Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Israeli Researchers: Scorpions are Master Architects

Professors from Ben Gurion University find that when burying, scorpions follow a very sophisticated design

By: NoCamels Team

Published: July 4th, 2014 in Health » World

The scorpion is well-known as one of the most poisonous and rugged predators on the prowl. In fact, this insect of the spider family adjusts so well to its environment that it can change its metabolic rate to survive on one meal per year and will even live when left in the freezer overnight. Now researchers from Israel’s Ben Gurion University in the Negev desert have discovered that scorpions’ adaptive intelligence also extends to the desert dwellings that they call home.

Dr. Amanda Adams and Professor Berry Pinshow investigated the burrows of wild Large-Clawed Scorpions (Scorpio maurus palmatus) in the Negev Desert of Israel to discover that scorpions construct a platform on which to warm up before the evening hunt. The team observed the phenomenon by trapping the scorpions and preparing replica casts of their burrows filled with molten aluminum. Once the casts had solidified, they were then dug out to be analyzed by a 3-D laser scanner and computer software.

Constructing according to environmental factors

Upon examination, the research team discovered that rather than being simple holes in the ground, scorpion burrows followed a very sophisticated design. Each burrow began with a short, vertical entrance shaft that flattened out a few centimeters below the surface into a horizontal platform. The researchers believe that this provides a safe, warm place for the scorpions to increase their body temperature before they leave the burrow to forage at night. As ectothermic animals, scorpions rely on energy from the environment to regulate their internal temperature.

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The burrows then turn sharply downwards, descending further below ground to form a dead-ended chamber. Being cool and humid, this chamber provides a refuge for the scorpions to rest during the heat of the day, where water loss is minimal. As the design was common to all the burrows studied, this suggests that burrow building in scorpions has evolved by natural selection to meet the animals’ physiological needs.

This article was first published on NoCamels – Israeli Innovation News and was re-posted with permission. To continue reading this article on the site, click here.

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