Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A new species of Scorpion from Western Australia.

Scorpions are distinctive predatory Arachnids, with an instantly recognizable bodyform. They have eight walking legs plus a pair of grasping claws and a long, flexible tail ending in a venomous stinger; some species are capable of killing a human being with their sting. They are found on every continent, though many islands, including the British Isles and New Zealand, do not have natural populations of Scorpions (though introduced Scorpions, escaped from the pet trade, are becoming more common in these places). The fossil record of Scorpions dates back to the Silurian, 430 million years ago.

In a paper published in the American Museum Novitates on 25 June 2012, Erich Volschenk of Phoenix Environmental Sciences and the Department of Terrestrial Zoology at the Western Australian Museum and the School of Animal Biology at the University of Western Australia, Mark Harvey, also of the Department of Terrestrial Zoology at the Western Australian Museum and the School of Animal Biology at the University of Western Australia and Lorenzo Prendini of the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History, describe a new species of Scorpion from Barrow Island and the Pilbara bioregion of Western Australia.

The new scorpion is named Urodacus butleri, in honour of the Australian naturalist and broadcaster William Henry, “Harry,” Butler. It is a 7.75-9.30 mm Scorpion, extremely dark in colour, with a smooth carapace. It was found at a number of sites on Barrow Island and the neighboring Pilbara Region of Western Australia. All the specimens were captured on sandy substrates using UV lamps (Scorpions fluoresce under UV light); the animals appear to be adapted for excavating burrows in the sand.

Urodacus butleri, male (top) and female (bottom). Scale bar is 10 mm. Volschenk et al. (2012).

Map showing locations where Urodacus butleri was found. Volschenk et al. (2012).


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