The Loh Down On Science

Scorpitecture

Who knew scorpions were fussy about architecture?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Ecologists at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev can shed some light on the matter.

They’re studying holes in the ground – more officially known as burrows.  Desert critters burrow to survive the blistering heat.

The team tracked large-clawed scorpions to their burrows in the Negev Desert.  After removing the scorpions, the team poured molten aluminum down each burrow.  When the aluminum cooled, they chipped everything else away, and voila!  They had a casting of the burrow.

They analyzed each casting using t3-D scanning equipment and software.  Turns out all scorpion lairs have the same design!  They're tract burrows!

Each starts with a short vertical drop.  Then comes a level area.  This is likely where the cold-blooded critters warm up before emerging for their evening hunt.  Next comes a longer drop.  Then, at the bottom, a cool, damp chamber to beat daytime heat.

Such a complex and standard design likely evolved through natural selection.

That, or maybe the scorpions were studying photos of Sting's house!

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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