Green glowing scorpions

It’s like something out of The Amazing Spiderman: as if scorpions weren’t cool (or scary) enough, if you shine a black light on them at night, they glow bright green.

I photographed this scorpion at Organ Pipe National Monument’s group campsite in late May, during the Ecology and Natural History field course. It’s too large to be an Arizona bark scorpion (the most dangerous one in North America), but we did not identify what it was. Regardless, several people slept in cars that night. (I slept on the ground in my sleeping bag as usual… seeing one didn’t change the fact I knew they were around.)
Turns out that green glowing, caused the the black light we’re shining on it, means it’s detecting that light with its whole body!

Why? Douglas Gaffin and his fellow scientists in Oklahoma did some experiments with blindfolding scorpions (yikes), then shining lights on them, and watching their responses. They showed that the scorpions reacted to UV light as though the whole rest of their body (the cuticle or outer shell) were detecting the light!  You can check out a colorful poster of their findings, or if that’s too dense, read a news article summarizing it.

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