Friday, 24 May 2013

New Cave-Dwelling Scorpion Species Discovered

Two new species of short-tailed whip scorpions have been found living deep inside the cool, humid caves of northeastern Brazil, a study reports.

Whip scorpions are not true scorpions, but rather part of a group of arachnids that don't have stings and are not poisonous. They possess a whip-like tail, but look more like ants.

Previously, scientists thought whip scorpions came predominantly from the Caribbean. The new species, Rowlandius ubajara and Rowlandius potiguara, are some of the first from South America.
The newly discovered creatures are the same size and same reddish-brown color as other whip scorpions. "You can only tell the species apart by looking at their genitals," said lead study author Adalberto Santos, an arachnologist from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil.

Twenty-five living specimens of R. potiguar were found in 20 caves of the Apodi Limestone Group in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. Males of this species vary widely in the length of their second pair of legs, known as "pedipalps," which are used for mating and fighting. This variation might reflect different strategies used by males of different sizes, Santos said. Bigger males with larger pedipalps might fight rival males for females, whereas smaller males may avoid fighting altogether and simply try to mate with females when bigger males aren't around.


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