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Mystery Picture Answers

No.16

A Pseudoscorpion's pincer

One of 25 species of Pseudoscorpion found in Britain A Pseudoscorpion has pincers but no stinging tail

 

A species of Pseudoscorpion, found in Britain living in mosses and leaf litter, mostly in woodland.  There are 25 species found in Britain.  Although they are related to scorpions, they have no stinging tail and grow no larger than about 5mm in length.   However, they do have comparatively large pincers which they hold out in front of their bodies.  They hunt their prey within leaf litter and carpets of moss, catching it with their pincers and then injecting it with poison.  They have 8 legs, making them arachnids, like spiders.  Much of their behaviour is scorpion like, the courtship of male and female involves a dance as the male and female lock their pincers together.   Females are guided over sperm which is deposited on the ground by the male.   The female raises the young in a small sac attached to her underside.  They feed on a milk-like secretion from their mother before crawling out of the sac and onto the body of the female where they will be carried around by her.  Some species distribute themselves widely by crawling onto passing flying insect's legs.  They do not hurt their insect host in the process, they simply get a free ride to a new location! 

Although Pseudoscorpions are related to scorpions, they are in a different group.  There are no native scorpions living in Britain, however in Kent there is a small colony of Euscorpius flavicaudis, a mediterranean species.

 

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