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Any of some 1,300 nocturnal arachnid species (order Scorpionida, subphylum Chelicerata) having a slender body, a segmented tail tipped with a venomous stinger, and six pairs of appendages. The small first pair tear apart insect and spider prey. Strong, clawlike pincers on the large second pair, held horizontally in front, are used as feelers and for grasping prey while sucking the tissue fluids. The last four pairs, each with a pincer, are walking legs. The venom is either a hemotoxin that, in humans, causes swelling, redness, and pain or a neurotoxin that may cause convulsions, paralysis, cardiac irregularities, and death. Most scorpions will sting a human only if provoked. Nocturnal hunters, most species are tropical or subtropical.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on scorpion, visit Britannica.com.