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FlipFact of the Day: If you ever find yourself lost in the desert, one thing you shouldn’t worry about is accidentally stepping on a scorpion, even at night. That’s because scorpions glow in the dark—and nobody knows why they have this feature, exactly.

A scorpion’s exoskeleton—specifically, the durable yet flexible part known as the cuticle—contains certain fluorescent chemicals (such as beta-carboline). As a result, longer wavelengths of ultraviolet light are absorbed and subsequently emitted at nighttime as a bright, blue-green glow.

A number of theories exist about the purpose of these arachnidsamazing ability. Some experts say that it helps them lure prey or find mates, while others suggest that it may actually be a defensive measure to ward off predators. Nobody knows for sure. At least, not yet.

Today’s Science History Milestone: On August 7, 1925, Monkombu Sambisivan Swaminathan, an Indian agricultural scientist and geneticist who became the first World Food Prize laureate in 1987, was born.


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Cover: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

References

  • blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/12/23/why-do-scorpions-glow-in-the-dark-and-could-their-whole-bodies-be-one-big-eye/