Today’s Word is… ‘Pedipalps!’

On my game drives, I occasionally see scorpions cross the road and disappear into bushes. There aren’t many good opportunities to stop and have a look at them, so as a result I rarely get to show scorpions to guests which is such a shame, but perhaps it’s sometimes for the better. Behold my latest scorpion adventure with guests after a night drive:

Me: “Oooh! Look before you go back to camp- there’s a scorpion here by the truck!” (takes out spiffy UV keychain for to make scorpion all glowy)

Woman: (No response)

Me: “Have a look at this scorpion. Small pinchers and a fat tail so it’s one of the baddies.”

Woman: (No response)

Me: “The pinchers are called ‘pedipalps’. Isn’t that a great word?”

Woman: (No response)

Me: “Um, Ma’am, the scorpion is headed in your direction.”

Woman: (No response)

Me: “Ma’am, the scorpion is coming towards your feet quite quickly. You really need to move.”

Woman: (No response)

Me: “Seriously it’s right there! Move!”

Woman: (No response)

Scorpion: “Weeeeee! Bare feeeeeeeet!…..”

Me:  “OKAY MOVE NOW!”

Woman: (No response)

Me:  *Good firm shove*

That particular scorpion was Uroplectes carinatus. It certainly wouldn’t have killed the non-responsive woman if she hadn’t have been pushed out of the way, but it would have hurt- a lot. And Uroplectes have a reputation for stinging repeatedly. But the Kalahari scorpion we most need to be on the lookout for is called Parabuthus granulatus, which is more than capable of killing someone with its mamba-esque neurotoxic venom.

The only scorpion i’ve ever managed to take a blurry photograph of in the Kalahari is this little guy in 2008. I believe it’s an Opistopthalmus wahlbergii.

Photobucket

There are so many fabulous facts about scorpions, like how they glow under UV light and most of them have 8 eyes and moms can carry dozens of kids on their backs… But what I’ll always love the most is that their pinchers are called ‘pedipalps’. Love.

(I’m not trying to look like a moose by using scientific names here. These are the only names they’ve got. Scorpions don’t do ‘common’ names…)

 

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