Image via Engin Akyurt / Pexels (CC0)
Apparently, most scorpions across the world are brilliantly fluorescent under ultraviolet lighting.
A video shared by YouTube creator Butterfly Babe shows a mother scorpion carrying babies on her back, all glowing mystical blue and purple shades when the light is shone on them.
As noted by Laughing Squid, this illumination can be attributed to proteins in the scorpions’ exoskeletons. It’s also reported by PetaPixel that the exoskeleton contains hyaline, a chemical which absorbs and re-emits light at lower wavelengths. It’s so strong that the creatures still glow even when fossilized; and, when scorpion samples are preserved in liquid, the entirety of the liquid can glow, too.
Fascinatingly, though, the creatures don’t produce this glow just after molting. Their cuticles have to be completely hardened before this effect can be seen.
“We don’t really know exactly why they do it — it could just be an accident, a freak of nature, that all scorpions fluoresce,” said Owen Seeman, who is the collection manager for arachnids at the Queensland Museum, Australia. According to what he told ABC News in 2017, every single scorpion in Australia glows a vibrant shade of aqua when exposed to the UV light.
At least we can be rest assured that radioactivity isn’t the reason behind their interesting glow.