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

Abstract:
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.

Reference:
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.

Abstract:
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.

Reference:
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.

Abstract:
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.

Reference:
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)

Synonymizations:

"=" 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.

Abstract:


Reference:
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.

Abstract:
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.

Reference:
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.

Abstract:
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.

Reference: 
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.

Abstract:
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.

Reference:
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