31 March, 2009

Part I of an Illustrated catalog of scorpions is published

I just received information that František Kovařík has published the first part of his Illustrated Catalog of Scorpions. Part one includes introductory remarks, keys to families and genera, subfamily Scorpioninae with keys to Heterometrus and Pandinus species.

I have not seen this book myself yet, so I'm including the information available from the publisher:
An often encountered problem in estimations of animal diversity is a paucity of illustrated reviews allowing those not engaged in descriptive taxonomy fast orientation in given groups. Whereas for some invertebrates, namely butterflies and beetles, such reviews are available for most families, no such work has so far existed for the scorpions. To fill the gap, I have prepared the present volume. It consists of introductory remarks (morphology, toxicity, reproduction, ontogeny etc.), keys to all families and genera described by the end of 2008, a list of genera with their distributions and numbers of species, and 650 color photos depicting most species of the subfamily Scorpioninae (Heterometrus, Pandinus, Scorpio and Opistophthalmus). Many of the illustrated specimens are types, whose study has in several instances necessitated taxonomic changes. The treatment of Heterometrus and Pandinus includes species diagnoses and keys to species. All species of Pandinus are illustrated, most of them for the first time. The genus Scorpio includes characterizations and photos of all 11 valid subspecies. The volume is printed in A4 format, with a hard cover>

More information about how to order the book can be found on Kovarik's homepage.

10 pages from the book is freely available (pdf).

Jan Ove Rein
Editor of The Scorpion Files

30 March, 2009

Litter size, effects of maternal body size, and date of birth in South American scorpions

Outeda-Jorge, Mello & Pinto-da-Rocha have recently published an interesting article on litter size and date of birth in 21 South American species (first time data for 13 species). In addition, they also discuss the impact on maternal body size on number and size of scorplings. Multiple broods (without new matings) are also reported in seven buthid species.

This is a very interesting paper for those interested in scorpion reproduction, ecology and life history, but has also interest for those trying to breed South American scorpions in captivity.

We present new data on litter size and date of birth (month) for 21 South American scorpions species. We provide data for one katoikogenic species, the liochelid Opisthacanthus cayaporum Vellard, 1932 (offspring = 3; birth month: Jan); and for several apoikogenic species, such as the bothriurids Bothriurus araguayae Vellard, 1934 (53; Sep), B. rochensis San Martín, 1965 (22-28; Jan, Aug); the buthids Ananteris balzanii Thorell, 1891 (10-34; Jan-Mar), Physoctonus debilis (Koch, 1840) (2; Sep), Rhopalurus amazonicus Lourenço, 1986 (19; Nov), R. lacrau Lourenço & Pinto-da-Rocha, 1997 (30; Dec), R. laticauda Thorell, 1876 (41; Nov), R. rochai Borelli, 1910 (11-47; Dec-Jan, Mar-Apr), Tityus bahiensis (Perty, 1833) (4-23; Oct-Mar), T. clathratus Koch, 1844 (8-18; Nov-Jan), T. costatus (Karsch, 1879) (21-25; Jan, Apr), T. kuryi Lourenço, 1997 (4-16; Mar), T. mattogrossensis Borelli, 1901(8-9; May), T. obscurus (Gervais, 1843) (16-31; Jan-Feb, May, Jul), T. serrulatus Lutz & Mello, 1922 (8-36; Dec, Feb-Apr), T. silvestris Pocock, 1897 (5-14; Dec-Jan, Apr), T. stigmurus (Thorell, 1876) (10-18; Nov, Jan, Mar), Tityus sp. 1 (T. clathratus group - 7-12; Feb-Apr), Tityus sp. 2 (T. bahiensis group - 2; Mar); and the chactid Brotheas sp. (8-21; Jan, Apr). We observed multiple broods: R. lacrau (offspring in the 2nd brood = 27), T. kuryi (6-16), T. obscurus (2-32), T. silvestris (8), T. stigmurus (4-9), T. bahiensis (offspring in the 2nd brood = 2-18; 3rd = 1), and T. costatus (2nd brood = 18; 3rd = 4). We found statistically significant positive correlation between female size and litter size for T. bahiensis and T. silvestris, and nonsignificant correlation for T. serrulatus.

Outeda-Jorge S, Mello T, Pinto-da-Rocha R. Litter size, effects of maternal body size, and date of birth in South American scorpions (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Zoologia. 2009;26(1):43-53. [Free fulltext]

24 March, 2009

Gershom Levy - RIP

I'm sorry to announce the recent death of the leading arachnologist Dr. Gershom Levy (1937-2009). Dr. Levy was an expert on spiders and scorpions from Israel and nearby areas.

Together with P. Amitai, Dr. Levy authored the important monography on scorpions of Israel and Palestina (published in 1980 in Fauna Palaestina), which is still an important source of information for the scorpions of the region. Among more recent work, Dr. Levy was the one who described the enigmatic new, troglobitic scorpion found in a cave system in Israel in 2007 (Akrav israchanani Levy, 2007, family Akravidae).

Jan Ove Rein
Editor of The Scorpion Files

18 March, 2009

Prey capture behavior in Heterometrus petersii

Studies on scorpion prey capture are rare these days. This is unfortunate as there are still many aspects of scorpion behavior that still need studies and investigation. Hopefully, we will see more behavioral studies in the future.

Jiao & Zhu has published a study on prey capture behavior in Heterometrus petersii (Scorpionidae) from Vietnam. The different behavioral components during prey capture are identified, described and analyzed. An ethogram (behavioral flow chart) for prey capture in H. petersii is also presented.

Jiao G-B, Zhu M-S. Prey capture behavior in Heterometrus petersii (Thorell, 1876) (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae). Euscorpius. 2009(80):1-5. [Free fulltext]

Family Scorpionidae

16 March, 2009

Scorpion envenomations in Tunisia - an analysis of 951 cases

Scorpion envenomation is still a serious problem in Northern Africa, especially when children are involved. Mounir Bouaziz and several co-workers have recently published a epidemiological study and analysis of 951 sting cases during 1990 to 2002.

A summary from the study can be seen below, but I will mention here that 72 deaths were recorded (mainly children) and that the most dangerous species are Androctonus australis and Buthus tunetanus (the name Buthus occitanus is used in the study, but I'm quite sure that it is Buthus tunetanus which is the species in question (even though it is possible that other Buthus species in Tunisia also may cause serious morbidity). The "Buthus occitanus" in this study is not the same scorpion that we find in France and Spain, which is not considered dangerous to humans).

The aim of this retrospective descriptive study was to describe both epidemiologically and clinically manifestations following severe scorpion envenomation and to define simple predictive factors which can be used in routine practice in general Intensive Care Units (ICU) as an indicator of poor prognosis. Cases were collected from hospital patients' files during 13-year (1990-2002) period in the medical Intensive Care Unit of a university hospital (Sfax - Tunisia). The diagnosis of scorpion envenomation was based on a history of scorpion sting. Nine hundred fifty-one patients, who were admitted for a scorpion sting, were analyzed. There were 769 patients (80.8%) in the grade III group (with cardiogenic shock and/or pulmonary edema or severe neurological manifestation (coma and/or convulsion)) and 182 patients (19.2%) in the grade II group (with systemic manifestations). Scorpion envenomation is more frequent in summer; indeed 82.3% of our patients were admitted between June and September. The mean age (+/-SD) was 14.7 +/- 17.4 years, ranging from 0.5 to 90 years. In this study 739 patients (77.8%) had neuromuscular signs, 700 patients (73.6%) had gastrointestinal signs and 585 patients (61.5%) had a pulmonary edema, while 195 patients (20.5%) had a cardiogenic shock. The mean blood sugar on admission was at 11.32 +/- 5.66 mmol/l, a high blood sugar level (>11 mmol/l) was observed in 39% of cases. The mean blood urea was at 7.1 +/- 3.2 mmol/l, it was above 10 mmol/l in 10.7% of cases. The mean of leucocytes was at 17 418 +/- 7833 cells/mm(3), it was above 11 000/mm(3) in 80% of cases. In the end of the stay in ICU, evolution was marked by the improvement of 879 patients (92.5%) while 72 patients (7.5%) died. A multivariate analysis found the following factors to be correlated with a poor outcome: age less than 5 years (OR = 2.27), fever >38.5 degrees C (OR = 2.79), coma with Glasgow coma score < or ="8/15" or =" 9.87)," or =" 8.46),">25 000 cells/mm3 (OR = 2.35) and blood urea >8 mmol/l (OR = 4.02). Moreover, in children group, a significant association was found between PRISM score and mortality rate, this model had a high discriminative power with an area under the ROC curve at 0.93. In the adult patients a significant association was found between SAPS II score and mortality rate, this model had a high discriminative power with an area under the ROC curve at 0.82. In summary, in severe scorpion envenomation, age less than 5 years, fever >38.5 degrees C, coma with Glasgow coma score < or ="8/15,">25 000 cells/mm3 and blood urea >8 mmol/l were associated with a poor outcome.

Peoples considering Androctonus australis as a suitable pet should pay attention to this study.

Bouaziz M, Bahloul M, Kallel H, Samet M, Ksibi H, Dammak H, et al. Epidemiological, clinical characteristics and outcome of severe scorpion envenomation in South Tunisia: multivariate analysis of 951 cases. Toxicon. 2008 Dec 15;52(8):918-26. [Subscription required for fulltext]

Family Buthidae

12 March, 2009

A review of the cave scorpions of Mexico and USA

I have posted a couple of messages this week about new cave dwelling scorpions, and here is another one. David Sissom and James Reddell (2009) has published a very interesting review of the cave scorpions of Mexico and USA.

Scorpions inhabiting caves are not common, but interestingly the vast majority of troglobitic scorpions are known from the New World. Sissom & Reddell list all species reported from caves or cave-like habitats in North America and comment on wethere these are true trglobites/ troglophiles or accidental cave visitors.

Scorpions reported from caves in Mexico and the United States are reviewed. New records are included for: Centruroides gracilis, C. vittatus, Troglocormus willis, Alacran tartarus, Pseudouroctonus apacheanus, P. reddelli, Uroctonites sequoia, Serradigitus gertschi striatus, S. wupatkiensis, Vaejovis carolinianus, V. chisos, V. intermedius, V. nigrescens, and V. rossmani.

Sissom WD, Reddell JR. Cave scorpions of Mexico and The United States. Texas Memorial Museum Speleological Monographs, 7 Studies on the cave and endogean fauna of North America, V. 2009:19-32.

A new Scorpiops species from China

Di & Zhu (2009) has described a new species of Scorpiops (Euscorpiidae) from Xizang in China:

Scorpiops lhasa Di & Zhu, 2009 (Euscorpiidae)

This small Scorpiops were found under stones on steep hillsides.

Scorpiops lhasa sp. n., from China Xizang (Lhasa) is described. S. lhasa is small in size with respect to other species in the genus; external trichobothria on the patella number 17 (5 eb, 2 esb, 2 em, 4 est, 4 et) and ventral trichobothria on the patella number 10 (11 rarely); pedipalp fingers in both sexes are curved; chela narrow and elongated, the ratio between length and width is above 2.6.

Di Z-Y, Zhu M-S. One new species of the genus Scorpiops Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae, Scorpiopinae) from Xizang, China. Zootaxa. 2009(2030):39-48. [Subscription required for fulltext]

Family Euscorpiidae

11 March, 2009

New data on Iurus dufoureius asiaticus distribution in Turkey

Ersen Aydin Yagmur and co-workers (2008) has published a paper with new localities for Iurus dufoureius asiaticus in Turkey. The distribution of Iurus in Turkey is also discussed.

Distribution of Iurus dufoureius asiaticus Birula, 1903 in Turkey is shown and new localities for the species are given. Eastern border of I. d. asiaticus’s distribution are redefined and the first records from Southeastern Anatolia Region are given.

Yagmur EA, Koc H, Akkaya A. New localities for Iurus dufoureius asiaticus Birula, 1903 (Scorpiones: Iuridae) in Turkey. Turk J Arach. 2008;1(2):154-9.

Thanks to Ersen for sending me the paper!

Family Iuridae

New cave dwelling scorpion from Mexico

Oscar Francke has described a new cave dwelling scorpion in the genus Pseudouroctonus from two separate caves in Coahuila, Mexico:

Pseudouroctonus saavasi Francke, 2009 (Vaejovidae)

It is interesting to note that even though this scorpion is a troglophile it has no marked troglomorphies (like reduced eyes or lack of pigmentation).

Pseudouroctonus savvasi, n.sp., is described from specimens
collected in two separate caves in the state of Coahuila, México,
though it does not exhibit any marked troglomorphies. It is most
closely related to Pseudouroctonus apacheanus (Gertsch and
Soleglad), from which it is clearly differentiated by size, the number
of teeth on the movable finger of the chelicerae, hemispermatophore
morphology and pedipalp chela morphometrics.

Francke OF. Description of a new species of troglophile Pseudouroctonus (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) from Coahuila, Mexico. Texas Memorial Museum Speleological Monographs, 7 Studies on the cave and endogean fauna of North America, V. 2009:11-8. [Free fulltext]

Thanks to Oscar for sending me the paper!

Family Vaejovidae

New troglomorphic leaf litter scorpion from Colombia

Ricardo Botero-Trujillo and Oscar Francke have recently published a paper on an enigmatic new troglomorphic scorpion from Colombia:

Troglotayosicus humiculum Botero-Trujillo & Francke, 2009 (Troglotayosicidae)

This scorpion is found in leaf litter in a montanous area in La Planada Natural Reserve, and is not a cave dweller. It has troglomorphies like reduces and eyes and pigmentation. See Volschenk & Prendini (2008) for more information on trglobitic scorpions.

Troglotayosicus humiculum, n. sp., is described from a
specimen collected by Winkler trap in La Planada Natural Reserve,
Nariño Department, southwestern Colombia. With this description,
both the number of described species and known specimens in the
genus is raised to two. The new species was collected from leaf
litter, rather than inside a cave as was the only other known species,
Troglotayosicus vachoni Lourenço, 1981; and differs from it
particularly in the arrangement of the ventral setae of the telotarsi
and the metasomal carination. This finding represents the first record
of the family and genus from Colombia, and it is the first
troglomorphic leaf litter scorpion reported from South America.

Thanks to the authors for sending me this paper!

Botero-Trujillo R, Francke OF. A new species of troglomorphic leaf litter scorpion from Colombia belonging to the genus Troglotayosicus (Scorpiones: Troglotayosicidae). Texas Memorial Museum Speleological Monographs, 7 Studies on the cave and endogean fauna of North America, V. 2009:1-10. [Free fulltext]

Family Troglotayosicidae

06 March, 2009

A phylogenetic analysis of the South American genus Brachistosternus

Andres Ojanguren-Affilastro & Martin J. Ramirez has recently published a major phylogenetic analysis of the South American genus Brachistosternus (Bothriuridae). The authors have been able to investigate 38 of the 41 known species in the genus. The conclusions of the analysis can be seen in the abstract cited below (but in addition I will mention that Brachistosternus holmbergi Carbonell, 1923 is considered nomen dubium by the authors).

In addition to the phylogenetic analysis, the article also presents data on the distribution of the genus and an identification key for all species in the genus.

A phylogenetic analysis of the scorpion genus Brachistosternus Pocock (Bothriuridae) is presented. The analysis is based on a data set including 38 of the 41 described species of Brachistosternus plus eight outgroup representatives of seven additional bothriurid genera and one buthid, scored for 116 morphological characters. The cladistic analysis of this matrix under implied weighting results in four most parsimonious trees. The monophyly of genus Brachistosternus is well supported; its subgeneric subdivision is redefined: the subgenera Brachistosternus Pocock and Ministernus Francke are considered valid, whereas Leptosternus Maury is synonymized with Brachistosternus. Illustrations of diagnostic structures are provided. The hemispermatophores of Brachistosternus peruvianus Toledo-Piza and Brachistosternus pegnai Cekalovic are illustrated for the first time. A key to species of Brachistosternus and maps with the distribution of the subgenera and main groups of species are provided.

Ojanguren-Affilastro AA, Ramirez MJ. Phylogenetic analysis of the scorpion genus Brachistosternus (Arachnida, Scorpiones, Bothriuridae). Zoologica Scripta. 2009 Mar;38(2):183-98. [Subscription required for fulltext]

Family Bothriuridae

03 March, 2009

Manuel Ángel González Sponga - RIP

I just recceived the sad news that the widely known Venezuelan scorpion researcher Manuel Ángel González Sponga is dead. González Sponga is specially known for his work on scorpions and harvestmen. According to Ricardo Pinto-da-Rocha, González Sponga described 11 new species of Opiliones, 135 scorpions, 17 chilopods, 14 spiders, 10 diplopods, 2 schizomids and 1 ricinulei during his career.

A list of
González Sponga's works and the taxa he has described can be found in Wikipedia.


Jan Ove Rein
The Scorpion Files (editor)

Spiders and Scorpions of the Nylsvley Nature Reserve, South Africa

A survey of the spiders and Scorpions of the Nylsvley Nature Reserve, South Africa has recently been published by Ansie Dippenaar-Schoeman and coworkers. The article also includes some interesting notes on the ecology of the scorpions collected in the national park.


Among other activities, the South African National Survey of Arachnida (SANSA) aims to survey the biodiversity of arachnids in protected areas of South Africa. The study presented here documents the diversity of spiders and scorpions collected from the Nylsvley Nature Reserve (NNR), South Africa over a 30-year period. The spider fauna of NNR contains 175 species (7.5% of the total recorded in South Africa), in 131 genera and 37 families. Thomisidae is the most diverse spider family in the reserve, with 33 species (18.9% of the total), followed by Salticidae, with 20 species (11.4%), and Araneidae, with 18 species (10.3%). The majority of species (125) are wandering spiders (71.4%), whereas 50 species (28.6%) build webs. Wandering ground-dwelling spiders comprise 52 species, whereas 73 wandering species have been collected from the vegetation. A total of 158 species are new records for the reserve and Oxyopes tuberculatus Lessert, 1915 is newly recorded for South Africa. Six spider species may be new to science. The scorpion fauna of NNR comprises five species (5% of the total recorded in South Africa) in three genera and two families. Buthidae are more diverse in the reserve, with four species and two genera represented. The scorpion fauna of the reserve includes two fossorial and three epigeic species, representing five ecomorphotypes: semi-psammophilous, pelophilous, lithophilous, corticolous and lapidicolous. Five additional scorpion species may be recorded if the reserve is sampled more intensively using appropriate techniques.

Dippenaar AS, van der Berg A, Prendini L. Spiders and scorpions (Arachnida: Araneae, Scorpiones) of the Nylsvley Nature Reserve, South Africa. Koedoe. 2009;51(1):1-9. [Free fulltext]

02 March, 2009

Redescription of Tityus gaffini (Buthidae)

Ricardo Botero-Trujillo has recently published a redescription of Tityus gaffini Lourenco, 2000 (Buthidae). The male is described for the first time. New localities and updated information on distribution are also presented.

Botero-Trujillo R. Redescription of Tityus (Tityus) gaffini Lourenco, 2000 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) and new locality records. Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2007;16:29-34.

Family Buthidae