Scorpions adapt their stinging, stingers and sting contents to minimize costs of venom use

phys.org | June 10, 2019

Replenishing venom takes time and energy—so it pays to be stingy with stings. According to researchers at the Australian National Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, scorpions adapt their bodies, their behavior and even the composition of their venom, for efficient control of prey and predators. Writing in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, they say it's not just the size of the stinger, but also how it's used that matters. "Scorpions can store only a limited volume of venom, that takes time and energy to replenish after use," says lead author Edward Evans. "Meanwhile the scorpion has a reduced capacity to capture prey or defend against predators, so the costs of venom use are twofold." As a result, over 400 million years of evolution scorpions have developed a variety of strategies to minimize venom use. The most obvious of these is to avoid using venom at all. "Research has shown the lighter, faster male specimens of one species are more likely to flee from danger compared to the heavier-bodied females, rather than expend energy using toxins," notes Evans. "Others—particularly burrowing species—depend instead on their large claws or 'pedipalps," and have a small, seldom-used stinging apparatus."

Spotlight

Melitza Cornejo es bióloga, maestrante del Programa de Biotecnología Molecular de la Universidad Nacional de Tumbes, financiado por CIENCIACTIVA.

Spotlight

Melitza Cornejo es bióloga, maestrante del Programa de Biotecnología Molecular de la Universidad Nacional de Tumbes, financiado por CIENCIACTIVA.

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