18 October, 2016

A new species of Centruroides from Guatemala

Rony Trujillo and Luis de Armas have recently published a new species of Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Buthidae) from Guatemala.

Centruroides ixil Trujillo & Armas, 2016

A new species of the genus Centruroides Marx, 1890 is described from Sotzil Village (15.61775°N, -91.09745°W, 1173 m a.s.l.), Chajul Municipality, Quiché Department, Guatemala, on basis of one female and one male. It closely resembles Centruroides caral Armas et Trujillo, 2013 from northeastern Guatemala (240 Km southeast of Chajul), but male differs by having a most globose pedipalp manus, as well as metasoma clearly more attenuate (len-gth/width ratio: segments II–IV = 2.4, 2.7 and 1.4, respectively; 1.7, 2.2 and 2.5 in the holotype of C. caral, the only known specimen of this taxon). Data on its habitat and some biogeographical comments are also given.

Trujillo RE, de Armas LF. A New Species of Centruroides (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Quiché, Northwestern Guatemala. Euscorpius. 2016(233):1-8. [Open Access]

Thanks to Rony Trujillo for sending me their article!

Family Buthidae

14 October, 2016

Scorpions of the Horn of Africa part IX with two new species

Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers recently published part IX of their series of papers on the scorpion fauna of the Horn of Africa. In this paper a new species from Somaliland and a new species from Ethiopia are presented (both in the family Buthidae). In addition, the enigmatic scorpion Somalicharmus whitmanae Kovarik, 1998 (Buthidae) is redescribed based on new materials, and its taxonomy is discussed.

Lanzatus somalilandus Kovarik, Lowe & Stahlavsky, 2016 (Somaliland)

Orthochirus afar Kovarik, Lowe & Stahlavsky, 2016 (Ethiopia)

The paper has pictures of live specimens and habitats.

The rare Horn of Africa buthid genera Lanzatus Kovařík, 2001, Orthochirus Karsch, 1891, and Somalicharmus Kovařík, 1998 were newly collected. Lanzatus is reported for the first time from Somaliland, and Orthochirus for the first time from Ethiopia. We describe two new species, Lanzatus somalilandus sp. n. from Somaliland, and Orthochirus afar sp. n. from Ethiopia, both discovered during scorpiological expeditions in 2011–2016. Information is provided for all Horn of Africa species belonging to these three genera: their taxonomy, distribution, and ecology, fully complemented with color photos of live and preserved specimens, as well as their habitat. The morphology of the enigmatic scorpion Somalicharmus whitmanae Kovařík, 1998 is illustrated in detail. The first author recently collected 52 specimens including the first known females, which reveal natural colors, and show sexual dimorphism in the shape of the pedipalp chela and metasoma which are broader in males, and in the shape of the basal middle lamella of the pectines, which in females is extremely dilated and rounded. We describe the hemispermatophore, which is furnished with an atypically elongated basal lobe, and the chelicera, which differs from that of all other known extant buthids. Other characters indicate possible affinity with the south African buthid Karasbergia methueni Hewitt, 1913. We also describe karyotypes of S. whitmanae. We identified 2n=20 in seven males from two localities and 2n=21 in one male. In both analyzed localities we found males with reciprocal translocations that form conspicuous multivalents. The male with 2n=21 includes fission of one chromosome that increases the diploid number and implicates an odd number of chromosomes.

Kovarik F, Lowe G, Stahlavsky F. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part IX. Lanzatus, Orthochirus, and Somalicharmus (Buthidae), with Description of Lanzatus somalilandus sp. n. and Orthochirus afar sp. n. Euscorpius. 2016(232):1-38. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

13 October, 2016

A revision of the genus Pandinoides and a critique of the recent taxonomy of Pandinus Sensu Lato

The large scorpions in the genus Pandinus (Thorell, 1876), sensu lato (Scorpionidae) have been subjected to several taxonomical changes in the recent years. The genus has been split into new generea, and several new species have been described.

Lorenzo Prendini has now published a major paper criticizing many of the decisions for this group of scorpions in the recent years. Prendini concludes by reversing several taxonomic decisions made other authors on Pandinus, sensu lato. The papers also has a revision of the genus Pandinoides Fet, 1997 and a new species is described from Kenya and Tanzania. The two other species in the genus are redescribed.

The large, black scorpions of Africa are very popular in the pet trade and because of this may be threatened in some areas. Having a correct taxonomy and knowledge of these scorpions is important to ensure that they are protected from extinction because of over-harvesting.

These are the main taxonomical conclusion in the paper:

Pandinurus roeseli (Simon, 1872) is synonymized with Pandinus imperator (C. L. Koch, 1841).

Pandinoides duffmackayi Prendini, 2016 (new species from Kenya and Tanzania).

Pandinoides militaris (Pocock, 1900) (raised to species status after previous synonymization with Pandinoides cavimanus (Pocock, 1888).

The genus Pandinoides Fet, 1997 is restricted to three species: P. cavimanus (Pocock, 1888),  P. duffmackayi Prendini, 2016 and P. militaris Pocock, 1900.

The following species are synonymized:

Pandinus camerounensis Lourenco, 2014 is synonymized with Pandinus imperator (C. L. Koch, 1841).

Pandinurus prendinii Rossi, 2015 is synonymized with Pandinurus sudanicus (Hirst, 1911).

Pandinurus janae Rossi, 2015 is synonymized with Pandinurus percivali (Pocock, 1902).

Pandinurus bartolozii Rossi, 2015 is synonymized with Pandinurus viatoris (Pocock, 1890).

Pandinurus flagellicauda Rossi, 2015 is synonymized with Pandinurus viatoris (Pocock, 1890). 

Pandinurus lorenzoi Rossi, 2015 is synonymized with Pandinurus viatoris (Pocock, 1890). 

Pandinurus pantinii Rossi, 2015 is synonymized with Pandinurus viatoris (Pocock, 1890). 

Pandinurus pygmaeus Rossi, 2015 is synonymized with Pandinurus viatoris (Pocock, 1890). 
The scorpion fauna of East Africa, encompassing Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda, is more diverse than those of West and Central Africa, but a systematic survey has never been conducted and the distributions of its species remain poorly understood. A recent opportunity to examine two extensive collections of East African, and predominantly Kenyan, scorpions and new material acquired by the author permitted a reassessment of the fauna of the region. The present contribution, the first of several emanating from this research, comprises two parts. The first part presents a redefinition and revision of the scorpionid genus Pandinoides Fet, 1997, with a redescription of the type species, Pandinoides cavimanus (Pocock, 1888), a revalidation and redescription of Pandinoides militaris (Pocock, 1900), and a description of Pandinoides duffmackayi, sp. nov. Pending reassessment of the genera and subgenera of Pandinus, sensu lato, based on quantitative phylogenetic analysis, Pandinoides is restricted to the three species with a marked concave depression in the retrodorsal surface of the pedipalp chela manus of the adult male, and Pandinus platycheles Werner, 1916, transferred to Pandinus subgenus Pandinoriens Rossi, 2015, creating a new combination: Pandinus (Pandinoriens) platycheles (Werner, 1916), comb. nov. The availability of large series comprising both sexes and all stages of the three Pandinoides species covered herein revealed considerable variation in counts of pedipalp trichobothria, spiniform macrosetae of the leg telotarsi, and pectinal teeth, among and even within individual conspecifics, calling into question the widespread practice of defining species and supraspecific taxa almost exclusively on trivial meristic differences between small samples of material (often singletons, female or immature). Furthermore, whereas neobothriotaxic patterns with low counts may provide appropriate diagnostic characters for genera and species, in combination with other characters, this is generally inadvisable when trichobothrial counts are high, due to the greater instability of the patterns.

The second part of this contribution assesses the validity of several putative species of Pandinus, sensu lato, recently described or revalidated, in light of data presented in the first part, and presents 10 new synonyms: Heterometrus roeseli Simon, 1872 = Pandinus (P.) imperator (C.L. Koch, 1841), syn. nov.; Pandinus (P.) camerounensis Lourenço, 2014 = Pandinus (P.) imperator (C.L. Koch, 1841), syn. nov.; Pandinurus (P.) prendinii Rossi, 2015 = Pandinurus (P.) sudanicus (Hirst, 1911), syn. nov.; Pandinurus (Pandicaporiaccous) Rossi, 2015 = Pandinurus (Pandiborellius) Rossi, 2015, syn. nov.; Pandinurus (Pandicaporiaccous) janae Rossi, 2015 = Pandinurus (Pandiborellius) percivali (Pocock, 1902), syn. nov.; Pandinurus (Pandipalpus) bartolozii Rossi, 2015 = Pandinurus (Pandipalpus) viatoris (Pocock, 1890), syn. nov.; Pandinurus (Pandipalpus) flagellicauda Rossi, 2015 = Pandinurus (Pandipalpus) viatoris (Pocock, 1890), syn. nov.; Pandinurus (Pandipalpus) lorenzoi Rossi, 2015 = Pandinurus (Pandipalpus) viatoris (Pocock, 1890), syn. nov.; Pandinurus (Pandipalpus) pantinii Rossi, 2015 = Pandinurus (Pandipalpus) viatoris (Pocock, 1890), syn. nov.; Pandinurus (Pandipalpus) pygmaeus Rossi, 2015 = Pandinurus (Pandipalpus) viatoris (Pocock, 1890), syn. nov.

Prendini L. Redefinition and systematic revision of the East African scorpion genus Pandinoides (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae) with critique of the taxonomy of Pandinus, sensu lato. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 2016(407):1-67. [Open Access]

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me this article!

Family Scorpionidae 

10 October, 2016

A new species of Bothriurus from Brazil

Wilson Lourenco recently published a new species of Bothriurus Peters, 1861 (Bothriuridae) from the State of Para, Brazil.

Bothriurus xingu Lourenco, 2016

A new species, Bothriurus xingu sp. n., is described from Brazil. It is characterised by an unusual trichobothrial pattern of six ventral trichobothria on the pedipalp chela. Some information is given on the habitat of the new taxon and about the area from which it originates in the state of Pará in Brazil.

Lourenco WR. A new species of Bothriurus Peters 1861 (Scorpiones: Bothriuridae) from the middle/lower ‘Rio Xingu’ in the State of Pará, Brazil. Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2016;2(8):32-8.

Thanks to Stenio Foerster for sending me this article!

Family Bothriuridae

07 October, 2016

Dear Authors: Please send me your articles!

The editior reading Lorenzo Prendini's latest paper on Pandinoides and Pandinus senso lata for a blog post in the near future.

Dear authors and scorpion scientists!

I'm working hard to keep the taxonomic lists on The Scorpion Files updated. This is possible thanks to a lot of scorpion friends and authors who either send me their papers or inform me about recently published works. In addition, I have several alerts from major databases that keep me updated.

But I still need help from you as I'm not able to track everything, and more important, I do not have access to the full text of all journals (even though I can get a lot as I work in an academic library). In the last year, several taxonomic articles have been published in journals that are impossible for me to get articles from. I these cases, I need help from the authors to send me the pdf files so that the taxonimical changes published can be included in The Scorpion Files and the article blogged here.

I have a policy to read all articles before I blog about them, and I also need them to get all the taxonomical conclusions. Not getting articles from small "hard to get" journals will cause The Scorpion Files to be not updated. And this is not good for the authors or the scorpion community. Authors want their papers read and the results known, and a good way to obtain this is to me mentioned in The Scorpion Files News Blog.

Articles or information about new articles, books and other scorpion publications can be sent to jan.rein@ub.ntnu.no.

Thank you!

Have a nice weekend!

Jan Ove Rein

23 September, 2016

Why do some scorpions climb onto scrubs in Spain?

Foraging behavior in scorpions (as in all animals) is balance between food availability and predation risk. And in scorpions, cannibalism is a well known risk, especially when individuals of different sizes live in the same population. Distribution and behavior of foraging scorpions will therefore be shaped by resource availability and predation risk.

Francisco Sánchez-Piñero and Fernando Urbano-Tenorio have recently published a study on foraging behavior and shrub climbing in the buthid Buthus occitanus (Amoreux, 1789) in Spain. The study did not support a hypotheses explaining shrub climbing based on resource availability, but did support to the hypothesis that shrub climbing in the scorpion Buthus occitanus is related to predator (cannibal) avoidance.

The distribution and behavior of foraging animals usually imply a balance between resource availability and predation risk. In some predators such as scorpions, cannibalism constitutes an important mortality factor determining their ecology and behavior. Climbing on vegetation by scorpions has been related both to prey availability and to predation (cannibalism) risk. We tested different hypotheses proposed to explain climbing on vegetation by scorpions. We analyzed shrub climbing in Buthus cf. occitanus with regard to the following: a) better suitability of prey size for scorpions foraging on shrubs than on the ground, b) selection of shrub species with higher prey load, c) seasonal variations in prey availability on shrubs, and d) whether or not cannibalism risk on the ground increases the frequency of shrub climbing. Prey availability on shrubs was compared by estimating prey abundance in sticky traps placed in shrubs. A prey sample from shrubs was measured to compare prey size. Scorpions were sampled in six plots (50 m x 10 m) to estimate the proportion of individuals climbing on shrubs. Size difference and distance between individuals and their closest scorpion neighbor were measured to assess cannibalism risk. The results showed that mean prey size was two-fold larger on the ground. Selection of particular shrub species was not related to prey availability. Seasonal variations in the number of scorpions on shrubs were related to the number of active scorpions, but not with fluctuations in prey availability. Size differences between a scorpion and its nearest neighbor were positively related with a higher probability for a scorpion to climb onto a shrub when at a disadvantage, but distance was not significantly related. These results do not support hypotheses explaining shrub climbing based on resource availability. By contrast, our results provide evidence that shrub climbing is related to cannibalism risk.

Sanchez-Pinero F, Urbano-Tenorio F. Watch Out for Your Neighbor: Climbing onto Shrubs Is Related to Risk of Cannibalism in the Scorpion Buthus cf. occitanus. PLoS One. 2016;11(9):e0161747. [Open Access]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this paper!

14 September, 2016

Two new articles on scorpions found in Burmese amber

Even though rare, scorpions (and other arthropods) found in amber is an important tools for learning about scorpion development and evolution. Wilson Lourenco has now published two new papers with several new taxa based on scorpions found in Cretaceous amber of Myanmar.

Please note that the The Scorpion Files only lists extant taxa.

Abstract 1:
A study of three new scorpion specimens from the Cretaceous amber of Myanmar (Burma) leads to descriptions of one new genus, Burmesescorpiops gen.n., with the sole, and type, species, B. groehni sp.n., as well as of further two new species, Chaerilobuthus gigantosternum sp.n. and C. serratus sp.n., and to a confirmed validity of the subfamily Archaeoscorpiopinae Lourenço, 2015. At present, 18 scorpions and 21 fossil scorpions have been described from Burmese amber. This attests to a considerable degree of scorpion diversity in the Cretaceous Burmese amber- producing forests.

Abstract 2:
A preliminary study on fossil scorpions found in amber, from the Lower Cretaceous through the Palaeocene and up to the Miocene is proposed. Scorpions remain rare among the arthropods found trapped in amber. Only 24 specimens are known from Cretaceous amber, representing eight families and subfamilies, ten genera and 21 species; in parallel, 10 specimens have been recorded from Baltic amber representing seven genera and ten species. A few more recent fossils from Dominican and Mexican amber have also been described. The present study of a new scorpion specimen from the Cretaceous amber of Myanmar (Burmite) resulted in the description of one new species, Betaburmesebuthus bellus sp. n. – belonging to the subfamily Palaeoburmesebuthinae Lourenço, 2015. The new description brings further elements to the clarification of the status of this subfamily, which is now raised to family level. Once again, this new Burmite element attests to the considerable degree of diversity in the Burmese amber-producing forests.

Reference 1:
Lourenco W. A new genus and three new species of scorpions from Cretaceous Burmese amber (Scorpiones: Chaerilobuthidae: Palaeoeuscorpiidae). Arthropoda Selecta. 2016;25(1):67-74. [Open Access]

Reference 2:
Lourenco WR. A preliminary synopsis on amber scorpions with special reference to Burmite species: an extraordinary development of our knowledge in only 20 years. Zookeys. 2016(600):75-87. [Open Access]

Thanks to professor Victor Fet for sending me article 1!