Scorpion fluorescence: scientists may find out what it’s for

Past studies have shown that scorpions emit a strange blue-green fluorescence when lit by dim moonlight or ultraviolet light. Since it is not known how scorpions themselves exploit this strange characteristic, some researchers have written a new study, the results of which were published in the Journal of Natural Products, finding that these animals emit a fluorescent substance from the exoskeleton, which could protect them from parasites.

In relation to the strange blue-green fluorescence of scorpions, discovered about 60 years ago, scientists have made some assumptions in the past. Some have speculated that this change in colour protected them from sunlight, while others have traced this to the increased chance of finding companions in the dark.
Also in the past, two fluorescent compounds, β-carbolin and 7-hydroxy-4-methylcoumarin, substances identified in the hard outer shell of scorpions or in the exoskeleton, had been discovered.

Researcher Masahiro Miyashita, together with members of his team, then re-analyzed these animals to find out if there were other substances inside their bodies.
After extracting samples from the exoskeletons of scorpions of the species Liocheles australasiae, the researchers discovered the presence of a phthalate ester, a substance that had previously shown antifungal or antiparasitic properties in other organisms.

This led the researchers themselves to suspect that this substance could help animals protect their bodies from parasite infections.
In addition, this substance, compared to the two compounds already identified in scorpion in the past, seems to contribute less to its fluorescence.

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