Researchers discover new species of scorpion in southern Arizona

February 20, 2013

Researchers discover new species of scorpion in southern Arizona

New species of scorpion is a “prime example of the amazing diversity of life still to be discovered.”

U.S. biologists have discovered a new species of scorpion. Vaejovis brysoni was located in the Santa Catalina Mountains in southern Arizona. Another scorpion of the same group also lives in this mountain range, according to U.S. biologists. This is the first documented case of two vorhiesi group species inhabiting the same mountain range.

“Recent collecting in the Santa Catalina along the transition zone between desert grassland and pine-oak forest revealed a distinct second species of Vaejovis vorhiesi group scorpion. Here we describe this new species, which represents the first record of two vorhiesi group species inhabiting the same mountain range,” write the authors in the study’s introduction.

U.S. biologists were stunned to find the news species within sight of Tucson, Arizona.

Dr. Rob Bryson Jr. found this new species of scorpion while searching for a completely different animal. Dr. Bryson sent specimens to the study’s authors, who verified that they were a new scorpion species, according to a news release from Pensoft Publishers.

The number of known mountain scorpions from the state of Arizona has more than doubled over the past six years, with a total of 10 species now known, all belonging to the same group. These new species are being found in the desert known as Sky Islands.

Co-author Richard F. Ayrey posits that the new scorpion is a “prime example of the amazing diversity of life still to be discovered.”

Scorpions are members of the class Arachnida and are closely related to spiders, mites and ticks, according to the National Geographic. There are nearly 2,000 scorpion species, but only 30 or 40 have strong enough poison to kill a human. National Geographic notes that the venom of each scorpion is “highly selected for effectiveness” against its chosen prey.

The study’s findings were described in the journal Zookeys.


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