The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 14, 2012

Biologist discovers new pseudoscorpion in Raleigh

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

— A local biologist has recently discovered a new species of pseudoscorpion in Raleigh County.

Harry W. Godwin, a biologist employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found this new species near Pinecrest Hospital.

Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center (AFSRC) scientists were studying ecological relationships in Appalachian pastures to better understand management impacts on local environments in February 2005.

In a 2-inch soil core from the forest area near Pinecrest Hospital, Godwin found a single female of this new species of Apochtronius. A year later a male was found in the same area.

The female specimen, measuring 800 um or approximately a quarter-inch, was sent to Dr. Bill Muchmore in Rochester, N.Y., in November 2005. He replied to Godwin, “I am quite sure that your specimen represents an undescribed species of the genus.”

Godwin gave the new species its scientific name “Apocthonius godwinii” and its common name “West Virginia massive pseudoscorpion.”

He says Raleigh County residents need not worry about finding these tiny creatures in their homes — the new pseudoscorpion species is a “deep wood creature.”

This single pair of specimens are the only ones known at the present time. More research and monitoring must be conducted in order to determine the biology population and if the species can be found in similar habitats.

Godwin plans on retiring at the end of the month and says he will spend much of his time researching this area and similar environments to gain further insight into this species.

He hopes to have an article published in the West Virginia Academy of Sciences Journal with his findings on this new species.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com