June 5, 2013
New Scorpion Species Discovered In Ecuadorian Andes
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The new species Tityus (Atreus) crassicauda is described as having a reddish-brown coloration with three longitudinal brown stripes separated by yellow patches. Classified as medium sized, the scorpion averages about 2 inches in length.
In the Ecuadorian winter of 2012, researchers collected scorpions from mountains within the country´s Andean region. A male and female from those collections were determined to be a new species belonging to the genus“¯Tityus.
“The new species inhabits the tropical forests of the Ecuadorian Andean Mountains, in the Pichincha Province,” the researcher wrote in their report. “The specimens were collected at an altitude of (7,200 feet), inside of rotten Lauraceae“¯logs.”
The newly discovered scorpion´s genus Tityus includes more than 200 known species that can range from less than 1.1 inches to around 4.7 inches in length. Like most scorpions, Tityus species can produce powerful venom that can be deadly to humans.
"Although scorpions can be considered as fascinating animals, the interest shown by people in general is only connected with their negative reputation as a 'killer of man,´” said lead author Wilson R. LourenÃ§o, from the“¯MusÃ©um national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris. “Nonetheless, only a limited number of species probably are actually responsible of (sic) serious or lethal incidents.”
“Initially, research on scorpions focused primarily on descriptive taxonomy and general anatomy, followed by some medical research on venom biochemistry,” LourenÃ§o added. “More recently, however, research on scorpions expanded greatly to encompass many aspects of evolutionary biology of these fascinating species.”
In their report, the French researchers“¯suggested that the Ecuadorean region where they found the new species is within one of the highest for scorpion diversity, ranging across Southern Colombia, Ecuador, the Northeast region of Peru, and the Upper Amazon region of Brazil.
While some researchers have used ultra-violet light to find scorpions in the desert, the French biologists said that although inventory work in tropical forests is just getting started, UV light is not as efficient in this type of habitat because of heavy vegetation.
The team noted that there is still a massive lack of knowledge about scorpion communities found within the Andean region, and they suggested expanding future study areas eastward to include new parts of Colombia, Peru and Brazil. They also said several sections of the tropical forests, such as the canopies, have yet to be explored for scorpion fauna.
The entire Andean mountain range is renowned for its biodiversity. With almost 3,500 known animal species, the Andes is home to some 600 species of“¯mammals, over 1,700 species of birds, more than 600 species of“¯reptiles, and about 400 species of fish. The mountain range also includes 30,000 species of vascular plants, surpassing the diversity of any other ℠hotspot´ on the planet.