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What will happen if a scorpion pierces itself?

What will happen if a scorpion pierces itself?


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If a scorpion pierces itself, will it die or immune to its poison? If it produces the venom its blood should be immune to itself poison.


Scorpions are immune to their own venom (reference) as has been said in some studies as well (reference) But some other studies and eye witness accounts have referred to the contrary.

in an experiment a scorpion, Bulteus australis, was killed by an injection of the same venom as its own (reference).

So, it should be safe to say that there is a very low chance for a scorpion to be affected by its own venom. It is said that

Mutations in the scorpion's own membrane protein genes make the arachnid immune to its own venom (reference).

A scorpion could die quickly if venom is injected into its brain (nerve ganglion). Larger species inject a higher amount of venom to overcome the smaller ones and should have specific neurotoxins if smaller scorpions are their prey to disable them (reference).


Scorpion Reproduction

The reproductive cycle of scorpions is fascinating and has unique characteristics not repeated in other arachnids. The following data are treated in a generalized way since some details vary according to each species of scorpions.

The first phase of their reproductive cycle occurs between late spring and early autumn. It all starts with finding a mate. The male leaves his den searching for a mature female available, which can stay inside or outside her hiding place. If it is the former, he prepares to dig the entrance and insist until the partner appears. A combination of pheromones and body vibrations is vital in this phase when the body of both is trembling or vibrating repeatedly.

At first, the struggle between them seems very savage, and the female appears not ready to make physical contact with her new partner, but it is the male who is responsible for calming her with slight doses of venom in the pedipalps or the cephalothorax, although this does not always happen. Sometimes only a little effort is needed without having to use such natural tranquilizers.

A combination of pheromones and body vibrations is vital in this phase.

The courtship is a very unusual and even funny because the male holds the pedipalps of the female to have it under control, and then they begin a kind of “dance” where they walk in all directions. During this part they look like coordinated dance partners that perfectly synchronize it is fascinating!

Once the male manages to find the right place to deposit his spermatophore on the ground, he then guides the female to stand on it with the aim of introducing it into her genital operculum and thus be able to fertilize. The mating ritual lasts for hours or even days, depending on how long the male takes to deposit his spermatophore. If it takes too long and the female loses interest, the whole process is interrupted.

Sometimes after mating, the male should move quickly away if he does not want to become the next meal of his aggressive female companion.

If the fertilization is successful, the fertile eggs form an embryo until finally, the scorplings arrive. The mother releases them to the outside one by one, and immediately they climb to the body of the mother through its legs to assure that they will not be in danger. The lack of a robust and developed exoskeleton keeps them defenseless and very vulnerable to the attacks of predators, but with the protection of their mother, the risks diminish. As a curious fact, if the mother does not have enough food around her, she feeds on her offspring, turning her from protector to predator.

The reproduction of some scorpions is known as parthenogenesis.

The reproduction of some scorpions is known as parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction where the development of embryos can occur without fertilization.

The scorplings, which on average are 25 to 35 (but much more in certain species), are miniature versions of adults but without a fully developed exoskeleton that they need to survive in their environment. They have a whitish-transparent color and a very soft texture, besides being tiny.

They stay with the mother until they have their first molt, which occurs approximately 50 days after birth. After that, they leave the body of their protector and go out to hunt on their own. They molt five more times before reaching full development. A female can have new offspring sometime between a few months and a year after her last mating.

Some scorpions live surprisingly up to 20 years, but their average life expectancy ranges from 6 to 8 years.

Animals, a visual encyclopedia. Second edition. Smithsonian 2012.

Walls, Jerry G. Scorpions: Plus Other Popular Invertebrates. i5 Publishing, 2012

Vicki Judah, Kathy Nuttall. Exotic Animal Care and Management. Cengage Learning, 2016.


General features

Scorpions are relatively large among terrestrial arthropods, with an average size of about 6 cm (2.5 inches). Scorpions exhibit few sexual differences, although males usually are more slender and have longer tails than females. Giants among scorpions include the black emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator), an African species found in Guinea, which attains a body length of about 18 cm (7 inches) and a mass of 60 grams (more than 2 ounces). The longest scorpion in the world is the rock scorpion (Hadogenes troglodytes) of South Africa females attain a length of 21 cm (8.3 inches). The length of the smallest scorpions, the Caribbean Microtityus fundorai, is 12 mm (0.5 inch). A few precursors of modern scorpions were comparative giants. Fossils of two species ( Gigantoscorpio willsi and Brontoscorpio anglicus) measure from 35 cm (14 inches) to a metre (3.3 feet) or more, and an undescribed species is estimated to have been 90 cm (35.5 inches). Most species from deserts and other arid regions are yellowish or light brown in colour those found in moist or mountain habitats, however, are brown or black.


Contents

The word "scorpion" is thought to have originated in Middle English between 1175 and 1225 AD from Old French scorpion, [1] or from Italian scorpione, both derived from the Latin scorpius, [2] which is the romanization of the Greek σκορπίος – skorpíos, [3] ultimately from Proto-Indo-European root *(s)ker- meaning "to cut", cf. "shear". [4]

Fossil record

Scorpion fossils have been found in many strata, including marine Silurian and estuarine Devonian deposits, coal deposits from the Carboniferous Period and in amber. Whether the early scorpions were marine or terrestrial has been debated, though they had book lungs like modern terrestrial species. [6] [7] [8] [9] Over 100 fossil species of scorpion have been described. [10] The oldest found as of 2021 is Dolichophonus loudonensis, which lived during the Silurian, in present-day Scotland. [11] Gondwanascorpio from the Devonian is among the earliest-known terrestrial animals on the Gondwana supercontinent. [12]

Phylogeny

The Scorpiones are a clade within the "pulmonate" Arachnida (those with book lungs). Arachnida is placed within the Chelicerata, a subphylum of Arthropoda that contains sea spiders and horseshoe crabs, alongside terrestrial animals without book lungs such as ticks and harvestmen. [6] The extinct Eurypterida, sometimes called sea scorpions, though they were not all marine, are not scorpions their grasping pincers were chelicerae, not homologous with the pincers (second appendages) of scorpions. [13] Scorpiones is sister to the Tetrapulmonata, a terrestrial group of pulmonates containing the spiders and whip scorpions. This 2019 cladogram summarises: [6]

The internal phylogeny of the scorpions has been debated, [6] but genomic analysis consistently places the Bothriuridae as sister to a clade consisting of Scorpionoidea and "Chactoidea". The scorpions diversified between the Devonian and the early Carboniferous. The main division is into the clades Buthida and Iurida. The Bothriuridae diverged starting before temperate Gondwana broke up into separate land masses, completed by the Jurassic. The Iuroidea and Chactoidea are both seen not to be single clades, and are shown as "paraphyletic" (with quotation marks) in this 2018 cladogram. [14]

Taxonomy

Carl Linnaeus described six species of scorpion in his genus Scorpio in 1758 and 1767 three of these are now considered valid and are called Scorpio maurus, Androctonus australis, and Euscorpius carpathicus the other three are dubious names. He placed the scorpions among his "Insecta aptera" (wingless insects), a group that included Crustacea, Arachnida and Myriapoda. [15] In 1801, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck divided up the "Insecta aptera", creating the taxon Arachnides for spiders, scorpions, and acari (mites and ticks), though it also contained the Thysanura (thrips), Myriapoda and parasites such as lice. [16] German arachnologist Carl Ludwig Koch created the order Scorpiones in 1837. He divided it into four families, the six-eyed scorpions "Scorpionides", the eight-eyed scorpions "Buthides", the ten-eyed scorpions "Centrurides", and the twelve-eyed scorpions "Androctonides". [17]

More recently, some twenty-two families containing over 2,500 species of scorpions have been described, with many additions and much reorganization of taxa in the 21st century. [18] [6] [19] There are over 100 described taxa of fossil scorpions. [10] This classification is based on Soleglad and Fet (2003), [20] which replaced Stockwell's older, unpublished classification. [21] Further taxonomic changes are from papers by Soleglad et al. (2005). [22] [23]

The extant taxa to the rank of family (numbers of species in parentheses [18] ) are:

  • Parvorder PseudochactidaSoleglad & Fet, 2003
    • Superfamily PseudochactoideaGromov, 1998
      • Family PseudochactidaeGromov, 1998 (1 sp.) (Central Asian scorpions of semi-savanna habitats)
      • Superfamily ButhoideaC. L. Koch, 1837
        • Family ButhidaeC. L. Koch, 1837 (1209 spp.) (thick-tailed scorpions, including the most dangerous species)
        • Family MicrocharmidaeLourenço, 1996, 2019 (17 spp.) (African scorpions of humid forest leaf litter)
        • Superfamily ChaeriloideaPocock, 1893
          • Family ChaerilidaePocock, 1893 (51 spp.) (South and Southeast Asian scorpions of non-arid places)
          • Parvorder IuridaSoleglad & Fet, 2003
            • Superfamily ChactoideaPocock, 1893
              • Family AkravidaeLevy, 2007 (1 sp.) (cave-dwelling scorpions of Israel)
              • Family BelisariidaeLourenço, 1998 (3 spp.) (cave-related scorpions of Southern Europe)
              • Family ChactidaePocock, 1893 (209 spp.) (New World scorpions, membership under revision)
              • Family EuscorpiidaeLaurie, 1896 (170 spp.) (harmless scorpions of the Americas, Eurasia, and North Africa)
              • Family SuperstitioniidaeStahnke, 1940 (1 sp.) (cave scorpions of Mexico and Southwestern United States)
              • Family TroglotayosicidaeLourenço, 1998 (4 spp.) (cave-related scorpions of South America)
              • Family TyphlochactidaeMitchell, 1971 (11 spp.) (cave-related scorpions of Eastern Mexico)
              • Family VaejovidaeThorell, 1876 (222 spp.) (New World scorpions)
              • Family CaraboctonidaeKraepelin, 1905 (23 spp.) (hairy scorpions)
              • Family HadruridaeStahnke, 1974 (9 spp.) (large North American scorpions)
              • Family IuridaeThorell, 1876 (21 spp.) (scorpions with a large tooth on inner side of moveable claw)
              • Family BothriuridaeSimon, 1880 (158 spp.) (Southern hemisphere tropical and temperate scorpions)
              • Family HemiscorpiidaePocock, 1893 (16 spp.) (rock, creeping, or tree scorpions of the Middle East)
              • Family HormuridaeLaurie, 1896 (92 spp.) (flattened, crevice-living scorpions of Southeast Asia and Australia)
              • Family RugodentidaeBastawade et al, 2005 (1 sp.) (burrowing scorpions of India)
              • Family ScorpionidaeLatreille, 1802 (183 spp.) (burrowing or pale-legged scorpions)
              • Family DiplocentridaeKarsch, 1880 (134 spp.) (closely related to and sometimes placed in Scorpionidae, but have spine on telson)
              • Family HeteroscorpionidaeKraepelin, 1905 (6 spp.) (scorpions of Madagascar)

              Scorpions are found on all continents except Antarctica. The diversity of scorpions is greatest in subtropical areas it decreases towards both the poles and the equator, though scorpions are found in the tropics. Scorpions did not occur naturally in Great Britain, New Zealand and some of the islands in Oceania, but have now been accidentally introduced into these places by humans. [24] Five colonies of Euscorpius flavicaudis have established themselves since the late 19th century in Sheerness in England at 51°N, [25] [26] [27] while Paruroctonus boreus lives as far north as Red Deer, Alberta, at 52°N. [28] A few species are on the IUCN Red List Lychas braueri is classed as critically endangered (2014), Isometrus deharvengi as endangered (2016) and Chiromachus ochropus as vulnerable (2014). [29] [30] [31]

              Scorpions are xerocoles, meaning they primarily live in deserts, but they can be found in virtually every terrestrial habitat including high-elevation mountains, caves, and intertidal zones. They are largely absent from boreal ecosystems such as the tundra, high-altitude taiga, and mountain tops. [32] [6] The highest altitude reached by a scorpion is 5,500 meters (18,000 ft) in the Andes, for Orobothriurus crassimanus. [33]

              As regards microhabitats, scorpions may be ground-dwelling, tree-loving, rock-loving or sand-loving. Some species, such as Vaejovis janssi, are versatile and are found in all habitats on Socorro Island, Baja California, while others such as Euscorpius carpathicus, endemic to the littoral zone of rivers in Romania, occupy specialized niches. [34] [35]

              Scorpions range in size from the 8.5 mm (0.33 in) Typhlochactas mitchelli of Typhlochactidae, [34] to the 23 cm (9.1 in) Heterometrus swammerdami of Scorpionidae. [36] The body of a scorpion is divided into two parts or tagmata: the cephalothorax or prosoma, and the abdomen or opisthosoma. [a] The opisthosoma is subdivided into a broad anterior portion, the mesosoma or pre-abdomen, and a narrow tail-like posterior, the metasoma or post-abdomen. [38] External differences between the sexes are not obvious in most species. In some, the metasoma is more elongated in males than females. [39]

              Cephalothorax

              The cephalothorax comprises the carapace, eyes, chelicerae (mouth parts), pedipalps (which have chelae, commonly called claws or pincers) and four pairs of walking legs. Scorpions have two eyes on the top of the cephalothorax, and usually two to five pairs of eyes along the front corners of the cephalothorax. While unable to form sharp images, their central eyes are amongst the most light sensitive in the animal kingdom, especially in dim light, and makes it possible for nocturnal species to use starlight to navigate at night. [40] The chelicerae are at the front and underneath the carapace. They are pincer-like and have three segments and sharp "teeth". [41] [42] The brain of a scorpion is in the back of the cephalothorax, just above the esophagus. [43] As in other arachnids, the nervous system is highly concentrated in the cephalothorax, but has a long ventral nerve cord with segmented ganglia which may be a primitive trait. [44]

              The pedipalp is a segmented, clawed appendage used for prey immobilization, defense and sensory purposes. The segments of the pedipalp (from closest to the body outwards) are coxa, trochanter, femur, patella, tibia (including the fixed claw and the manus) and tarsus (moveable claw). A scorpion has darkened or granular raised linear ridges, called "keels" or "carinae" on the pedipalp segments and on other parts of the body these are useful as taxonomic characters. [45] Unlike those of some other arachnids, the legs have not been modified for other purposes, though they may occasionally be used for digging, and females may use them to catch emerging young. The legs are covered in proprioceptors, bristles and sensory setae. [46] Depending on the species, the legs may have spines and spurs. [47]

              Mesosoma

              The mesosoma or preabdomen is the broad part of the opisthosoma. [38] It consists of the anterior seven somites (segments) of the opisthosoma, each covered dorsally by a sclerotised plate, its tergite. Ventrally, somites 3 to 7 are armored with matching plates called sternites. The ventral side of somite 1 has a pair of genital opercula covering the gonopore. Sternite 2 forms the basal plate bearing the pectines, [48] which function as sensory organs. [49]

              The next four somites, 3 to 6, all bear pairs of spiracles. They serve as openings for the scorpion's respiratory organs, known as book lungs. The spiracle openings may be slits, circular, elliptical or oval according to the species. [50] [51] There are thus four pairs of book lungs each consists of some 140 to 150 thin lamellae filled with air inside a pulmonary chamber, connected on the ventral side to an atrial chamber which opens into a spiracle. Bristles hold the lamellae apart. A muscle opens the spiracle and widens the atrial chamber dorsoventral muscles contract to compress the pulmonary chamber, forcing air out, and relax to allow the chamber to refill. [52] The 7th and last somite does not bear appendages or any other significant external structures. [50]

              The mesosoma contains the heart or "dorsal vessel" which is the center of the scorpion's open circulatory system. The heart is continuous with a deep arterial system which spreads throughout the body. Sinuses return deoxygenated blood or hemolymph to the heart the hemolymph is re-oxygenated by cardiac pores. The mesosoma also contains the reproductive system. The female gonads are made of three or four tubes that run parallel to each other and are connected by two to four transverse anastomoses. These tubes are the sites for both oocyte formation and embryonic development. They connect to two oviducts which connect to a single atrium leading to the genital orifice. [53] Males have two gonads made of two cylindrical tubes with a ladder-like configuration they contain cysts which produce spermatozoa. Both tubes end in a spermiduct, one on each side of the mesosoma. They connect to glandular symmetrical structures called paraxial organs, which end at the genital orifice. These secrete chitin-based structures which come together to form the spermatophore. [54] [55]

              Metasoma

              The "tail" or metasoma consists of five segments and the telson, which is not strictly a segment. The five segments are merely body rings they lack apparent sterna or terga, and become larger distally. These segments have keels, setae and bristles which may be used for taxonomic classification. The anus is at the distal and ventral end of the last segment, and is encircled by four anal papillae and the anal arch. [50] The tails of some species contain light receptors. [40]

              The telson includes the vesicle, which contains a symmetrical pair of venom glands. Externally it bears the curved stinger, the hypodermic aculeus, equipped with sensory hairs. Each of the venom glands has its own duct to convey its secretion along the aculeus from the bulb of the gland to immediately subterminal of the point of the aculeus, where each of the paired ducts has its own venom pore. [56] An extrinsic muscle system in the tail moves it forward and propels and penetrates with the aculeus, while an intrinsic muscle system attached to the glands pumps venom through the stinger into the intended victim. [57] The stinger contains metalloproteins with zinc, hardening the tip. [58] The optimal stinging angle is around 30 degrees relative to the tip. [59]

              Most scorpion species are nocturnal or crepuscular, finding shelter during the day in burrows, cracks in rocks and tree bark. [60] Many species dig a shelter underneath stones a few centimeters long. Some may use burrows made by other animals including spiders, reptiles and small mammals. Other species dig their own burrows which vary in complexity and depth. Hadrurus species dig burrows as over 2 m (6 ft 7 in) deep. Digging is done using the mouth parts, claws and legs. In several species, particularly of the family Buthidae, individuals may gather in the same shelter bark scorpions may aggregate up to 30 individuals. In some species, families of females and young sometimes aggregate. [61]

              Scorpions prefer areas where the temperature remains in the range of 11–40 °C (52–104 °F), but may survive temperatures from well below freezing to desert heat. [62] [63] Scorpions can withstand intense heat: Leiurus quinquestriatus, Scorpio maurus and Hadrurus arizonensis can live in temperatures of 45–50 °C (113–122 °F) if they are sufficiently hydrated. Desert species must deal with the extreme changes in temperature from day to night or between seasons Pectinibuthus birulai lives in a temperature range of −30–50 °C (−22–122 °F). Scorpions that live outside deserts prefer lower temperatures. The ability to resist cold may be related to the increase in the sugar trehalose when the temperature drops. Some species hibernate. [64] Scorpions appear to have resistance to ionizing radiation. This was discovered in the early 1960s when scorpions were found to be among the few animals to survive nuclear tests at Reggane, Algeria. [65]

              Desert scorpions have several adaptations for water conservation. They excrete insoluble compounds such as xanthine, guanine, and uric acid, not requiring water for their removal from the body. Guanine is the main component and maximizes the amount of nitrogen excreted. A scorpion's cuticle holds in moisture via lipids and waxes from epidermal glands, and protects against ultraviolet radiation. Even when dehydrated, a scorpion can tolerate high osmotic pressure in its blood. [66] Desert scorpions get most of their moisture from the food they eat but some can absorb water from the humid soil. Species that live in denser vegetation and in more moderate temperatures will drink water on plants and in puddles. [67]

              A scorpion uses its stinger both for killing prey and defense. Some species make direct, quick strikes with their tails while others make slower, more circular strikes which can more easily return the stinger to a position where it can strike again. Leiurus quinquestriatus can whip its tail at a speed of up to 128 cm/s (50 in/s) in a defensive strike. [68]

              Mortality and defense

              Scorpions may be attacked by other arthropods like ants, spiders, solifugids and centipedes. Major predators include frogs, lizards, snakes, birds, and mammals. [69] Meerkats are somewhat specialized in preying on scorpions, biting off their stingers and being immune to their venom. [70] [71] Other predators adapted for hunting scorpions include the grasshopper mouse and desert long-eared bat, which are also immune to their venom. [72] [73] In one study, 70% of the latter's droppings contained scorpion fragments. [73] Scorpions host parasites including mites, scuttle flies, nematodes and some bacteria. The immune system of scorpions gives them resistance to infection by many types of bacteria. [74]

              When threatened, a scorpion raises its claws and tail in a defensive posture. Some species stridulate to warn off predators by rubbing certain hairs, the stinger or the claws. [69] Certain species have a preference for using either the claws or stinger as defense, depending on the size of the appendages. [75] A few scorpions, such as Parabuthus, Centruroides margaritatus, and Hadrurus arizonensis, squirt venom in a narrow jet as far as 1 meter (3.3 ft) to warn off potential predators, possibly injuring them in the eyes. [76] Some Ananteris species can shed parts of their tail to escape predators. The parts do not grow back, leaving them unable to sting and defecate, but they can still catch small prey and reproduce for at least eight months afterwards. [77]

              Diet and feeding

              Scorpions generally prey on insects, particularly grasshoppers, crickets, termites, beetles and wasps. Other prey include spiders, solifugids, woodlice and even small vertebrates including lizards, snakes and mammals. Species with large claws may prey on earthworms and mollusks. The majority of species are opportunistic and consume a variety of prey though some may be highly specialized Isometroides vescus specializes on burrowing spiders. Prey size depends on the size of the species. Several scorpion species are sit-and-wait predators, which involves them waiting for prey at or near the entrance to their burrow. Others actively seek them out. Scorpions detect their prey with mechanoreceptive and chemoreceptive hairs on their bodies and capture them with their claws. Small animals are merely killed with the claws, particularly by large-clawed species. Larger and more aggressive prey is given a sting. [78] [79]

              Scorpions, like other arachnids, digest their food externally. The chelicerae, which are very sharp, are used to pull small amounts of food off the prey item into a pre-oral cavity below the chelicerae and carapace. The digestive juices from the gut are egested onto the food, and the digested food is then sucked into the gut in liquid form. Any solid indigestible matter (such as exoskeleton fragments) is trapped by setae in the pre-oral cavity and ejected. The sucked-in food is pumped into the midgut by the pharynx, where it is further digested. The waste passes through the hindgut and out of the anus. Scorpions can consume large amounts of food during one meal. They have an efficient food storage organ and a very low metabolic rate, and a relatively inactive lifestyle. This enables them to survive long periods without food. Some are able to survive 6 to 12 months of starvation. [80]

              Mating

              Most scorpions reproduce sexually, with male and female individuals species in some genera, such as Hottentotta and Tityus, and the species Centruroides gracilis, Liocheles australasiae, and Ananteris coineaui have been reported, not necessarily reliably, to reproduce through parthenogenesis, in which unfertilized eggs develop into living embryos. [81] Receptive females produce pheromones which are picked up by wandering males using their pectines to comb the substrate. Males begin courtship by moving their bodies back and forth, without moving the legs, a behavior known as juddering. This appears to produce ground vibrations that are picked up by the female. [54]

              The pair then make contact using their pedipalps, and perform a "dance" called the promenade à deux (French for "a walk for two"). In this dance, the male and female move backwards and forwards while facing each other, as the male searches for a suitable place to deposit his spermatophore. The courtship ritual can involve several other behaviors such as a cheliceral kiss, in which the male and female grasp each other's mouth-parts, arbre droit ("upright tree") where the partners elevate their posteriors and rub their tails together, and sexual stinging, in which the male stings the female in the chelae or mesosoma to subdue her. The dance can last from a few minutes to several hours. [82] [83]

              When the male has located a suitably stable substrate, such as hard ground, agglomerated sand, rock, or tree bark, he deposits the spermatophore and guides the female over it. This allows the spermatophore to enter her genital opercula, which triggers release of the sperm, thus fertilizing the female. A mating plug then forms in the female to prevent her from mating again before the young are born. The male and female then abruptly separate. [84] [85] Sexual cannibalism after mating has only been reported anecdotally in scorpions. [86]

              Birth and development

              Gestation in scorpions can last for over a year in some species. [87] They have two types of embryonic development apoikogenic and katoikogenic. In the apoikogenic system, which is mainly found in the Buthidae, embryos develop in yolk-rich eggs inside follicles. The katoikogenic system is documented in Hemiscorpiidae, Scorpionidae and Diplocentridae, and involves the embryos developing in a diverticulum which has a teat-like structure for them to feed though. [88] Unlike the majority of arachnids, which are oviparous, hatching from eggs, scorpions seem to be universally viviparous, with live births. [89] They are unusual among terrestrial arthropods in the amount of care a female gives to her offspring. [90] The size of a brood varies by species, from 3 to over 100. [91] The body size of scorpions is not correlated either with brood size or with life cycle length. [92]

              Before giving birth, the female elevates the front of her body and positions her pedipalps and front legs under her to catch the young ("birth basket"). The young emerge one by one from the genital opercula, expel the embryonic membrane, if any, and are placed on the mother's back where they remain until they have gone through at least one molt. The period before the first molt is called the pro-juvenile stage the young are unable to feed or sting, but have suckers on their tarsi, used to hold on to their mother. This period lasts 5 to 25 days, depending on the species. The brood molt for the first time simultaneously in a process that lasts 6 to 8 hours, marking the beginning of the juvenile stage. [91]

              Juvenile stages or instars generally resemble smaller versions of adults, with fully developed pincers, hairs and stingers. They are still soft and lack pigments, and thus continue to ride on their mother's back for protection. They become harder and more pigmented over the next couple of days. They may leave their mother temporarily, returning when they sense potential danger. Once the exoskeleton is fully hardened, the young can hunt prey on their own and may soon leave their mother. [93] A scorpion may molt six times on average before reaching maturity, which may not occur until it is 6 to 83 months old, depending on the species. Some species may live up to 25 years. [87]

              Fluorescence

              Scorpions glow a vibrant blue-green when exposed to certain wavelengths ranges of ultraviolet light such as that produced by a black light, due to fluorescent chemicals such as beta-carboline in the cuticle. Accordingly, a hand-held ultraviolet lamp has long been a standard tool for nocturnal field surveys of these animals. Fluorescence occurs as a result of sclerotisation and increases in intensity with each successive instar. [94] This fluorescence may have an active role in the scorpion's ability to detect light. [95]

              Stings

              Scorpion venom serves to kill or paralyze prey rapidly. The stings of many species are uncomfortable, but only 25 species have venom that is deadly to humans. Those species belong to the family Buthidae, including Leiurus quinquestriatus, Hottentotta spp., Centruroides spp., and Androctonus spp. [34] People with allergies are especially at risk [96] otherwise, first aid is symptomatic, with analgesia. Cases of very high blood pressure are treated with medications that relieve anxiety and relax the blood vessels. [97] [98] Scorpion envenomation with high morbidity and mortality is usually due to either excessive autonomic activity and cardiovascular toxic effects, or neuromuscular toxic effects. Antivenom is the specific treatment for scorpion envenomation combined with supportive measures including vasodilators in patients with cardiovascular toxic effects, and benzodiazepines when there is neuromuscular involvement. Although rare, severe hypersensitivity reactions including anaphylaxis to scorpion antivenin are possible. [99]

              Scorpion stings are a public health problem, particularly in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, North Africa, the Middle East and India. Around 1.5 million scorpion envenomations occur each year with around 2,600 deaths. [100] [101] [102] Mexico is one of the most affected countries, with the highest biodiversity of scorpions in the world, some 200,000 envenomations per year and at least 300 deaths. [103] [104]

              Efforts are made to prevent envenomation and to control scorpion populations. Prevention encompasses personal activities such as checking shoes and clothes before putting them on, not walking in bare feet or sandals, and filling in holes and cracks where scorpions might nest. Street lighting reduces scorpion activity. Control may involve the use of insecticides such as pyrethroids, or gathering scorpions manually with the help of ultraviolet lights. Domestic predators of scorpions, such as chickens and turkeys, can help to reduce the risk to a household. [100] [101]

              Possible use of toxins

              Scorpion venom is a mixture of neurotoxins most of these are peptides, chains of amino acids. [106] Many of them interfere with membrane channels that transport sodium, potassium, calcium, or chloride ions. These channels are essential for nerve conduction, muscle contraction and many other biological processes. Some of these molecules may be useful in medical research and might lead to the development of new disease treatments. Among their potential therapeutic uses are as analgesic, anti-cancer, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, bradykinin-potentiating, and immunosuppressive drugs. As of 2020, no scorpion toxin-based drug is on sale, though chlorotoxin is being trialled for use against glioma, a brain cancer. [105]

              Consumption

              Scorpions are eaten by people in West Africa, Myanmar [107] and East Asia. Fried scorpion is traditionally eaten in Shandong, China. [108] There, scorpions can be cooked and eaten in a variety of ways, including roasting, frying, grilling, raw, or alive. The stingers are typically not removed, since direct and sustained heat negates the harmful effects of the venom. [109] In Thailand, scorpions are not eaten as often as other arthropods, such as grasshoppers, but they are sometimes fried as street food. [110] They are used in Vietnam to make snake wine (scorpion wine). [111]

              In captivity

              Scorpions are often kept as pets. They are relatively simple to keep, the main requirements being a secure enclosure such as a glass terrarium with a lockable lid, and the appropriate temperature and humidity for the chosen species, which typically means installing a heating mat and spraying regularly with a little water. The substrate needs to resemble that of the species' natural environment, such as peat for forest species, or lateritic sand for burrowing desert species. Scorpions in the genera Pandinus and Heterometrus are docile enough to handle. A large Pandinus may consume up to three crickets each week. Cannibalism is more common in captivity than in the wild, and can be minimized by providing many small shelters within the enclosure, and ensuring there is plenty of prey. [112] [113] The pet trade has threatened wild populations of some scorpion species, particularly Androctonus australis and Pandinus imperator. [114]

              In culture

              Late period bronze figure of Isis-Serket

              "Scorpion and snake fighting", Anglo-Saxon Herbal, c. 1050

              The constellation Scorpius, depicted in Urania's Mirror as "Scorpio", London, c. 1825

              A scorpion motif (two types shown) was often woven into Turkish kilim flatweave carpets, for protection from their sting. [115]

              The scorpion is a culturally significant animal, appearing as a motif in art, especially in Islamic art in the Middle East. [116] A scorpion motif is often woven into Turkish kilim flatweave carpets, for protection from their sting. [115] The scorpion is perceived both as an embodiment of evil and as a protective force such as a dervish's powers to combat evil. [116] In Muslim folklore, the scorpion portrays human sexuality. [116] Scorpions are used in folk medicine in South Asia, especially in antidotes for scorpion stings. [116]

              One of the earliest occurrences of the scorpion in culture is its inclusion, as Scorpio, in the 12 signs of the Zodiac by Babylonian astronomers during the Chaldean period. This was then taken up by western astrology in astronomy the corresponding constellation is named Scorpius. [117] In ancient Egypt, the goddess Serket, who protected the Pharaoh, was often depicted as a scorpion. [118] In ancient Greece, a warrior's shield sometimes carried a scorpion device, as seen in red-figure pottery from the 5th century BC. [119] In Greek mythology, Artemis or Gaia sent a giant scorpion to kill the hunter Orion, who had said he would kill all the world's animals. Orion and the scorpion both became constellations as enemies they were placed on opposite sides of the world, so when one rises in the sky, the other sets. [120] [121] Scorpions are mentioned in the Bible and the Talmud as symbols of danger and maliciousness. [121]

              The fable of The Scorpion and the Frog has been interpreted as showing that vicious people cannot resist hurting others, even when it is not in their interests. [122] More recently, the action in John Steinbeck's 1947 novella The Pearl centers on a poor pearl fisherman's attempts to save his infant son from a scorpion sting, only to lose him to human violence. [123] Scorpions have equally appeared in western artforms including film and poetry: the surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel made symbolic use of scorpions in his 1930 classic L'Age d'or (The Golden Age), [124] while Stevie Smith's last collection of poems was entitled Scorpion and other Poems. [125] A variety of martial arts films and video games have been entitled Scorpion King. [126] [127] [128]

              Since classical times, the scorpion with its powerful stinger has been used to provide a name for weapons. In the Roman army, the scorpio was a torsion siege engine used to shoot a projectile. [130] The British Army's FV101 Scorpion was an armored reconnaissance vehicle or light tank in service from 1972 to 1994. [131] A version of the Matilda II tank, fitted with a flail to clear mines, was named the Matilda Scorpion. [132] Several ships of the Royal Navy and of the US Navy have been named Scorpion including an 18-gun sloop in 1803, [133] a turret ship in 1863, [134] a patrol yacht in 1898, [135] a destroyer in 1910, [136] and a nuclear submarine in 1960. [137]

              The scorpion has served as the name or symbol of products and brands including Italy's Abarth racing cars [138] and a Montesa scrambler motorcycle. [139] A hand- or forearm-balancing asana in modern yoga as exercise with the back arched and one or both legs pointing forwards over the head in the manner of the scorpion's tail is called Scorpion pose. [140] [129]

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              184. ^
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              186. ^Stockmann & Ythier 2010, pp. 144, 173–177.
              187. ^
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              189. ^ ab
              190. Erbek, Güran (1998). Kilim Catalogue No. 1 (1st ed.). May Selçuk A. S. "Motifs", before page 1.
              191. ^ abcd
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              193. ^Polis 1990, p. 462.
              194. ^
              195. "Serqet". British Museum . Retrieved 10 December 2020 .
              196. ^
              197. attrib. to "The Achilles Painter". "Pelike". British Museum. in his left [hand] he carries a long spear and a shield with device in black silhouette of a scorpion to left. . Made in: Attica, Greece . Findspot: Nola, Italy
              198. ^
              199. Kerényi, C. (1974). "Stories of Orion". The Gods of the Greens. Thames and Hudson. p. 203. ISBN978-0-500-27048-6 .
              200. ^ abStockmann & Ythier 2010, p. 179.
              201. ^
              202. Takeda, A. (2011). "Blumenreiche Handelswege: Ost-westliche Streifzüge auf den Spuren der Fabel Der Skorpion und der Frosch" [Flowery Trade Routes: East-Western forays into the footsteps of the fable The Scorpion and the Frog] (PDF) . Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte (in German). 85 (1): 124–152. doi:10.1007/BF03374756. S2CID170169337. (German) Die Moral der Fabel besagt: Manche Menschen handeln von Natur aus mörderisch und selbst-mörderisch zugleich. (English) The moral of the fable says: Some people act naturally murderous and self-murderous at the same time.
              203. ^
              204. Meyer, Michael (2005). "Diamond in the Rough: Steinbeck's Multifaceted Pearl". The Steinbeck Review. 2 (2 (Fall 2005)): 42–56. JSTOR41581982.
              205. ^
              206. Weiss, Allen S. (1996). "Between the sign of the scorpion and the sign of the cross: L'Age d'or". In Kuenzli, Rudolf E. (ed.). Dada and Surrealist Film. MIT Press. pp. 159. ISBN978-0-262-61121-3 .
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              208. "Stevie Smith: Bibliography". Poetry Foundation . Retrieved 1 July 2019 .
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              212. "The Scorpion King". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved 4 January 2010 .
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              214. Provo, Frank (2002). "The Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris Review". GameSpot . Retrieved 24 June 2020 .
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              216. Iyengar, B. K. S. (1991). Light on Yoga. Thorsons. pp. 386–388. ISBN978-0-00-714516-4 . OCLC51315708.
              217. ^Vitruvius, De Architectura, X:10:1–6.
              218. ^
              219. "Scorpion". Jane's Information Group. Archived from the original on 21 February 2008 . Retrieved 16 November 2020 .
              220. ^
              221. Fletcher, David (2017). British Battle Tanks: British-made Tanks of World War II. Bloomsbury. p. 37. ISBN978-1-4728-2003-7 .
              222. ^
              223. Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. p. 291. ISBN978-1-86176-246-7 .
              224. ^
              225. Parkes, Oscar (1990). British Battleships (reprint of the 1957 ed.). Naval Institute Press. pp. 78–79. ISBN1-55750-075-4 .
              226. ^
              227. "[untitled]". Marine Review. Cleveland, Ohio. 14 (11): 1. 10 September 1896.
              228. ^
              229. "[untitled]". Naval and Military Intelligence. The Times. London. 31 August 1910. p. 5.
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              231. "USS Scorpion (SSN 589) May 27, 1968 – 99 Men Lost". United States Navy. 2007. Archived from the original on 12 March 2008 . Retrieved 9 April 2008 .
              232. ^
              233. "The History of Abarth's Logo". Museo del marchio italiano . Retrieved 16 November 2020 . The company logo has been the scorpion since the very start Carlo Abarth did not only want it as a reference to his zodiac sign, but also because it was an original and hard to imitate logo. At the beginning the scorpion was free from any contour and featured the typo "Abarth & Co.- Torino". In 1954 a shield was added, as symbol of victory and passion
              234. ^
              235. Salvadori, Clement (17 January 2019). "Retrospective: 1974–1977 Montesa Cota 247-T". Rider Magazine . Retrieved 25 June 2020 . Permanyer persisted, built larger engines, and in 1965 showed the 247cc engine (21 horsepower at 7,000 rpm) in a Scorpion motocrosser.
              236. ^
              237. YJ Editors Budig, Kathryn (1 October 2012). "Kathryn Budig Challenge Pose: Scorpion in Forearm Balance". Yoga Journal.

              Sources

              • Polis, Gary (1990). The Biology of Scorpions. Stanford University Press. ISBN978-0-8047-1249-1 . OCLC18991506.
              • Stockmann, Roland Ythier, Eric (2010). Scorpions of the World. N. A. P. Editions. ISBN978-2913688117 .
              • Stockmann, Roland (2015). "Introduction to Scorpion Biology and Ecology". In Gopalakrishnakone, P. Possani, L. F. Schwartz, E. Rodríguez de la Vega, R. (eds.). Scorpion Venoms. Springer. pp. 25–59. ISBN978-94-007-6403-3 .

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              When Do Scorpions Spray Their Enemies?

              Some animals defend themselves by spraying liquid at potential threats. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is the skunk, whose spray contains chemicals that smell awful to the animals it's defending itself from.

              Some animals defend themselves by spraying liquid at potential threats. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is the skunk, whose spray contains chemicals that smell awful to the animals it’s defending itself from. Other animals have slightly more exciting chemical sprays. Bombardier beetles can actually spray a chemical that is 100 ?C (212 ?F) as shown in David Attenborough’s ‘Earth’ series (a clip of which can be found here). They do this through a series of chemical reactions inside their body that then release the boiling liquid at exactly the right time (to prevent it burning itself).

              While less glamorous than a boiling chemical spray, a lot of animals are pretty good at spraying their urine and faeces in defence. I didn’t know this before I started working with bumblebees, but they can spray their faeces. I’m not sure if it’s intended as a defence mechanism or not, but when trying to tag them with numbers (to keep track of which bee is which) I’ve gotten pretty good at learning to dodge when a yellow liquid goes flying towards me.

              Other animals spray toxic venom to defend themselves. Spitting cobras can accurately aim a stream of venom towards an aggressor. This reminds me of another great Attenborough clip:

              At least seven species of scorpion also spray venom to defend themselves. However, making a chemical like venom can be costly, and a scorpion wouldn’t want to waste it by spraying every potential predator. I’ve previously written about black widow spiders, who are faced with a similar problem when deciding whether and how much venom to eject into their bites

              A recent study by Zia Nisani and William K. Hayes at Loma Linda University in California found that at least one scorpion (the South African Spitting scorpion) controls whether it sprays venom depending on the level of threat. When the researchers grabbed the scorpion by its tail with forceps the scorpion would sometimes spray venom at them. However, the scorpion was much more likely to spray venom if this was accompanied with a puff of air. Why might this be? Well, scorpions have sensory hairs on their legs that help them detect both predators and prey. Therefore, having two cues of a predator at once (both being grabbed by the tail and a sudden puff of air) seems to cause a bigger reaction from the scorpion than just a single cue. This might be comparable to if you heard a loud bang and saw a sudden flash of light you might be more likely to yell than if you just had one of these things happen.

              The researchers also found that when the scorpion started to spray, it would make rapid movements which meant that the stream of its spray would be spread around a wider area and therefore be more likely to hit a potential predator’s eyes. This is similar to what spitting cobras do when they spray venom: they move their heads around in an undulating motion.

              This study shows that scorpions can control when and how they spray their venom at predators, saving it for when its really necessary and doing their best job to hit a predator where it hurts.

              A video of one of the scorpions used in the experiment spraying its venom:

              Photo Credits

              Video credit

              Credit: Dr. William K. Hayes Lab (Department of Earth and Biological Sciences, Loma Linda University)

              Nisani, Z., & Hayes, W. K. (2015). Venom-spraying behavior of the scorpion Parabuthus transvaalicus (Arachnida: Buthidae). Behavioural processes, 115, 46-52.

              The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

              ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

              Felicity Muth is an early-career researcher with a PhD in animal cognition.


              What will happen if a scorpion pierces itself? - Biology

              The scorpion we’re looking for has a classic sinister scorpion look: black-brown, with oversize boxing glove pincers. It’s called, depending on whom you ask, either the western forest scorpion or the Pacific forest scorpion and so is probably best identified by its proper Latin name: Uroctonus mordax, which is so delightfully metal that it sounds like a scorpion that eats elves for breakfast and hobbits for brunch. And surely it would, too, if it weren’t an arachnid smaller than your pinkie finger, with a sting milder than a honeybee’s, and so shy it generally only leaves its burrow to hunt on inky nights and even then is most often seen running away.

              We saw maybe a half dozen U. mordax under Esposito’s black light. Most were just a pair of neon claws backing down into their burrows. One, Esposito caught with a pair of chopstick-length tweezers and placed on her sleeve, where it wandered harmlessly, as she said she’d never been stung while collecting. She said U. mordax can live for around 10 years, “to hazard a guess.”

              To glimpse a scorpion in the wild, here are a couple of tips:

              • Sometimes scorpions don’t become active until 30 to 60 minutes after sunset.

              • Plan to bring a flashlight and a blacklight.

              • Look for scorpions along trails where soil is broken up and roots stick out. Scorpions hide in these little crevices during the day, waiting at the entrances as they ready for night. Scorpions also hide in leaf litter along trails.

              “We don’t know the basic natural history of most scorpions,” Esposito said. “We don’t know how long they live, how many young they give birth to, or how they mate.”

              What we do know is that in general and unusually for arachnids, scorpions give birth to live young and that the young—called scorplings—ride around on their mother’s back until at least their first molt. Scorpion mating, as it has been observed so far, is charming and dignified. Scorpions dance, claw-in-claw, moving from side to side, while rubbing their mouthparts together. Eventually, Esposito says, “he’ll put a sperm packet on the ground and she’ll pick it up—if his dancing was good enough. If not, maybe she’ll just eat it for the calories.”

              “Cryptic” is the word Esposito most often uses to describe scorpions. Scorpions are the oldest predator on land. They are almost twice as old as the first dinosaurs, and as Esposito says, “450 million years is a long time for a lot of crazy stuff to happen.” For all their sinister reputation, most species of scorpions aren’t well documented—few great Victorian hunters ever traveled the globe looking for scorpions to mount on the walls of Bludleigh Court. Also a mystery is how scorpions find their way back home after a moonless night on the town. It’s been suggested, Esposito says, that some species of scorpions have eyes on top of their heads, pointing up, to triangulate their position and navigate by the stars. No one really knows, though, she says. They could just be looking out for predators.

              “Scorpions have this intrigue factor where you see them and you’re scared,” Esposito says, “but you just want to get a little bit closer and have a look.”

              As a kid in El Paso, Texas, Esposito was always looking under the pavers in her backyard to discover insects and bring them inside. Until, finally, her mom had had enough. “My mom taught me how to make a killing jar so that instead of bringing live cockroaches into the house, I’d at least be bringing in dead cockroaches.”

              Her mom was trained as a wildlife biologist specializing in waterfowl. Her dad was a veterinarian, with a passion for racing pigeons. Esposito’s grandparents had a place in the Bahamas that she would visit as a child and she had to find her entertainment outside. “Every day, I’d fill up a bucket with baby hermit crabs and every night my parents would take them out, back into the ocean.”

              When she went to college at the University of Texas at El Paso, she was pre-med, until her junior year, when she took classes in field biology and entomology. “The project was to go to the beach and count the number of left-handed vs. the number of right-handed fiddler crabs. And that dumb project convinced me that I never wanted to do anything but field biology.”

              Scorpions, Esposito says, are fascinating to study because they are one of evolution’s great success stories. They have survived many millions of years and through such catastrophes as that which ended the age of the dinosaurs and the earlier Permian-Triassic event, or as it’s more colloquially known, “the Great Dying.” And through it all, scorpions as a group have experienced no major changes. A few times, in different species and in different ways, evolution has given them the ability to make sounds. And then there is their venom. Scorpions’ venom is highly specialized by their species, and can vary by whether a scorpion is trying to eat or not be eaten. A predator is liable to get blasted with a full dose of painful venom.

              But if the scorpion is stinging its prey, it might use what Esposito calls a mostly enzymatic “pre-venom” that is to say, the scorpion is getting a head start on digesting its food. A scorpion eats remarkably like a human toddler—as much as possible, it chews outside its mouth. Claws both immobilize prey and feed into, well, not scorpions’ mouths, but rather their mouthparts, which include another smaller set of pincers, the chelicerae. Those little pincers are like the little mouth inside the alien’s mouth in the Alien movies, only the chelicerae are tiny hands for further tearing apart food or breaking it apart against what you could call the scorpion’s face—although face is an unhelpfully anthropomorphic term for a lipless, noseless creature that keeps most of its eyes elsewhere.

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              At the same time, the scorpion coats its meal with digestive juices. Eventually, it slurps the softened bits into its food-hole: the pre-oral cavity. Here, the whole meal predigests some more, very slowly. As the meal dissolves, a nutritious slurry is swallowed into the digestive tract (it will exit through an orifice in the tail, near the stinger) and, hours later, like a two-year-old who has finally separated a cherry tomato from its peel, the scorpion spits out an indigestible wad.

              It’s a rule of thumb that the thinner a scorpion’s claws, the more dangerous the scorpion. This is helpful, but not strictly accurate. It’s more accurate to say that the thinner a scorpion’s claws, the more likely it is to kill its prey by venom. A scorpion with fat claws uses them to crush its prey, and thus the scorpion will probably have a thin tail and stinger. Meanwhile, a scorpion with a big, fat tail and stinger is more likely to kill or paralyze its prey with venom.

              What’s the difference between a venom-favoring scorpion and a dangerously venomous scorpion? It’s true that species that can harm healthy humans—such as the Durango bark scorpion, the Indian red scorpion, and the it-deserves-its-metal-name deathstalker —all have thin pincers and tails that are exaggerated in length or width. But then so does our very own sawfinger scorpion, which is about as dangerous to humans as a very shy and sedentary bumblebee that’s nocturnal but also scared of the moon. No doubt its venom is dangerous to small insects, though. Scorpion venom can be very particular in what species it affects.

              Each scorpion species creates what Esposito calls its own “venom cocktail.” This mix uses a variety of enzymes and neurotoxins, some of which can be highly specific in how they affect the nervous system of their targets. Mostly, they interrupt the normal functioning of nerves, either by blocking nerves from signaling or causing them to signal wildly. Common effects are numbness, pain, and either the acceleration or cessation of heartbeat and respiration. Understanding how these and other compounds in venom cocktails work could be medically useful.

              If you are to study scorpions and their venom in all their ancient variety, however, you must travel all over the world to do so, an activity that takes up about a third of Esposito’s working life. Esposito’s collecting expeditions have taken her to the Caribbean (her sentimental favorite), Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and an assortment of islands, including, most recently, Penang Island in Malaysia. California itself is pretty great, she says, having maybe the greatest beta diversity in the world, meaning it has scorpions that are from many different evolutionary lineages, although the best chance for finding a new scorpion species is in the tropics.

              And what’s a typical night of collecting specimens like?

              “I just walk really slowly with a black light and fall a lot,” Esposito says. She used to collect alone but now she brings someone along for safety. “People often ask if I get scared when I’m out collecting. Yeah, sure,” Esposito says. What’s scary? “People, definitely. Stray dogs barking, for sure, because, in the tropics, dogs don’t necessarily have owners and leashes.”

              There are other hazards of collecting by black light, particularly if other people have been in the area, because toilet paper glows under ultraviolet light. And rats are easily found, because they micturate all over themselves and the uric acid crystals light up yellow. “Rats are disgustingly fluorescent,” Esposito says. And then, most loathsome of all, there is the empty plastic Sprite bottle, which reflects the exact same shade of green as a scorpion. It’s a neon green, she says, “like the toxic slime that splashes on the villian and gives them powers.”

              I suggest that if that happened to her, with her Ph.D. she could become the nefarious Dr. Scorpion.

              There’s a thoughtful pause.

              “Dr. Scorpion? I think that would be better than the Scorpion Queen,” she says, “which is the moniker I usually get, like I’m The Rock or something.”

              Of course, super villainy is—as super villains are always pointing out in comic books—a matter of perspective. One person’s cheerful good science is another arachnid’s inescapable killing jar. Earlier in the hike, Esposito had spotted the claws of a U. mordax as it backed down its hole, and she said that a good way to catch scorpions is to grab a live moth and turn it loose as bait right outside a burrow entrance. Later, watching another mordax disappear into a hole in a cliff face, she said, “If I was really collecting for species discovery, I’d rock-hammer it out of there.”

              Esposito estimates that she’s collected a couple dozen new species of scorpions, although so far only a handful have been studied and described. Discovering a new species is more complicated than plopping an unfamiliar scorpion in your killing jar. For starters, you might not even realize you’ve found something new until after you’ve returned to your office and enjoyed the benefits of good magnification, access to the scientific literature, caffeine, and possibly some genetic sequencing. Even then, you can’t say much until you’ve collected multiple members of the same species, including at least one male and one female, which isn’t the easiest thing to do when you’re talking about creatures that like dark nights and dislike each other.

              As many specimens as Esposito has collected—and she thinks she’s collected over 1,000—the number is small compared to the 14 to 20 million specimens in the California Academy of Sciences’ entomology collection. She sees herself as a steward of this record of life on earth, identifying species in space and time. It’s a record that may be examined in the future in ways we can’t yet imagine, just as its first collectors in the 19th Century couldn’t have imagined the DNA testing Esposito uses, often to flesh out her own research on arachnid evolution.

              Near the end of the night, Esposito mentions that when she was in middle school, she had to write a paper about what she wanted to be when she grew up. “I wrote that I wanted to be a hobo or a rocket scientist. And I feel like I ended up just in between those two.”

              About the Author

              Brendan Buhler is a recovering arachnophobe and co-author of Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes (2015). He lives in Petaluma and is also a full-time amateur biologist studying the eating habits of toddlers. 


              Scorpion Body Parts

              Scorpions’ most recognizable and obvious characteristics are the exaggerated pair of claws, the long thin tail that is often curved over the back of the scorpion, and the stinger at the end of the tail that is used to inject venom.

              Scorpions, like spiders, are arachnids (pronounced uh-rak-nid) and all arachnids share a well-known body characteristic eight legs. In addition, arachnids lack wings and antennae, which can also help identify them.

              Scorpions have an exoskeleton (external skeleton) made of chitin, a tough, protective, flexible molecule made of polysaccharide and nitrogen. The exoskeleton acts like our skeleton by providing support, muscle attachment sites, etc. but also aids scorpions by functioning in respiration and providing exceptional resistance to water loss scorpions, which is critical to the survival of these arachnids in arid environments they often inhabit.

              Scorpions possess several key characteristics that separate these arachnids from spiders and also aid in the identification of these animals (see the labeled images above for examples of each characteristic). For example:

              The body is divided into three segments:

              Each of the three segments contains key characteristics of scorpions:

              1. The prosoma includes the eyes, mouth, and the characteristic pair of claws called pedipalps, which have pinchers on the end called chelae. The pedipalps are not legs, rather they are additional appendages used to grab and hold prey, mates, or a rival scorpion during competition.
              2. The mesosoma is comprised of seven segments and contains 4 pairs of clawed walking legs, which enable scorpions to climb nearly any surface very well. The segments of the mesosoma contain the reproductive, respiratory, and other organs.
              3. The metasoma is the familiar tail of the scorpion, which is comprised of five additional segments and terminates in the telson. The telson contains a pair of venom glands and a hypodermic aculeus or venom-injecting barb (stinger) that allows the scorpion to sting prey or predators or humans.

              Scorpions are highly effective predators because they possess a unique combination of characteristics that enable them to detect prey (eyes), move quickly and agilely over any terrain in pursuit of prey (4 pairs of clawed legs), and then catch and hold prey (pedipalps and chelae) while injecting venom into the prey (telson) to immobilize or kill it before using the pedipalps and chelae to bring the meal to its mouth.


              Contents

              Unlike most creatures, the Thing possesses no inherent standard anatomy. It may very well be that the Thing is a colonial organism whose assimilation instructions are carried on the genetic level. The Thing's shape-shifting nature means that the biology can be the same as the organism it has replicated, or is in the process of replicating. The Thing has the ability to reconstitute itself following immense damage, and is invulnerable to most conventional forms of attack. However it is vulnerable to fire and potentially molecular acid since they both destroy the creature at a cellular level. It is very tolerant of cold, placing itself in cryogenic stasis until found by unsuspecting victims. When changing form, it bursts open and allows a variety of strange and terrifying forms and bits of previously assimilated anatomy to form, such as: tentacles, insect-like limbs, eyes, teeth, claws, even faces, eventually re-arranging its cellular structure to mimic its desired shape. The Thing is also capable of continuing normal functions even when lacking eyes, ears, sense of smell or other ways of interacting with the environment and is capable of producing said organs/appendages to accomplish those functions.

              In the 2011 prequel film The Thing, American paleontologist Kate Lloyd discovers the creature is unable to mimic non-living/inorganic material such as metals or plastic, when she finds a small pool of blood with metal fillings surmising the creature spat them out when it assimilated its victim.

              Any form of the Thing is capable of frightening amounts of strength, speed and stamina, such as the case with the Kennel Thing, which subdued and assimilated multiple sled dogs, and especially the Centipede-Thing, which overpowered Jonas in moments, despite the vast size difference.

              Assimilation

              Bennings in the process of assimilation, The Thing (1982).

              "Probability that one or more team members may be infected by intruder organism: -75%-" —Blair's 1st projection "Projection: if intruder organism reaches civilized areas.
              entire world population infected 27,000 hours from first contact
              " —Blair's 2nd projection

              The Thing is a shape shifting organism, but it must come into contact with its host in order to begin the process of analyzing and copying its cellular structure. To do this, the cells begin digesting and replicating the host, eventually taking over the entire body. The Thing will also only assimilate freshly killed or still living prey any organism that has been dead for an extended period of time will be ignored by it. This may be due to it being largely ineffective to more intelligent prey if it mimicked a member of their society that was known to have been killed. Alternatively, it may rely on the blood stream to rapidly assimilate prey. Copper was killed by the Norris-Thing biting off both his hands, and so presumably was exposed to Thing infection yet his corpse showed no signs of "reviving" as an imitation (and a post-mortem blood test came up negative). Presumably he bled out so quickly that the infection had no time to spread before his biomass was rendered useless by death.

              Replication

              A partially replicated Bennings, The Thing (1982).

              After The Thing has assimilated an organism, it is capable of imitating them exactly down to their memories, characteristics, manerisms, and all of their traits. Even anatomical anomolies and health defects like Norris' weak heart are replicated. When a part of The Thing becomes cut in two, both of those pieces become their own creatures and operate separately. For example, when the Norris-Thing's head grows legs and attempts to escape. The replication varies depending on the occurrences at hand and whether or not the attacking Thing is smaller or is injured. If the assaulting Thing in question is injured in any way, much smaller than the prey or under pressure, it will usually just add the bio mass to itself and either mimic the prey or add the mass to its original frame to increase its size and strength to counteract any threats within the area. If however the Thing successfully assaults the prey in a safe location, it will just feed on the prey and make a copy of the victim then revert back to its cover before searching for another victim to assimilate.

              Instincts

              Norris-Thing's head detaches itself from its burning body, The Thing (1982).

              The Thing has only assimilation and self-preservation in mind. As seen, The Thing will selfishly save itself or even attack other forms of itself in order to avert attention and suspicion. When The Thing is left alone with a suitable target, it will begin to split open and fire out tendrils, which grab the target and begin to assimilate it. In certain cases after discovery or high chance of discovery, The Thing will sometimes perform "divide and conquer" tactics, as in the case of the Edvard-Thing which split up into three separate forms. One engaged and began assimilating Jonas, another limb scuttled away for potential assimilation in a safer location, and the main body of the Edvard thing killed Derek and successfully assimilated Adam Finch. This is also performed, albeit much less successfully, by the Norris-Thing. When exposed, Things will react depending on how big they are compared to the threat. Smaller Things will generally attempt to escape and ambush prey when the individual is more vulnerable. However a larger Thing will usually attack prey head on and attempt to overwhelm any hostiles instead of escaping, although if it has not completely lost its cover it will attempt to flee.


              Adaptations of the Camels

              Adaptation in a population of living things happens as a result of an adaptive trait. This is any inheritable trait that increases it&rsquos survival rate so that it can live longer, reproduce longer, and have more offspring (that also have that trait). Adaptive traits can improve an animal's ability to find food, make a safer home, escape predators, survive cold or heat or lack of water.

              The camel has many adaptive traits for their life in the desert. They have wide feet for walking in sand. They have long eyelashes and thin, slit nostrils that they can close to protect them from blowing sand. They are adapted to survive a long time without water and food. They have an extremely long large intestine that absorbs every last drop of water from the foods they eat. On a long trip, the fat in their hump(s) will break down to supply their body with the energy it needs. By the end of a difficult trip, their humps may lay over on their side, emptied of the fat that filled them. When the camel finally reaches water, it can drink a huge amount very quickly to replenish itself, but it will take a little while to eat enough to rebuild its humps. These adaptive traits are all physical adaptations.

              A behavioral adaptation for which the camel is famous is their reaction to the approach of a threat - they spit! The camel is a ruminant. This means that they have several stomach compartments where their tough, dry, grassy food needs to ferment and be broken down by special bacteria. Then they regurgitate it and chew it again - this is called &ldquochewing their cud.&rdquo This may sound gross, but it allows them to live in habitats where other animals, like horses, would starve. Their cud is what they spit when stressed and because it is partially digested, it smells bad. This discourages predators from getting too close - and people too!


              Animal Mating: How Scorpions Do It

              Between their pincers and venomous stingers, scorpions are formidable arachnids that few people would volunteer to tangle with. But for two scorpions looking to mate, "tango" is absolutely necessary. So just how do scorpions do it?

              Scientists have identified about 2,200 species of scorpions across the globe, though the biology is only known for about 50 to 60 species, said scorpion expert Wilson Lourenço, emeritus research fellow at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France.

              Given this extensive family tree, it should come as no surprise that there are a number of distinctive behaviors across species. But scorpion mating behaviors do share some general characteristics.

              Mating among scorpions is associated with seasonal periods, with those animals living in temperate regions typically mating in the spring or summer and those in tropical regions mating during the rainy season.

              During these sexually active periods, male scorpions use pheromones (chemical cues) to search for females, Lourenço told Live Science.

              If two or more males stumble upon one another while hunting for mates, they may get into skirmishes. But this is unlikely to happen often in the wild and is generally a phenomenon related to captivity.

              "Many scorpion populations are so scarce that few individuals will meet in the field," Lourenço said.

              Scientists know very little about scorpion sexual selection &mdash that is, which qualities the arachnids find attractive and how sexually active individuals choose their mates. In some populations in which males come in various sizes, Lourenço said, the males of a "normal" size may have more reproductive success.

              Whatever the case, once a male and female find each other and decide to mate, they engage in a complex courtship ritual called a "promenade à deux."

              For this dance, the male will grab the female's pincers, or pedipalp chelae, with this own. He will then lead his dancing partner around as he searches for a suitable spot to deposit his spermatophore, or sperm packet.

              In some cases, the female may resist the male's smooth moves by refusing to dance, trying to push him away, or even trying to sting him. [Sting, Bite & Destroy: Nature's 10 Biggest Pests]

              The male may try to appease her with a "kiss," in which he grasps her chelicerae (pincer-like mouthparts) with his own. In at least one species, Megacormus gertschi, the male may sting the female in a soft part of her body, leaving his stinger in the female for up to nine minutes it's unknown if he's actually injecting her with venom or some other substance to try to pacify her.

              Once the male deposits his spermatophore, he leads the female over it so that she can take it up into her genital opening.

              In all, courtship and mating normally lasts from 2&ndash3 to 10&ndash15 minutes, Lourenço said, adding that researchers have documented much longer periods in captivity but these cases were due to having improper substrate conditions (males couldn't find suitable spots for their spermatophores).

              Deed done, the pair halts their dance and goes their separate ways.

              Sexual cannibalism does sometimes occur (with the female attacking and eating the male), but this generally only occurs in species in which cannibalism is a normal part of "population regulation," where the animals live in high densities and potentially see each other as prey, Lourenço said. This temperament is rare, and some scorpions even show some social behavior, such as sharing burrows and food.

              Interestingly, some species of scorpions also reproduce via parthenogenesis, in which the ovum develops without fertilization (no sexual activity required).


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