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What’s on the belly of a scorpion?

The scorpion is famous for its dangerous tail, but there’s a lot of fascinating science happening on its underside, too. This KQED Deep Look episode explains why Scorpions Are Predators With a Sensitive Side. It starts with this…

If you flip over a scorpion — don’t try this at home — its belly is sensitive, and not just because its armor is thinner there. Right behind its legs, you’ll see a couple of comb-like organs.

scorpion pectines

These are pectines, and every scorpion has a pair. The comb teeth are covered in tiny sensors called peg sensilla. Every peg sensillum has a slit-shaped pore that takes in chemical traces from the ground and air. Each is attached to roughly a dozen nerve cells. This helps the scorpion’s brain read the chemicals, to understand its environment. It’s similar to how we taste and smell.

The pectines are also helpful in determining “who’s a menace, a meal, or a potential mate,” thanks to pheromones. Watch scorpions “dance”, mate, eat crickets, and glow in the video above.

mating scorpions
Then watch this video next: Scorpion evolution, scorpion moms, and glowing scorpions.

Plus: Scorpions of the Bay Area.

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