OCT 12, 2017 3:41 PM PDT

Scorpions Tailor Their Venom to Suit Their Need

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Investigators have found that scorpions can tweak their venom to fit the need, and their work may help develop better anti-venoms. The researchers kept a colony of rainforest scorpions under different conditions for this study.

Scorpions have to able to both defend against predators, like small mammals and kill their prey, usually insects. "Scorpions contain three separate subtypes of toxins that are effective against mammals only, insects only, and both," explained Dr. Jamie Seymour from JCU's Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM). The venom mixture can be considered a cocktail of the two other toxins, he said.

"The question was whether the 'recipe' for this cocktail is fixed or can adapt in response to different environments and predator-prey interactions," said Seymour. To address this issue, the scorpions were put into groups, and each was exposed to either live crickets, dead crickets, or a taxidermied mouse (to simulate the predator). Indeed, the different scorpion groups displayed different venoms. Learn more from the video.
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