New Scorpion Species Found near Tucson, Arizona

Biologists have announced the discovery of a new species of scorpion, named Vaejovis brysoni, in the Santa Catalina Mountains in southern Arizona.

Female Vaejovis brysoni in natural habitat (Rob Bryson Jr. / Richard Ayrey / Michael Webber)

Female Vaejovis brysoni in natural habitat (Rob Bryson Jr. / Richard Ayrey / Michael Webber)

The Santa Catalina Mountains overlook the city of Tucson, Arizona. Amazingly, in the 21st century, there are still new species to be discovered right here in the United States. What is even more surprising is that the new species was found within sight of a large metropolitan area.

Dr Rob Bryson Jr. discovered the new species while looking for a completely different animal. Many important discoveries are made this way by scientists who start out working on something completely different.

The scientist sent specimens to Dr Michael Webber of the University of Nevada Las Vegas and Dr Richard Ayrey, who determined that they were indeed a new scorpion species.

Another scorpion of the same group also inhabits this mountain range, making this the first documented case of two vorhiesi group species distributed on the same mountain.

For over 50 years only four species of mountain scorpions were known from the state of Arizona. That number has more than doubled over the past six years, with a total of 10 species now known, all belonging to the same group. Arizona is known for isolated mountain habitats in the desert known as Sky Islands. These Sky Islands are where the new species are being discovered.

“This latest new scorpion is a prime example of the amazing diversity of life still to be discovered, right here in 21st century America,” said Dr Ayrey, lead author of the study published in the open access journal Zookeys.


Bibliographic information: Richard F. Ayrey, Michael M. Webber. 2013. A new Vaejovis C.L. Koch, 1836, the second known vorhiesi group species from the Santa Catalina Mountains of Arizona (Scorpiones, Vaejovidae). ZooKeys 270: 21–35; doi: 10.3897/zookeys.270.4500