Archive for the ‘Recent News’ Category

The suborder Mygalomorphae is generally poorly represented in the cave faunas of the world. The genus Hemirrhagus is endemic to Mexico and has 22 described species. It is the only one with epigean, troglophile and troglobitic species. Lack of urticating setae, loss of eye pigmentation and ocular reduction are interpreted as evolutionary reversals related to their troglobitic habits. From five troglobitic species in the genus, only the male of Hemirrhagus stygius is known. Five new troglobitic species are described with both sexes: Hemirrhagus akheronteus sp. nov., Hemirrhagus billsteelei sp. nov., Hemirrhaugus diablo sp. nov., Hemirrhagus kalebi sp. nov. and Hemirrhagus sprousei sp. nov. The female of Hemirrhagus chilango is described for the first time. Hemirrhagus akheronteus sp. nov. has a group of spinose setae on the opisthosoma; this setal modification was never reported in any other theraphosid spiders. Females of Hemirrhagus kalebi sp. nov. and Hemirrhagus sprousei sp. nov. lay fixed hammock egg sacs, which is an unusual behavior among species in Theraphosinae. Two stridulating setae previously reported only in epigean species are present on some of the new troglobites.

Mendoza, J. I. & Francke, O. F. (2018). Five new cave-dwelling species of Hemirrhagus Simon 1903 (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Theraphosinae), with notes on the generic distribution and novel morphological features.

Zootaxa 4407(4): 451-482. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4407.4.1.


Only book for etymology and the history of references in scorpion taxonomy referenced to date.

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Morphologically conserved taxa such as scorpions represent a challenge to delimit. We recently discovered populations of scorpions in the genus Kovarikia Soleglad, Fet & Graham, 2014 on two isolated mountain ranges in southern California. We generated genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism data and used Bayes factors species delimitation to compare alternative species delimitation scenarios which variously placed scorpions from the two localities with geographically adjacent species or into separate lineages. We also estimated a time-calibrated phylogeny of Kovarikia and examined and compared the morphology of preserved specimens from across its distribution. Genetic results strongly support the distinction of two new lineages, which we describe and name here. Morphology among the species of Kovarikia was relatively conserved, despite deep genetic divergences, consistent with recent studies of stenotopic scorpions with limited vagility. Phylogeographic structure discovered in several previously described species also suggests additional cryptic species are probably present in the genus.

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Systematic revision of the giant vinegaroons of the Mastigoproctus giganteus complex (Thelyphonida, Thelyphonidae) of North America. (Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, no. 418)



The North American vinegaroon, Mastigoproctus giganteus (Lucas, 1835), is demonstrated to comprise a complex of range-restricted species rather than a single widespread polymorphic species. Seven species are recognized based on morphological characters of the adult males, including the arrangement of spines on the prodorsal margin of the pedipalp trochanter, the position of the epistoma on the carapace, the presence of a stridulatory organ on opposing surfaces of the chelicerae and the pedipalp coxa, the presence of a patch of setae on sternite V, and the shape and macrosculpture of the retrolateral surface of the pedipalp femur. The two currently recognized subspecies are elevated to species: Mastigoproctus mexicanus (Butler, 1872), stat. nov., and Mastigoproctus scabrosus (Pocock, 1902), stat. nov. Mastigoproctus floridanus (Lönnberg, 1897) is revalidated from synonymy with M. giganteus. Redescriptions of M. giganteus and the other three species, based on both sexes, are provided, and three new species described: Mastigoproctus cinteotl, sp. nov., from Tamaulipas, Mexico; Mastigoproctus tohono, sp. nov., from Arizona and Sonora, Mexico; Mastigoproctus vandevenderi, sp. nov., from Sonora, Mexico. The present contribution raises the diversity of the Order Thelyphonida Latreille, 1804, in North America from one species to seven. Three species occur in the United States (one each in Arizona, Texas, and Florida), six species occur in Mexico, and two species occur in both countries.
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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 inPseudouroctonusCatalinia 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.


We present a mtDNA gene tree of tarantula spiders (Araneae: Mygalomorphae: Theraphosidae) based on the mitochondrial 16S-tRNA (leu)-ND1 gene region as a promising initial molecular hypothesis to clarify the taxonomy of the largest subfamily, Theraphosinae. Many species of this New World subfamily are traded widely as exotic pets, yet few scientific studies on them exist, and the robustness of many supposed taxonomic groupings is debatable. Yet the validity of taxon names and knowledge of their distinctiveness is vital for trade regulation, most notably for the Neotropical genus Brachypelma Simon 1891, which is listed under CITES (Appendix II, see online supplemental material, which is available from the article’s Taylor & Francis Online page at The use of molecular markers for tarantula taxonomy has been limited until recently, with most previous studies relying on morphological methods. Our findings, from newly collected molecular data, have several nomenclatural implications, suggesting a need for a rigorous overhaul of Theraphosinae classification at multiple hierarchical levels. Here, we take steps toward a revised classification, favouring division of Theraphosinae into three tribes: the Theraphosini trib. nov., the Hapalopini trib. nov., and the Grammostolini trib. nov. We also make conservation recommendations for two non-monophyletic genera. Firstly, we recover Aphonopelma Pocock 1901 as polyphyletic, finding that the large radiation into the USA and Mexico is taxonomically distinct from at least three other lineages distributed throughout Central America, one of which includes the type species of the genus. Secondly, and importantly for conservation, we find diphyly in the CITES listed genus Brachypelma Simon 1891, where our data strongly favour a division into two distinct smaller genera. We consider only the lineage with endemics in the Pacific coastal zone of Mexico to be of conservation concern. Finally, we also make suggestions on the future direction of revisionary research for the Theraphosidae as a whole.

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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.

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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  Thanks to Matt for sending PDF.See at

Medical application in scorpion’s venom?A team of Mexican biotechnology researchers has identified a molecule in scorpion venom that could serve both as an aid in antibiotic delivery and as a bactericide disinfectant

Medical application in scorpion’s venom?