scorpion of the genre scorpions It is an eight-legged arthropod that can be found all over the planet. It is an arachnid animal, and not an insect. It is related to spiders and ticks.

They have been on earth for more than 400 million years, so they came to live with dinosaurs.

Photo of a scorpion
Photo of a scorpion

Species

There are about 1.500 known species of scorpions, although it is not ruled out that new species are found.

The ancestors of the scorpions were much larger than the current ones. The fossils of two species (Gigantoscorpio willsi) Y (Brontoscorpio anglicus) that measure from 35 cm to a meter or more.

Features

The scorpion is among the largest terrestrial arthropods with an average size of about 6 cm. Between the sexes there is no clear evidence that differentiates them, although males may be thinner and have longer tails than females. The largest scorpion is the emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator) that reaches a body length of about 18 cm and a weight of 60 grams. The longest species in the world is the giant flat scorpion (Hadogenes troglodytes) where females reach 21 cm. The smallest species is the Microtityus fundorai The 12 mm.

The color varies depending on where the species lives. Those that live in deserts and arid regions are yellowish or light brown in color and those that live in humid or mountainous places are dark brown or black.

The average life span is difficult to calculate and ranges from 6 months to 25 years. It is unknown because in nature they are very difficult to follow and are difficult to see due to their small size.

To hunt, it paralyzes its prey with a powerful poisonous sting administered by the tip of its tail. They also have two large clamps positioned in the front with which it grabs the prey to nibble and eat it.

They lack conventional jaws. They have a pair of toothed pincer-shaped appendages. Along with the sharp edges of the jaws and coxas, it manages to chew the prey as quantities of digestive fluids secreted by the midgut are poured towards the prey. The softer parts of the prey are liquefied and sucked into the stomach by a pumping action. The prey is gradually reduced to a ball of indigestible material, which is set aside. The entire process of feeding takes many hours.

Behavior

The scorpion is a nocturnal animal, although there are diurnal species. They spend the day under the crevices of the rocks, and go hunting taking advantage of the safety of the night. The vast majority are very aggressive and are known as cannibals.

Most species are extremely solitary, and only interact at birth, during courtship or cannibalism. Other species have a social behavior. They overwinter in aggregations with individuals of their own species, under bark or in fallen trees. Others extend the "mother-child" relationship for weeks, months, or years. In some cases, such as emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator) the offspring remain with the family group, even as adults and often cooperate in hunting prey.

They remain motionless, sit and wait until the right prey to be ambushed. Some species can locate prey by small vibrations on the ground, and others can detect the vibrations emitted by insects when flying. They can determine the distance, the exact direction of their prey.

Scorpio being aggressive
Scorpio being aggressive

Habitat

The scorpion has adapted to desert habitats, temperate, subtropical and tropical environments such as grasslands, savannas, and forests.

Some species can be found in diverse places, such as caves or the species Alacran tartarus that lives more than 800 meters deep. This type of species is found registered in that specific habitat due to its morphology.

Other species can adapt to various habitats, such as the Euscorpius flavicaudis that lives on the surface, but can also live in caves and intertidal areas.

Distribution

The scorpion inhabits all continents except Greenland and Antarctica. They extend from Canada and central Europe to southern South America (Land of the Game) and Africa.

They have been accidentally introduced to New Zenda and England. The northernmost place where it can be found in the wild, is the Isle of Sheppey in the United Kingdom, which is a small island in North Kent.

They have also been found at elevations of up to 5.000 meters above sea level in mountains in Europe and North and South America. Certain species live in both northern and southern Canada, southern Germany, and Russia.

Food

The scorpion is a carnivorous animal. They are opportunistic predators. Among the prey we can find: insects, spiders and scorpions. Other less common species include bed bugs, snails, and small vertebrates such as lizards, snakes, and rodents.

australian scorpion (Isometroides vescus) is the only species specialized in feeding exclusively on burrowing spiders.

Predators

The scorpion possesses natural predators, despite the venom. They are very valuable as prey for many animals because they are large and abundant.

The most common predators are birds (especially owls), lizards, small snakes, mammals (some rodents and certain carnivores) and amphibians (frogs and toads). Arthropods big like spiders, solipeds and centipede they are also predators.

To catch them, they will bite or break the tail of the scorpion and other animals are directly immune.

Some species practice cannibalism. This type of deprecation is an important mortality factor and limits the abundance and distribution of some species.

The venom-conducting stinger has a dual function: offensive and defensive. It is toxic to arthropods (to capture prey) and active against other vertebrates (to deter predators). Its nocturnal behavior is believed to have been started to avoid depreciation.

Reproduction

The scorpion breeds seasonally. Normally during warm seasons, from late spring to early fall.

The male finds the female by locating a pheromone that the female emits from her abdomen. You can travel hundreds of meters to find a receptive female.

Courtship is a complicated ritual. The male looks at the female and grabs her with his forceps. The male-led pair then performs a side-and-back dance called walk for two. This dance is performed to find a smooth surface on which the male can extrude a glandular secretion that forms a stem to which the spermatophore (a structure that contains sperm) binds. He then maneuvers the female so that her genital opening comes into contact with the spermatophore. Once physical contact is established, the sperm are expelled towards the female's genital opening (gonophore). Males that remain close to females after mating can sometimes be killed and eaten.

The female gives birth to hatchlings in litters ranging from 4 - 8 or 9 hatchlings. Once the young are born they will climb on the female's back and she will take care of them until they can hunt for themselves.

State of conservation

The conservation status of the scorpion varies according to the species and the place where they live. There are species that are not in any kind of danger and others do, for example, according to the IUCN body the Seychelles giant scorpion (Chiromachus ochropus) is vulnerable to extinction due to deforestation. Another species, the seychelles scorpion (Lychas braueri) is in critical danger of extinction.

Relationship with humans

The scorpion is studied in a very peculiar way. They all fluoresce under ultraviolet light, so biologists only have to use portable camping lights equipped with ultraviolet (black light) bulbs to study their natural behavior and ecology. On a moonlit night they can be seen at distances of up to 10 meters.

Scorpion under ultraviolet light
Scorpion under ultraviolet light

Poison

Of all the species, only 25 of them possess a lethal poison for humans. Most belong to the Buthidae family. In some tropical areas, such as Brazil, they have grown without predators and with a great abundance of prey they have caused the number of people stung to increase from 12.000 in the year 2.000 to 140.000 in the year 2018.

The authorities alert citizens with prevention rules such as: wearing long sleeves and pants, leather gloves, shaking clothes, sheets, towels and looking at shoes before using it. In short, common sense.

Treatment varies depending on the type of poison, and the patient. Some will only need common medicines, while others will need specialized antidotes for each scorpion. Most of the time they will be applied locally.

Popular culture

The scorpion is represented as a malefactor in fables and legends. The Greek respect towards them motivated to use their name for the constellation Scorpius, one of the twelve signs of the zodiac.

In ancient Egypt, the goddess Serket was presented as a scorpion. There is a representation of a jug from the ancient Roman city of Tamuda, where a horse named Nama has a scorpion drawn on its body.

In South Africa and South Asia, it is an important animal depicted in Middle Eastern Islamic art. In another context it can also appear as a portrait of human sexuality.

They are used as medicine in South Asia, especially as an antidote to their own poison.

In the Bible they are used to symbolize evil in the New Testament. In we can read:

He aquí, os doy poder para hollar serpientes y escorpiones, y sobre todo el poder del enemigo; y nada os hará daño.

Lucas 10,19 – Nuevo testamento.

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