Scorpions have evolved to become one of the creatures on earth most resistant to radiation. This being one the primary causes of genetic mutations, we can happily conclude that, for scorpions, the chance of any mutation being in any way beneficial is so low that it has begun to actively protect against it. According to nature, the evolutionary scorpion blueprint is as close as things get to perfect.
There is other evidence for this too. Scorpion populations are expansive, spanning all continents other than Antarctica. They can be found in virtually every habitat from the tops of snow clad mountains to deep in the desert. For the locations on earth that fall into the appropriate temperature band, scorpion populations have been in complete stability for hundreds of millions of years. These creatures do not struggle to survive.
This comforts me in several ways.
- In the fact that nature has created a design so good that it actively protects against mutation.
- In the fact that this particular design is truly badass.
The scorpion is like the wet dream of a pubescent, male teen. Almost more robotic than organic, it supports what I've suspected for a long time myself - that those animals I designed on my year seven biology workbook, with pincers, stings, claws and a number of other weapons were awesome, and would have kicked some serious ass in the real world.
From when you first set your eyes on a scorpion you can tell it means business. It's in the form and tension of the pose, the characteristic forward curve of the body, extending along the segmented tail and ending in a stinger. No one would doubt that this is a deadly predator. With two large, grasping pincers at the front it could appear, like a less goofy version of a crab (this thing doesn't walk sideways). It has an exoskeleton, which means instead of skin its whole body is covered in skeletal armour plating. Finally there is the large ribbed tail, with a poison stinger at the end that can deliver enough venom to kill mammals over a hundred times its own size. The bulb of the stinger, and the subtle slope to the tip gives this creature a form of deadly elegance, like some femme fatal you can imagine the scorpion seducing its prey. This creature is rough and beautiful - more James Bond than Duke Nukem.
But this weaponry is only the start of what makes scorpions incredible. Scorpions have a metabolism so low that experiments have shown them to live for up to three years without food and up to a year without water. Other species have been found to be able to survive while submerged in water for three to four hours. Along with these, there is the aforementioned resistance to radiation which has seen them survive French nuclear tests in the sahara. These creatures have survival abilities akin to cockroaches, the only other creature with comparable resistance to radiation and an equally impressive heritage. The difference here is that scorpions literally eat cockroaches for breakfast.
I leave you with this final thought.
There are some known, and not completely uncommon, mutations to scorpions. Some things that perhaps are considered to improve the design.
One of these is the two tailed scorpion, which can function as a normal scorpion, and although one tail seems dominant, has full control of both. These are not so rare and once were considered to be their own species. But if the idea of that seems scary then brace yourself and take a look at this monster.
On the right hand side of the image is a drawing of the scorpion with the legs hidden. So again, try to consider what you are looking at. Primarily you are looking at a three tailed scorpion, but not just that. On closer inspection of the tails, the tail on the far right is normal, but the tail in the middle splits at the end into two stings. And the tail on the left splits brutally into three stingers. So in total, this scorpion has three tails and six stingers - not the kind of thing you want to find in your boot.
Perhaps scorpions are still evolving but in my mind they have already won. I am willing to admit defeat. I have seen enough.