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Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases

On-line version ISSN 1678-9199

J. Venom. Anim. Toxins incl. Trop. Dis vol.12 no.4 Botucatu  2006 



Parametric values of Androctonus crassicauda (Oliver, 1807) (scorpiones: buthidae) from Turkey



Ozkan O.I; Adiguzel S.I; Kar S.II

IRefik Saydam Hygiene Center, Ankara, Turkey
IIDepartment of Entomology and Protozoology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey

Correspondence to




The aim of the present study was to analyze the parametric values of Androctonus crassicauda (Oliver, 1807), the most significant scorpion species in Turkey. For this purpose, 11 male and 11 female A. crassicauda specimens were collected from Sanliurfa region. The body parts most important for species identification were measured by using sensitive calipers. Differences between sexes were statistically significant for pectinal organ length (: 7.50±1.26mm; : 8.63±1.05mm; p=0.033), pectinal tooth count (: 25.36±0.86; : 33.36±0.80; p=0.000), and carapace width (: 10.27±1.19mm; : 9.09±0.73mm; p=0.000). However, body length (: 90.09±14.74mm; : 82.95±5.40mm), abdomen width (: 12.09±1.90mm; : 11.09±0.88mm), and metasoma length (: 43.09±3.08mm; : 44.63±6.50mm) were not significantly different between sexes.

Key words: scorpion, Androctonus crassicauda, morphometry, Turkey.




Scorpions can be considered living fossils since they have barely changed during the last 400 million years. These venomous arthropods of the Arachnida class are relatives of spiders, ticks and mites. They have a characteristic form (16, 17) which makes them easily recognizable.

Among the 1,500 species described so far, 50 present dangerous venoms for humans (14, 17, 18, 20, 29) and most of them belong to Buthus, Parabuthus, Mesobuthus, Tityus, Leiurus, Androctonus, and Centruroides genera of the Buthidae family (1, 6, 12, 14, 15, 16). Androctonus crassicauda is the most significant scorpion species in Turkey due to scorpionism and antivenom production (10, 16, 21, 22). Besides Turkey, this species can be found in Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, being medically important in these countries too (6, 7-10, 15, 16, 19, 20, 29).

In Turkey, Androctonus crassicauda was first identified by Vachon (24) in a collection from different regions of the country made by Tolunay ve Kosswing in 1960 (16, 21, 22). Later, A. crassicauda was also reported in Southeastern Anatolia, especially in Sanl1urfa and Mardin, causing more envenomation in humans than any other scorpion species (2, 5, 8-10, 16, 23).

The present study aimed at analyzing the parametric values of A. crassicauda, which is the most important scorpion species in Turkey due not only to envenomation cases but also to antivenom production.




Scorpions were collected from Harran and Akçakale towns of Sanl1urfa (36° 40' - 38° 02' W and 37° 50' - 42° 12' E; Figure 1) in July 2003. Thirty-two specimens (11 males and 21 females) were stored in 70% ethanol at the Department of Entomology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ankara University, Turkey.



Specimen examination and diagnosis

Morphometric measurements of the thirty-two scorpions were carried out as described by Vachon (23, 25-28). Pectinal tooth count and morphological investigation were performed under stereomicroscope using diagnosis keys (11, 26, 27) for species typing. Discrimination between sexes was based on the pectinal tooth number and confirmed by the presence of genital papillae in males. For all the measurements, we used callipers to the nearest 0.1mm. Statistical analysis (parametric and non-parametric) of results were performed using SPSS version 11.0.


Most specimens were collected at night, by using a UV lamp, inside buildings and houses in Harran, and others were collected under stones at daytime. The area is at the altitude of 518 m and presents typical continental climate and steppe vegetation.



Morphological characteristics

All scorpions were examined under stereomicroscope. Most of them were reddish-brown, varying from brown to black. Patellae of pedipalps did not present ventral trichobothria. Pedipalps were also reddish-brown. Chelae were slender with long fingers.

The specimens had movable pedipalp fingers with three principal distal granules and one terminal granule. Carapaces bore granules and well-developed carinae. Tergites presented granules and slightly marked carinae. Sternites were pale brown and triangular. Legs were yellow-ochre.

Metasomas and vesicles were uniformly reddish-brown with blackish carinae; aculei were reddish-brown at the base and blackish at the end. Metasomal segments were slightly widened backwards; metasomal segments I-IV had strongly developed carinae and spiniform granules on the posterior side; vesicles showed three ventral series of granules; aculei as well as vesicles were moderately curved in scorpions identified as A. crassicauda.

Results of morphometric measurements of the scorpions body parts (Figures 2 and 3), according to sex, are shown in Table 1. Males presented 82.95±5.40mm mean body length; 11.09±0.88mm mean abdomen width; 9.09±0.73mm mean caudal carapace width; 44.63±6.50mm mean metasoma length; 8.63±1.05mm mean pectinal organ length; 33.36±0.80 mean pectinal tooth count. Females showed 90.09±14.74mm mean body length; 12.09±1.90mm mean abdomen width; 10.27±1.19mm mean caudal carapace width; 43.09±3.08mm mean metasoma length; 7.50±1.26mm mean pectinal organ length; 25.36±0.86 mean pectinal tooth count.







Sexual dimorphism

Adult female A. crassicauda (Figure 4) are larger than males. However, males have a higher number of pectinal teeth and therefore longer pectines than females. Metasoma is longer and wider in males than in females with the same total length. Carapace is wider in females than in males. Pectinal organ length (males, p=0.033), pectinal tooth count (males, p=0.000) and caudal carapace width (females, p=0.011) were significantly different between sexes. Differences of body and metasoma lengths and abdomen width between males and females were not statistically significant (p>0.05).




Measurements such as body length, abdomen width, pectinal organ length, pectinal tooth count, and carapace length are the most commonly used parameters for species identification and sex discrimination of scorpions.

Karatas and Karatas (8, 9) used pectinal tooth count to discriminate between sexes and identify species. Vachon (25) stated that the pectinal tooth number of male A. crassicauda is 33 while several other studies have reported 30 pectinal teeth in males and 24 in females (13). In the present investigation, the number of pectinal teeth were not significantly different between males (33.36±0.80) and females (25.36±0.86); p=0.000. Comparing recent findings on A. crassicauda with data from the present study, and according to the identification key, no morphological differences were detected.

According to recent reports, Androctonus crassicauda can be found in the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), across the entire Middle East (Southeastern Anatolia - Turkey), Arabian Peninsula and Armenia (15, 30). In the present study, it is reported that this species is common in Southeastern Anatolia region, especially Akçakale and Harran towns of Sanl1urfa province near Syria and Iraqi borders in the Middle East.

Vignoli et al. (30) collected A. crassicauda specimens in a village, inside farmhouses and houses, and in the desert; they also found dead specimens inside farmhouses. In the present study, most specimens were collected in similar places (inside farmhouses, buildings and adobe houses in Harran). According to Fet and Braunwalder (5), species of the Androctonus genus inhabit deserts. In the study by Crucitti (3), the specimens were collected inside buildings. Our results showed that A. crassicauda can be found in different habitats, such as clefts in adobe bricks, sandy areas, inside houses, on the surface and bottom of stones and under dry feces inside animal houses.

According to recent reports, the total length of A. crassicauda (Figure 4) is 80-100mm (4, 16). In the present study, the mean total length was similar between sexes (females: 90.09mm; males: 82.95mm). Vachon (26) reported 48mm total metasoma length in male. Our findings were similar, 44.63±6.50mm in males and 43.09±3.08mm in females.

Differences in pectinal organ lengths (males, p=0.033), pectinal tooth counts (males, p=0.000) and caudal carapace width (females, p=0.011) were statistically significant. On the other hand, body and metasoma lengths and abdomen width showed no significant differences between sexes (p>0.05).

In conclusion, human envenomation caused by A. crassicauda sting still constitutes a serious health problem in many countries including Turkey. It is one of the most medically important species in the Middle East, which is also used for antivenom production. Morphometric measurements of A. crassicauda from Turkey had not been thoroughly determined so far and our study described its detailed parametric values.



We wish to thank Karina Luiz Chamma for her valuable comments on this manuscript.



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Correspondence to:
Oscan Ozkan
Poison Research Center
Refik Saydam Hygiene Center
Ankara, Turkey
Phone: + 90 312 458 23 72

Received: July 5, 2005
Accepted: April 17, 2006
Abstract published online: May 17, 2006
Full paper published online: November 30, 2006

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