New families of “false scorpions” discovered in Colombia
Bogotá D.C., ago. 03 de 2012 - Agencia de Noticias UN- Thanks to a three year plus old study, David Luna, a UN biologist of the Natural Sciences Institute, recorded the finding of this type of arachnid, also known as pseudoscorpions.
According to Luna, the goal is to carry out a taxonomic review of the group, with the purpose of knowing which are the species which thrive in the country and their geographical distribution. False scorpions are one of the less known arachnid groups and studied in Colombia.
There are known by this manner given their two front pincer appendages, just like scorpions, but lacking the tail. But just like scorpions, they also have venom glands in their pincers. Despite this, they are of no danger to humans.
In 2007, 7 families, 18 genera and 21 pseudoscorpion species were known in Colombia. But according to the researcher, and due to the research made to date, the number of recorded families has grown to 12 with the recording of 5 new families, Lechytiidae, Tridenchthoniidae, Chthoniidae, Bochicidae, Ideoroncidae and Geogarypidae.
The amount of genera and species in the country has also increased to 31 and 45, respectively. However, there’s still more specific research to be done. “With the data obtained, we established that this group is distributed along the entire Colombian territory”, says Luna.
With respect to its geographical distribution, the Orinoquia, Caribbean and Pacific regions show the greatest wealth. This information was unknown before and reflects the ample distribution of the group in terms of geographical location and altitude.
“These small arachnids are distributed in almost all the world’s ecosystems. The live amongst forest fallen leaves, decaying tree trunks, under rocks and tree barks and caves. The study had a biological collection review stage in Bogotá (Natural Sciences Institute, ICN for its Spanish acronym) and Villa de Leyva (Alexander von Humboldt Institute), with the purpose of identifying the bibliographical material deposited in said places. “Additionally, we have gathered specimens in different areas of the country”, says the researcher.
Features of false scorpions
According the researcher, these animals display typical arachnid characteristics, such as chelicerae and pedipalps (front appendices, usually used to grasp food), four pairs of walking legs and two differentiated body regions (the cephalothorax and the abdomen).
Luna says that they are different from other 10 arachnid orders (spiders, scorpions, mites, opiliones or harvestmen, solifugae or sun spiders, uropygids or vinegaroons, amblypygids or whip spiders, schizoids, rininuclei and palpigradi) for having chelicerae silk producing glands, pincer venom glands in the pedipalps, for not having eyes in the middle and because of their small size (0.8-12 mm).
Also, their role in ecosystems has only been slightly studied. However, they seem to carry out control tasks of soil micro and mesofauna.
Some species of false scorpion” species have been found in book stores and libraries, where they feed on psocids and silverfish, common pests of these places.