Scorpions of the genus ButhacusBirula, 1908 (Buthidae C.L. Koch, 1837), commonly known as “sand scorpions,” are widespread in the sandy deserts of the Palearctic, from West Africa to India. Although many new species of Buthacus were described in recent years, no modern revision exists for the genus and the limits of many infrageneric taxa remain unclear. The present contribution addresses the species of Buthacus recorded from the Levant, defined here as the region of the Middle East including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt). Prior to this study, five species and subspecies, including several synonyms, were recognized from the region. Based on extensive new collections, a reassessment of the morphology (including multivariate statistical analysis), and a phylogenetic analysis of morphological and DNA sequence data, published elsewhere, seven species of Buthacus are now recognized from the Levant, raising the number of species in the genus to 30. Three new species are described: Buthacus amitaii, sp. nov., endemic to Israel; Buthacus arava, sp. nov., endemic to Israel and Jordan; and Buthacus levyi, sp. nov., endemic to Egypt, Israel, and perhaps Libya. Buthacus arenicola (Simon, 1885) is redescribed and restricted to northeastern Algeria and central Tunisia, and Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829) redescribed and restricted to Egypt, Sudan, and perhaps Libya. Buthacus armasiLourenço, 2013, stat. rev., from southern Algeria, and Buthacus spatzi (Birula, 1911), stat. rev., from southern Tunisia and western Libya, are revalidated, and Buthacus fuscataPallary, 1929, stat. nov. et stat. rev., from southern Algeria, revalidated and elevated to the rank of species. Buthacus nitzaniLevy et al., 1973, stat. nov., currently restricted to Israel but probably present in the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), is elevated to the rank of species. Buthacus tadmorensis (Simon, 1892), stat. rev., recorded from Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey, and Buthacus yotvatensisLevy et al., 1973, stat. rev., endemic to Israel and Jordan, are redescribed and revalidated. Three new synonyms are presented: Androctonus (Leiurus) macrocentrus Ehrenberg, 1828 = Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829), syn. nov.; Buthus pietschmanniPenther, 1912 = Buthacus tadmorensis (Simon, 1892), syn. nov.; Buthacus granosusBorelli, 1929 = Buthacus leptochelys (Ehrenberg, 1829), syn. nov. Buthacus arenicola and the seven species of Buthacus occurring in the Levant are diagnosed and illustrated to modern standards, with updated distribution maps. A list of the currently recognized species of Buthacus, and a key to identification of the species occurring in the Levant are also presented.
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