Scorpion with world’s fastest strike captured in menacing detail (VIDEO)
A new study from a research team at the University of Porto, Portugal, examined seven of the almost 2,500 species of scorpion around the world to determine how their different shape and size impacted the prowess of their venomous strike.
Scorpions use their venomous stings to protect themselves against various predators and catch unsuspecting prey at a speed of up to 51 inches per second.
“While scorpions sting their insect prey slowly and precisely, they defend themselves from attackers with a fast and swooping strike of their tail," wrote evolutionary biologist and lead author of the study, which was published in Functional Ecology, Arie van der Meijden.
“The defensive strike may therefore be the more demanding behavior that a scorpion performs with its tail. In this study, we measured the strike speed of scorpions for the first time,” added Meijden.
During testing, researchers prodded the scorpions to elicit a reaction, recorded the force from several viewpoints with a high-speed video camera that captured 500 frames per second, and then measured the strike trajectory by using a trace technology.
The strike trajectory was measured in 3D to give researchers an all-round understanding of the shape, speed, size and duration of each species’ capability.
They found more open trajectories were generally faster than closed shapes, and the deathstalker scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus) had the quickest and most precise strike, whipping its tail at nearly 3 miles per hour, or 130 centimeters per second.
Other discoveries included the prowess of the fat-tailed scorpion, who was surprisingly faster than his thin-tailed closely related counterpart.