Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Rare Developmental Anomaly

I was researching some literature on millipedes today (spoiler alert: there's not a whole lot of it) and came across an article with the title "Report on a Rare Developmental Anomaly in the Scorpion, Centruroides vittatus (Buthidae)."

Obviously, I had to read it. When you come across a title like that, how can you not? If there's one thing scientists know how to do very well, it's how to hide something extremely interesting behind a hideously boring title. It's very important to learn how to recognize those titles and see what glittering treasure is hidden under their grotesque exterior.

So I grabbed my explorer hat and started reading. It was only three pages long (with the bibliography), so it didn't take long to read. But 30 seconds after I started, I struck gold. Well, it was more like gold with diamonds embedded in it.

Holy crap!

Look at that picture! A rare developmental anomaly indeed! The authors found this specimen while "perusing" (nice word choice) the Emerson Entomological Museum of Oklahoma State University. It was collected by L. Feldick at Kinta, Haskell County, Oklahoma on November 4, 1988, so good job L. Feldick! I would have loved to be collecting with him or her that day to see the look on their face when they come across this one.....along with the ensuing struggle to collect it. I collected some scorpions in New Mexico last summer, and it was a bit nerve-wracking with just one tail and stinger. The stakes certainly would have been raised substantially when dealing with two. It's sort of like the difference between a snake and a hydra.

Less terrifying than a showdown with a two-tailed scorpion. Just ask Heracles. 
Image via Wikipedia.

The article reports that it was "quite probable" that both tails were fully functional. Also, the scorpion had two anuses. Interesting, what those genetic mutations can do.

If you want to check out the full article for yourself, here's the citation: 

Sissom DW and Shelley RM. 1995. Report on a Rare Developmental Anomaly in the scorpion, Centruroides vittatus (Buthidae). Journal of Arachnology: 23(3). pp. 199-201.

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