Meek male and fighting female scorpions

May 28, 2014
This image depicts a male striped bark scorpion (Centruroides vittatus). Credit: Matthew Rowe, co-author of this PLOS ONE article.

Threatened female bark scorpions sting quicker than males, likely to compensate for reduced ability to flee the threat, according to results published May 28, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Bradley Carlson from Pennsylvania State University and colleagues.

Differences between male and female scorpion bodies and behavior may result from sexual or . For example, female bark are pregnant 80% of the year, and as a result, may deal with threats differently than males. To investigate this further, scientists tested the effects of sex and body shape on stinging and sprinting ability, and then evaluated the differences in aggression between the sexes in response to simulated threats.

Scientists found that female scorpions exhibit poor sprinting ability-likely due to their higher body mass while pregnant-and appear to compensate by rapidly stinging in both the sting speed and aggression trials. In fact, every female stung at least once during the sting speed trials, while only 64% of males did. On the other hand, male bark scorpions had longer legs and superior sprinting ability, which they probably use to evade predators and find a mate.

Bradley Carlson added, "Heavy scorpions are apparently more aggressive because they have a hard time escaping danger. The weight difference between males and the usually pregnant females seems to explain why they choose different options in a fight-or-flight situation."

Explore further: Females prefer lovers not fighters, horned beetle study finds

More information: Carlson BE, McGinley S, Rowe MP (2014) Meek Males and Fighting Females: Sexually-Dimorphic Antipredator Behavior and Locomotor Performance Is Explained by Morphology in Bark Scorpions (Centruroides vittatus). PLoS ONE 9(5): e97648. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097648

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Clues to aging from long-lived lemurs

15 hours ago

When Jonas the lemur died in January, just five months short of his thirtieth birthday, he was the oldest of his kind. A primate called a fat-tailed dwarf lemur, Jonas belonged to a long-lived clan. Dwarf ...

Cats relax to the sound of music

19 hours ago

According to research published today in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery by veterinary clinicians at the University of Lisbon and a clinic in the nearby town of Barreiro in Portugal, music is likew ...

Fruit flies crucial to basic research

21 hours ago

The world around us is full of amazing creatures. My favorite is an animal the size of a pinhead, that can fly and land on the ceiling, that stages an elaborate (if not beautiful) courtship ritual, that can ...

Crete's mystery croc killed by cold snap

21 hours ago

A man-eating crocodile that became an attraction on the Greek island of Crete last year after its mysterious appearance in a lake has died, probably of cold, an official said Monday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.