Scorpions are predatory, eight-legged arachnids, typically characterised by their two claws and the curved tail which is usually tipped by a venomous sting.

A large black scorpion

A large black scorpion

Key Information

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Subclass: Dromopoda
Order: Scorpiones


Scorpions, alongside spiders, belong to the group of invertebrates called arachnids. They are typically characterised by their pair of pincer-like claws and their curved tail which is usually tipped by a venomous sting. They can be found on every continent, except Antarctica, and in a variety of different environments.

The first scorpions evolved around 430 million years ago. These ancestral scorpions weren't land-based as we know them today, but wandered at the bottom of tropical seas.

Baby scorpions hatch inside the mother's body, who proceeds to carry her young on her back until they have grown their thick shell and are strong enough to survive on their own.

Scorpion under blacklight

Scorpion under blacklight

The Stinging Tail

The scorpion's tail, also called the metastoma, is a segmented masterpiece. The final segment bears the sting, known as a telson in the biological world. A pair of glands inside this last segment provide the venom, which in some species can cause serious injury to humans. 25 species of scorpion are known to have venom which is lethal to humans.

Quick Facts

  • The word scorpion comes from the Greek "skorpios" and the Proto-Indo-European "sker" which means "to cut".
  • Scorpions range from as small as 9 mm to as large as 20 cm.
  • Rare two-tailed scorpions, a genetic abnormality, can sometimes be found.
  • Scorpions glow when exposed to ultraviolet light making them easier to spot at night, with the right equipment.
  • Fried scorpion is a traditional Chinese dish.
  • Young scorpions are called "scorplings".