May 11, 2021

The nature of the scorpion | Science

The nature of the scorpion | Science

Orson Welles, in his movie Mr. Arkadin, proposes a toast not without first referring to a fable attributed to Aesop and that tells the story of a scorpion that wants to cross the river. For this, the scorpion asks for help from a frog.

"No," said the frog, "no, thank you. If I let you climb on me, you could sting me and the sting of a scorpion is deadly.

– Where, said the scorpion, is the logic of that? Scorpions always try to be logical. If I bite you, you die and I would drown …

The frog was convinced and allowed the scorpion to climb on it. But, in the middle of the river, the frog felt a terrible sting and realized that the scorpion had stung her in spite of everything.

-Logic! The frog cried as he sank, seeing that the scorpion was also sinking. This does not make sense!

"I know," the scorpion answered, "but it's my nature.

The nature of the scorpion

What Gregory Arkadin tells us is that the character of the scorpion is manifested in its nature and, therefore, can not get rid of it when it comes to sticking its sting in the back of the frog. Scientifically, the scorpion makes its sting by depositing venom with neurotoxic effect through its sting, located at the end of the beads of a tail that is as close to the thorn of a rose.

To continue with scorpions and fables, there is another very common legend, which presents the scorpion as an animal with suicidal instincts. On numerous occasions, we have heard that if a scorpion is surrounded by a circle of fire, the scorpion ends up nailing itself, in an act of dignity. But nothing further. The truth is another, since the scorpions being unable to regulate their body temperature, dehydrate near the fire and begin to show convulsions, arching to death. Therefore, it seems that the sting is nailed to himself, turning his suicide into an urban legend, since, the sting can not go through the armor of his own skeleton and, to do so, the scorpion would be immune to its own poison.

In the book dthe biologist Gerald Durrell titled My family and other animals (Alliance), we are presented an old shepherd from Corfu, which tells our protagonist the story of a boy, a pastor too, who went to a distant town to party. On the way back, intoxicated, the boy lay down to sleep throwing himself into a clearing among the myrtle trees, but with such bad luck that a scorpion appeared and stung him in one ear. According to the old pastor, the boy fell dead with his head inflated "as if he had brains in his brains".

Gerald and Lee Durrell with some lemurs.
Gerald and Lee Durrell with some lemurs.

As the old pastor tells us in this autobiographical book by Gerald Durrell, the sting of the scorpion can be deadly for the human being. The potency of its poison has led to popular wisdom to seek remedies against its sting. As Durrell tells us, the same old shepherd has a bottle full of olive oil, where, suspended by the density of the liquid, a small scorpion with the tail curved over his body is appreciated. The corpse of the scorpion is surrounded by a mist that is nothing other than its own poison. As the old shepherd told Gerald Durrell, a scorpion macerated in olive oil serves as an antidote to the sting of another scorpion. The liquid is rubbed where it has been stung and "it does not hurt more than the prick of a thorn".

By the same token, ancient fieldmen hung jars of scorpions macerated in olive oil from the trees, not only to be used against the scorpion bite, but also against the bees. Scorpion venom, in addition to serving to heal stings, has been used as a remedy in the ancient pharmacopoeia to combat discomfort in the urinary tract when it comes to eliminating nitrogenous waste from metabolism.

Without going any further, in the fifth edition of the Spanish Pharmacopoeia, published by the National Press, in Madrid, in 1865, appears the pharmaceutical preparation of the "Scorpion Oil" whose recipe consisted in macerating the scorpions in oil, to which added a little water; then the mixture was heated to fire to evaporate the moisture and passed through a canvas to filter it. In this way, the result served to alleviate the problems of the urinary tract. Having said all this, let's now take advantage of the fabulous nature of the scorpion.

The stone ax it is a section where Montero Glez, with a will to prose, exercises his particular siege on scientific reality to show that science and art are complementary forms of knowledge.


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