22 March, 2010

Fungus infection in scorpions

It is well known that scorpions are victims of both predators and parasites, but little is known about fungus infection in scorpions. Santana-Neto and co-workers have now published an article presenting a Fusarium solani fungus infection in Tityus stigimurus (Buthidae).

Abstract:
Members of the Fusarium solani species complex are agents of human mycoses, also affecting plants and other animals. Nevertheless, this fungus has not been reported on scorpions. Ten specimens of Tityus stigmurus collected in the field and showing their surface covered by white mycelia were used to assess fungus presence in the animal after its death. Identification of the fungi was based upon the cultural and morphological characteristics. The fungus was isolated from chelicerae and intersegmental regions. Infected individuals had their behaviour modified by reducing feeding and locomotion. None of the infected individuals survived. It is likely that this fungus may have a role in the regulation of field scorpion populations.

Reference:
Santana-Neto P, Albuquerque C, Silva A, Svedese V, Lima E. Natural occurrence of the Fusarium solani on Tityus stigmurus (Thorell, 1876) (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Braz J Biol. 2010 Feb;70(1):151-3. [Free fulltext]

19 March, 2010

Robert W. Mitchell - RIP

I'm sorry to announce the recent death of the cave biologist and invertebrate zoologist Robert W. Mitchell (1933-2010). Dr. Mitchell has a very long and impressive list of publications, but for us scorpion people he is especially known for his work on troglobitic and troglomorphic scorpions.

Scorpion taxa described by Dr. Mitchell:

Typhlochactas Mitchell, 1971
T. reddelli Mitchell, 1968
T. rhodesi Mitchell, 1968
Sotanochactas elliotti (Mitchell, 1971)

Typhlochactas mitchelli Sissom, 1988 was named in honor of Dr. Mitchell.

In the early days of The Scorpion Files (2001-2002), Dr. Mitchell contacted me and sent me several pictures of some of "his" troglobitic scorpions to be used in The Scorpion Files. This was a great gesture, as these scorpions are among the rarest scorpions in the world, and I'm very grateful for his contribution!

RIP!

The Scorpion Files Gallery

Troglobitism in scorpions is still not an evolutionary dead-end

Troglobitic and/or troglomorphic species are probably the most fascinating scorpions in the world. Understanding the evolution of troglomorphic characteristics and true troglobites has been the focus of several articles from Oscar Francke, Lorenzo Prendini and Valerio Vignoli.

Further analysis of the taxa in the family Typhlochactidae are now presented in a brand new paper in the journal Cladistics.

Abstract:
The scorpion family Typhlochactidae Mitchell, 1971 is endemic to eastern Mexico and exclusively troglomorphic. Six of the nine species in the family are hypogean (troglobitic), morphologically specialized for life in the cave environment, whereas three are endogean (humicolous) and comparably less specialized. The family therefore provides a model for testing the hypotheses that ecological specialists (stenotopes) evolve from generalist ancestors (eurytopes) and that specialization (in this case to the cavernicolous habitat) is an irreversible, evolutionary dead-end that ultimately leads to extinction. Due to their cryptic ecology, inaccessible habitat, and apparently low population density, Typhlochactidae are very poorly known. The monophyly of these troglomorphic scorpions has never been rigorously tested, nor has their phylogeny been investigated in a quantitative analysis. We test and confirm their monophyly with a cladistic analysis of 195 morphological characters (142 phylogenetically informative), the first for a group of scorpions in which primary homology of pedipalp trichobothria was determined strictly according to topographical identity (the ‘‘placeholder approach’’). The phylogeny of Typhlochactidae challenges the conventional wisdom that ecological specialization (stenotopy) is unidirectional and irreversible, falsifying Cope's Law of the unspecialized and Dollo's Law of evolutionary irreversibility. Troglobitism is not an evolutionary dead-end: endogean scorpions evolved from hypogean ancestors on more than one occasion.

Reference:
Prendini L, Francke OF, Vignoli V. Troglomorphism, trichobothriotaxy and typhlochactid phylogeny (Scorpiones, Chactoidea): more evidence that troglobitism is not an evolutionary dead-end. Cladistics. 2010 Apr;26(2):117-42. [Subscription required for fulltext]

Family Typhlochactidae

18 March, 2010

Two new genera and five new species from Oman

Graeme Lowe has looked into some very interesting materials from Oman and described several new taxa of very small, but special buthids. The new taxa are:

Femtobuthus Lowe, 2010 (new genus)
Femtobuthus shutuae Lowe, 2010 (new species)

Microbuthus Kraepelin, 1898
Microbuthus gardneri Lowe, 2010 (new species)
Microbuthus kristensensorum Lowe, 2010 (new species)

Picobuthus Lowe, 2010 (new genus)
Picobuthus dundoni Lowe, 2010 (new species)
Picobuthus wahibaensis Lowe, 2010 (new species)

I reccomend to check out the article (free fulltext - see link below) for more details and pictures.

Abstract:
Five new species of diminutive buthid scorpions are described from Oman. Two belong to Microbuthus Kraepelin, 1898, a genus with heavily sclerotized, smooth, strongly pitted posterior metasomal segments, abbreviated telson, and pedipalps with 9 femoral and 6–7 external patellar trichobothria: M. gardneri, sp. nov., from the Al Hajar Mountains, and M. kristensenorum, sp. nov., from the Dhofar Mountains and Hadhramaut of Yemen, which was long misidentified as M. pusillus Kraepelin, 1898. Two additional new species are placed in a new genus Picobuthus, gen. nov., differentiated by granular posterior metasomal segments, elongate telson, pedipalps with 7–9 femoral and 5 external patellar trichobothria: type species P. wahibaensis, sp. nov., from the Wahiba Sands, and P. dundoni, sp. nov., from sand deserts in central Oman. A second new genus, Femtobuthus, gen. nov., is monotypic with type species F. shutuae, sp. nov., from the southern coast and plateau of Jiddat Al Harasis, differentiated by enlarged, granular, dentate metasomal segments, abbreviated telson, and pedipalps with 6 femoral and 5 external patellar trichobothria. The relationship of Microbuthus and the two new genera to other buthid scorpions is discussed, and their trichobothrial homologies are addressed. These three genera are hypothesized to represent a monophyletic ‘picobuthoid’ lineage that originated in the Arabian Peninsula.

Reference:
Lowe G. New picobuthoid scorpions (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Oman. Euscorpius. 2010(93):1-53. [Free fultext - click here if you want the high resolution version (24 mb)]

Family Buthidae

A new Euscorpiops from China

The scorpion fauna of China is increasing. Sun & Zhu have now described a new species of Euscorpiops (Euscorpiidae) from China:

Euscorpiops xui Sun & Zhu, 2010

Abstract:
A new species of the genus Euscorpiops Vachon, 1980 is described, based on specimens collected from Menglian County, Yunnan Province, China. It is characterized by the following characters: (1) pectinal teeth number 7–7 in females and 8–8 in males; (2) cheliceral movable finger with 6–7 basal teeth on ventral edge; (3) chela ratio of length to width over 3.5 in females and over 4.1 in males; (4) a slight lobe on movable finger and corresponding notch on fixed finger in both males and females, with no marked sexual dimorphism; (5) patella with 19 external trichobothria (6eb, 2esb, 2em, 4est, 5et), and with 10 ventral trichobothria. With the species described in the present publication, the number of known species of Euscorpiops is raised to 17.

Reference:
Sun D, Zhu M-S. One new species of scorpion belonging to the genus Euscorpiops Vachon, 1980 from Yunan, China (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae, Scorpiopinae). Zootaxa. 2010(2399):61-8. [Subscription required for fulltext]

Thanks to Jean-Michel Pacaud for sending me this paper!

Family Euscorpiidae

17 March, 2010

Black Bears in Mexico eat scorpions

Carlos Lopez-Gonzalez and co-workers reports that investigations of Mexican Black Bear scats (yes, that's bear pooh ;) show that some bears eat scorpions. The scorpion remains that were found belong to Diplocentrus peloncillensis (Scorpionidae).

In addition, this is the first record of in Diplocentrus peloncillensis in Mexico.

Abstract:
The remains of the scorpion Diplocentrus peloncillensis Francke were found in 7 scats of black bears (Ursus americanus) collected in the Sierra de San Luis, Sonora, Mexico. The collection data and previously reported black bear population estimates for the study area suggested that, although scorpions are not a large part of black bear diets in Sonora, feeding on scorpions is not restricted to a single individual or family unit and is apparently a relatively common behavior in the population. Also, the discovery of D. peloncillensis in Sonora represents a new country record.

Reference:
Lopez-Gonzalez CA, Jones RW, Silva-Hurtado C, Sayago-Vazquez IA. Scorpions are food item of American black bears in Sonora, Mexico. West North Am Naturalist. 2009;69(1):131-3.

Thanks to Oscar Francke for sending me this paper!

10 March, 2010

A new Chaerilus from Thailand

Wilson Lourenco and co-workers have recently described a new species of Chaerilus (Chaerilidae) from an evergreen rain forest in southern Thailand:

Chaerilus thai Lourenco, Sun & Zhu, 2010

Abstract:


Reference:
Lourenco WR, Sun D, Zhu M. A new species of Chaerilus Simon, 1877 (Scorpiones, Chaerilidae) from Thailand. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 2010;58(1):79-85. [Free fulltext]

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me this article!

Family Chaerilidae

08 March, 2010

Cazierius tatae synonymized with Cazierius garridoi

Luis de Armas has concluded that Cazierius tatae Satiago-Blay, 2009 (Scorpionidae) from Puerto Rico is a junior synonym of Cazierius garridoi Armas, 2005.

Reference:
de Armas LF. Acerca de algunos alacranes (Scorpiones: Buthidae, Scorpionidae) recientemente descritos o registrados de Puerto Rico e Isla Mona, Antillas Mayores. Boletin Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa. 2009(45):298.

Family Scorpionidae

02 March, 2010

Tityus mraceki synonymized with T. betschi

Some time ago, Wilson Lourenco published a paper discussing the taxonomic status of some of the Tityus species described from Colombia. One of the conclusions of the paper is the following synonymization:

Tityus mraceki Kovarik, 2007 is synonymized with T. betschi Lourenco, 1992 (Buthidae).

See abstract or paper for other results.

Abstract:
Considerations are proposed about the status of some Colombian species of the genus Tityus. Reanalysis of the characteristics of Tityus (Archaeotityus) betschi Lourenço, 1992 and of Tityus (Archaeotityus) mraceki KOVARIK, 2007 demonstrates that the second species represents only the male of T. (A.) betschi and, a new synonymy is proposed: T. (A.) mraceki as a junior synonym of T. (A.) betschi. Previous records of Tityus (Atreus) nematochirus Mello-Leitão, 1940 in Venezuela are attributed to misidentifications with Tityus (Atreus) meridanus González-Sponga, 1981; this last species being the only one of the group distributed in ‘Estado Merida’.

Reference:
Lourenco WR. Nouvelles considerations sur le statut taxonomique de quelques especes du genre Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Scorpiones, Buthidae) decrites de la Colombie. Acta Biologica Paranaense. 2008 January-December;37(1-4):195-209.

Family Buthidae

Scorpions of Saudi Arabia - Updated list

If you are interested in the scorpion fauna of The Middle East, Hisham El-Hennawy has recently published an updated list of species found in Saudi Arabia and their distribution. The paper has also an identification guide for the species in the area.

Abstract:
This paper presents an updated list of scorpions recorded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the distribution localities of the species, and simplified identification keys to families and genera. The list includes 23 species and 3 subspecies that belong to 3 families: 18 species of 10 buthid genera, 1 hemiscorpiid species, and 4 species and 3 subspecies of 3 scorpionid genera.

Reference:
El-Hennawy HK. Scorpions of Saudi Arabia (List of species, their distribution, and identification key). Serket. 2009;11(3-4):119-28.

01 March, 2010

A new Chaerilus from China

The number of species in the Asian genus Chaerilus is growing. A few days ago I told about a new species from Nepal, this time a new species is described from China by Di and Zhu:

Chaerilus mainlingensis Di & Zhu, 2009 (Chaerilidae)

Abstract:


Reference:
Di Z-Y, Zhu M-S. A new species of Chaerilus Simon, 1877 (Scorpiones, Chaerilidae) from China. Acta Arachnologica. 2009;58(2):97-102.

A big thanks to Gerard Dupre for keeping me updated on scorpion publications!!

Family Chaerilidae

A new Hadrurochactas from Brazil

Wilson Lourenco has described a new species of Hadrurochactas (Chactidae) from Brazil:

Hadrurochactas araripe Lourenco, 2010

The paper also discuss the disrupted distribution pattern of the genus Hadurochactas.

Abstract:
A new species, Hadrurochactas araripe sp. n. (Chactidae) is described from ‘Chapada do Araripe’, a ‘Brejo type’ formation located in the State of Pernambuco, Brazil. The description of the new species confirms a disrupted pattern of distribution presented by the genus Hadrurochactas. This includes species present both in Guiano-Amazon forests and forest islands within the ‘Caatingas’. These are xerophytic formations in northeastern Brazil. This new species brings further evidence of a past connection between the Amazonian and Atlantic forests, as already suggested by palaeobotanists.


Reference:
Lourenço WR. The disrupted pattern of distribution of the genus Hadrurochactas Pocock; evidence of past connections between Amazon and the Brazilian Atlantic forest. Comptes Rendus Biologies. 2010;333(1):41-7. [Subscription required for fulltext]

Family Chactidae