Scientists Make Casts of Scorpion Burrows Using Molten Aluminum

Posted on October 11, 2014

Scientists used molten aluminum to make a casts of scorpion burrows. These burrows made by Large-Clawed Scorpions (Scorpio maurus palmatus) in the Negev Desert of Israel were found to be surprisingly sophisticated. An epoxy resin cast of one of the burrows is pictured above.

The scientists from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev first trapped the scorpions. Then they filled their burrows with molten aluminum. The casts were dug out after they solidified and analyzed with a 3D laser scanner and software. The image below shows Prof. Berry Pinshow taking a cast of the scorpion burrow.

The researchers found that the burrows have unique architectural features to warm up the scorpion or keep it cool. Each scorpion burrow begins with a short vertical entrance shaft. The burrows feature a horizontal platform just below the surface before turning sharply downwards. The scientists think the horizontal area is used by scorpions to warm up before leaving the burrow to hunt at night. The bottom of the burrow is a chamber which provides a cool humid area for the scorpions to rest during the day.

Dr. Amanda Adams presented the study at the Society for Experimental Biology's annual meeting in Manchester, United Kingdom. She says in a statement, "Very little is known about burrow environments. 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. Understanding the relationship between environmental conditions and burrow structures, meanwhile, could help to predict how burrow-builders will respond to climate change."

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