Courtship and mating in Heterometrus petersii (Thorell, 1876) (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae)

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.


Courtship and mating in Heterometrus petersii (Thorell, 1876) (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae) was observed in the laboratory. In this paper the behavior components displayed in courtship and mating are identified, analyzed and discussed.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Although largely speculative, these studies propose that sexual dimorphism may follow natural selection processes in some aspects (e.g. body size in females), but that sexual selection is the main evolutionary driver acting on morphological features (especially in males) utilised during the complex courtship and mating rituals of scorpions (as described by Francke 1979;Polis and Farley 1979;Benton 1992;Tallarovic et al. 2000;Peretti et al. 2001;Booncham et al. 2007;Carrera et al. 2009;Jiao and Zhu 2009;Toscano-Gadea 2010;Sánchez-Quirós et al. 2012;Olivero et al. 2017). ...
... Conversely, male scorpions grasp the pedipalp patella of the female during courtship and mating, whereas resistant females may also attempt to sting the courting male (Polis and Farley 1979;Jiao and Zhu 2009;Sánchez-Quirós et al. 2012;Olivero et al. 2017). As such, embellishment of the patella and metasoma in female P. planicauda may relate to resisting courtship by weaker males (thereby placing these characters under sexual selection), although behavioural data are necessary to confirm this assumption. ...
... Similarly, sexual dimorphism in the movable finger of the chela, pedipalp femur, and to some extent the legs of male P. planicauda, may follow from their roles during courtship and mating. Morphological differences in the chelae of scorpion males are considered adaptations for gripping the pedipalps (chela or pedipalp patella) of the female during the 'promenade a deux' (mating dance) phase of courtship (Alexander 1959;Francke 1979;Polis and Farley 1979;Lourenço et al. 2003;Jiao and Zhu 2009;Sánchez-Quirós et al. 2012;Olivero et al. 2017), and modification of the chela movable finger has been proposed to aid in maintaining a stronger grip (Maury 1975;Booncham et al. 2007). It is therefore possible that a longer chela movable finger in P. planicauda males has evolved under sexual selection for maintaining a better grip on the female's sexually dimorphic (larger) pedipalp patella. ...
Full-text available
Southern Africa contains a diverse and endemic scorpion fauna, but with biological aspects remaining largely unexplored for this group. In order to gain biological insights into an understudied scorpion species, the current study investigates fine-scale spatial distributions and sexual dimorphism in the South African endemic Drab Thick-tail Scorpion (Parabuthus planicauda). The species closely track rocky areas, with the sexes homogenously distributed across habitats. Varying adult sex ratios are evident at each sampling area, likely influenced by differing vegetation cover and predation pressures. When considering size-corrected measurements, several characters are significantly sexually dimorphic in P. planicauda; this sexual dimorphism is not readily observable (<10% difference in size) based on uncorrected measurements, thereby rendering the identification of males and females in the field difficult. Even so, sexually dimorphic characters in females appear to be shaped mainly by natural selection (e.g. carapace width, pedipalp patella and metasoma), likely for enhanced feeding ability, fecundity, parental care and juvenile survival. In contrast, the male morphology may be primarily subject to sexual selection pressures on features used during courtship and mating (e.g. pectines, chela movable finger, pedipalp femur, 2nd and 4th legs). Taken together, the results reported on here add novel preliminary information on the understudied biological aspects of a South African endemic scorpion species.
... (1). Although the process of courtship and mating is similar among different scorpion families, genera and even species in the same genus, to some extent, their behavior patterns may differ to varying degrees (1,6). Thus, it is valuable to research the reproductive behaviors among scorpions. ...
... Scorpiops luridus were conducted from February to May, 2009. Male-female pairs were placed in a mating arena (60 × 50 × 40 cm) with soil substrate as we began observations using two 40-W red bulbs (6). Scorpiops luridus specimens were collected from hillsides in Xizang province, China. ...
... Most of the mating behaviors in Scorpiops luridus were not remarkably different from those displayed by other scorpions, but male chelicera-pulling behavior that helped the female accomplish the sperm uptake as soon as possible is being described herein for the first time. Basically, the male used arm pulling to assist the female to accomplish sperm transfer in scorpions such as Heterometrus petersii (6). It has never been reported that the male used chelicera pulling to help the female to enable sperm transfer in other scorpions. ...
Full-text available
In the current work, the courtship and mating of Scorpiops luridus Zhu Lourenco & Qi, 2005 (Euscorpiidae) from Xizang province (Tibet), China, were studied for the first time in the laboratory. Most of the mating behaviors in Scorpiops luridus are not remarkably different from those exhibited by other scorpions. However, for the first time a male pulling a female with its chelicerae to rapidly accomplish the sperm uptake was observed. Additionally, the sexual stinging behavior displayed by the male occurred in the initial stage, not during the promenade stage as previously described in several scorpion species. Through observation and analysis, we speculate that venom injection during sexual stinging is selective, possibly relying on the status shown by the stung scorpion (passive or aggressive). In order to clearly describe the process of courtship and mating, both sequences are represented in a flow chart, while the main behavior components of these processes were identified, analyzed and discussed.
... Pectines comprise sensory organs that detect both physical [27] and chemical cues from the substrate [28][29][30]. The enhanced pectines of males are associated with mating, as they can follow the pheromonal trails laid down by females [31][32][33] and assess appropriate substrates for spermatophore deposition [34][35][36][37][38]. ...
... Elaboration of the metasoma in the males of many species (e.g., [25,40,107,112,120] argues for a sexual role for this body segment, which could include combat with other males [49], clubbing or deflection of sting attempts by resistant females (e.g. [37,121]), and sexual stings toward females (e.g. [122,123]). ...
Full-text available
Sexual differences in morphology, ranging from subtle to extravagant, occur commonly in many animal species. These differences can encompass overall body size (sexual size di-morphism, SSD) or the size and/or shape of specific body parts (sexual body component di-morphism, SBCD). Interacting forces of natural and sexual selection shape much of the expression of dimorphism we see, though non-adaptive processes may be involved. Differential scaling of individual features can result when selection favors either exaggerated (positive allometry) or reduced (negative allometry) size during growth. Studies of sexual di-morphism and character scaling rely on multivariate models that ideally use an unbiased reference character as an overall measure of body size. We explored several candidate reference characters in a cryptically dimorphic taxon, Hadrurus arizonensis. In this scorpion, essentially every body component among the 16 we examined could be interpreted as di-morphic, but identification of SSD and SBCD depended on which character was used as the reference (prosoma length, prosoma area, total length, principal component 1, or meta-soma segment 1 width). Of these characters, discriminant function analysis suggested that metasoma segment 1 width was the most appropriate. The pattern of dimorphism in H. ari-zonensis mirrored that seen in other more obviously dimorphic scorpions, with static allome-try trending towards isometry in most characters. Our findings are consistent with the conclusions of others that fecundity selection likely favors a larger prosoma in female scorpions , whereas sexual selection may favor other body parts being larger in males, especially the metasoma, pectines, and possibly the chela. For this scorpion and probably most other organisms, the choice of reference character profoundly affects interpretations of SSD, SBCD, and allometry. Thus, researchers need to broaden their consideration of an
... This method allows for opportunistic annotations as well as the recording of rare events that may be significant to the reconstruction of the behavioral repertory (Martin and Bateson 1986). The terminology used in this study was based on Stewart (2006), Jiao and Zhu (2009). ...
Predation strategies are often habitat-dependent; therefore, contrasting biomes, such as rainforests and seasonally dry forests, may be useful for understanding how the environment influences predatory behavior. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prey capture behavior of scorpions from contrasting habitats in northeastern Brazil. The scorpions’ use of the stinger and movement probability after prey capture were analyzed. We collected 120 scorpions, 60 from the Atlantic Forest and 60 from the Caatinga drylands. Our results indicate that scorpions from the Atlantic Forest tended to use their stinger more frequently than those from the Caatinga habitat. We also found that Caatinga scorpions moved approximately 40% more after prey capture than the Atlantic Forest species. Environmental pressures related to the metabolic costs of venom production and potential predation risk may partially explain the differential behavior observed in this study. Therefore, our results suggest that despite the morphological differences between species, animals from contrasting habitats may show different prey capture strategies.
... There are some sensory organs in scorpions' pectine which can detect physical and chemical features of the substrate (Gaffin & Brownell, 1997;Kladt et al., 2007;Steinmetz et al., 2004). Males need the pectines' sensory organ to deposit the spermatophore in an appropriate substrate (Gaffin & Brownell, 1992;Melville et al., 2003) and also to follow the females' pheromones in order to find their exact niche (Jiao & Zhu, 2009;Melville, 2000). ...
Full-text available
Natural selection and sexual selection are cardinal factors in shaping the body of animals such as scorpions. Scorpio maurus (Scorpiones: Scorpionidae) has a worldwide distribution. Sexual dimorphism has been reported from this species in a study in Egypt. Morphometry is used to determine the sexual dimorphism between the two sexes. In the current study, scorpions were collected from six locations of the southern and northern provinces of Fars, Iran. In this study, 53 morphological characters of 15 specimens of each sex of Scorpio maurus were studied based on statistical analyses; however, dimorphism was only observed in 21 morphological characters, including chelicerae and carapace length, pedipalp characters, width of the second segment of metasoma, telson and pectin length, number of left pectin teeth, and some of the leg's segments. It means that these characters are in the control of sexual and natural selection. This study was performed for the first time on Scorpio maurus species in Iran. Scorpio maurus was collected and evaluated for morphometric study and sexual dimorphism analyses for the first time in Iran. 53 morphological characters of 15 specimens of each sex of S. maurus were studied. Sexual dimorphism was observed in 21 morphological characters of S. maurus based on statistical analyses. Asymmetry was observed in the number of right and left pectin teeth of S. maurus.
Full-text available
Hadrurus arizonensis is a large, long-lived species of North American desert scorpion with lengthy, stereotyped courtship behaviors that lead to sperm transfer via an external spermatophore. Courtship and mating behaviors in H. arizonensis and other members of the Iuridae family have not been described. H. arizonensis has reproductive behavior similar to that of other scorpions, including the promenade a deux, but with some unique components described here for the first time. Courtship and mating behaviors of H. arizonensis are presented in a flowchart to emphasize its stereotypical nature and suitability for experimental manipulation in field and laboratory studies.
1. The lateral eye shows one maximum in the ultraviolet and another in the blue-green region of the spectrum, probably attributable to two receptor types. 2. Light-adapted lateral eyes show the peculiar effect of a marked drop in ultraviolet sensitivity, irrespective of the colour of the adapting light. 3. Absorption by shielding pigment of the lateral eye is slightly selective in the short wavelengths. 4. The median eye has one maximum in the blue-green, violet sensitivity being apparent only with prolonged dark-adaptation. 5. Absorption by the shielding pigment of the median eye appears to be non-selective.
Some current interpretations of male-female sexual interactions have implied that males can control female mating decisions. Here we analysed the main characteristics of female sexual receptivity of the mountain scorpion Zabius fuscus based on the premating behavioural patterns of virgin and inseminated females from natural or artificially interrupted matings. Males were used repeatedly in successive tests to evaluate females' levels of sexual receptivity (positive = accept, intermediate, negative = reject) and behavioural flexibility. Duration and frequency values of male behaviour patterns were correlated with the female's response. During the sexual recognition phase, the male performed vibratory movements of the body, termed vibration, which did not vary between the three groups of females (positive, intermediate and negative). In contrast, frequencies of occurrence of the principal male stimulatory behaviours, cheliceral massage and rubbing with legs, differed significantly between the three groups of females, reflecting a clear flexibility of male sexual behaviour according to the initial female response. Scorpion males appeared to use luring rather than coercive behaviours when facing resisting females. The observed patterns do not support the position that males override female means of mating control. Furthermore, morphologically based data indicate that postmating sexual receptivity in females is not affected by other male characteristics such as body or spermatophore size.
Two species of the genus Heterometrus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Scorpionidae) from south Vietnam sold in pet shops in China
  • M S X F Zhu
  • Yang
ZHU, M. S. & X. F. YANG. 2007. Two species of the genus Heterometrus Ehrenberg, 1828 (Scorpionidae) from south Vietnam sold in pet shops in China. Acta Arachnologica Sinica, 16(2): 92-103.
Courtship and mating in the buthid scorpions
  • A J Alexander
ALEXANDER, A. J. 1959. Courtship and mating in the buthid scorpions. Proceedings of the Zoological Society London, 133: 145-169.
Reproductive ecology
  • T G Benton
BENTON, T. G. 2001. Reproductive ecology. Pp. 288-294 in Brownell, P. H. & G. A. Polis (eds.) Scorpion Biology and Research. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.