LifestyleAcid-spitting dangerous predators. New species discovered

Acid-spitting dangerous predators. New species discovered

Scorpion from the genus Mastigoproctus
Scorpion from the genus Mastigoproctus
Images source: © Adobe Stock | Nirut Sangkeaw
ed. NGU

6:33 PM EDT, November 2, 2023

An article recently published in "The Journal of Arachnology" reported the discovery of three new species of whip scorpions in Mexico. Experts have intriguingly likened these creatures to a hybrid of a scorpion and a skunk.

Whip scorpions, a group of arachnids, are notoriously elusive and thus challenging to study.

Mexican discoveries

Experts speculate that, in a hypothetical scenario where a skunk mates with a scorpion, the result would closely resemble these creatures, known as whip scorpions. Three new species were recently unearthed in Mexico. They belong to the genus Mastigoproctus, identified as M. franckei, M. xetame, and M. yalchanchak.

The recent discoveries indicate that the diversity of these incredible creatures might be underestimated. The findings also highlight the value of biological collections. One of the species was identified from a museum record in Chiapas, a state in Mexico that has seen significant landscape alterations, mainly deforestation. These changes have made it increasingly difficult to locate living specimens of Mastigoproctus yalchanchak in recent expeditions - explained Dr. Diego Barrales-Alcalá, who studied the discovered creatures.

All three arachnids are of negligible size, with each one measuring just a few inches. The M. franckei specimen is approximately 2.08-2.48 inches long, the M. xetame species ranges in size from 1.89-2.17 inches, and the M. yalchanchak species measures between 2.20-2.28 inches long.

Unveiling the new species of whip scorpions

These predators are indiscriminate eaters, consuming anything they can subdue, including small vertebrates. Uniquely, they can spit acid that is 16 times stronger than vinegar. This might seem to suggest an offensive tactic, but they primarily employ it for self-defense - added Dr. Diego Barrales-Alcalá.

The reproductive cycle of whip scorpions is among the most fascinating. Based on information from focus.pl, the process begins with a six-hour "dance", a ritual performed by the female to stimulate the male. After fertilization, the female creates an egg sac and then buries herself to patiently wait for her offspring to be born. Contrary to many creatures, the female whip scorpion does not abandon her young after birth; instead, she takes care of them until they can survive independently.

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