Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




Regional Maps



Compiler and date details

2008 - ABRS, with details from Mark Harvey

30 June 2000 - Mark S. Harvey & Erich S. Volschenk, Western Australian Museum, Perth, Western Australia, Australia


Scorpions are among the more instantly recognisable arachnids, characterised by the presence of chelate pedipalps, pectines and an elongate metasoma furnished with a sting, among other features. Their long fossil record, combined with a suite of plesiomorphic features, have led most researchers to consider them as the sister-group to the remaining arachnids (e.g. Weygoldt & Paulus 1979; Weygoldt 1998). However, others have suggested that the Scorpiones are nested deep within the Arachnida (e.g. Shultz 1990; Wheeler & Hayashi 1998).

Current classifications of the Scorpiones usually recognise five superfamilies, Buthoidea, Chaeriloidea, Vaejovoidea, Chactoidea and Scorpionoidea (e.g. Sissom 1990), of which only members of the Buthoidea and Scorpionoidea are represented in the Australian fauna.

The revision of the Australian scorpion fauna by Koch (1977) represented a major landmark in the study of Australian scorpions; a total of six genera and 29 species were recognised. However, recent research has shown that the species boundaries for a number of groups must be modified (e.g. Acosta 1990). Further taxonomic work on the Australian fauna has been conducted since Koch's revision (e.g. Acosta 1990; Kovarík 1997; Locket 1990, 1995, 1997; Volschenk et al. 2000), and further revisionary work is currently in press or in preparation (E.S.V., unpublished data; N.A. Locket, in litt.).


We wish to thank the Australian Biological Resources Study for funds to E.S.V. for his work on Australasian buthids.

Limital Area

Distribution data in the Directory is by political and geographic region descriptors and serves as a guide to the distribution of a taxon. For details of a taxon's distribution, the reader should consult the cited references (if any) at genus and species levels.

Australia is defined as including Lord Howe Is., Norfolk Is., Cocos (Keeling) Ils, Christmas Is., Ashmore and Cartier Ils, Macquarie Is., Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Ils, and the waters associated with these land areas of Australian political responsibility. Political areas include the adjacent waters.

Terrestrial geographical terms are based on the drainage systems of continental Australia, while marine terms are self explanatory except as follows: the boundary between the coastal and oceanic zones is the 200 m contour; the Arafura Sea extends from Cape York to 124 DEG E; and the boundary between the Tasman and Coral Seas is considered to be the latitude of Fraser Island, also regarded as the southern terminus of the Great Barrier Reef.

Distribution records, if any, outside of these areas are listed as extralimital. The distribution descriptors for each species are collated to genus level. Users are advised that extralimital distribution for some taxa may not be complete.


General References

Acosta, L.E. 1990. El genero Cercophonius Peters, 1861 (Scorpiones, Bothriuridae). Boletín de la Sociedad de Biología de Concepción 61: 7-27

Koch, L.E. 1977. The taxonomy, geographic distribution and evolutionary radiation of Australo-Papuan scorpions. Records of the Western Australian Museum 5: 83-367

Kovarík, F. 1997. Revision of the genera Lychas and Hemilychas, with description of six new species (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Acta Societatis Zoologicae Bohemicae 61: 311-371

Locket, N.A. 1990. A new genus and species of scorpion from South Australia (Buthidae: Buthinae). Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 114: 67-80

Locket, N.A. 1995. A new ischnurid scorpion from the Northern Territory, Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 52: 191-198

Locket, N.A. 1997. Liocheles extensa, a replacement name for Liocheles longimanus Locket, 1995 (Scorpiones: Ischnuridae). Records of the Western Australian Museum 18: 331

Shultz, J.W. 1990. Evolutionary morphology and phylogeny of Arachnida. Cladistics 6: 1-38

Sissom, W.D. 1990. Systematics, biogeography, and paleontology. pp. 64-160 in Polis, G.A. (ed.). The Biology of Scorpions. Stanford : Stanford University Press.

Volschenk, E.S., Smith, G.T. & Harvey, M.S. 2000. A new species of Urodacus from Western Australia, with descriptive notes on Urodacus megamastigus (Scorpiones: Urodacidae). Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 57-68

Weygoldt, P. 1998. Evolution and systematics of the Chelicerata. Experimental and Applied Acarology 22: 63-79

Weygoldt, P. & Paulus, H.F. 1979. Untersuchungen zur Morphologie, Taxonomie und Phylogenie der Chelicerata. II. Cladogramme und die Entfaltung der Chelicerata. Zeitschrift für Zoologische Systematik und Evolutionsforschung 17: 177-200

Wheeler, W.C. & Hayashi, C.Y. 1998. The phylogeny of the extant chelicerate orders. Cladistics 14: 173-192


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
12-Feb-2010 (import)