07 December, 2017

A new species of Pandinurus from Somaliland

Frantisek Kovarik and his group have recently described a new species of Pandinurus Fet, 1997 (Scorpionidae) from Somaliland.

Pandinurus hangarale Kovarik, Lowe, Mazuch, Awale, Stundlowa & Stahlavsky, 2017

The distribution of Pandinurus smithi (Pocock, 1899) is also discussed and it is concluded that this species probably is endemic to Ethiopia.

Pandinurus hangarale sp. n. from Somaliland is described and fully complemented with color photos of live and preserved specimens, as well as its habitat. Hemispermatophore of P. hangarale sp. n. is illustrated and described. In addition to the analyses of external morphology and hemispermatophores, we also describe the karyotype of P. hangarale sp. n. (2n=120). Known localities of Pandinurus smithi (Pocock, 1897) are compiled; the type locality is not in Somaliland but in Ethiopia (Turfa) and in reality it is probably an endemic of Ethiopia.

Kovarik F, Lowe G, Mazuch T, Awale AI, Stundlova J, Stahlavsky F. Scorpions of the Horn of Africa (Arachnida: Scorpiones). Part XII. Pandinurus hangarale sp. n. (Scorpionidae) from Somaliland and a Review of Type Locality and True Distribution of Pandinurus smithi (Pocock, 1897). Euscorpius. 2017(253):1-18. [Open Access]

Family Scorpionidae

06 December, 2017

A new Centruroides from Southwestern Caribbean

Rolando Teruel and Brandon Myers recently published a new species of Centruroides Marz, 1890 (Buthidae) from Southwestern Caribbean.

Centruroides caribbeanus Teruel & Myers, 2017

Herein we describe a new species of the Buthidae scorpion genus Centruroides Marx, 1890. It occurs at least in two small offshore islands of the southwestern Caribbean: Cozumel in Mexico and Guanaja in Honduras, based upon type specimens from the former and photographic evidence from the latter. It belongs in the "gracilis" species-group and is most closely related to both Centruroides gracilis (Latreille, 1805) and Centruroides nigrescens (Pocock, 1898).

Teruel R, Myers B. A New Island Species of Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from the Southwestern Caribbean. Euscorpius. 2017(252):1-14. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

05 December, 2017

Dangerous arachnids - Fake news or reality?

I have taken the liberty of stealing the title of an interesting article recently published by Tobias Hauke and Volker Herzig. We all know that our favorite animal group, scorpions, are infamous in the public among laypersons (and sometimes also among scholars), but there aren't that many reviews addressing the facts concerning the medical importance of scorpions and other arachnid groups.

The present paper walks us through the spiders and scorpions of the world and lists taxa with medical significance, all based on scientific evidence. The article also discuss the results in connection with the growing number of arachnids kept as pets. Scorpions of medical importance is one of my main areas of interest, and based on my experience the article's conclusions are valid.

I recommend this article for all that are interested in spider and scorpion envenomations. It will also be interesting for scorpion enthusiasts keeping scorpions as pets, as the article's language is not too advanced and easily understandable for laypersons.

The public perception of spiders and scorpions is skewed towards the potential harm they can inflict in humans, despite recent scientific evidence that arachnid venom components might be useful as bioinsecticides or even human therapeutics. Nevertheless, arachnids are becoming more popular as pets in Europe, America and Asia, raising the question for regulatory agencies in these regions as to whether they need to take measurements to protect their citizens. In order to decide upon the necessary regulatory steps, they first need to determine which arachnids are actually dangerous to humans. This review therefore provides an overview of the current literature on verified bites and stings from spiders and scorpions with the aim of assessing their potential danger for human health. As a guideline, we also provide a list of those arachnid genera that we consider as potentially dangerous, which includes 10 spider and 11 scorpion genera. The arachnid genera classified as dangerous comprise less than a quarter of all extant scorpion species and only 0.5% of all spiders species, with the actual number most likely being much lower than that, as not all species in those genera might turn out to pose an actual threat for humans. In conclusion, we found that only a small percentage of scorpions and a minute percentage of all spiders can be considered as potentially dangerous to humans. While in some countries of origin the high incidence of envenomations by dangerous arachnids can result in a serious problem to the health system, we assessed the risk that the same species pose when kept as pets under controlled maintenance conditions as significantly lower.

Hauke TJ, Herzig V. Dangerous arachnids-Fake news or reality? Toxicon. 2017;138:173-83. [Subscription required for full text]

30 November, 2017

Burrowing in two scorpion species from Iran

Babak Vazirianzadeh and co-workers have recently published a study of the habitat choice and burrowing behavior of the two scorpions Scorpio maurus Linnaeus, 1758 (Scorpionidae)  and Odonthubutus bidentatus (Lourenço & Pezier, 2002) (Buthidae) from Iran.

Background: The different features of scorpions can be successfully described by their nesting and burrowing behaviors. There is little information about burrowing activity of Iranian scorpions.
Methods: The current study was performed to compare the burrowing behavior between two burrowing Iranian scorpions, Scorpio maurus and Odonthubutus bidentatus by describing 30 nests of each species regarding collecting the scorpions.
Results: Scorpio maurus and O. bidentatus have a tendency to make nest with elliptical, round-like entrance and oval shape with arch at the top, respectively. There was not any significant difference between nest entrance properties of two scorpions. One-way ANOVA test showed that the height and diameter of two species nests were not significantly different. A Pearson correlation also showed a relative strong direct relationship between height and diameter of S. maurus nests than O. bidentatus. This correlation was not significant in the case of O. bidentatus. The results provided additional habitat information of scorpions.
Conclusion: The nests morphology characteristics of two Iranian scorpions including shape, depth, length and diameter depend are different from each other based on the following factors: species, soil texture, soil moisture and region conditions.

Vazirianzadeh B, Jalali A, Chrom M, Mohammady A, Vatandoost H, Panahi F. A Comparative Study of Nesting Sites and Burrowing Habits of Two Iranian Burrowing Scorpions. Journal of Arthropod-Borne Diseases. 2017;11(1):78-85. [Open Access]

27 November, 2017

The scorpions of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti)

Gabriel de los Santos and co-workers published an annotated list of the known scorpions from Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) in 2016. I just recently learned about this article, hence the late mentioning in the blog. The article is in Spanish.

It is given an annotated list of the known scorpions of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), which belong to three families (Buthidae, Hormuridae, Scorpionidae), eight genera and 46 recent and four fossil species. Buthidae (five genera and 37 living species) is the most diversified family in this Antillean island, being Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836, Microtityus Kjellesvig-Waering, 1966, and Centruroides Marx, 1890, the most diverse and widespread genera with 14, 12 and seven species, respectively. The Dominican Republic (that represents the eastern two-thirds of the island), has 45 species and 36 of them are endemic from the country, whereas Haiti accounts nine species with a single national endemism. Isometrus maculatus (De Geer, 1778) has been introduced in both countries and is the only non-endemic species. This is the only Antillean island which includes representatives of both the Hormuridae family and the fossil fauna (in amber).

de los Santos G, de Armas LF, Teruel R. Lista anotada de los escorpiones (Arachnida: Scorpiones) de la Española (República Dominicana y Haití). Novitates Caribaea. 2016;10:1-22. [Open Access]

Thanks to Mack Diamond for informing me about this paper!

21 November, 2017

A new genus and species of fossil scorpion from Italy

Gabriele Kühl and Wilson Lourenco recently described a new genus and species of fossil scorpion from the Early–Middle Eocene of Pesciara in Italy. The new taxa belongs to the family Euscorpiidae, and this is the first fossil/extinct taxa belonging to this extant family.

Eoeuscorpius Kühl & Lourenco, 2017

Eoeuscorpius ceratoi Kühl & Lourenco, 2017

Fossil scorpions are among the oldest terrestrial arthropods known from the fossil record. They have a worldwide distribution and a rich fossil record, especially for the Paleozoic. Fossil scorpions from Mesozoic and Cenozoic deposits are usually rare (except in amber-deposits). Here, we describe the only fossil scorpion from the Early to Middle Eocene Pesciara Lagersta¨tte in Italy. Eoeuscorpius ceratoi gen. et sp. nov. is probably a genus and species within the family Euscorpiidae. This may be the first fossil record of the Euscorpiidae, which are so far only known from four extant genera. Eoeuscorpius ceratoi gen. et sp. nov. was found in the ‘‘Lower Part’’ of the Pesciara Limestone, which is actually dated Late Ypresian stage (between 49.5 and 49.7 Ma). Besides a possible pseudoscorpion, the here-described fossil scorpion is the second arachnid species known from the Bolca Locality.

Kühl G, Lourenço WR. A new genus and species of fossil scorpion (?Euscorpiidae) from the Early–Middle Eocene of Pesciara (Bolca, Italy). PalZ. 2017;91(3):283-90. [Subscription required for full text]

17 November, 2017

The life history of the parthenogenetic scorpion Lychas tricarinatus and some new data on parthenogenesis in Tityus trivittatus

Michael Seiter and Mark Stockman have recently published an article on life history and parthenogenesis in the two buthids Lychas tricarinatus (Simon, 1884) from Odisha province, India and Tityus trivittatus Kraepelin, 1898 from Argentina.

The study clearly demonstrated that Lychas tricarinatus can reproduce without being inseminated by males after observations of captive-born females raised in isolation over three generations. Observations on the entire life cycle of most scorpion species are scarce, and the data shown for Lychas tricarinatus in this study are quite unique.

The Tityus trivittatus used in this study were confirmed to be facultative parthenogenetic, producing both male and female offspring. The capability of a single population to reproduce by sexual as well as by asexual reproduction is probably a strategy to adapt to environmental circumstances enabling genetic variation.

Observations on the entire life cycle of most scorpion species are scarce. Here, we present precise data of the embryonic and postembryonic development for Lychas tricarinatus with additional notes on Tityus trivittatus. By rearing captive-born Lychas tricarinatus specimen from the Odisha province (India) in isolation until maturation, we could show that virgin females gave birth to offspring proving that specimens are capable of parthenogenetic reproduction. Further, we describe an all-female population of Tityus trivittatus from the Corrientes province (Argentina), which originated from a fully bi-sexual population. In addition we describe the ontogenetic development of these two parthenogenetic, buthid scorpions under laboratory conditions. The Dyar’s constant was evaluated for the carapace, metasomal segment V, and the movable finger of the pedipalp among the instars. The calculated growth factor has a total grand average of 1.26. Lychas tricarinatus females reached maturity after 220 days postembryonic development. Moreover, L. tricarinatus females started to reproduce in the 6th or 7th instar and gave birth to an average of 21 neonates after 96 days of embryonic development. Tityus trivittatus matured in the 5th or 6th instar and gave birth after 230 days to an average of 13 neonates.

Seiter M, Stockmann M. The life history of the parthenogenetic scorpion Lychas tricarinatus (Simon, 1884) from Odisha province, India and supplementary notes on Tityus trivittatus Kraepelin, 1898 (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Zoologischer Anzeiger. 2017;270:155-65. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Mark Stockman for sending me this article!

14 November, 2017

Geographic distribution of the genus Mesobuthus in Mongolia

Heddergott and co-workers published a study on the geographic distribution of the genus Mesobuthus Vachon, 1950 (Buthidae) in 2016. I just recently learned about it and want to mention it in the blog as there are very few articles on the scorpion fauna of Mongolia. The results are summed up in the abstract.

In the present study, we surveyed the diversity of scorpions in six provinces of Mongolia (Bayankhongor, Khovd, Dundgovi, Dornogovi, Govisümber and Ömnögovi) between 2001 and 2012. A total of 385 individuals were collected at 17 different sites. In addition to opportunistic sampling, animals were collected after detection with ultraviolet light. Only species from the genus Mesobuthus have been reported from Mongolia thus far. It was possible to confirm the occurrence of the species Mesobuthus eupeus mongolicus and report the presence of M. martensii martensii for the first time. We could not confirm the presence of M. caucasicus przewalskii and suggest that it does not occur in the country, since earlier records originated from present-day China. We provide initial information on the ecology of the two species we identified. Individuals of M. eupeus mongolicus from western Mongolia have a darker pigmentation of the metasomal segments I-IV than individuals from central or southern Mongolia.

Heddergott M, Stubbe M, Stubbe W, Steinbach P, Stubbe A. Geographical Distribution of the Genus Mesobuthus (Scorpiones: Buthidae) in Mongolia. Erforschung biologischer Ressourcen der Mongolei. 2016(13):147-64. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

Geographic distribution of scorpion envenomations in the USA

Kang and Brooks recently published a epidemiological study on the geographic distribution of scorpion envenomations in the USA in 2010-2015. Most cases were reported from Arizona (57 168), where the infamous Arizona Bark Scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus Ewing, 1928) is medical important species. Eight other US states also had scorpion envenomations (ranging from 9659 to 906 cases).

Health consequences of scorpion envenomations are also discussed.

Objectives. To determine the geographic distribution of scorpion envenomations in the United States by zip code, with particular attention to the neurotoxic Centruroides sculpturatus (Arizona bark scorpion), for which an antivenom is available.
Methods. We obtained scorpion exposure cases for 2010 to 2015 from the National Poison Data System. Using geographic information systems software, we mapped total exposures and incidence rates for 9 states that reported more than 100 annual calls. We also mapped cases that reported fasciculations and nystagmus (unique to C. sculpturatus among native scorpions).
Results. The highest exposure incidences occurred in Phoenix (up to 677 per 100 000 population) and Tucson (584), both in Arizona. Elsewhere, high incidences were found in El Paso, Texas (213); Oklahoma City (209) and Tulsa (178), Oklahoma; and Las Vegas, Nevada (170). Fasciculations and nystagmus were reported in Arizona and southeastern Nevada, with small numbers in surrounding states, including Utah.
Conclusions. Scorpion exposures occurred at baseline rates throughout many of the southern states, whereas several states reported effects indicative of Arizona bark scorpion envenomation.

Kang AM, Brooks DE. Geographic Distribution of Scorpion Exposures in the United States, 2010-2015. Am J Public Health. 2017;107(12):1958-63. [Subscription required for full text]

03 November, 2017

Scorpion envenomations in southeastern Ecuador

Juan Roman and co-workers have studied scorpion envenomations in rural locations in the Amazonian province of Morona Santiago, southeastern Ecuador. The severity of scorpion stings in this region is reported and the conclusion is that scorpions are a public health problem, especially for young children.

A phylogenetic analysis of the scorpions involved in serious cases were conducted and revealed that these were caused by a species in the Tityus obscurus group (Buthidae). This group contains species responsible for severe envenomations in other areas of the Amazonian Basin. The Ecuadorian species involved is unknown, and will be described as a new species in a future publication.

Scorpion envenoming by species in the genus Tityus is hereby reported from rural locations in the Amazonian province of Morona Santiago, southeastern Ecuador. Twenty envenoming cases (18 patients under 15 years of age) including one death (a 4-year-old male) were recorded at the Macas General Hospital, Morona Santiago, between January 2015 and December 2016 from the counties of Taisha (n =17), Huamboyo (n= 1), Palora (n =1), and Logroño (n =1). An additional fatality from 2014 (a 3-year-old female from Nayantza, Taisha county) is also reported. Leukocytosis and low serum potassium levels were detected in most patients. We observed a significant negative correlation between leukocytosis and hypokalemia. Scorpions involved in three accidents from Macuma, Taisha County, were identified as genetically related to Tityus obscurus from the Brazilian Amazonian region based on comparison of mitochondrial DNA sequences encoding cytochrome oxidase subunit I. These cases, along with previously reported envenoming from northern Manabí, reinforce the notion that scorpionism is a health hazard for children in Ecuador and emphasizes the need to supply effective antivenoms against local species, which are not currently available. The genetic affinity of the Ecuadorian specimens with T. obscurus may underlay toxinological, clinical, and venom antigenic relationships among Amazonian scorpions that deserves further exploration for designing therapeutic strategies to treat scorpionism in the region.

Roman JP, Garcia F, Medina D, Vasquez M, Garcia J, Graham MR, et al. Scorpion envenoming in Morona Santiago, Amazonian Ecuador: Molecular phylogenetics confirms involvement of the Tityus obscurus group. Acta Trop. 2017;178:1-9. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Adolfo Borges and Matthew Graham for both sending me their article!

30 October, 2017

A new species of Physoctonus from southern Amazonia, Brazil

Wilson Lourenco has recently published an article presenting av new species of Physoctonus Mello-Leitao, 1934 (Buthidae) from southern Amazonia, Brazil.

Physoctonus amazonicus Lourenco, 2017

The biogeography of Physoctonus is also discussed.

Further studies on new specimens of the rare genus Physoctonus Mello-Leitão, 1934, lead to the description of a third new species. Until now only Physoctonus debilis (C. L. Koch, 1840) and Physoctonus striatus Esposito et al., 2017, were known from sites located in the caatingas of the north-east region of Brazil. The new species of Physoctonus was collected by the French arachnologist J. Vellard in the Campos do Pará during his field trips back to the 1920/1930, and entrusted to the author in the early 1980s. The populations of P. debilis and P. striatus from north-east Brazil and that of the new species certainly present disrupted distributions. Biogeographical comments on this pattern of distribution are also added.

Lourenco WR. A new species of Physoctonus Mello-Leitão, 1934 from the ‘Campos formations’ of southern Amazonia (Scorpiones, Buthidae). ZooKeys. 2017;711. [Open Access]

Thanks to Venomtech on Twitter for informing me about this article!

Family Buthidae

27 October, 2017

A new vaejovid genus from USA and Mexico

Michael E. Soleglad and co-workers have recently published an article presenting a new genus in the family Vaejovidae from USA and Mexico. Four species have been included in the new genus.

Catalinia Soleglad, Ayrey, Graham & Fet, 2017 (New genus).

Catalinia andreas (Gertsch & Soleglad, 1972) (Previously Pseudouroctonus andreas (Gertsch & Soleglad, 1972)).

Catalinia castanea (Gertsch & Soleglad, 1972) (Raised from subspecies status. Previously Pseudouroctonus minimus castaneus (Gertsch & Soleglad, 1972)).

Catalinia minima (Kraepelin, 1911) (Previously Pseudouroctonus minimus minimus (Kraepelin, 1911)).

Catalinia thompsoni (Gertsch & Soleglad, 1972) (Raised from subspecies status. Previously Pseudouroctonus minimus thompsoni (Gertsch & Soleglad, 1972)).

The habitat and biogeography of the new species is discussed. An identification key is also provided.

Genus Catalinia, gen. nov. (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) is described from southern California, USA and Baja California, Mexico. The genus is composed of four species formerly placed in Pseudouroctonus: Catalinia minima (Kraepelin, 1911), comb. nov. (type species), C. andreas (Gertsch et Soleglad, 1972), comb. nov., C. castanea (Gertsch et Soleglad, 1972), comb. nov., and C. thompsoni, comb. nov. (Gertsch et Soleglad, 1972). Major diagnostic characters of Catalinia include a carapace with a very weak anterior indentation, a very stout metasoma with little or no tapering from segment I to V, and a mating plug with two partial bases. Evidence is presented suggesting that Catalinia is closely related to the “apacheanus” species group of Pseudouroctonus.

Soleglad ME, Ayrey RF, Graham MR, Fet V. Catalinia, a new scorpion genus from southern California, USA and northern Baja California, Mexico (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius. 2017(251):1-64. [Open Access]

Family Vaejovidae

06 October, 2017

An update on the medical important scorpions of Mexico

Mexico has a very high diversity of scorpions, but also many medical important species in the genus Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Buthidae). Several of these species have an urban distribution making scorpions a significant health problems in some areas.

Lidia Riano-Umbarila and co-workers have recently published a major study of the medical importance of several Centruroides species based on LD50 tests (a controversial test from a animal welfare and ethics point of view). The article add more knowledge to the list of potential dangerous scorpions species in Mexico (click on the picture to see the species mentioned in this study).

The increment in the number of scorpion envenoming cases in Mexico is mainly associated to the rapid growth of the urban areas, and consequently, to the invasion of natural habitats of these arachnids. On the other hand, there is a great diversity of scorpion species, so it is indispensable to identify those of medical importance, which we now know are many more than the 7-8 previously reported as dangerous to humans. Because different LD50 values have been reported for the venom of the same species, probably due to variations in the experimental conditions used, in this work we determined the LD50 values for the venoms of 13 different species of scorpions using simple but systematic procedures. This information constitutes a referent on the level of toxicity of medically important scorpion species from Mexico and establishes the bases for a more comprehensive assessment of the neutralizing capacity of current and developing antivenoms.

Riano-Umbarila L, Rodriguez-Rodriguez ER, Santibanez-Lopez CE, Guereca L, Uribe-Romero SJ, Gomez-Ramirez IV, et al. Updating knowledge on new medically important scorpion species in Mexico. Toxicon. 2017;138:130-7. [Subscription required for full text]

American "superbat" (Antrozous pallidus) is immune against scorpion venom

The Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus). Photo: Courtesy by Connor Long (C)

A few weeks ago an article by  Bradley Hopp and co-workers presented a study of the Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus) using the Arizona Bark Scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus Ewing, 1928) as prey. The Arizona Bark Scorpion is the most venomous scorpion in the US, and the researchers observed that the hunting bats were stung by their prey without any serious symptoms.

Systematic observations and experiments with injections of scorpion venom in the bats confirmed that The Pallid Bat is probably resistant to the venom of the bark scorpion. An altered sodium ion channel function may partly be the mechanism for this resistance.

The pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus), a gleaning bat found in the western United States and Mexico, hunts a wide variety of ground-dwelling prey, including scorpions. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the pallid bat is resistant to scorpion venom, but no systematic study has been performed. Here we show with behavioral measures and direct injection of venom that the pallid bat is resistant to venom of the Arizona bark scorpion, Centruroides sculpturatus. Our results show that the pallid bat is stung multiple times during a hunt without any noticeable effect on behavior. In addition, direct injection of venom at mouse LD50 concentrations (1.5 mg/kg) has no effect on bat behavior. At the highest concentration tested (10 mg/kg), three out of four bats showed no effects. One of the four bats showed a transient effect suggesting that additional studies are required to identify potential regional variation in venom tolerance. Scorpion venom is a cocktail of toxins, some of which activate voltagegated sodium ion channels, causing intense pain. Dorsal root ganglia (DRG) contain nociceptive neurons and are principal targets of scorpion venom toxins. To understand if mutations in specific ion channels contribute to venom resistance, a pallid bat DRG transcriptome was generated. As sodium channels are a major target of scorpion venom, we identified amino acid substitutions present in the pallid bat that may lead to venom resistance. Some of these substitutions are similar to corresponding amino acids in sodium channel isoforms responsible for reduced venom binding activity. The substitution found previously in the grasshopper mouse providing venom resistance to the bark scorpion is not present in the pallid bat, indicating a potentially novel mechanism for venom resistance in the bat that remains to be identified. Taken together, these results indicate that the pallid bat is resistant to venom of the bark scorpion and altered sodium ion channel function may partly underlie such resistance.

Hopp BH, Arvidson RS, Adams ME, Razak KA. Arizona bark scorpion venom resistance in the pallid bat, Antrozous pallidus. PLoS One. 2017;12(8):e0183215. [Open Access]

Thanks to Matt Simon for informing me about this article.

27 September, 2017

Increased predator exposure changes scorpion venom cocktail to become a more effective weapon

I just came across a very interesting article on phenotypic plasticity in scorpion venom. Scorpion venom is a cocktail of different toxins having different effects on different targets (e.g. one toxin is effective against invertebrates, another against mammals and a third against both). The matter in question in the current study is if scorpions are able to modify the ‘recipe’ of its venom cocktail, and thereby optimizing the fitness benefits of its costly venom, in different environments exhibiting differences in densities and types of predators and prey.

The Australian species Hormurus waigiensis (Gervais, 1843) (Hormuridae) was used in this study.

And interestingly, the results showed that simulated predator exposure appeared to decrease relative production of strong invertebrate toxins, while generally increasing the production of a section of the venom profile with activity towards mammalian cells. Put in other words, it seems that at least in Liocheles waigensis, increased interactions with a potential predator will cause the venom to become more effective (dangerous) against the predator and less effective against invertebrate prey.

So don't provoke your scorpions! This may make them more dangerous ;)

Animals embedded between trophic levels must simultaneously balance pressures to deter predators and acquire resources. Venomous animals may use venom toxins to mediate both pressures, and thus changes in this balance may alter the composition of venoms. Basic theory suggests that greater exposure to a predator should induce a larger proportion of defensive venom components relative to offensive venom components, while increases in arms races with prey will elicit the reverse. Alternatively, reducing the need for venom expenditure for food acquisition, for example because of an increase in scavenging, may reduce the production of offensive venom components. Here, we investigated changes in scorpion venom composition using a mesocosm experiment where we manipulated scorpions’ exposure to a surrogate vertebrate predator and live and dead prey. After six weeks, scorpions exposed to surrogate predators exhibited significantly different venom chemistry compared with naive scorpions. This change included a relative increase in some compounds toxic to vertebrate cells and a relative decrease in some compounds effective against their invertebrate prey. Our findings provide, to our knowledge, the first evidence for adaptive plasticity in venom composition. These changes in venom composition may increase the stability of food webs involving venomous animals.

Gangur AN, Smout M, Liddell MJ, Seymour JE, Wilson D, Northfield TD. Changes in predator exposure, but not in diet, induce phenotypic plasticity in scorpion venom. Proc Biol Sci. 2017;284(1863). [Subscription required for full text]

18 September, 2017

A new, extinct species of Centruroides found in amber from Mexico

Wilson Lourenco has recently described a new species of Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Buthidae) found in amber from Chiapas, Mexico.

Centruroides knodeli Lourenco, 2017

The new species is extinct. Please note that this species is not listed in The Scorpion Files as the species list only list extant species.

The article also includes criticisms of a recent article published by Rolando Teruel where two extinct species of Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Buthidae) also found in amber were synonymized with Tityus geratus Santiago-Blay & Poinar, 1988. The following two species are restored as valid species.

Tityus azari Lourenço, 2013

Tityus (Brazilotityus) hartkorni Lourenço, 2009

Centruroides knodeli sp. n., a new species of fossil scorpion, is described from a specimen in amber from Chiapas, Mexico. The new species is clearly related to the extant fauna of the Neotropical region and is placed in the genus Centruroides Marx, 1890, presently distributed in North, Central and South America and in the Caribbean region. Also, the fossil species Tityus hartkorni Lourenço, 2009 and Tityus azari Lourenço, 2013, described from Dominican amber and inappropriately regarded by Rolando Teruel as junior synonyms of Tityus geratus Santiago-Blay & Poinar, 1988, are herein restored as valid taxa.

Lourenco WR. A new species of Centruroides Marx, 1890 from Chiapas amber, Mexico (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2017(30):100-6.

14 September, 2017

Two new species of Grosphus from Madagascar

Wilson Lourenco and co-workers have recently published an article describing two new species of Grosphus Simon, 1880 (Buthidae) from Madagascar.

Grosphus halleuxi Lourenço, Wilme, Soarimalala & Waeber, 2017

Grosphus rakotoariveloi Lourenço, Wilme, Soarimalala & Waeber, 2017

Grosphus simoni Lourenco, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004 is redescribed. The biogeography of the mentioned species is also discussed.

A reanalysis of the type material of Grosphus simoni Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004, associated with new material of this species from the northeast of Madagascar, has led to the conclusion that the male paratype of G. simoni belongs to a new, undescribed species. A large series of specimens collected in the Ambatovy-Analamay-Torotorofotsy humid forests, at around 1000 m, revealed the presence of another new species, also associated to G. simoni. Thanks to the supplementary material, with males and females, a new diagnosis is proposed for G. simoni and two new species are here described. Some general comments on the biogeography of the two new species and G. simoni are also provided.

Lourenco WR, Wilme L, Soarimalala V, Waeber PO. Species of Grosphus Simon, 1880 associated to Grosphus simoni Lourenço, Goodman & Ramilijaona, 2004 with description of two new species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2017(30):61-9.

Family Buthidae

12 September, 2017

A new species of Broteochactas from Brazil

Wilson Lourenco has recently described a new species of Brotheochactas Pocock, 1893 (Chactidae) from Brazilian Amazonia.

Broteochactas purus Lourenco, 2017

A new contribution to the knowledge of the scorpions belonging to the genus Broteochactas Pocock, 1893 is proposed and a new species is described, Broteochactas purus sp. n., based on one female specimen collected in the region of Beruri near the River Purus in the State of Amazonas, Brazil. The new species is characterized by a small size, an intense reddish to reddish yellow coloration, body and appendages with punctation and metasomal segment V and telson with conspicuous spinoid granulations.

Lourenco WR. One more new species of Broteochactas Pocock, 1893 (Scorpiones: Chactidae) from Brazilian Amazonia. Revista Iberica de Arachnologia. 2017(30):11-4.

Family Chactidae

08 September, 2017

A new species of Ananteris from Brazil

Andre Felipe de Araujo Lira and co-workers have recently described a new species of Ananteris Thorell, 1891 (Buthidae) from the Caatinga biome in Brazil.

Ananteris otovianoi Lira, Pordeus & Ribeiro de Albuquerque, 2017

We describe a new species of scorpion from the Caatinga of the state of Pernambuco, Brazil. Ananteris otovianoi sp. nov. can be distinguished from other Ananteris by the following combination of characters: blackish brown spots up to the medical surface of the chelicerae; pectinal tooth count and some structures measurements. In addition, data on natural history are showed and discussed. 

Lira AFA, Pordeus LM, Ribeiro de Albuquerque CM. A New species of Ananteris (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from Caatinga biome, Brazil. Acta Arachnologica. 2017;66(1):9-15. [Open Access, but pdf for this issue is not yet available]

Thanks to Andre Lira for sending me their article!

Family Buthidae

05 September, 2017

The Scorpion Fauna of Mona Island, Puerto Rico and a few taxonomical changes

Rolando Teruel and co-workers have been able to examine new materials from Mona Island, Puerto Rico and have published an article with updates on the scorpion fauna of this island. In addition, the following taxonomical decissions have been made:

Centruroides mariaorum Santiago-Blay, 2009 is synonymized with C. bani Armas & Marcano Fondeur, 1988.

The previous synonymization of Rhopalurus virkkii Santiago-Blay, 2009 with Heteroctenus abudi (Armas et Marcano Fondeur, 1987) is confirmed.

The scorpion fauna of the small Mona Island (= Isla de Mona), located roughly midway between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico and administratively belonging to the latter, is herein revised. Three species are confirmed to occur: the buthids Centruroides bani Armas et Marcano Fondeur, 1987 and Heteroctenus abudi (Armas et Marcano Fondeur, 1987), plus the diplocentrine scorpionid Cazierius garridoi Armas, 2005. The previously recorded Heteronebo sp. is reexamined and deemed a mislabeled specimen of Heteronebo portoricensis Francke, 1978 from adjacent Puerto Rico. Also, Centruroides mariaorum Santiago-Blay, 2009 is demonstrated to be a junior synonym of C. bani (implying the first demonstrable records of the latter from both Mona Island and Puerto Rico) and Rhopalurus virkkii Santiago-Blay, 2009 is confirmed as a junior synonym of H. abudi. A thorough photographic complement and supplementary ecological and distributional data are provided for every species.

Teruel R, Rivera MJ, Sanchez AJ. The Scorpion Fauna of Mona Island, Puerto Rico (Scorpiones: Buthidae, Scorpionidae). Euscorpius. 2017(250):1-15. [Open Access]

24 August, 2017

Differences in mating behavior between two geographically separated populations of Bothriurus bonariensis

Paola Olivero and co-workers have recently published a study of the mating behavior of two allopatric populations of the Neptropical scorpion Bothriurus bonariensis (C.L. Koch, 1842) (Bothriuridae).

The authors found significant differences in mating patterns, including differences in the frequency and duration of important stimulatory courtship behaviors. Another interesting finding was that most inter-population matings were unsuccessful.

Courtship and mating behavior generally evolve rapidly in diverging populations and species. The adaptation to different environments may cause behavioral divergence in characteristics involved in matechoice. Our objective in this study was to compare the sexual behavior of two distant populations of thescorpion Bothriurus bonariensis. This species has a broad distribution in South America, inhabiting Central Argentina, Uruguay and south-eastern Brazil. It is known that in this species there is a divergence in morphological patterns (body size, coloration, allometry and fluctuating asymmetry indexes) among distant populations. Considering the differences in environmental conditions between localities, we compare the sexual behavior in intra-population and inter-population matings from Central Argentina and southern Uruguay populations. We found significant differences in mating patterns, including differences in the frequency and duration of important stimulatory courtship behaviors. In addition, most inter-population matings were unsuccessful. In this framework, the differences in reproductive behavior could indicate reproductive isolation between these populations, which coincides with their already known morphological differences. This is the first study comparing the sexual behavior of allopatric populations of scorpions; it provides new data about the degree of intraspecific geographical divergence in the sexual behavior of B. bonariensis.

Olivero PA, Mattoni CI, Peretti AV. Differences in mating behavior between two allopatric populations of a Neotropical scorpion. Zoology (Jena). 2017; Article in Press. [Subscription required for full text]

18 August, 2017

The holotype of Pandinus imperator has been rediscovered

The Emperor Scorpion, Pandinus imperator (C. L. Koch, 1841) (Scorpionidae), is probably the most famous scorpion species due to its impressive size and its history in the pet industry. The holotype was considered lost for a long time, but has now been rediscovered and redescribed by Joachim Holstein and co-workers in a recent article.

The holotype of the Emperor Scorpion Pandinus imperator (C.L. Koch, 1841) was long believed to have been lost. In 2015, as scientists at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart were digitizing its entomological collections, they rediscovered the specimen on which Koch had based his description of the scorpion in 1841.

Holstein J, Wendt I, Rossi A. The Emperor is back! Rediscovery and redescription of the holotype of Pandinus imperator (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae). Arachnologische Mitteilungen. 2017;54:44-7.

Thanks to Andrea Rossi and Ingo Wendt for both sending me this article!

Family Scorpionidae

15 August, 2017

A new species of Megacormus from Mexico

Edmundo Gonzalez-Santillan and co-workers have recently described a new species of Megacormus Karsch, 1881 (Euscorpiidae) from an oak-pine forest in Guanajuato, México.

Megacormus xichu Gonzalez-Santillan, Gonzalez-Ruiz & Escobedo-Morales, 2017

 The article has an updated indentification key for the genus.

The fifth species of the genus, Megacormus xichu sp. nov., is described and compared to the other species. An identification key to these species as well as a distributional map with localities taken from the literature are provided.

Gonzalez-Santillan E, Gonzalez-Ruiz JM, Escobedo-Morales LA. A new species of Megacormus (Scorpiones, Euscorpiidae) from an oak-pine forest in Guanajuato, México with an identification key to the species in the genus. Zootaxa. 2017;4299(2):221-37. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Edmundo Gonzalez-Santillan for sending me their article!

09 August, 2017

Weapon of choice should reflect the level of threat

Several studies have directly or indirectly shown that at least some scorpion species abide by the venom optimization hypothesis both in sting and venom use. A scorpion's choice of weapon should reflect the level of threat (or the level of resistance of a prey).

Andre Lira and co-workers have recently published an article showing that Tityus stigimurus (Thorell, 1876) (Buthidae) reacts differently depending on the level of threat. Higher threat level caused a more aggressive behavior and more use of the main venom (instead of the metabolic more "cheaper" prevenom).

Venom demands high metabolic costs of the organisms that produce it because it is comprised of a complex mixture of various toxins. Due to this high cost, venomous animals modulate the amount or type of venom used depending on factors such as size of prey or intensity of predation threat. This paper shows that Tityus stigmurus, a prevalent scorpion species in the urban environment in the Northeast of Brazil, modulates its venom in response to different levels of stimuli. Sixty animals were collected in Vitória de Santo Antão, Pernambuco. The animals were subjected to either high or low levels of threats. During the tests, the animals were gently touched five times on the mesosoma with forceps at an interval of 5 s (high threat) or 5 min (low threat). The response varied significantly between intensity levels, with the animals exposed to low threat stinging in 70% of the observations and releasing a clear venom. In contrast, individuals subjected to a high level of threat stung in 83% of the observations and released a milky venom. Our results suggest that T. stigmurus reacts differently depending on the stimulus level. When the threat was considered high, the animal reacted more aggressively. Our results support the assumption that milky venom is only used when the animal is highly stressed because this venom represents higher metabolic costs than the production of clear venom.

Lira AF, Santos AB, Silva NA, Martins RD. Threat level influences the use of venom in a scorpion species, Tityus stigmurus (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Acta Ethologica. 2017;Published online 03.08.17:1-5. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andre Lira for sending me this article!

08 August, 2017

A new species of Hemiscorpius from Iran

Frantisek Kovarik and co-workers have recently published a new species in the medical significant genus Hemiscorpius Peters, 1861 (Hemiscorpiidae) from Iran.

Hemiscorpius shahii Kovarik, Navidour & Soleglad, 2017

Hemiscorpius shahii sp. n. from Iran, Hormozgan Province, is described and compared with other species of Hemiscorpius genus. The new species is characterized mainly by total length of 84 (female) to 110.7 (male) mm and unique trichobothrial pattern of pedipalp patella. The number of external trichobothria on patella is 17–18 (5 eb, 4 esb, 2–3 em, 3 est, 3 et); the number of ventral trichobothria on patella is 14–16. This distinguishes H. shahii sp. n. from all other species of genus Hemiscorpius, which have 3 or 10–12 ventral trichobothria on patella, one or two trichobothria in patella est series, and two or three trichobothria in esb series.

Kovarik F, Navidpour S, Soleglad ME. Hemiscorpius shahii sp. n. from Iran (Scorpiones: Hemiscorpiidae). Euscorpius. 2017(249):1-9. [Open Access]

Family Hemsicorpiidae

04 August, 2017

The acid in the venom makes a scorpion's sting extra painful

Fortunately, most scorpions are harmless to humans. But getting stung usually hurt, and for many buthids it hurts a lot. It is known that special toxins (peptids) in the venom cocktail are responsible for the pain, but a new study by Shilong Yang, and co-workers shows that the acid in the venom increase the pain effects of the toxins significantly and thereby maximizing the toxin potency.

If you want to learn more about this study, check out this blog report from Phys Org that explains the mechanism more in detail.

Venomous animals use peptide toxins for hunting and self-defense. To achieve these goals, toxins need to bind to their targets with high affinity due to the small amount that a single bite or sting can deliver. The scorpion toxin BmP01 is linked to sting-induced excruciating pain; however, the reported minimum concentrations for activating TRPV1 channel or inhibiting voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels (both in the micromolar range) appear too high to be biologically relevant. We show that the effective concentration of BmP01 is highly pH-dependent—it increases by about 10-fold in inhibiting Kv channels upon a 1-U drop in pH but decreases more than 100-fold in activating TRPV1. Mechanistic investigation revealed that BmP01 binds to one of the two proton-binding sites on TRPV1 and, together with a proton, uses a one-two punch approach to strongly activate the nociceptive channel. Because most animal venoms are acidic, proton-facilitated synergistic actionmay represent a general strategy for maximizing toxin potency.

Yang S, Yang F, Zhang B, Lee BH, Li B, Luo L, et al. A bimodal activation mechanism underlies scorpion toxin–induced pain. Science Advances. 2017;3(8). [Open Access]

01 August, 2017

A new substitute name for Butheolus pallidus

Wilson Lourenco and Andrea Rossi have recently published an article with a new replacement name for Butheolus pallidus Lourenço & Duhem, 2012 (Buthidae). The reason for this is that it has been discovered that this name is preoccupied by Butheolus pallidus Pocock, 1897 (currently under the genus Orthochirus Karsch, 1891).

The new name for this species from Oman and United Arab Emirates is Butheolus hallani Lourenço & Rossi, 2017. [Author information corrected 17.08.17]

A nomen novum is proposed for Butheolus pallidus Lourenço et Duhem, 2012, a primary junior homonym of Butheolus pallidus Pocock, 1897 (currently Orthochirus pallidus).

Lourenco WR, Rossi A. A new substitute name for Butheolus pallidus Lourenço et Duhem, 2012 (Scorpiones, Buthidae), species described from United Arab Emirates/Oman. Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2017;3(13):42-4.

Thanks to Joel Hallan for sending me this article!

Family Buthidae

31 July, 2017

A new species of Tityus from north-eastern Argentina

Andreas A. Ojanguren-Affilastro and co-workers have recently published a new species of Tityus C. L. Koch, 1836 (Buthidae) from north-eastern Argentina.

Tityus curupi Ojanguren-Affilastro, Adilardi, Cajade, Ramõarez, Ceccarelli & Mola, 2017

Tityus curupi n. sp., belonging to the bolivianus complex, is described from the biogeographically distinct area of Paraje Tres Cerros in north-eastern Argentina. We also present a molecular species delimitation analysis between Tityus curupi n. sp. and its sister species Tityus uruguayensis Borelli 1901 to confirm species integrity. Furthermore, a cytogenetic analysis is presented for these two species which contain different multivalent associations in meiosis, as a consequence of chromosome rearrangements, and the highest chromosome numbers in the genus.

Ojanguren-Affilastro AA, Adilardi RS, Cajade R, Ramirez MJ, Ceccarelli FS, Mola LM. Multiple approaches to understanding the taxonomic status of an enigmatic new scorpion species of the genus Tityus (Buthidae) from the biogeographic island of Paraje Tres Cerros (Argentina). PLoS One. 2017;12(7):e0181337. [Open Access]

Family Buthidae

28 July, 2017

A review of the taxonomy of the large buthid genus Buthus

The genus Buthus Leach, 1815 is one of the largest genera in the family Buthidae with species in 17 countries in Western Europe, North-, Central-, and Eastern Africa and the Middle East. The taxonomy of this complex genus has been confusing, but in the last 20 years there have been many studies and the number of species in the genus has increased 10-fold. Several of the African species have medical significance.

Pedro Sousa and co-workers have now published a review of the taxonomy of Buthus and present an overview of the history of Buthus taxonomy, an updated species list and distribution of the genus. Two taxa are raised to species status (from subspecies status):

Buthus nigrovesiculosus Hirst, 1925

Buthus parroti Vachon, 1949

In addition, Buthus barbouri Werner, 1932  is transferred to the genus Androctonus Ehrenberg, 1828:

Androctonus barbouri (Werner, 1932),

Check abstract or the article for other taxonomical updates.

If you are interested in the genus Buthus, this is the article to read.

Since the publication of the ground-breaking “Catalogue of the scorpions of the world (1758–1998)” (Fet et al. 2000) the number of species in the scorpion genus Buthus Leach, 1815 has increased 10-fold, and this genus is now the fourth largest within the Buthidae, with 52 valid named species. Here we revise and update the available information regarding Buthus. A new combination is proposed: Buthus halius (C. L. Koch, 1839), comb. n. from Portugal and Spain. B. halius is removed from junior synonymy with Buthus occitanus (Amoreux, 1789), and proposed as a senior synonym of B. ibericus Lourenço & Vachon, 2004, syn. n. Moreover, following I.C.Z.N. article 23.9.2 we propose to maintain as valid B. ibericus (nomen protectum) and to consider the disued B. halius as a nomen oblitum. Buthus europaeus tridentatus Franganillo, 1918 is proposed as a junior synonym of B. occitanus (Amoreux, 1789), syn. n. Buthus sabulicola Touloun, 2012 is proposed as a junior synonym of Buthus bonito Lourenço & Geniez, 2005, syn. n. Buthus occitanus tunetanus neeli Gysin, 1969 is proposed as an informal senior synonym of Buthus tassili Lourenço, 2002, informal syn. n. Two taxa are rised to species rank, Buthus nigrovesiculosus Hirst, 1925, stat. n. and Buthus parroti Vachon, 1949, stat. n.. We further confirm the restricted distribution of B. occitanus that is confined to southeastern France and northwestern Iberian Peninsula and does not occur in North Africa. Additionally, Androctonus barbouri (Werner, 1932), comb. n. from the Agadir region of Morocco, is hereby transferred to the genus Androctonus. We summarize and provide a critical appraisal of the diagnostic characters currently in use for the genus. The catalogue section considers the names for species, subspecies and varieties that have been used for Buthus scorpions. Information about types, including collection numbers and localities are included when available. Finally, an annotated listing of synonymies and an updated bibliography are given.

Sousa P, Arnedo MA, Harris DJ. Updated catalogue and taxonomic notes on the Old-World scorpion genus Buthus Leach, 1815 (Scorpiones, Buthidae). ZooKeys. 2017(686):15-84. [Open Access]

Thanks to Pedro Sousa for sending me his article!

Family Buthidae

26 July, 2017

Scorpionism in Jordan

Scorpions are a public health problem in the Middle East with several buthid species in the genera Leiurus Ehrenberg, 1828 and Androctonus Ehrenberg, 1828 causing cases of death and serious morbidity every year.

Zuhair Amr and co-workers have recently published an epidemiological study on scorpion envenomations in Jordan between 2006 and 2012. The main conclusion is that scorpion stings remain a medical problem in Jordan as they are in other countries in the region.



Scorpionism is an endemic public health problem in Jordan encountered by health providers in all parts of the country. This study updates epidemiological data on scorpion sting encounters in Jordan.


Data on scorpion sting encounters were obtained from government and military hospitals around the country, and the National Drug and Poison Information Center (NDPIC). P values and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using SPSS Professional Statistics Package version 22 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY) program.


Epidemiological data on 1205 scorpion sting cases reported between 2006 and 2012 are reported. Male to female ratio was 1.18:1, aged 23.3±16 (mean±SD) and 26.4±16.9 years for males and females, respectively. Age groups between 1 to 20 years old constituted 44.6% of the total sting encounters, while adults aged >30 years constituted 30%. Scorpion sting encounters peaked in July (22.5%) and August (23%), with the lowest numbers of recorded cases in February and January (1.6 and 1.9%, respectively). Scorpion stings occurred mostly outdoors (66%). Medical complications associated with scorpion sting cases included fever, difficulty in breathing, drowsiness and dizziness, and numbness, while severe complications include respiratory failure and tachycardia. Hospitalization required 1 to 3 days among admitted patients with no fatalities.


Scorpion stings remain a medical problem in Jordan that requires more attention by health providers. Reporting of scorpion sting cases should be enforced from all healthcare centers throughout the country to better understand the epidemiology and health implications of human encounters.

Amr ZS, Al Zou'bi R, Abdo N, Bani Hani R. Scorpion Stings in Jordan: An Update. Wilderness Environ Med. 2017;In Press. [Subscription required for full text]

24 July, 2017

A new species of Buthacus from Algeria

Wilson Lourenco and co-workers recently published an article describing a new species of Buthacus Birula, 1908 (Buthidae) from the Tamanrasset region in Algeria.

Buthacus ahaggar Lourenco, Kourim & Sadine, 2017

In the last 1520 years, the genus Buthacus Birula, 1908 (family Buthidae) has been the subject of an important number of studies. Most of the species considered in these studies come from North Africa and more recently our studies were concentrated in the Central deserts of Algeria. With the present study, we start a new series of contributions to the knowledge of the scorpions distributed in the South range of the country. A new species of Buthacus is described from the southern Saharan Deserts of Algeria, raising the number of confirmed known species in this area to three and the total number of known species in Algeria to nine. This new discovery brings further evidence to the considerable degree of diversity found in the Algerian Saharan Desert but in particular suggests once again the presence in these deserts of microendemic populations.

Lourenco WR, Kourim ML, Sadine SE. Scorpions from the region of Tamanrasset, Algeria. Part I. A new species of Buthacus Birula, 1908 (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Arachnida - Rivista Aracnologica Italiana. 2017;3(8):31-41.

Thanks to Salah Eddine Sadine for sending me their article!

Family Buthidae

21 July, 2017

A new genus and species from Myanmar (Burma)

Wilson Lourenco has recently published a new genus and species from a cave in Myanmar (Burma).

Plethoscorpiops Lourenço, 2017 (Scorpiopinae, Euscorpiidae*)

Plethoscorpiops profusus Lourenço, 2017 (Scorpiopinae, Euscorpiidae*)

* The author of this paper is treating Scorpiopinae as a valid family: Scorpiopidae

The new taxa has a unique trichobothrial pattern, but shows no special cave-adaptions (troglomorphic adaptions) like pigment and eye reductions.

Plethoscorpiops profusus gen. n., sp. n., belonging to the family Scorpiopidae Kraepelin, 1905 is described on the basis of two specimens, one adult female and one male juvenile collected in the Saddan Cave, in Kayin State, Hpa-An, Burma (Myanmar). This new scorpion taxon most certainly represents an endemic element for the fauna of Burma and seems to be strictly distributed inside the cave system. The new genus is characterized by a previously unknown and totally unique plethotaxic trichobothrial pattern within the family Scorpiopidae.

Lourenco WR. A new genus and species of scorpion from Burma [Myanmar] (Scorpiones: Scorpiopidae): Implications for the taxonomy of the family. C R Biol. 2017; In Press. [Open Access]

Family Euscorpiidae

20 July, 2017

There and back again: Revalidation of three recently synonymized Cuban species of Heteroctenus

Luis de Armas recently published an article where he revalidated three recently synonymized Cuban species of Heteroctenus Pocock, 1893 (Buthidae) (the three species previously belonged to Rhopalurus Thorell, 1876). This means that the following species are considered valid:

Heteroctenus aridicola (Teruel et Armas, 2012)

Heteroctenus melloleitaoi (Teruel et Armas, 2006)

Heteroctenus granulimanus (Teruel, 2006)

In addition, the buthid subfamily Rhopalurusinae Bücherl, 1971 is regarded as a junior synonym of Centruroidinae Kraus, 1955.

For more information about the synonymization of the three species, see my blog post from yesterday.

The scorpion genus Heteroctenus Pocock, 1893 was restored from synonymy with Rhopalurus in a recent revision by Esposito et al. (2017). Here, we restore two eastern Cuban species Heteroctenus melloleitaoi (Teruel et Armas, 2006) and H. aridicola (Teruel et Armas, 2012) as valid species. They were synonymized by Esposito et al. (2017) under Heteroctenus junceus (Herbst, 1800), without examination of corresponding specimens and with erroneous interpretations of some aspects of the original descriptions. Heteroctenus granulimanus (Teruel, 2006) is also restored as a valid species. The subfamily Rhopalurusinae Bücherl, 1971 is regarded as a junior synonym of Centruroidinae Kraus, 1955.

De Armas LF. Revalidation of Three Recently Synonymized Cuban Species of Heteroctenus Pocock, 1893 (Scorpiones: Buthidae: Centruroidinae). Euscorpius. 2017(248):1-3.

Family Buthidae

19 July, 2017

A systematic revision of the neotropical club-tailed scorpions, Physoctonus, Rhopalurus, and Troglorhopalurus has been published

Lauren Esposito and several co-workers have recently published a major systematic revision of the neotropical club-tailed scorpions, Physoctonus Mello-Leitao, 1934, Rhopalurus Thorell, 1876 and Troglorhopalurus Lourenço, Baptista & Giupponi, 2004 (Buthidae). This is a major study with many taxonomical changes. I have tried to sum up the main results here:

New genera:

Ischnotelson Esposito, Yamaguti, Souza, Pinto da Roacha & Prendini, 2017 (Brazil).

Jaguajir Esposito, Yamaguti, Souza, Pinto da Roacha & Prendini, 2017 (North and northeastern South America).

Heteroctenus Pocock, 1893 (revalidated from synonymization).

New species:

Ischnotelson peruassu Esposito, Yamaguti, Souza, Pinto da Roacha & Prendini, 2017 (Brazil).

Physoctonus striatus Esposito, Yamaguti, Souza, Pinto da Roacha & Prendini, 2017 (Brazil).

Rhopalurus ochoai Esposito, Yamaguti, Souza, Pinto da Roacha & Prendini, 2017 (Venezuela).

New combinations:

All of these species previously belonged to the genus Rhopalurus Thorell, 1876.

Heteroctenus abudi (Armas and Marcano Fondeur, 1987)

Heteroctenus bonettii (Armas, 1999)

Heteroctenus garridoi (Armas, 1974)

Heteroctenus gibarae (Teruel, 2006)

Heteroctenus princeps (Karsch, 1879)

Ischnotelson guanambiensis (Lenarducci et al., 2005)

Jaguajir agamemnon (C.L. Koch, 1839)

Jaguajir pintoi (Mello-Leitão, 1932)

Jaguajir rochae (Borelli, 1910)

Troglorhopalurus lacrau (Lourenço and Pinto-da-Rocha 1997)


"=" means "synonymized with".

Rhopalurus crassicauda Caporiacco, 1947 = Rhopalurus laticauda Thorell, 1876.

Rhopalurus amazonicus Lourenço, 1986 = Rhopalurus laticauda Thorell, 1876.

Rhopalurus crassicauda paruensis Lourenço, 2008 = Rhopalurus laticauda Thorell, 1876.

Rhopalurus brejo Lourenço, 2014 = Troglorhopalurus lacrau (Lourenço and Pinto-da-Rocha, 1997).

Rhopalurus acromelas
Lutz and Mello, 1922 = Jaguajir agamemnon (C.L. Koch, 1839).

Rhopalurus melleipalpus Lutz and Mello, 1922 = Jaguajir agamemnon (C.L. Koch, 1839).

Rhopalurus iglesiasi Werner, 1927 = Jaguajir agamemnon (C.L. Koch, 1839).

Rhopalurus lambdophorus Mello-Leitão, 1932 = Jaguajir agamemnon (C.L. Koch, 1839).

Rhopalurus dorsomaculatus Prado, 1938 = Jaguajir agamemnon (C.L. Koch, 1839).

Rhopalurus goiasensis Prado, 1940 = Jaguajir agamemnon (C.L. Koch, 1839).

Rhopalurus aridicola Teruel and Armas, 2012 = Heteroctenus junceus (Herbst, 1800).

Rhopalurus melloleitaoi Teruel and Armas, 2006 = Heteroctenus junceus (Herbst, 1800).

Rhopalurus granulimanus Teruel, 2006 = Heteroctenus gibarae (Teruel, 2006).

Rhopalurus virkkii Santiago-Blay, 2009 = Heteroctenus abudi (Armas and Marcano Fondeur, 1987).

The article has an updated identification key for the involved taxa.


Esposito LA, Yamaguti HY, Souza CA, Pinto da Rocha R, Prendini L. Systematic revision of the neotropical club-tailed scorpions, Physoctonus, Rhopalurus, and Troglorhopalurus, revalidation of Heteroctenus, and descriptions of two new genera and three new species (Buthidae: Rhopalurusinae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 2017(415):1-134. [Open Access]

Thanks to Ricardo Pinto-da-Rocha and Carlos Turiel for sending me this article!

Family Buthidae

17 July, 2017

A second record of a relict Akrav israchanani from Israel

One of the more fascinating scorpion discoveries in the last 20 years was the discovery of a new scorpion family, genus and species in a closed cave system in Israel. Unfortunately, only dead specimens represented by exoskeletons of A. israchanani Levy, 2007 (Akravidae) were found, and the species is considered extinct.

Victor Fet and co-workers have now published the findings of new, relict specimens of this troglobitic species from a new cave-system. This second record indicates a wider distribution of this unique cave scorpion, which, however, is extinct in both caves. There is still no evidence that live populations of this species exist.

We report the remnants of five new scorpion specimens discovered dead in Levana Cave in Israel in December 2015. We confirm that they belong to the relict scorpion Akrav israchanani Levy, 2007 (Akravidae), famously described from the neighboring Ayyalon Cave, also from dead specimens. The details of morphology of the new specimens are given; they match completely the characters of A. israchanani redescribed by Fet, Soleglad & Zonstein (2011). This second record indicates a wider distribution of this unique cave scorpion, which, however, is extinct in both caves. There is still no evidence that live populations of this species exist.

Fet V, Soleglad ME, Zonstein SL, Naaman I, Lubaton S, Langford B, et al. The Second Record of a Relict Akrav israchanani Levy, 2007 (Scorpiones: Akravidae) from Levana Cave, Israel. Euscorpius. 2017(247):1-12. [Open Access]

Family Akravidae

22 June, 2017

On the phylogeny of diplocentrid scorpions

Carlos E. Santibáñez-López and co-workers have recently published an article on the phylogeny of diplocentrid scorpions. I have to be honest and say that this stuff is very much over my head and I just have to ask you to check out the abstract and the article for more details. Unfortunately, phylogeny and molecular taxonomy was not on the curriculum when I got my zoology educations in the previous millenium.

In a revision of the higher scorpion systematics, Soleglad & Fet (2003) abolished the family Diplocentridae and included all genera into Scorpionidae. This have been criticized by parts of the scorpion expert community, who treat this taxa as a valid family (Diplocentridae). This is also the case with the present article. The scorpion Files still lists Diplocentridae as a subfamily, but this is under consideration and may change in the time to come after I get input from my contacts in the scorpion expert community.

Morphology still plays a key role in the systematics and phylogenetics of most of the scorpion families and genera, including the Diplocentridae Karsch, 1880. The monophyly of this family, and the monophyly of its two subfamilies is supported by morphological characters; however, neither hypothesis has been tested using molecular data. The lack of a molecular phylogeny has prevented the study of the evolution of morphology within the family. Here, we examine the morphological evolution of several key character systems in diplocentrid systematics. We tested the monophyly of the Diplocentridae, and subsequently the validity of its two subfamilies using a five-locus phylogeny.We examined the variation and evolution of the shape of the carapace, the external surface of the pedipalp patella and the retrolateral surface of the pedipalp chelae of males and females. We also examined the phylogenetic signal of discrete and continuous characters previously reported. We show that Diplocentridae is monophyletic, but Nebinae is nested within Diplocentrinae. Therefore, Nebinae is synonymised with Diplocentrinae (new synonymy). Finally, we show that a new character system proposed here, tarsal spiniform and macrosetal counts, retains high phylogenetic signal and circumscribes independently evolving substructures within this character system.

Santibanez Lopez CE, Kriebel R, Sharma PP. eadem figura manet: Measuring morphological convergence in diplocentrid scorpions (Arachnida : Scorpiones : Diplocentridae) under a multilocus phylogenetic framework. Invertebrate Systematics. 2017;31:233-48. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Dr. Santibáñez-López for sending me their article!

Family Scorpionidae

21 June, 2017

On the phylogeography of the vaejovid scorpion Smeringurus vachoni

Matthew Graham and co-workers have recently published an article on the phylogeography of Smeringurus vachoni (Stahnke, 1961) (Vaejovidae) from the USA. One of the main conclusions is that Smeringurus vachoni does not comprise of two subspecies (S. v. vachoni and S. v. immanis), but instead consists of at least 11 mitochondrial clades. The authors synonymize S. v. vachoni and
S. v. immanis under the single species S. vachoni, but they encourage future taxonomic investigations using more rigorous species delimitation approaches. I refer to the abstract and the article for further details.

Recent syntheses of phylogeographical data from terrestrial animals in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts have revealed a complex history of geologic and climatic vicariance events. We studied the phylogeography of Smeringurus vachoni to see how vicariance events may have impacted a large, endemic rock scorpion. Additionally, we used the phylogeographical data to examine the validity of two subspecies of S. vachoni that were described using unconventional morphological characters. Phylogenetic, network and SAMOVA analyses indicate that S. vachoni consists of 11 clades mostly endemic to isolated desert mountain ranges. Molecular clock estimates suggest that clades diversified between the Miocene and early Pleistocene. Species distribution models predict a contraction of suitable habitat during the last glacial maximum. Landscape interpolations and Migrate-n analyses highlight areas of gene flow across the Colorado River. Smeringurus vachoni does not comprise two subspecies. Instead, the species represents at least 11 mitochondrial clades that probably diversified by vicariance associated with Pleistocene climate changes and formation of ancient lakes along the Colorado River corridor. Gene flow appears to have occurred from west to east across the Colorado River during periodic river avulsions.

Graham MR, Wood DA, Henault JA, Valois ZJ, Cushing PE. Ancient lakes, Pleistocene climates and river avulsions structure the phylogeography of a large but little-known rock scorpion from the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 2017;Ahead of Print:1-14. [Subscription required for full text]

Family Vaejovidae

15 June, 2017

Scorpion exposures reported in the USA between 2005 and 2015

Kang & Brooks have recently published an epidemiological study on scorpion envenomations in the USA between 2005 and 2015.

Introduction: Previous studies of scorpion envenomation in the United States (US) have focused on Arizona and the bark scorpion, Centruroides sculpturatus. Although many other scorpion species live in the US, information about envenomations in other states is lacking.
Methods: Nationwide scorpion exposures from 2005 to 2015 were analyzed using the National Poison Data System.
Results: Of the 185,402 total exposures, Arizona (68.2%), Texas (10.3%), and Nevada (4.2%) were the top contributors. However, six other southern states reported greater than 100 cases annually, primarily during the warmer months and evening hours. Envenomations occurred most often in a home (97.8%) and were typically managed on-site (90.1%). Pain was the most common effect nationwide (88.7%). Arizona had the highest frequencies of sensory, neuromuscular, and respiratory effects along with higher hospitalization and ICU admission rates, although the latter appeared to drop over the study period. In contrast, local skin effects such as erythema and edema were more common outside of Arizona. Children under 10 years of age in Arizona and Nevada had the highest rates of systemic effects, hospitalization, and ICU admission.
Conclusions: Scorpion envenomations occurred throughout the southern US with similar seasonal and daily variations. Common clinical effects included pain, local edema, and erythema, except in Arizona and Nevada where severe systemic symptoms were more common. Systemic effects correlated with high rates of ICU admissions and intubations, especially in children under 10 years of age. 

Kang AM, Brooks DE. Nationwide Scorpion Exposures Reported to US Poison Control Centers from 2005 to 2015. J Med Toxicol. 2017;13(2):158-65. [Subscription required for full text]