First scorpion associated with caves in Colombia
he scorpion Tityus grottoedensis discovered at the El Edén cave of the municipality of Cunday (Province of Tolima) is now part of 80 species of this arachnid in Colombia and 1,500 around the world.Bogotá D. C., 18 de julio de 2014 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
Tityus grottoedensis is the first scorpion discovered in Colombia related to caves. Photo: Courtesy of David Santiago Gómez M.
El Edén is a natural hole near the rural settlement of La Camelia (Municipality of Cunday). Photo: www.fotoaleph.com
Álvaro Eduardo Flórez, of the UNal Natural Sciences Institute (ICN, for its Spanish acronym). Photo: David Santiago Gómez M.
Municipality of Cunday (Province of Tolima), 90 minutes away from the Province capital, Ibagué. Photo: www.estrategiajuntostolima.blogspot.com
What first was a school outing turned into two research expeditions and ended in gathering 10 individuals of this species.
As made public by Professor and Researcher Álvaro Eduardo Flórez of the UNal Natural Sciences Institute (ICN, for its Spanish acronym) as well as Ricardo Botero who headed the research project that confirmed the existence of this arthropod.
“These are the first species associated with caves, which doesn’t mean they only live there, but different to others, they can thrive there as well,” said Flórez.
According to the researchers Tityus grottoedensis has a clearer yellowish color than the rest of the species of the genus. There is not a defined particularity, however they can’t dismiss that its evolutionary development can make it lose some of its parts.
The results of the research project published in the scientific journal Zootaxa, indicate that males can reach up to 42.55 millimeters (1.67 in.) and females up to 54mm (2.12 in.) approximately.
This species belongs to the Tityus genus, one of the most diverse genera in the world, therefore it may be found in highlands (including Andean tundras), lowlands and dry and wild areas amongst others. Furthermore the intensity of their venom varies.
In Colombia the most representative genus is from the Buthidae family with 29 out of 35 reported species.
“Depending on the environment where the scorpion thrives, toxins can be more powerful. Therefore desert species are more dangerous than species of vegetative ecosystems. It is assumed that the former are more dangerous due to the difficulty of finding prey while the latter, due to greater flora do not have the same struggle to find food,” said Flórez.
Flórez also says that this genus can be found from Mexico to southern Argentina, and the ones found in the lowlands tend to be the most venomous; for instance Tityus pachyurus, which is found in the municipality of Girardot (Province of Cundinamarca).
There are 170 species reported in the world, including those that live in caves. Despite being the first Colombian scorpions of the genus, the specimens discovered at the El Edén cave are not the only ones that can dwell in underground habitats as some were first discovered in Venezuela.
According to a Speleology Society of Venezuela bulletin Tityus falconiensis and Tityus monaguensis, also thrive in underground ecosystems which were discovered in caves in the Provinces of Falcón and Monagas, respectively.
The Colombian Speleology Society (ESPELEOCOL, for its Spanish acronym) claims that there are 260 exocarstic systems (surface morphological system which show evidence of cave formation) in the Provinces of Santander, Antioquia, Huila, Tolima, Boyacá, Cundinamarca, Cauca, Caquetá, Chocó, Córdoba, Guaviare, Guajira, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Quindío and San Andrés, amongst others.
According of the UNal Natural Sciences Institute’s Cave Guide of Santander, during the last two decades, biospelology research has intensified close to 25 % in the recorded systems; 10% of the cases has emphasized on geospeleology and 6% have had topographical surveying.(Por: Fin/DSGM/DMH/AC