Transformed by the flick of a switch: The incredible scorpion which is black in daylight but glows BLUE under UV light
- It is a Laos Black Forest Scorpion – also known as Heterometrus laoticus
- All scorpions glow under UV light but scientists do not know why
- It could be a way of alerting them if a night is too bright to allow them to go out safely or it could be a form of protection from the Sun
- As a scorpion gets older the intensity of the fluorescence increases
The scorpion is better known as the Laos Black Forest Scorpion and is a particularly aggressive species when threatened.
Scientists are not sure why the predatory arthropod glows blue, but there are various theories as to why it could be.
When it is not under UV light, the scorpion is black. Scientists are not sure why scorpions glow under UV light but there are various theories as to why it could be
Researchers at California State University suggested that it could be be a crude tool for allowing them to work out when a night is too bright for them to safely go out.
The scientists believe that the scorpions cannot see UV light so would be unable to tell whether it was a bright night. Therefore, they think they evolved the ability to glow under UV light as they can see themselves glowing green and are alerted to the danger.
Another popular theory is that the glowing is a form of protection from the sun – that it allows the scorpions to convert harmful UV rays into harmless visible light.
Although scientists don’t know why the scorpion glows, they do know how.
Scorpions have fluorescent chemicals in the cuticle of their sclertie, or hardened body parts, and these chemicals include beta-carboline. The fluorescence occurs as a result of sclerotisation, which is the process of the body part hardening. As the scorpion matures and moves through its development stages, called instars, the intensity of the glow increases.
The predatory arthropod is usually found in peaty areas of Laos and Vietnam and can reach the length of 12 cm. The species tends to live in groups, but is thought to show cannibalistic tendencies.
Pictures have been taken of an amazing, glowing scorpion at Chessington World of Adventures. It is a Laos Black Forest Scorpion which glows under UV light
If they are caught, they can be extremely aggressive, especially towards other scorpions, predators such as meerkats and a particular type of centipede called Scolopendra.
Heterometrus laoticus are part of the Heterometrus family of giant forest scorpions and is known to contain some of the largest scorpions on earth.
Despite their behaviour, most do not have a fatal sting. The symptoms from a Heterometrus sting are classed as mild and there have been no reported human fatalities. However, the sting can cause local pain, inflammation, swelling and redness of the skin and these symptoms can last for days.
Scorpions have been found in many fossil records and the oldest known scorpions lived around 430 million years ago on the bottom of shallow tropical seas.