28 March, 2017

An update on the scorpion fauna of Kerala, India

Information about the scorpion fauna is important and we still have a lot of undiscovered taxa or populations in many areas of the world. Aswathi & Sureshan recently published the results of a survey of the scorpion fauna of Kerala, India, also including a checklist and an identification key for the taxa in this region.

Two species of scorpions (Arachnida: Scorpiones) Lychas laevifrons (Pocock), and Heterometrus flavimanus (Pocock) are reported for the first time from Kerala, and an illustrated key to the genera and checklist of scorpion species of Kerala are provided. Currently, 22 species belonging to nine genera of scorpions are known from the state.

Aswathi K, Sureshan PM. Additions to the scorpion fauna (Arachnida: Scorpiones) of Kerala, India, with an illustrated key to the genera. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 2017;9(2):9844–50. [Open Access]

Thanks to Dr. Aswathi for sending me their article!

24 March, 2017

A new species of troglomorphic, forest leaf litter-dwelling scorpion from Columbia

For some reason I'm a fan of small, troglomorphic scorpions like the European Belisarius Simon, 1870 (Troglotayosicidae), which I was lucky to keep in captivity some years ago. Another fascinating genus in this category is Troglotayosicus Lourenço, 1981 (Troglotayosicidae), in which all species are missing the median eyes. Ricardo Botero-Trujillo and co-workers have recently described a new species in this genus from Columbia.

Troglotayosicus meijdeni Botero-Trujillo, Gonzalez-Gomez, Valenzuela-Rojas & Garcia, 2017

The number of species in the genus is now raised to four, but only T. vachoni Lourenço, 1981is a true troglobitic species. The other species are inhabitants of the leaf litter layer in montane regions in Andes.

We describe a new scorpion species in the troglomorphic genus Troglotayosicus Lourenço, 1981 from Colombia. Troglotayosicus meijdeni sp. nov. inhabits the forest leaf litter at Rivera municipality, on the western slope of the Eastern Andes. The male of the new species remains unknown; however, this species can be distinguished from other species in the genus by the female (and juvenile) morphology. The type locality of T. meijdeni sp. nov. represents the northernmost known record for a population of Troglotayosicus, further extending the known limits of distribution of this genus, and shedding more light on the distributional range of this group of scorpions in northwestern South America. With this description, the number of known species of Troglotayosicus is raised to four; three of them are endogean species living in forested areas in the Andean region of Colombia, whereas one is a hypogean species from a cave in Ecuadorian Amazonia.

Botero-Trujillo R, Gonzalez-Gomez JC, Valenzuela-Rojes JC, Garcia LF. A new species in the troglomorphic scorpion genus Troglotayosicus from Colombia, representing the northernmost known record for the genus (Scorpiones, Troglotayosicidae). Zootaxa. 2017;4244(4):568-82. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Ricardo Botero-Trujillo for sending me their article!

Family Troglotayosicidae

23 March, 2017

Habitat selection in two Vaejovis species from Arizona

Some scorpions dig burrows, some hide in cracks and crevices in rock walls, other just hide under stones and other suitable surface objects. The reason for a species' retreat choice may be affected by temperature- or climatic preferences, predator pressure, prey availability and similar.

Becker and Brown published a study in December on the factors affecting retreat sites in two species of Vaejovis C. L. Koch, 1836 (Vaejovidae) (V. cashi Graham 2007 and V. electrum Hughes 2011) in Arizona, USA.

The main conclusion is that both Vaejovis cashi and V. electrum selected larger retreat sites that had more stable thermal profiles. Se abstract for more conclusions from this study.

Sky island scorpions shelter under rocks and other surface debris, but, as with other scorpions, it is unclear whether these species select retreat sites randomly. Furthermore, little is known about the thermal preferences of scorpions, and no research has been done to identify whether reproductive condition might influence retreat site selection. The objectives were to (1) identify physical or thermal characteristics for retreat sites occupied by two sky island scorpions (Vaejovis cashi Graham 2007 and V. electrum Hughes 2011) and those not occupied; (2) determine whether retreat site selection differs between the two study species; and (3) identify whether thermal selection differs between species and between gravid and non-gravid females of the same species. Within each scorpion's habitat, maximum dimensions of rocks along a transect line were measured and compared to occupied rocks to determine whether retreat site selection occurred randomly. Temperature loggers were placed under a subset of occupied and unoccupied rocks for 48 hours to compare the thermal characteristics of these rocks. Thermal gradient trials were conducted before parturition and after dispersal of young in order to identify whether gravidity influences thermal preference. Vaejovis cashi and V. electrum both selected larger retreat sites that had more stable thermal profiles. Neither species appeared to have thermal preferences influenced by reproductive condition. However, while thermal selection did not differ among non-gravid individuals, gravid V. electrum selected warmer temperatures than its gravid congener. Sky island scorpions appear to select large retreat sites to maintain thermal stability, although biotic factors (e.g., competition) could also be involved in this choice. Future studies should focus on identifying the various biotic or abiotic factors that could influence retreat site selection in scorpions, as well as determining whether reproductive condition affects thermal selection in other arachnids.

Becker JE, Brown CA. Reliable Refuge: Two Sky Island Scorpion Species Select Larger, Thermally Stable Retreat Sites. PLoS One. 2016;11(12):e0168105. [Open Access]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this article!

21 March, 2017

A checklist of the scorpion fauna of Vietnam

Dinh-Sac Pham and co-workers have recently published an updated checklist of the scorpion fauna of Vietnam.

A faunistic inventory is proposed for the known Vietnamese scorpion species. The aim of this contribution is to bring an up-to-date checklist of all known species in Vietnam, prior to a more detailed study of the Vietnamese fauna to be performed by one of the authors (T.- H.T.) in the context of the preparation of a doctoral degree. Final taxonomic decisions should be taken at the end of the doctoral dissertation.

Pham DS, Tran TH, Lourenco WR. Diversity and endemicity in the scorpion fauna of Vietnam. A preliminary synopsis. C R Biol. 2017;340(2):132-7. [Open Access]

20 March, 2017

An update on the genus Tityus in Hispaniola, Greater Antilles

Rolando Teruel has been able to investigate types and additional materials of Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 from Hispaniola, Greater Antilles. The investigation showed that many of the species are highly variable morphologically, that adults belonging to different size-classes can be easily mistaken as distinct species. Because of this, several species have wrongly been given species status.The paper's conclusions are:

Tityus anasilviae Armas & Abud, 2004 is synonymized with Tityus ottenwalderi Armas, 1999.

Tityus bahoruco Teruel & Armas, 2006 is synonymized with Tityus crassimanus (Thorell, 1876).

Tityus ebanoverde Armas, 1999 is synonymized with Tityus elii Armas & Marcano, 1992.

Tityus septentrionalis Armas & Abud, 2004 is synonymized with Tityus portoplatensis Armas & Marcano, 1992.

In addition, the following fossil taxa are synonymized:

Tityus azari Lourenço, 2013 and Tityus (Brazilotityus) hartkorni Lourenço, 2009 are both synonymized with Tityus geratus Santiago-Blay & Poinar, 1988.

In the present paper, the taxonomic status of several Hispaniolan members of the genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1966 is revised after examination of almost all primary types and abundant supplementary material. This resulted in six new synonymies, which involve both extant and fossil species. The extant taxa herein synonymized are Tityus anasilviae Armas et Abud, 2004 under Tityus ottenwalderi Armas, 1999, Tityus bahoruco Teruel et Armas, 2006 under Tityus crassimanus (Thorell, 1876), Tityus ebanoverde Armas, 1999 under Tityus elii Armas et Marcano, 1992, and Tityus septentrionalis Armas et Abud, 2004 under Tityus portoplatensis Armas et Marcano, 1992. The fossil taxa herein synonymized are Tityus azari Lourenço, 2013† and Tityus (Brazilotityus) hartkorni Lourenço, 2009†, both under Tityus geratus Santiago-Blay et Poinar, 1988†. Updated distribution maps are given for all extant senior synonyms.

Teruel R. Some Taxonomic Corrections to the Genus Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) in Hispaniola, Greater Antilles. Euscorpius. 2917(242):1-9. [Open Access]

Thanks to Rolando for sending me his article!

Family Buthidae

16 March, 2017

Dangerous scorpions in Mexico and how to identify them

In the end of 2016, Javier Ponce-Saavedra and co-workers published a paper on scorpions of medical importance in Mexico. Mexico has many dangerous species, and the paper has an identification guide for species of medical importance, partly illustrated with good quality pictures. Data on distribution within Mexico is also presented. The paper also has epidemiological data for serious scorpion incidents from 1997 to 2015.

The article is in Spanish.

Scorpionism is one of the most important public health issues in Mexico. Intoxication by scorpion sting is in the first place among illnesses by poisonous animals and it is among the top twenty causes of mortality in the country, and in some states it is even among the top ten. An analysis of morbidity for the laps 2006-2015, and mortality during 1997-2013, by scorpion sting, is presented using data from Mexican health authorities. For each state the responsible scorpion species are reviewed, along with morbidity and mortality records. An identification key for species of medical importance in Mexico is included.


Ponce-Saavedra J, Francke OF, Quijano-Ravell AF, Santillan RC. Alacranes (Arachnida: Scorpiones) de importancia para la salud pública en México. Folia Entomológica Mexicana (nueva serie). 2016;2(3):45-70. [Open Access]

Thanks to Dr. Oscar F. Francke for sending me this article!

14 March, 2017

A new species of Grosphus from Madagascar

Wilson Lourenco and co-workers have recently described a new species of Grosphus Simon, 1880 from northern Madagascar.

Grosphus ganzhorni Lourenco, Wilme & Waeber, 2016

A new species, associated with Grosphus annulatus Fage, 1929, is described from the Akarana Massif in the north of Madagascar. Some comments on biogeographical aspects linking the new species with its possible vicariant are also included.

Lourenco WR, Wilme L, Waeber PO. One more vicariant new species of Grosphus Simon, 1880 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Madagascar. Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2016(29):45-50. [Subscription required for full text]

Family Buthidae