Subject: Scorpions (was, Re: Submarines) Date: 30 Oct 93 17:57:11 GMT email@example.com
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Lee Rudolph)
Subject: Scorpions (was, Re: Submarines)
Date: 30 Oct 93 17:57:11 GMT
email@example.com (Bear Giles) writes:
>I've heard of rattlesnakes biting themselves (and dying), and young birds
>flying into cliffs (ditto), but a scorpion stinging itself is a new one...
Actually not, folklorically speaking!
I can't lay my hands on a bestiary at the moment, but
here's what the 1947 edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica has to say.
"The story that scorpions commit suicide by stinging themselves,
when surrounded by a ring of fire, is based on misinterpretation
of their behaviour and has long since been disproved. However,
the generallly accepted idea that all animals are immune to their
own poison is not quite correct. Scorpions possess a certain
degree of immunity. ... Scorpions are very sensitive to heat
and die easily when exposed to the rays of the sun in a closed
container. What happens when a scorpion is subjected to heat
is simply this: first it tries to escape and failing in this,
begins to strike frantically with its tail as if in an attempt
to sting. Finally it becomes insensitive, overcome by heat,
and dies unless removed and allowed to recuperate. The treatment
against scorpion poison consists in an application of cold,
administration of barbiturates, and injections of a special
scorpion serum. ..."
The EB doesn't make it clear whether this treatment would also
help a scorpion stung with its own poison (I deleted the details of
how it takes 200 times the dose that kills a guinea pig to
kill the scorpion itself). The thought of scorpions stoned on
barbiturates boggles the mind.
Lee "not a Scorpio" Rudolph
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank