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Parthenogenetic Hottentotta spp.

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Topic Parthenogenetic Hottentotta spp.

Post by DolbyR on Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:40 pm


Scorpion Taxonomy is a fascinating area and sometimes I get overly obsessed about researching the exact taxonomical changes in certain species or genera. As we know, the taxonomy is updated constantly and we sometimes get confused whether a specific scorpion is still a subspecies or a morph, or if it actually is a separate specie. It just happens that Hottentotta genus and parthenogenesis are really exciting for me, so I just had to research a little deeper the parthenogenetic Hottentottas. The information is out there, but it’s splattered all over the ‘net in different websites and publications by different authors. I assumed that I’m not the only one interested about this info, so I decided to share my findings with all of you, ASF members, my fellow hobbyists, my friends. If you like it, please consider it as my contribution to the community, to thank for all the help I’ve got since I joined the community and the hobby.

Parthenogenesis in Hottentotta (Birula, 1908) genus

The Hottentotta genus was originally introduced by A. A. Birula as subgenus of the Buthus genus and elevated to genus rank by F. Werner in 1934. Up to date, It includes two parthenogenetic species – Hottentotta hottentotta and Hottentotta caboverdensis. The fact that the second parthenogenetic sp. (H. caboverdensis) of this genus was discovered as recently as in 2006, makes me believe that it is not impossible that more such species could be discovered in future.

Hottentotta hottentotta is already well known in the hobby, and probably the first specie for anybody entering the world of parthenogenetic scorpions. Until recently it was also believed to be the only parthenogenetic scorpion in the Hottentotta genus.

Hottentotta caboverdensis however, is relatively recent in the hobby. Mainly, because the specie itself was discovered only 5 years ago and it’s status as a specie has been quite confusing until now.

H. caboverdensis was described in 2006 by Wilson Lourenço and Eric Ythier, based on specimens collected on the island of São Tiago, Cape Verde islands.
However, in 2007 František Kovařík published a full review of the genus Hottentotta and synonymized H. caboverdensis with H. hottentottta.
In 2011, the species status of H. caboverdensis has been reaccepted (Ythier 2011, A new locality record for Hottentotta caboverdensis Lourenço & Ythier, 2006, Bull. d'Arthropoda n°44, 8-11). Unfortunately, this publication is not freely available online and at the moment I do not have access to it.

Distinguishing the two species

H. caboverdensis is believed to be closely related to H. hottentotta and therefore both species are fisically similar, but it is not too difficult to distinguish the two species one from another by the following characters.
I. Smaller size – H. caboverdensis is generally sized between 55 to 62 mm, while H. hottentotta usually reaches a total length of 68 to 73 mm.
II. Much darker coloration and more strongly marked granulations on carapace and tergites than in H. hottentotta.
III. Smaller pectinal tooth counts than in H. hottentotta (the original paper by Lourenço & Ythier refers to H. nigrocarinatus, which was synonymized with H. hottentotta in the work of Kovařík in 2007) – 22 to 24 against 28 to 30 teeth.

Parthenogenetic reproduction

I have analised the two papers of Lourenço and Ythier regarding parthenogenesis in Hottentotta hottentotta and Hottentotta caboverdensis, and I have come to the conclusion that in terms of embryo development and postembryonic development, both species are very similar.
There seems to be only a slight deviation in brood size between the two species. The reported brood sizes for Hottentotta hottentotta are 12 to 52, while the same for Hottentotta caboverdensis are 23-52, averaging 22 neonates for H. hottentotta and 34 for H. caboverdensis. I believe further research with different specimens might narrow down the difference.
Hottentotta hottentotta takes 98 to 203 days to develop embryos, averaging at 132 days. The periods for H. caboverdensis embryonic development are at the same level, but no exact numbers have been reported yet.
Postembryonic development seems to take around 16 months, however, I do have info from fellow hobbyists that they can develop faster.



Kovařík, F. 2007. A revision of the genus Hottentotta Birula, 1908, with descriptions of four new species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Euscorpius, 58: 1–107.


Lourenço & Ythier, 2007. Confirmation of reproduction
by parthenogenesis in Hottentotta hottentotta (Fabricius)
(Scorpiones, Buthidae)

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