Another Bolt From the Blue: Colors in Nature That May Surprise You (Part Two)

Discover more creatures that will challenge your expectations about colors in the natural world.                                                                                                                                         

If you read part one of this series, you know that lobsters can come in unexpected and rare colors. But while you may not find an elusive blue lobster anytime soon, your chances of seeing another blue-green creature with pincers are surprisingly good—if you have the right supplies available. Scorpions fluoresce under ultraviolet light, so to see one glow in the dark, you just need to have a scorpion and a blacklight handy, or the light of a bright moon.

We know how these arthropods produce their eerie glow. Basically, it’s caused by compounds in their exoskeleton which absorb and then re-emit UV light as visible light (that humans can see). But we still don’t know why.

Scientists have proposed several theories to explain the luminescence of scorpions. The purpose might be to:

  • locate each other or find shelter
  • warn predators or attract prey
  • act as a sunscreen
  • measure the presence of UV light, specifically moonlight
  • have secret raves and light shows in the desert
scorpionuv
Scorpion light show—no glow sticks required

Okay, that last one is made up, but the rest are valid theories.

Maybe someday we’ll discover the reason that scorpions glow. In the meantime, at least we have a handy trick for finding them—or avoiding them.

Featured image:  Scorpion under blacklightJonbeebe / CC-BY-SA-3.0

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