What’s not to love about this photo? In one fell swoop it inverts the reputation of a much-feared invertebrate. For the defenseless newborns sitting under the vicious sting are the scorpion’s own offspring, tended by their mother until they are big enough to survive on their own.
It’s not just me who likes the shot — it has won German photographer Ingo Arndt the Fritz Pölking award for the second time.
There’s a good reason why scorpions are one of the few instantly recognisable invertebrates: that bulb at the end of the abdomen is full of deadly venom. What is less well known is that unlike most other arachnids they are viviparous: rather than laying eggs they give birth to live young. The juveniles are unable to feed or defend themselves, or regulate their moisture levels - they need their mother’s protection. It’s all really quite cute.
Buthidae family — to which the animals pictured here belong — have venom that is deadly to humans. Cuddly they ain’t. “The owner of the scorpion mentioned that the animal is very dangerous,” says Arndt. “I just kept a safe distance, around 10 centimeters. The good thing is that they can’t jump.”
Image: Ingo Arndt. This post originally appeared on New Scientist’s Short Sharp Science.