In the Company of Cannibals That Sting…and Glow

Found everywhere from beaches to 14,000 feet up in the Himalayas, scorpions kill more people than any other animal except snakes and bees

Scorpions have been doing quite nicely, thank you, since they left their yard-long ancestors in the sea 350 million years ago. Cannibals that also care for their young, they are found in caves at depths up to a half-mile, in deserts and high up on mountains. Biologists' discovery a generation ago that scorpions fluoresce under black (ultraviolet) light, and so can be easily seen and captured, has brought a golden age of scorpion studies. The good news is that only 25 or so of the 1,500 known species can kill a human being. The bad news is that they kill 800 people a year in Mexico alone. To get a closer look at this feared and fascinating creature, author John F. Ross accompanies scorpion experts Gary Polis and Philip Brownell on a specimen-hunting expedition in Mexico.

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