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How desert scorpions build cool burrows

IANS | Last Updated: Thursday, July 3, 2014 - 21:40

London: Desert scorpion burrows have complex construction, with a flat platform just below the entrance leading to a cool deep dead end chamber that provides a refuge for the scorpions to rest during the heat of the day.

Rather than being simple holes in the ground, it was found that the burrows followed a very sophisticated design. Each burrow began with a short, vertical entrance shaft that flattened out a few centimetres below the surface into a horizontal platform.

The platform provides a safe, warm place for the scorpions to increase their body temperature before they leave the burrow at night, the researchers said.

The burrows then turn sharply downwards, descending further below ground to form a dead-ended chamber.
This chamber remains cool and humid, providing a place for the scorpions to rest during the heat of the day.

The design was common to all the burrows which suggests that this behaviour in scorpions has evolved by natural selection.

The design was revealed by aluminium casts of the burrows made by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

The researchers investigated the burrows of wild Large-Clawed Scorpions (Scorpio maurus palmatus) in the Negev desert of Israel. After trapping the scorpions, they prepared replica casts of their burrows by filling them with molten aluminium.
Once the casts had solidified, they were then dug out to be analysed by a 3D laser scanner and computer software.

"Very little is known about burrow environments," said Amanda Adams, one of the researchers.

"We plan to expand our studies to more scorpion species around the world to test how burrow structure is shaped to be part of the burrow builder`s extended physiology," Adams said.

First Published: Thursday, July 3, 2014 - 21:40
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