Fabre (1907) gives a fascinating account of the curious and elaborate mating behaviour of scorpions from observations on a southern European species, Buthus occitans. He noted that in male and female encounters, the two scorpions initially stood face to face with raised tails which they intertwined. The male, using his pincers, would then grasp the pincers of the female and proceed to walk backwards with the female following. This courtship dance, the two animals ‘hand-in-hand’ so to speak, lasted an hour or more, during which time the scorpions turned and circled several times (see sketches below, adapted from Fabre).
Then, whilst still holding the female and when in the neighbourhood of a suitable stone, the male would excavate a nuptial chamber into which both scorpions retreated.
And this is most intriguing and controversial… Fabre also noted that after mating, male scorpions were often devoured by the females. “Whoa! Scary if you were the male scorpion.” Well according to Fabre, this kind of post-coital cannibalism – the male being eaten by the female after mating – is by no means confined to scorpions. Similar cannibalistic behaviour is known amongst spiders and in a few insect carnivores such as praying mantids. Mating is clearly a precarious business for the males of these predatory arthropods, and interestingly, like male scorpions, the males of many spiders, and perhaps to a lesser degree those of some mantids, also indulge in elaborate courtship rituals as a preamble to mating – no doubt to ensure that they are recognised by the female as a potential mating partner and not immediately attacked and eaten by her as potential prey, at least not before mating has occurred. However, once mating has been accomplished, whether a male is then eaten by the female, or manages to escapes unharmed, is perhaps just a question of chance and may be relatively unimportant, since in either case the courtship ritual apparently enables the male to better survive his initial encounter with a female, mate successfully and hence pass his genes onto the next generation, which may be all that matters in the longer-term processes of natural selection and evolution.
Hmmmm, very interesting, isn’t it? So to summarize it. Male scorpion lives to mate and be eaten up afterwards by the female scorpion. I think that would answer your question briefly, Zahir 🙂
Who would want to be a male scorpion?
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