It is not unusual to be afraid of scorpions. Their most distinctive features are pincer-shaped pedipalps and a stinging tail, which some species can swing toward their target at about 130 centimeters per second.
However, that doesn’t mean we have to hate them. When you learn more about scorpions, you will know that they are generally less dangerous than they appear, and it can also help us appreciate them as important members of our ecosystems. Do you want to discover some curious details about them? Pay attention to the following lines.
1. They are not insects
Scorpions are arachnids, like spiders, mites, and ticks. And as arachnids, they are part of a larger group of arthropods called chelicerates, which also includes horseshoe crabs and sea spiders. Importantly, chelicerates are not insects. Insects are a different type of arthropod. Chelicerae and insects can be distinguished in several ways, such as their number of legs: adult insects have six legs, while arachnids and other chelicerae have eight legs plus two more pairs of appendages called chelicerae and pedipalps. The chelicerae often take the shape of mouthparts, and in scorpions the pedipalps have become pincers.
2. They don’t just live in deserts
They are very much associated with the desert, but they also live in places like the Brazilian jungle, British Columbia, North Carolina and even the Himalayas, adapting to any type of climate.
3. Not all are lethal
There are almost 2,000 species of scorpion, but only 30 or 40 of them have a venom powerful enough to kill a person under normal circumstances. The different types of venom are very well adapted to the lifestyle of each species, prepared to be as effective as possible against their prey.
4. They eat almost everything
Scorpions normally eat insects, but their diet can be very wide and varied. This is a key factor for its survival in many hostile environments, having a great capacity for adaptation.
5. They can control your metabolism
When food is scarce, the scorpion has the incredible ability to slow down its metabolism, practically placing itself in a state of “economy mode”. This technique allows some species to consume very little oxygen and to survive with only one insect per year.
6. They don’t need a lot of food to live, but they do need dirt or sand
There is one thing that scorpions need yes or yes to survive: the land. These animals burrow in it, in areas with perpetual frosts or dense grass, where there is no loose soil, it is possible that scorpions cannot thrive.
7. Scorpions are not much larger than the palm of a hand.
Although in cinema and documentaries they may seem rather big, the truth is that the reality is completely different. The size of scorpions ranges from 9 mm and only in some species can reach 21 cm, as is the case of emperor scorpions.
8. They existed long before the first dinosaurs
According to the fossils found, it is estimated that scorpions existed for more than 400 million years. Therefore, it is possible that scorpions are the oldest land animals still living today. For comparison, the first known dinosaurs evolved around 240 million years ago.
9. They do not have a certain number of offspring
It is a data that can vary a lot. So much so that, as far as is known, the number of scorpion offspring can be different according to each species and range from 2 to more than 100 per litter.
10. They dance before mating
Scorpions perform a courtship ritual that resembles a dance, sometimes known as “promenade à deux” (from the French, meaning “walk for two”). Details vary by species, but if the female shows interest in the male, they usually start by facing and grasping each other’s pedipalps, then twisting back and forth along with their tails raised above their backs.
The dance can last from a few minutes to hours. At the end of the dance, the male deposits his spermatophore on the ground for the female and then leaves.