Scorpions may call to mind snapping pincers and a venomous sting, but these ancient arthropods are far from invincible. To survive in harsh environments and evade predators like lizards and owls, many scorpions spend most of their time hunkered in their underground burrows.
To learn more about the scorpion’s retreat, physiological ecologist Berry Pinshow of Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev focused on Scorpio maurus palmatus, or large-clawed scorpion, which is common in Israel. He teamed up with behavioral ecologist Amanda Adams to capture some 30 scorpions and map out their homes.
By pouring molten aluminum into the burrows and creating 3-D images of the resulting casts, the pair was surprised to find a consistent shape with sharp curves. The pattern suggests this scorpion species has evolved a simple yet highly functional blueprint for a life-sustaining burrow.