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Scorpions Are Expert Architects

Scorpions Are Expert Architects

July 21, 2014

Natural Sciences

Nature World News — Scorpions are nature’s tiny architects. A new study has found that these creatures build a platform in their burrows to rest before going on a hunt.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Scorpions are found on all continents, except Antarctica.

Scorpions are ectothermic animals, meaning that they rely on external sources to regulate temperatures. According to the researchers, the platform provides the creature a safe place to get some warmth before they leave to hunt in the evening.

A cast of the burrow

A cast of the burrow

“Very little is known about burrow environments,” said Dr. Amanda Adams, a post-doc in the Marco and Louise Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research.

For the study, researchers trapped wild large-clawed scorpions (Scorpio Maurus Palmatus) in Negev desert in Israel.

The scorpions’ burrows were then filled with molten aluminum, which allowed researchers to obtain replica casts. The casts were left to cool and solidify and were later analyzed using a 3-D laser scanner and software.

Researchers found that the burrows had a complex design; it had a short vertical entrance shaft that led to a horizontal platform. Beyond the platform is an underground dead-end chamber.

The underground chamber allows the scorpions to rest during the heat of the day, while the platform allows them to soak up some heat before venturing out to forage.

“We plan to expand our studies to more scorpion species around the world to test how burrow structure is shaped to be part of the burrow builder’s extended physiology. Understanding the relationship between Desert & Water Researchal conditions and burrow structures, meanwhile, could help to predict how burrow-builders will respond to climate change,” Adams said in a news release.

The study was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology in Manchester, United Kingdom, Thursday, July 3, 2014.