Scorpion, an articulate animal of the class arachnida or spiders, division pulmonarioe or those which breathe by air sacs, order pedipal-pi, and genus scorpio (Linn.). The body is long, the head and thorax in a single piece, the thorax and abdomen intimately united and followed by six joints of nearly equal breadth, and then by six others very narrow, and forming what is called the tail; the last joint ends in a sharp curved sting connected with a gland secreting an oily, whitish, poisonous fluid, which is discharged by two small openings near the end; the body is clothed with a firm, coriaceous skin composed of chitine. The mandibles, according to Siebold, are wanting, the parts usually called such being only antennae transformed into prehensile and masticatory organs; the cheliceres have three joints, move vertically, and under them have the first pair of jaws changed into long prehensile palpi, like extended arms, ending in a didactyle claw or pincer, as in the lobster, endowed with a delicate sense of touch; there are eight legs, three-jointed, ending each in a double hook; the eyes are six or eight, one pair of which is often median and larger than the others; at the base of the abdomen are two laminated organs, called combs.
On the lower and lateral parts of the abdomen are eight spiracles or stigmata, opening into as many pulmonary sacs, each enclosing 20 delicate laminae for respiratory purposes; the heart consists of eight chambers, and at each end is prolonged into an arterial trunk; there is also a venous system; the blood is colorless, and contains a few cells and granules; no blood vessels have been discovered on the pulmonary laminae, and the blood is probably effused into the parts surrounding these sacs or lungs. The intestine is straight and narrow, with the anal opening on the penultimate caudal segment; the liver is very large, and salivary glands distinct; the urinary organs are ramified tubes opening into the cloaca; the reproductive organs are double, at the base of the abdomen, and the sexes distinct; the two ventral nervous cords proceeding from the head form eight ganglia, the last four belonging to the tail. Scorpions feed on insects, which they hold by their palpi and sting to death, and then suck the blood; they are generally found in dark places in warm climates, and in some tropical parts of the old world render whole districts uninhabitable; they live on the ground, concealing themselves under stones, in ruins, in the interior of houses, and even in beds; they ran very fast, keeping the tail elevated and ready to strike in any direction; the females are larger and less numerous than the males.
Under certain circumstances they kill and devour their own progeny; they renew their skin several times, and can live very long without food; gestation is said to continue nearly a year, the young being born alive and in succession. The scorpion has been known from the earliest antiquity, as its place in the ancient zodiac proves; on Egyptian monuments Anubis is often represented as facing it as if to destroy its influence; Pliny gives a long account of the fabled powers of this animal. - The S. Europoeus (Linn.), of southern Europe, is about an inch long, brown, with the feet and end of tail yellowish, and the palpi angular and heart-shaped; the female produces her young alive in succession, carrying them on her back for a few days and protecting them for about a month; it has six eyes, and nine teeth in the comb; its sting is harmless. The reddish scorpion (S. occitanus, Latr.) is a little larger, yellowish red, having the tail a little longer than the body with raised and finely notched lines; there are eight eyes, and more than 30 teeth in the comb; it is found in Spain and in N. Africa, but not with the preceding species; its sting is more to be feared, and may be dangerous to persons of weak constitution.
The black scorpion (8. afer, Linn.) is blackish brown, with the claws rough and a little hairy and the anterior edge of the corslet strongly emarginated; there are eight eyes, and 13 teeth in the comb. It is found in Ceylon and other parts of the East Indies, and attains a length of 5 or 6 in.; the sting is sometimes fatal; the best remedy has been found to be ammonia externally and internally, to neutralize the poison in the first case, and to guard against prostration in the other; other caustics and stimulants are used, and embrocations of various kinds of oil. - Nearly allied to the scorpions are the small book scorpions (chelifer), common in old books and neglected drawers. Small scorpions of the genus bruchus are found in our southern states.
Black Scorpion (Scorpio afer).