Posts Tagged ‘Desert scorpions’


The endemic North American vaejovid scorpion subfamily Syntropinae Kraepelin, 1905, is redefined and its component genera revised, based on a simultaneous phylogenetic analysis of 250 morphological characters and 4221 aligned DNA nucleotides from three mitochondrial and two nuclear gene markers. Tribe Stahnkeini Soleglad and Fet, 2006, is removed from Syntropinae. Tribe Paravaejovini Soleglad and Fet, 2008, and subtribe Thorelliina Soleglad and Fet, 2008, are abolished: Paravaejovini Soleglad and Fet, 2008 = Syntropinae Kraepelin, 1905, syn. nov.; Thorelliina Soleglad and Fet, 2008 = Syntropinae Kraepelin, 1905, syn. nov. Eleven genera, six newly described, are recognized within Syntropinae: Balsateres, gen. nov.; Chihuahuanus, gen. nov.; Kochius Soleglad and Fet, 2008; Konetontli, gen. nov.; Kuarapu Francke and Ponce-Saavedra, 2010; Maaykuyak, gen. nov.; Mesomexovis, gen. nov.; Paravaejovis Williams, 1980; Syntropis Kraepelin, 1900; Thorellius Soleglad and Fet, 2008; Vizcaino, gen. nov. Hoffmannius Soleglad and Fet, 2008, is abolished: Hoffmannius Soleglad and Fet, 2008 = Paravaejovis Williams, 1980, syn. nov. Lissovaejovis Ponce-Saavedra and Beutelspacher, 2001 [nomen nudum] = Paravaejovis Williams, 1980, syn. nov. Ten species, formerly placed in Hoffmannius, are transferred to Paravaejovis: Paravaejovis confusus (Stahnke, 1940), comb. nov.; Paravaejovis diazi (Williams, 1970), comb. nov.; Paravaejovis eusthenura (Wood, 1863), comb. nov.; Paravaejovis flavus (Banks, 1900), comb. nov. [nomen dubium]; Paravaejovis galbus (Williams, 1970), comb. nov.; Paravaejovis gravicaudus (Williams, 1970), comb. nov.; Paravaejovis hoffmanni (Williams, 1970), comb. nov.; Paravaejovis puritanus (Gertsch, 1958), comb. nov.; Paravaejovis spinigerus (Wood, 1863), comb. nov.; Paravaejovis waeringi (Williams, 1970), comb. nov. Paravaejovis schwenkmeyeri (Williams, 1970), comb. nov., is removed from synonymy. Four species, formerly placed in Kochius, are transferred to Chihuahuanus, gen. nov.: Chihuahuanus cazieri (Williams, 1968), comb. nov.; Chihuahuanus crassimanus (Pocock, 1898), comb. nov.; Chihuahuanus kovariki (Soleglad and Fet, 2008), comb. nov.; Chihuahuanus russelli (Williams, 1971), comb. nov. Four species, formerly placed in Kochius, Thorellius, or Vaejovis C.L. Koch, 1836, are transferred to Mesomexovis, gen. nov.: Mesomexovis atenango (Francke and González-Santillán, 2007), comb. nov.; Mesomexovis oaxaca (Santibáñez-López and Sissom, 2010), comb. nov.; Mesomexovis occidentalis (Hoffmann, 1931), comb. nov.; Mesomexovis subcristatus (Pocock, 1898), comb. nov. Mesomexovis variegatus (Pocock, 1898), comb. nov., is reinstated to its original rank as species. Four subspecies are newly elevated to species: Kochius barbatus (Williams, 1971), stat. nov.; Kochius cerralvensis (Williams, 1971), stat. nov.; Kochius villosus (Williams, 1971), stat. nov.; Mesomexovis spadix (Hoffmann, 1931), comb. et stat. nov. Three subspecies are synonymized: Vaejovis diazi transmontanus Williams, 1970 = Paravaejovis diazi (Williams, 1970), syn. nov.; Vaejovis bruneus loretoensis Williams, 1971 = Kochius villosus (Williams, 1971), syn. nov.; Vaejovis hoffmanni fuscus Williams, 1970 = Paravaejovis hoffmanni (Williams, 1970), syn. nov



A new species in the vorhiesi group of Vaejovis C.L. Koch, 1836 (Vaejovidae Thorell, 1876), which appears to be endemic to the Hualapai Mountains near Kingman, Arizona, is described and illustrated. Vaejovis tenuipalpus, n. sp., the 11th species in the vorhiesi group, is compared to morphologically similar species, including V. jonesi Stahnke, 1940, V. lapidicola Stahnke, 1940, V. vorhiesi Stahnke, 1940, and V. deboerae Ayrey, 2009. The new species possesses the most slender pedipalp chelae in the vorhiesi group. New distribution records and a comprehensive distribution map are provided for all Arizona members of the group.


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A new scorpion species is described from the Spring Mountain Range near Las Vegas, Nevada. The new species appears to be geographically isolated from other closely related species ofUroctonites Williams & Savaryand Pseudouroctonus Stahnke. We tentatively place the new species in Pseudouroctonus and provide detailed descriptions and illustrations of type material. We compare the new species to 17 congeneric taxa, briefly discuss the taxonomic history ofPseudouroctonus, and provide DNA barcodes for two paratypes to assist ongoing research on the systematics of family Vaejovidae.


Low dispersal potential and ecological specialization (stenotopy) are thought to make certain groups of scorpions predisposed to accelerated diversification (Prendini 2005; Bryson et al. 2013a). Scorpions restricted to highland ecosystems are particularly diverse, perhaps resulting from allopatric divergence on small spatial scales (microallopatry, see Fitzpatrick et al. 2008) facilitated by historical changes in geomorphology and climate regimes (Bryson et al. 2013a,2013b). Recently, this hypothesis has been repeatedly supported by the discovery of numerous new scorpion species from isolated mountain ecosystems, especially from the “sky islands” region of the North American aridlands (Graham 2007Ayrey 20092012Graham and Bryson 2010Ayrey and Soleglad 2011Hughes 2011Graham et al. 2012Sissom et al. 2012Ayrey and Webber 2013).

The Spring Mountain Range, located just outside of Las Vegas in southern Nevada, is among the most insular of the sky islands, reaching elevations more than 3, 400 m above the Mojave Desert lowlands. While conducting diurnal surveys for myriapods in the Spring Mountains, we serendipitously discovered yet another new scorpion that appears to be restricted to a sky island ecosystem. After numerous diurnal and nocturnal (using UV light; Stahnke 1972) surveys, we only managed to collect a total of five individuals from mixed pine-oak woodlands in Kyle Canyon, one of the most heavily visited regions in the Spring Mountains. Unfortunately, forest fires ravaged the type locality shortly after we collected the type series and surveys in other areas of the mountains were unsuccessful.

The new species is clearly a member of family Vaejovidae, and is most similar to generaPseudouroctonus and Uroctonites, both of which are stenotypic and contain species endemic to sky island ecosystems in southwestern North America. Interestingly, the Spring Mountains are situated in the middle of a substantial gap between the known distributions of these two genera (Fig. 1), so the new species could prove to be a missing link in our understanding of the biogeography of this group (Bryson et al. 2013a) and the southwestern sky islands. Herein, we tentatively place the new species in Pseudouroctonus, although we predict that the genus is polyphyletic and in need of a thorough systematic revision.

Since the population at the type locality may have been extirpated during recent fires, we provide DNA barcodes (COI) for two specimens (paratypes) to assist colleagues in their ongoing research on the biogeography and systematics of family Vaejovidae. Given that the species went undetected for so long despite occurring in a populated region near one of the most visited cities in the world, we suspect that similar new species may still await discovery in the more remote and less-explored sky islands of southern Nevada and California.

Brief taxonomic history. Of the 22 species and subspecies currently comprising generaPseudouroctonus and Uroctonites (including the new species described herein), sixteen were described by Gertsch and Soleglad (1972). At that time, twelve of these species were placed in genus Uroctonus (now in family Chactidae) and the other four in genus VaejovisStahnke (1974)moved most of the species placed in Uroctonus into genus Vaejovis and created the new genusPseudouroctonus solely for Pseudouroctonus reddelliStockwell (1992) reversed most of Stahnke’s taxonomic acts by moving the species Stahnke placed in Vaejovis intoPseudouroctonus. In their important paper, Williams and Savary (1991) defined the new genusUroctonites comprised of a new species, Uroctonites giulianii, and three Pseudouroctonus species originally defined by Gertsch and Soleglad (1972). Finally, four other species have now been placed in PseudouroctonusPseudouroctonus minimus minimus (Kraepelin, 1911),Pseudouroctonus glimmei Hjelle, 1972, Pseudouroctonus sprousei Francke & Savary, 2006, andPseudouroctonus saavasi Francke (2009). See Soleglad and Fet (2003: 103–104) for a more detailed discussion on the taxonomic history of these interesting scorpions.




Biogeography of scorpions in the Pseudouroctonus minimus complex (Vaejovidae) from south-western North America: implications of ecological specialization for pre-Quaternary diversification. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of pre-Quaternary tectonics and orogeny relative to that of Pleistocene climate change on diversification within the Pseudouroctonus minimus complex, a group of vaejovid scorpions with stenotopic habitat requirements


I received an email (04.21.10) with photos for confirmation of species from Matt L. in Alb. NM.  We confirmed his pictures to Centruroides sculpturatus (gertschi form) from Sierra County, New Mexico.    We compared the various characters between Centruroides sculpturatus and Centruroides vittatus.

Matt was gracious to allow his pictures on the blog.

Recently(09.26.10), Matt sent sent some comparison photos of the sexes and species. Can you guess which species is which? Comments are welcome.

Sissom, W. David, and James R. Reddell, 2009. Cave scorpions of Mexico and the United States [Escorpiones de cuevas de México y Estados Unidos]. Texas Memorial Museum Speleological Monographs, 7. Studies on the cave and endogean fauna of North America, V. Pp. 19-32.

Scorpions reported from caves in Mexico and the United States are reviewed. New records are included for: Centruroides gracilis, C. vittatus, Troglocormus willis, Alacran tartarus, Pseudouroctonus apacheanus, P. reddelli, Uroctonites sequoia, Serradigitus gertschi striatus, S. wupatkiensis, Vaejovis carolinianus, V. chisos, V. intermedius, V. nigrescens, and V  rossmani.

Francke, Oscar F. 2009. Description of a new species of troglophile Pseudouroctonus (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) from Coahuila, Mexico [Descripción de una nueva especie de Pseudouroctonus troglófilo (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) de Coahuila, México]. Texas Memorial Museum Speleological Monographs, 7. Studies on the cave and endogean fauna of North America, V. Pp. 11-18.

Pseudouroctonus savvasi, n.sp., is described from specimens collected in two separate caves in the state of Coahuila, México,
though it does not exhibit any marked troglomorphies. It is most closely related to Pseudouroctonus apacheanus (Gertsch and Soleglad), from which it is clearly differentiated by size, the number of teeth on the movable finger of the chelicerae, hemispermatophore morphology and pedipalp chela morphometrics.


Francke,O. F., and W.E. Savary. 2006. A new troglobitic Pseudouroctonus Stahnke (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae) from northern México. Zootaxa, 1302:21-30.

Pseudouroctonus sprousei sp. nov., from El Abra cave, in Coahuila, México, is described from a
single adult male. It is most similar to Pseudouroctonus reddelli (Gertsch and Soleglad), a well known
troglophile from Texas and Coahuila, which is also the type species for the genus
Pseudouroctonus Stahnke.


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