their article!

02 January, 2018

A new Euscorpius from Northwestern Turkey


Ersen Yagmur and Gioele Tropea have recently published a new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Euscorpiidae) from the Balıkesir and Çanakkale provinces in northwestern Turkey.

Euscorpius idaeus Yagmur & Tropea, 2017

Abstract:
Euscorpius idaeus sp. n. is described from Balıkesir and Çanakkale provinces, from northwestern Turkey, based on morphological evidences. This description raises to 18 the Euscorpius species currently recognized in Turkey.

Reference:
Yagmur EA, Tropea G. A new species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 from Mountain Kazdağı in northwestern Turkey (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae). Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2017;3(15):2-17.

Thanks to Ersen Yagmur for sending me their article!

Family Euscorpiidae