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What are scorpions?

Why study scorpions?
Life History
Dwindling Expertise

Life History

Scorpions have a remarkable life history.  Reproduction in scorpions is indirect.  Intromission occurs via a spermatophore.  The male attaches the spermatophore to the substrate while grasping the female by the pedipalps or chelicerae during a mating dance or “promenade-aux-deux”.  The species-specific spermatophore catapults the sperm mass into the female gonopore when a lever is touched (a lock-and-key mechanism).  Scorpions are unusual among arthropods in that all are viviparous — embryos develop within the reproductive tract and receive nourishment from maternal tissues (Francke 1982).  Some are parthenogenic (Matthiesen 1962; Lourenço & Cuellar 1994, 1999).  More than most other terrestrial arthropods, scorpions resemble large vertebrates in life history traits and are considered K-selected (Polis & Sissom 1990).  They have very low reproductive rates in comparison to other terrestrial arthropods and are among the most long-lived.  Gestation times are long (several months to more than a year) and litter sizes are often small (1-105).  Young are fairly large at birth and altricial, clinging to the mother for the first few molts before dispersing.  Time to sexual maturity varies from 2-8 years, depending on the species (Polis & Sissom 1990).  Average longevity is around 4 years, but larger species may live 25-30 years (Polis 1990).  Scorpions do not molt as adults.


See also: 


Determing a scorpion's age and Courtship and Mating


Literature Cited:

Francke, O.F. 1982. Parturition in scorpions (Arachnida, Scorpiones): A review of the ideas. Revue Arachnologique 4: 27–37.

Lourenço, W.R. & O. Cuellar. 1994. Notes on the geography of parthenogenetic scorpions. Biogeographica 70: 19–23.

Lourenço, W.R. & O. Cuellar. 1999. A new all-female scorpion and the first probable case of arrhenotoky in scorpions. Journal of Arachnology 27: 149–153.

Matthiesen, F.A. 1962. Parthenogenesis in scorpions. Evolution 16: 255–256.

Polis, G.A. 1990. Ecology. In: Polis, G.A. (Ed.) The Biology of Scorpions. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 247–293.

Polis, G.A. & Sissom, W.D. 1990. Life history. In: Polis, G.A. (Ed.) The Biology of Scorpions. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 161–223.



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