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.

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.

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).

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.

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)

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†.

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

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.

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).


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).

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.

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.

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.

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!