The newfound species belongs to the vaejovid scorpion genus Pseudouroctonus.
According to Dr. Warren Savary from the California Academy of Sciences and Dr. Robert Bryson from the University of Washington, it is only the fourth new species of scorpion to be described from California in the past two decades.
The authors named the new species Pseudouroctonus maidu after the Maidu people of northern California, in whose historic lands the species occurs.
It is known only from the type locality near the confluence of North and Middle Forks of the American River in El Dorado County.
“California is home to a remarkable variety of scorpions. However, the more I study them, the more I realize that we’ve only just scratched the surface. A lot of scorpion diversity remains to be described,” Dr. Savary said.
Adult Pseudouroctonus maidu measure between 30 and 40 mm in length. The base color is uniform dark reddish brown. The legs, chelicerae and underside of preabdomen are slightly paler.
Dr. Bryson and Dr. Savary use DNA to help better understand scorpion diversity.
“Scorpions have been around for a long time — over 400 million years — and many are quite similar in general appearance,” Dr. Bryson said.
“We can use DNA sequences to help us piece together how scorpions have evolved and how they are related. Despite looking similar, DNA often reveals that even assumed close relatives can be quite divergent.”
The scientists are working on publishing the descriptions of several other new species of scorpions from California.
“2016 will be an exciting year for scorpion discoveries,” they promised.