Archive for the ‘Online Arachnid Publications’ Category

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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?


Diplocentrus duende n. sp. is described based on adult males collected from a locality in the Tehuacán–Cuicatlán Valley, Mexico. This species has punctate pedipalp surfaces, a condition present only in four other species of this specious genus. As suggested here, this condition has evolved independently in these species within the “mexicanus” group of Diplocentrus from the rest of the diplocentrids

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Mexican red-kneed tarantulas of the genus Brachypelma are regarded as some of the most desirable invertebrate pets, and although bred in captivity, they continue to be smuggled out of the wild in large numbers. Species are often difficult to identify based solely on morphology, therefore prompt and accurate identification is required for adequate protection. Thus, we explored the applicability of using COI-based DNA barcoding as a complementary identification tool. Brachypelma smithi (F. O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1897) and Brachypelma hamorii Tesmongt, Cleton & Verdez, 1997 are redescribed, and their morphological differences defined. Brachypelma annitha is proposed as a new synonym of B. smithi. The current distribution of red-kneed tarantulas shows that the Balsas River basin may act as a geographical barrier. Morphological and molecular evidence are concordant and together provide robust hypotheses for delimiting Mexican red-kneed tarantula species. DNA barcoding of these tarantulas is further shown to be useful for species-level identification and for potentially preventing black market trade in these spiders. As a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) listing does not protect habitat, or control wildlife management or human interactions with organisms, it is important to support environmental conservation activities to provide an alternative income for local communities and to avoid damage to wildlife populations.

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Summary:  Genus Graemeloweus, gen. nov. (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) is described from northern California, USA. The genus is composed of three species formerly placed in Pseudouroctonus: Graemeloweus iviei (Gertsch et Soleglad, 1972), comb. nov. (type species), G. glimmei (Hjelle, 1972), comb. nov., and G. maidu (Savary et Bryson, 2016), comb. nov. Major diagnostic characters of Graemeloweus include a non-bifurcated primary lamellar hook, the presence of a secondary lamellar hook, a complex mating plug with a two part base and an asymmetric crescent-shape barb, and the presence of a well-developed ventromedian (V2) carina on the pedipalp chela. Evidence is presented suggesting that Graemeloweus is more closely related to Kovarikia than Pseudouroctonus.

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Scorpions are among the oldest terrestrial arthropods, which are distributed worldwide, except for Antarctica and some Pacific islands. Scorpion envenomation represents a public health problem in several parts of the world. Mexico harbors the highest diversity of scorpions in the world, including some of the world’s medically important scorpion species. The systematics and diversity of Mexican scorpion fauna has not been revised in the past decade; and due to recent and exhaustive collection efforts as part of different ongoing major revisionary systematic projects, our understanding of this diversity has changed compared with previous assessments. Given the presence of several medically important scorpion species, the study of their venom in the country is also important. In the present contribution, the diversity of scorpion species in Mexico is revised and updated based on several new systematic contributions; 281 different species are recorded. Commentaries on recent venomic, ecological and behavioral studies of Mexican scorpions are also provided. A list containing the most important peptides identified from 16 different species is included. A graphical representation of the different types of components found in these venoms is also revised. A map with hotspots showing the current knowledge on scorpion distribution and areas explored in Mexico is also provided.


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Four distinct genera, forming two monophyletic groups, are basal in the phylogeny of the North American vaejovid scorpion subfamily Syntropinae Kraepelin, 1905: Konetontli González-Santillán and Prendini, 2013; Maaykuyak González-Santillán and Prendini, 2013; Syntropis Kraepelin, 1900; and Vizcaino González-Santillán and Prendini, 2013. All except the species of Konetontli, treated elsewhere, are revised in the present contribution. The two species of Maaykuyak, three species of Syntropis, and monotypic Vizcaino are redescribed; the adults of Syntropis williamsi Soleglad et al., 2007, described for the first time; keys to identification of the species of Maaykuyak and Syntropis presented; and new locality records and updated distribution maps provided for all species covered.
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