Friday, November 27, 2015


When people conjure up an image of a Scorpion, they will often picture Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator), the Star of horror and mummy movies. This huge black Scorpion, which is eight inches (twenty centimeters) long, has the widest pincers (pedipalps) of all the Scorpions. Shaped like shovels, these pincers have tremendous crushing power. Furthermore, his huge, long tail with its very obvious and very scary stinger inspires many nightmares.

Surprise! This frightening, creepy Scorpion would rather run away than attack. Quite timid, He prefers scurrying under a rock to facing an opponent. Besides being skittish, Emperor Scorpion has only a mild level of toxicity in his venom, lower than most other Scorpions. (A healthy person may have an allergic reaction to his sting.) Because of his shyness and calm disposition, He is often kept as a pet. (The only time that Emperor Scorpion is aggressive is when a Mother carrying her Scorplings encounters a threat.)

Besides having an amiable nature, Emperor Scorpion further defies "common knowledge," that most people hold about Scorpions. Instead of living in arid deserts, He prefers the tropical rainforests of West Africa. To survive, Emperor Scorpion requires muggy, humid conditions. He makes his home deep under the moist earth in a burrow, in a streambank, or in the forest debris. Undetected in the leaf litter, He usually lives close to people, often in a Colony with his Friends.

At night, Emperor Scorpion goes out hunting for Termites. Tunneling far down into the earth (up to six feet (two meters)), He searches for evidence of termite mounds. Besides digging for Termites, Emperor Scorpion will snatch one crawling by with his huge pincers. Termites have to beware when He is on the prowl. His digging prowess and crushing power makes Emperor Scorpion a menace to those unfortunate Insects.

Emperor Scorpion flouts “conventional wisdom” that people hold about Scorpions. Unlike his fellow Arachnids, He is quite social, living in small colonies with his Friends. Scary and big, Emperor Scorpion hides a calm and non-aggressive nature. Possessing both qualities (serene and nightmarish) allows Him to be a featured Star in horror movies. Easy to work with, Emperor Scorpion will do his part to make the movie more terrifying. When you want to declare something to be true based on what is “commonly known,” remember Emperor Scorpion. Resist the temptation.

Emperor Scorpion’s Teachings Also Include:
Calm and Focused
Holding Contradictions
Being a “Star”

Thursday, November 19, 2015

SCORPION FAMILY: Being Formidable

An Order (Scorpionida) within the Class of Arachnida, Scorpions are well-known for their predatory and deadly nature. Since the Silurian Period (about 430 million years ago), these Arachnids have lived on the earth. Today, about 2,000 living species of Scorpions are grouped into thirteen families.

Contrary to popular belief, Scorpions do live in places other than hot and dry habitats. People would be surprised to know that these adaptable Arachnids also dwell in inter-tidal zones. Found world-wide (except in Antarctica), Scorpions can live almost everywhere, except for tundra regions. They will make their homes in trees, under rocks, in sand, in caves, and on mountains. Wherever there is a construction site that disturbs their homes, They will find their way into people’s houses to live. Furthermore as commerce expanded world-wide, so did Scorpions. For instance, these Arachnids were accidentally carried in shipments of fruit to England. Now, They can be found in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey in the U.K.

People can readily identify Scorpions by their distinctive body shape. The segmented abdomens (opisthosoma) of these Arachnids taper into a curving tail (metasoma) with the stinger (aculeus) at the end. Although They have at least six eyes, Scorpions prefer to navigate by smell and touch. With the tiny hairs on their pincers (chelae), Scorpions can sense an Insect flying by. In addition, They have slits on their legs to pick up vibrations in the air and on the ground. To grab their prey, Scorpions use their strong front claws. Then, They suck liquid out of their prey with their “claw protrusions” (chelicerae) in their mouths. The toothed jaws of Scorpions shred their meal for their stomach to suck in the juices.

What is best-known about Scorpions is their deadly venom. Each Scorpion has as many as forty-five different toxins to use on their various prey. Hunting by smell, They search for Amphibians, Crustaceans, Insects, Reptiles, and small Mammals to eat. Grabbing the unfortunate victim, Scorpion will either crush or inject venom into It. Since it takes a lot of time to replenish their spent venom, Scorpions prefer crushing to stinging. However, only about twenty-five Species are capable of killing people. It is these few Species who give all other Scorpions their deadly reputation, whether their venom is as toxic or not.

During the Silurian Period, the first Scorpions possessed gills for living in the waters. (Even today, Scorpions can stay for long periods underwater.) They ventured onto land to become one of the first animals to do so. Since They could readily adapt from life in the shallow lakes to that on land, these Arachnids have displayed tremendous staying power. Being extremely adaptable, Scorpions have evolved into an Order of nearly 2,000 living Species.

Nocturnal and solitary, Scorpions are formidable hunters. Masters of surprise, they will wait by their burrows, hidden from view, for a tasty Insect to come by. Then in an explosive move, Scorpion will suddenly grab and crush the unfortunate victim. Using her raised tail, She injects her venom for the killing stroke.

Since Scorpions have tiny mouths, They can only suck in liquid. One use for their venom, besides killing, is to turn the Insect into a liquid. While They wait, Scorpions use their “mouth claws” to bring any available liquid to their stomachs to digest. Since this process usually takes an eternity, these Arachnids possess low metabolisms. In fact, They can go an entire year without eating anything.

Besides their venomous stings, Scorpions are also noted for their impassioned and elaborate mating rituals. When Male Scorpion begins his courtship dance, He grasps Female Scorpion and turns Her in circles. In a “promenade a deux,” the Pair gently bump into each other without stinging until Male Scorpion fertilizes his Partner. Once this ritual is finished, Male Scorpion races away, before Female Scorpion changes her mind and attacks Him instead.

Contrary to popular opinion, Female Scorpion is a good mother. After being born, her Scorplings will immediately climb onto her back. She will carry Them for at least a few weeks (up until two years depending on the species). The Scorplings stay with their Mother through (at least) their first molt, and sometimes more. When They become adults, Mother Scorpion will gently removes her Scorplings off her back with her tail. For the more reluctant Ones, She will tip Them off.

These formidable Arachnids inspire awe and fear in everyone. Aggressive in hunting, Scorpions patiently spend weeks consuming their victims. Being highly adaptable, They have forty-five different kinds of venom for use on various animals. Moreover, their well-designed body maximizes their talents of sliding under rocks to elude predators, surprising their prey, and successfully living in different habitats. Since Scorpions have honed Themselves into an Order to be feared and respected, their formidable reputation is well-deserved.

When you want to be respected and feared, look to the Scorpion Family. Adapting to nearly every habitat, They have spread across the earth. Because only a few Species are deadly, people have avoided all Scorpions altogether. Just remember not to be so venomous, that your good qualities are overlooked, such as being a good parent.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Shadow Animals (Part 1)

 My New Post on Animal Wisdom is up at "Witches and Pagans."

I discuss Shadow Animals - what they are and what they do.

"People fear snakes, and run from spiders. When we see these particular animals, we shrink in fear. Certain types of animals make our skin crawl. These animals are the “creepy crawly” ones or the ones we only see at night like owls. The ones that we feel the queasiest about are the animals that are the most alien or radically different from us.

Animals that elicit such a strong response from us are our Shadow Animals. These animals represent the part of our inner landscape that we want to keep in perpetual darkness. Shadow Animals are the manifestations of the unacceptable aspects of ourselves. They hold the aspects of ourselves that we dislike. Since many people feel uncomfortable in embracing their dark side, fear of certain animals is one way to keep it at bay. Hence, we invest our dark qualities in spiders and snakes.

What do Shadow Animals do? They give us permission to love the unacceptable parts of ourselves. When we work with Them, we take back our lost power to forgive ourselves. Once we embrace our Shadow Animals, we will be reunited with these missing parts of our being. They show us that our most hated, feared, and shameful qualities are actually our keys to living the life of our dreams. Shadow Animals call you to make peace with yourself."

Read more at Shadow Animals Part One at Animal Wisdom.

Friday, November 06, 2015

SPINOSAURUS: Riding the Wheel of Fortune

The story of Spinosaurus is one of fortune found, lost, and found again. One of the largest of the Meat-eaters, Spinosaurus captured popular imagination with his mysterious sail. However, not much was known about this popular Dinosaur until 2013, when Dame Fortune smiled on the paleontologists seeking to know more about Him.

The story of Spinosaurus began with the discovery of fossils in 1912 in Egypt by Richard Markgraf. Afterwards Baron Ernst Stromer, Markgraf’s employer, named these bones Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, “Spine Lizard of Egypt.” Spinosaurus was named for his dorsal spines, which formed into a sail shape. Returning to Germany, Stromer housed his fossil collection of Spinosaurus in a museum in Munich. This proved to be disastrous when the Allies bombed the city in 1944. All that remained as proof that Spinosaurus ever existed were a few fragments of his snout and “fluted crests” displayed in museums elsewhere. The only depiction of his sail was Strummer’s drawings, which was all that was left for paleontologists to study.

Throughout the intervening years, this Dinosaur remained a mystery. The enigma of Spinosaurus was partially solved by Nizar Ibrahim, who uncovered more fossils in Morocco. Fascinated by Spinosaurus since boyhood, Ibrahim studied to be a paleontologist. After receiving a box of bones in 2008, he tried to track down the Bedouin who originally brought him the fossils. After five years of fruitless searching, Ibrahim found the man as he walked by Ibrahim’s table at an outside cafe. The Bedouin took Ibrahim to a site in Morocco, where more fossils of Spinosaurus could be found.

From this treasure trove of fossils emerged a formable predator. Larger than Tyrannosaurus rex, Spinosaurus had sharp straight teeth housed in powerful haws. Unlike many other Dinosaurs, He could walk on four or two legs, as well as swim. In examining fossils of Spinosaurus, scientists realized that He was a fish eater in a region of rivers rich with marine life. A swimmer, this huge hunter would feast on fish.

This realization solved another mystery referred to as “Stromer’s Riddle.” The question was “Why did North Africa have more Meat-eaters than Plant-eaters.” Usually, this ratio is reversed since one Carnivore needs about twenty Herbivores in order to survive. However, the region of North Africa supported three enormous Carnivores. What did these hungry Dinosaurs eat if there were only a few Plant-eaters? One answer: Spinosaurus ate fish.

With his center of gravity structured for easily moving in water, Spinosaurus hunted underwater. He had a long narrow head and nostrils high up on his snout. Resting in the water, Spinosaurus looked like a crocodile. His dense bones enabled Him to effortlessly dive deep like a penguin. His webbed front feet and powerful hind legs were like a duck’s. An accomplished swimmer, Spinosaurus feasted on fish and other marine life. Paleontologist Paul Sereno observed, “It was a Chimera – a half-duck, half-crocodile.”

By being a swimmer, Spinosaurus changed how scientists viewed Dinosaurs. He broke through the established scientific thinking on what Dinosaurs were about. Perhaps more insights about the nature of these Animals can be made through further studies of Him.

But mystery still surrounds enigmatic Spinosaurus. What was his sail used for? Stromer struggled for years to figure out why Spinosaurus needed it. Also, he pondered whether it was a merely a hump or a large spinal fin. Amongst the Spinosaurids (the Family that Spinosaurus and Baryonyx belong to), Spinosaurus is the only one with a sail. Perhaps the dorsal “hump” was to warn others that this was his territory. When other predators saw it rising from his half-submerged body, They knew to stay away. Perhaps someday, Dame Fortune will uncover that mystery.

The history of Spinosaurus depicts how the Wheel of Fortune works. First Dame Fortune smiled, then frowned, and finally smiled again. What can be learned is to remain steadfast and patient, for Dame Fortune will turn her wheel again. What may be lost today will be found tomorrow. Along the way, work hard and be prepared for the opportunity to occur. Nizar Ibrahim continued Ernest Stromer’s work, against all the odds, and found more fossils of this Dinosaur. What chances Dame Fortune gave him, he took. Spinosaurus reminds us that luck changes, and we need to be best prepared. Ride the Wheel of Fortune with this Dinosaur.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

BARYONYX: Original Thinking

In 1983, at a clay pit at Surrey, England, an unusual dinosaur was found – one that hunted fish. William Walker, an amateur fossil hunter, found a huge claw and later the skeleton it had come from buried nearby. After his discovery, paleontologists uncovered more specimens of Baryonyx, after re-examining old fossils that had been collected years before. Because Baryonyx was a Meat-eater, her discovery was more remarkable since previous fossils from this quarry had yielded only Plant-eaters.

The most surprising about this Dinosaur from the early Cretaceous (about 125 million years ago), was the half-digested remains of fish, as well as, an Iguanodonwithin her skeletal remains. As scientists studied the fossilized bones of Baryonyx, they realized that her long slender jaws were ideal for fishing. Moreover, her front teeth stuck out from her narrow jaws. Larger than the rest, these teeth formed a rosette pattern ideal for the stabbing and retention of a struggling fish. Possessing almost twice as many teeth as Tyrannosaurus rex, Baryonyx could easily snag a fish with her small sharp teeth.

With a body similar to a modern crocodile, Baryonyx was built for swimming in swamps. Her long, streamlined body was perfect for moving about in water. With her extended neck, Baryonyx could lunge and spear a tasty fish, before It could escape. With her nostrils placed back along her snout, Baryonyx would remain nearly submerged in the water, patiently waiting for her next meal.
Furthermore, her huge claws allowed Baryonyx to fish whilst wading in streams. Standing in the water, She would wait for a fish to swim by. Because each of her first fingers was tipped with a large, barbed claw, Baryonyx could swipe at and hook fish.

At a time, when other carnivorous Dinosaurs hunted only on land, Baryonyx looked to the water. An original thinker, Baryonyx pondered other ways of getting her food. Rather than compete on land with the other Dinosaurs, She hunted in the ancient swamps and streams. Before there were Bears, She was in streams hooking fish with her claws. When faced with a baffling problem, ask Baryonyx for her insights. Since She could envision things that others could not, Baryonyx will offer you novel answers. Sort out which idea makes sense to you and go with it.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Animals of the Way

 From my blog at Witches and Pagan's Pagan Square:

"Animals who stay to help you after delivering their message are known as “Animals of the Way.” They will travel with you for a part of your life’s journey. Although these animals are not life-long companions, they may stay with you for years. Once they are no longer needed, “Animals of the Way” will leave. As with “Message Animals,” you need to accept them. Of course, find out about who they are and how they live. Enter into conversations with them, and ask how they can help you.

Sometimes you can ask a particular animal for help for temporary aid. But first, figure out whether the animal can work with you. Some animals are better equipped to help with particular problems. For example, Ferret is preferable to Sloth in increasing your physical energy. Moreover, animals that you have a relations with will be more disposed to helping you. Before asking a “strange” animal for assistance, do something to honor them first.

For example, I was grieving over the loss of a family member, and had asked the Manatees to comfort me. Since I assisted in various conservation efforts for manatees, They were more than happy to help. These friendly vegetarians know loss, for They have grieved over their fellow Manatees killed by motor boats. Soft and peaceful, the Manatees were all encompassing in giving their love to me. Through them, I was healed."

READ THE REST AT : Animal Wisdom: Animals of the Way

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Indian Flying Fox: Fearless Exploring

By Dibyendu Ash [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
One of the largest of Bats, Indian Flying Fox (Pteropus giganteus) has a wingspan of more than a child's height. During her flight, She extends her legs outward to expand the span of her wings. A strong swimmer, Indian Flying Fox crosses rivers using her wings as flippers.

Less feared than other types of Bats, Indian Flying Fox eats only fruit. Her favorite is very soft bananas which She swallows whole.  However, with mangoes, She extracts the juice and spits out the seeds. Indian Flying Fox is an important pollinator in the tropics, and a major dispenser of seeds. In certain parts of India, She is regarded as sacred.

Unfortunately for Her, her desire for fruit has led Indian Flying Fox in conflict with people. Because She causes extensive damage to fruit orchards, many farmers consider Indian Flying Fox to be a pest. Governments in South Asia have instituted kill programs to stop Her, since they consider Indian Flying Fox to be “vermin.”

Found throughout South Asia and the Maldives, Indian Flying Fox prefers living near large areas of water. She is often found in tropical forests and swamps. Once, She settles into a suitable place, Indian Flying Fox makes it her permanent Camp. (Groups of Flying Foxes are called “camps.”) Because of her strong flying abilities, Indian Flying Fox colonized many islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Many species of Flying Foxes found on these islands can be traced to her.

Indian Flying Fox flies long distances at night to search for her food. Some of her travels have led her to distant lands. She is fearless in what She does knowing that She can navigate anywhere. A dauntless explorer, Indian Flying Fox travels to islands near and far. Traversing over vast stretches of ocean, She is unafraid of never reaching land. Indian Flying Fox is confident in her navigation skills. Because of her self-assuredness, She has become the mother of many island species. Take wing and fly. Just be care not to be a pest.

Wisdom of Indian Flying Fox:
Having Adventures
Learning Not to be a Pest  

Note: Indian Flying Fox is also known as Greater Indian Fruit Bat.