He couldn’t have had a better start to his scientific career. Léo Laborieux, a 20-year-old amateur naturalist, made an amazing discovery while walking in the Sainte-Baume regional park, which has been his childhood playground and playground.
A few months ago, as usual, Maximinois was walking, turning stones, scanning corners, lifting leaves and looking for the tiniest little animal.
And there, somewhere in the ridges, he is quite surprised when a small species of scorpion, whose repertoire is unknown, catches his eye.
If its size is less than seven centimeters, its discovery is very important at the scientific and faunistic level.
Fascinated by this sighting, after obtaining permission to collect from the Park, he took a specimen, took a description of it, and contacted Eric Ythier, a well-known French expert on arachnology.
They spend months exchanging all kinds of documents and photos, which will lead to the confirmation of his discovery by a scientific publication he co-authored late last year (1).
It will get the species name Buthus balmensis!
“True Unexpected Diversity”
“I am the happiest in the world. Proud to contribute to increasing knowledge and expanding inventory in this areathe young man rejoices. It is important to highlight this truly unexpected diversity“
What Gaëtan Ayache, Natura 2000 project manager at the Sainte-Baume Regional Park, sums up: “This is incredible and amazing! “
Scorpions, an experienced forest reptile does not cross the road for the first time. He regularly refreshes his mind in this picturesque land when he is not attending class (he attended Le Garrus college, Maurice-Canetti lycée in Saint-Maximin before graduating from the University of Aix-Marseille).
“Greater Than Others”
If this entity is little known to the general public (see box)the species has probably lived there for thousands of years.
But you will tell me that scorpions live in the desert, on huge hot sand dunes crushed by the scorching sun!
Yes, but not only.
Indeed, the unpopular animal with its fearsome claws thrives in savannas and forests, as does its venomous sting.
And then on the site created by the middle mountains that reach a height of 1140 meters? Still yes. Quite unusual, but explainable.
“We can only speculate about his presence in the park. It seemed that these scorpions managed to climb the ridges thousands of years ago, when the vegetation and climate were completely different and the forest grew, when members of the class of arachnids found themselves isolated. They have adapted to their environment. Then we talk about the allopatric species. “, this student, currently studying for a master’s degree in the Netherlands as part of the Erasmus program, is cautiously advancing in evolutionary biology.
From the morphological point of view, what is the peculiarity of this type of arthropods? “ It is definitely more impressive than the others. “
Is it dangerous? “All species have poisonous venom for defense and predation. Only a few are fatal to humans. “
Who should learn its poison?
This new arrival on the natural checkerboard, feeding on invertebrates, grasshoppers, locusts, cockroaches, worms hidden under stones, spiders, is yet to be interpreted.
We just know that a hiker is less likely to be bitten. “The hibernation period begins in late autumn and ends in spring. They also come out at night.“
Professionals from universities that host specialized departments to study the chemical compounds of the poison more closely are called upon to find, perhaps, pharmaceutical outlets.
Two examples have already been inventoried in France
Discovered a few months ago, the species with a yellowish color and black-striped dorsal plate got its name. Buthus balmensis. It is found only in the current state of knowledge, in Varda and more precisely in the Saint-Baum massif.
The arachnid is larger than the other two species listed in the French territory.
The male is smaller than the female, but heavier. Low population density indicates that the species is vulnerable and deserves protection.
B. occitanus and B. pyrenaeus therefore, there are two other species in the national territory.
B. occitanus known and observed at low altitude, below 300 meters above sea level in 82% of observations, and below 500 meters in 95% of observations.
B. occitanus appears in the following departments: Alpes-de-HauteProvence, Ardèche, Aude, Bouches-du-Rhône, Drôme, Gard, Hérault, Pyrénées-Orientales, Var, Vaucluse.
As for Buthus pyrenaeusit thrives in the Pyrenees-Orientales.
A total of eighteen species have been inventoried in Western Europe.