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.