Sunday, 31 August 2014

Two new species of Scorpion from Pakistan.

There are thought to be about 50 described species of Scorpion from Pakistan, although these have not been systematically reviewed since 1900. Since 1995 there have been sixteen published studies on specific Scorpions in Pakistan, and seven wider studies that have mentioned Scorpions within the country. Given this state of knowledge there are likely to be many undiscovered species within the country, and there is considerable room for expanding our knowledge of the known species.

In a paper published in the American Museum Novitates on 24 June 2014, Muhammed Tahir of the Scorpion Systematics Research Group at the American Museum of Natural History and the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Sargodha, Sharokh Navidpour of the Razi Reference Laboratory of Scorpion Research at the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute and Lorenzo Prendini, also of the Scorpion Systematics Research Group at the American Museum of Natural History, describe two new species of Scorpion from Pakistan. 

Both new species are placed within the genus Razianus, which currently contains only a single species, Razianus zarudnyi. Razianus zarudnyi has previously only been recorded from Iran, though Tahir et al. also record its occurrence in Iraq for the first time, from a specimen collected at Bazair in Baghdad Province in 1934 and found in the collection of the American Museum of Natural History.

The first new species is named Razianus birulai, in honour of A.A. Byalynitskii-Birulya, who described the first species assigned to the genus Razianus under the name Hemibuthus zarudnyi in 1903 (it was not assigned to the genus Razianus until 1987). Razianus birulai is a 26.0-28.9 slender yellow Scorpion with red markings, described from three specimens (two male and one female) found under rocks in rocky, mountainous desert at altitudes of 1090-1458 m, in the Loralai District of Balochistan Province, Pakistan. 

Razianus birulai, male (top) and female (bottom), both in dorsal view. Scale bars are 5 mm. Tahir et al. (2014).

The second new species described is named Razianus farzanpayi, in honour of R. Farzanpay, who first described the genus Razianus. Razianus farzanpayi is a slender dark brown Scorpion with reddish-brown markings, 20-23 mm in length. The species is described from two male and four female specimens collected from under rocks in rocky, mountainous deserts in the Miranshah District of Khyber Pakhtoon Khawa Province and the Barkhan District of Balochistan, at altitudes of 931-1104 m. 

Razianus farzanpayi male (top) and female (bottom), both in dorsal view. Scale bars are 5 mm. Tahir et al. (2014).

See also…

Wood Scorpions of the genus Euscorpius are found in Europe from Iberia to Russia, as well as North Africa and southwest Asia, and is therefore one of the best studied Scorpion genuses, with eighteen described species grouped into four subgenera, and numerous subspecies. Despite this it is thought that there is still...

Scorpions are thought to have been among the earliest...

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...

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