Scorpions are nocturnal arthropods of the class Arachnida and order Scorpiones. They have eight legs and are easily recognized by the pair of grasping pedipalps and the narrow, segmented tail, often carried in a characteristic forward curve over the back, ending with a venomous stinger. Although their great speed suggests that they are predators, most scorpions eat small invertebrates or even minuscule plant matter. The great majority of scorpions are harmless to humans. However, about 25 species have venom capable of causing harm to humans. Although their venom is rarely fatal, some can cause severe illness and disability.
Scorpions vary greatly in size, ranging from 9 mm to 23 cm (1/3″ to 9″). They are usually yellow or brown. However, some species show a polymorphism with significantly different patterns of striping or coloration. Although the most common color is yellow, many species are dark-colored including black and navy blue. Often a lighter (whitish/yellow) tip at the end of the tail can be seen. The most easily identifiable characteristics of scorpions are the nine pairs of overlapping plates or prosoma, and the narrow pedipalps projecting from the front rounded segment or mesosoma.
The stinger is located at the end of the telson, which is a segment of the tail that has the anus and genital openings. The telson is tipped with a venom gland containing neurotoxins and powerful cytotoxins, but only small mammals are killed by the venom. For humans, it is certainly very painful to receive an injury from a scorpion sting, though almost always not fatal as long as medical care is provided.
What Do Scorpions Eat?
Scorpions are nocturnal hunters, feeding on insects and other small animals that they kill with their powerful venomous sting. Like spiders, scorpions have a pair of pinchers (chelicerae) and pedipalps for grasping prey. The pincers grasp food which is then cut by the curved pedipalps into smaller pieces that are more easily consumed. The preoral cavity is formed by the bases of the chelicerae and pedipalps and contains digestive glands that secrete enzymes to digest food before it enters the stomach.
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