Monday, December 17, 2012

Scorpions and Me

I made a most astonishing discovery last night while waking barefoot in the dark with only an ultraviolet light.  Astonishing, creepy, and not a little unsettling, that makes me wonder if we humans have more in common with scorpions than is comfortable to imagine - namely anything whatsoever.

But first, I feel I owe you an explanation of what in Baggins' Name I thought I was even doing, walking around barefoot in the dark with a UV light.

You see, I am visiting family in Arizona. Arizona has lots of bark scorpions, Centruroides sculpturatus, and most of them apparently live inside my parents' suburban house for some reason. More than once has a midnight excursion to the loo been interrupted by someone trodding barefoot upon a bark scorpion minding its own inscrutable business on the carpet, resulting in an indescribably painful, potentially lethal sting.

I was therefore advised in the strongest terms to always keep a UV flashlight at the bedside, in case nature calls during the night.  Why a UV light?  Because scorpions glow bright green under UV light, while under ordinary white light, they are the exact same color as the carpeting, evidently chosen in a moment of extreme confusion.

 So, what did I discover while padding around barefoot under UV light that has so shaken my belief in the natural order of the universe?  I mean other than the intriguing variety of very curious stains on the carpet not visible under normal light?

To my surprise and consternation, I discovered that toenails, like scorpions, also glow green under UV light.  The same shade of green.  I am horrified to think that we humans have even a tiny biochemical link to scorpions.

But just like the time we realized that Pluto was not really a planet, I'm sure we'll eventually get over it and in time be able to live normal lives again.

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