Scorpion Species Euscorpius lycius Discovered in Ancient Lycia

Scorpion species Euscorpius  lycius discovered in ancient Lycia
A brand new species of scorpion, called Euscorpius lycius, has been discovered in southwestern Turkey (Image Credit: Ersen Aydın Yağmur)

Scientists have recently discovered and described an entirely new species of scorpion, called Euscorpius lycius, found around the ancient area of Lycia. Lycia now lies in the provinces of Antalya and Muğla, on the southern coast of Turkey and near the city of Burder.

The research findings were recently published in the latest issue of ZooKeys, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, which principally focuses upon dissemination of ideas and information in the fields of biogeography, phylogeny and zoology.

The journal, entitled A New Species of Euscorpius Thorell, 1876 (Scorpiones, Euscorpiidae) From South Western Turkey, was submitted by research authors Ersen Aydin Yağmur, Gioele Tropea, Fatih Yeşilyurt.

The genus Euscorpius is one of the most studied taxa of scorpions, often colloquially termed small wood-scorpions. As suggested by their name, these scorpions demonstrate a relatively unimposing size, with the largest representative – from the E. italicus species – growing to a maximum recorded length of approximately five centimeters.

Euscorpion scorpions are not particularly harmful, baring poison that presents little in the way of danger; to human beings, their poison inflicts damaging affects that are similar to those presented in the aftermath of a mosquito bite.

The most common member of the genus belongs to the species complex of E. carpathicus, typically found in much of North Africa, Eurasia and Russia.

Although the small wood-scorpion has undergone extensive investigation, its taxonomic classification shifts frequently and, therefore, remains poorly understood. Studies of the genus in Turkey have been few and far between, further complicating this issue. In their latest study, the authors outline some of the primary issues experienced when attempting to research this poorly understood genus:

“Taxonomy of Euscorpius genus is complicated and still unresolved throughout its range, because of type specimens lost, lack of specimens from many areas and existence of cryptic species complex, which exhibiting the same, or very similar, standard characters.”

Prior to the team’s latest efforts, only four species of the genus had been officially recognized within the country, including E. avcii, E. italicus, E. mingrelicus and E. rahsenae.

Natural habitat of species near Faralya Village in Turkey
Photograph of the natural habitat of the scorpion species, near Faralya Village in Turkey (Image Credit: Ersen Aydın Yağmur).

The group collected a total of 26 specimens, which belonged to the so-called new species, and were extracted from Antalya and the province of Muğla. Most of the unsuspecting creatures were snaffled during the dead of night, underneath pine forests, as they were sitting atop rocks and garden walls. The scorpions appeared to prefer humid, cool conditions, near calcareous stones that were overrun by moss.

After the group collected and analyzed their samples, they found the new scorpion to be relatively small in size, ranging between two and two and a half centimeters in length. Its claws, or pedipalps, are characteristically darker than the rest of the scorpion’s body; in the male Euscorpius lycius species, adults usually have a pale brown/red tinge across their body, becoming increasingly dark across much of the creature’s head and claws.

Dr. Yağmur, of the Alaşehir Vocational School, Celal Bayar University in Manisa, Turkey, and lead author of the study, explained the future of his team’s research endeavors:

“Further studies are in progress to understand the quantity and distribution of the different species and populations of the genus Euscorpius in Turkey and their relationship with the Greek populations.”

The group have indicated that the small wood-scorpion has a number of characteristic features shared with many other species. Although differences are apparent throughout the Euscorpius genus, according to the authors, they appear to be much more pronounced in those that inhabit Greece and Western Turkey. They call for further studies to be conducted into the morphology, quantity and distribution of different species and populations of Euscorpius in both of these countries.

By James Fenner

ZooKeys Journal

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