A comparison of two small but alluring scorpions here at Mpala. The scorpion above belongs to the genus Hottentota, most infamous for the Indian red scorpion (H. tamulus), among the most medically significant scorpions of the world. This individual is the three-lined Hottentota (H. trilineatus) and lacks any evidence for systemic effects from envenomation. I had always been interested by the name Hottentota, and it wasn’t until yesterday that Clayton told me about its potential origin. Unfortunately, it turns out that “hottentot” was a derogatory word for the indigenous Khoikhoi people used by the Dutch in the 17th century when they arrived in the Western Cape. The scorpion pictured below is a lesser thick-tailed scorpion (Uroplectes fischeri). This scorpion is probably the most visually striking scorpion I’ve ever seen in terms of coloration. Most scorpions tend to be dull brown or black, with the exception of more lightly colored juveniles. The black carapace on Uroplectes strongly contrasts with its orange legs, which in turn camouflages against sandy substrates. When running around it is hard to keep track of the legs, and the scorpion sort of looks like a levitating body with disjunct claws and stinger. These two scorpions behaved very differently. While the Uroplectes ran haphazardly at any moment light cast on its body (much like small Centruroides in the New World), the Hottentota was sluggish and reluctant to move around, simply standing its ground and raising its stinger in protest of my prodding.
Both scorpions photographed after capture