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 Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...

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Nepthys
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PostSubject: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/14/2011, 3:22 pm

Hello! I'm currently working on a museum exhibition based on Ancient Egypt and I could use the help of some scorpion experts! While the museum I am interning at has a large entomology division, it seems that everyone is extremely busy and/or unable or unwilling to help. Thus, if you have experience in the field or know of someone who does, I would greatly appreciate your help!

I am trying to figure out what specific species of scorpions might have lived in the Nile River valley during the time of the ancient Egyptians (~3000 BC - 300 AD) This research is to help me locate suitable photographic images of relevant scorpions for use in the exhibition.

We are creating several panels on the importance of insects to Egyptian life - there will be scorpion, bee, locust, and beetle panels. As some of you may know, the scorpion was important in Egyptian religious beliefs - the goddess Serqet (also spelled Selket or Selkis) was worshiped as protective deity - King Tut's funerary cache includes a beautiful wooden statue, covered in gold leaf, of Serqet guarding the canopic chest. I could certainly link pictures of artifacts if people are interested!

I appreciate any and all information you can provide. Ironically, I'm a scorpio and have always held a love and admiration for scorpions, so browsing this site has been quite interesting and enjoyable. :-) I encountered quite a few scorpions on archaeological digs in Israel as well, and have had my share of "up close and personal" encounters.



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pluto
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PostSubject: Re: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/14/2011, 3:30 pm

I'd say they encountered them all.

Where were the boundaries of old Egypt compared to a modern map?

Scorpions are millions of years old and havent changed much, so has their habitat.

I can imagine that in 10000 years, although it seems an eternity for mankind, is just a second in natural development and evolution.

Some buthid species present would have been these for sure

BU Androctonus amoreuxi

BU Androctonus australis

BU Androctonus bicolor

BU Androctonus crassicauda

BU Buthacus arenicola

BU Buthus intumescens

BU Buthacus leptochelys leptochelys

BU Buthus tunetanus

BU Compsobuthus kabateki

BU Compsobuthus longipalpis

BU Compsobuthus werneri werneri

BU Egyptobuthus vaissadei

BU Hottentotta hottentotta hottentotta

BU Hottentotta minax

BU Hottentotta scaber

BU Leiurus quinquestriatus quinquestriatus

BU Microbuthus flavorufus

BU Orthochirus aristidis

BU Orthochirus innesi

BU Orthochirus scrobiculosus negebensis

BU Parabuthus hunteri

BU Parabuthus liosoma

EU Euscorpius sicanus

SCN Nebo hierichonticus

SCN Scorpio maurus palmatus

taken from Eric Ythier, on http://eycb.pagesperso-orange.fr/scorpions/index.htm
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spinnin_tom
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PostSubject: Re: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/14/2011, 3:42 pm

well done pluto.
i think if this info is used, he deserves a shout on the exhibit?
or the forum as a whole?
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Nepthys
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PostSubject: Re: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/14/2011, 4:20 pm

Thank you, Pluto! I was scanning through Eric Ythier's site before posting, but was overwhelmed with the number of species! I think you are definitely right that the ancient Egyptians would have encountered multiple species of scorpions, but I wasn't sure if there was a chance that modern species in the area differ from ancient species...for all I know, modern transformation of the landscape could have caused some species to die out in the region! The Egyptians themselves had an amazing impact on the land - they hunted/mummified certain animals (like the ibis) to such a degree that they completely disappeared in the region until making a come-back relatively recently.

I think Androctonus amoreuxi and Parabuthus liosoma are both good candidates, but I have no idea how common they are.

Also, there was some discussion about featuring a (purportedly) more poisonous yellow scorpion over a less-poisonous black scorpion. I'm hoping that if I present the team with pictures of a few different species they might reconsider and feature more than one photograph. Plus if we decide on certain species, perhaps more about the actual arachnid (in this case) could be said in the exhibit text. Right now they are planning on being vague, but I'd rather educate the public a tiny bit about one species of scorpion than be vague and say "the Egyptians encountered scorpions."

I don't know if this helps, but the area directly around the Nile is what we are focusing on, since the ancient population did not expand all that much into the desert (they traveled the deserts, but did not choose to live in the desert if they could help it!)

We are also NOT discussing water scorpions, so that might help to cull some of the species you listed.

Again, thank you for the wealth of information! I truly appreciate it Smile

I'd still love to hear from others, if there's input to be had! I'll keep you posted on what species the exhibition team decides to use.

farao

As for a shout-out...I'd love to, but as an intern I have no control or say over such things. The satisfaction of having a) helped a museum nerd and b) having helped choose the species to be featured in an exhibition in a prominent museum, will, sadly, have to be enough!




Oh! One other thing...is there anywhere relatively inexpensive to buy (dead) mounted scorpions? I believe the team has given up on displaying an actual specimen, but perhaps if I can locate a legal, reputable, and fair-priced place to purchase one they would reconsider (for some reason we are unable to use or locate specimens from the museum's collections - don't ask me why!)
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PostSubject: Re: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/14/2011, 4:27 pm

i think it would probably be better with a live specimen.
i think shopping around would be the best bet..
you never know, somebody on here may be close and might have a couple of A. amoreuxi or P. liosoma that could loan you it for a while.


i know it's a dangerous scorpion by comparison, but have you considered Parabuthus australis? they are a beautiful scorpion, and i think (but don't quote me on it) should be quite easy to get a hold of in the US due to more lax rules on animal keeping.

as i said, maybe you'll luck out and somebody will give you a loan of one or two.

good luck and thanks for coming to the forum for help Very Happy

tom

P.S that is incredibly stupid not being able to use some of the museum collection. such a waste, sitting in the archives.. i'm lucky since i should be going to the NHM London archives soon.
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PostSubject: Re: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/14/2011, 4:52 pm

Thanks Tom!

A live specimen would indeed be wonderful, but sadly we don't have the space or budget to be able to display one in this exhibition (you have to factor in special cases in order to care for the critters, as well as upkeep!) Luckily, the insect zoo is next to the Ancient Egypt exhibit, and the panels on insects were envisioned as a good way to transition audiences into the insect area. I'm pretty sure they have scorpions in the insect zoo already, so visitors will be able to get their fix once they enter that exhibition hall.

Perhaps entomology will be able to help us locate specimens now that we have specific species named - like I said...I'm not sure WHY we weren't initially able to locate specimens, but maybe now they'll be more helpful. If not, it might just be that the specimens are kept in fluid, which doesn't typically display very well. All I can do is pass on the information I gather, give the team ideas to play with, and hope for the best!

I'll add P. australis to the document I'm creating. Any other particular suggestions? Smile Are A. bicolors particularly common? They're pretty impressive looking. I'm also thinking of adding a S. maurus, but I'm not sure if they're really common in Egypt.

Maybe I should try to focus on representing the major groups (like Androctonus, Buthacus, Compsobuthus, Hottentotta, Orthochirus, and Parabuthus...to give the team an abundance of options.) Anyone have particular suggestions within each grouping?




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PostSubject: Re: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/14/2011, 5:28 pm

A. bicolor are quite common in the region, as are A. amoreuxi, and P. liosoma. I believe Tom was referring to Androctonus australis as opposed to Parabuthus australis. There is no scorpion by the name of P. australis.

A. australis is quite common, very impressive, and is responsible for numerous envenomations annually. They are reported to be responsible for the most human deaths annually. Here is a link to an excellent writeup on A. australis

LINK
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PostSubject: Re: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/15/2011, 2:27 am

yeah street mty bad.
i did mean Androctonus australis
*slapself*
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pluto
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PostSubject: Re: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/15/2011, 3:51 am

Impressive, those bicolor are yes. But they are not large, if you see an impressive large scorpion, I believe A. crassicauda is the one you are looking for and I dont think they are all that common down there.
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Nepthys
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PostSubject: Re: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/15/2011, 9:03 am

Let me just say that you guys ROCK Smile

Thank you for the wealth of information. I've compiled some basic information and a few pictures pulled from the internet for reference. The scorpions I went with are:

A. amoreuxi
A. australis
B. arenicola
A. crassicauda
L. quinquestriatus
P. liosoma
and
S. maurus


As for the L. quinquestriatus...with a common name like "death stalker" they certainly sound like they would capture the public's attention. Does anyone know if they are common in Egypt?

What do you guys think of this list? Am I missing any scorpion superstars?

I'm definitely advocating for the use of A. australis and P. liosoma...I'm not sure what the team will decide, but I will keep you guys posted! The designer is on vacation at the moment, but I'll continue to update as I get more info.
farao

Please, continue to comment on which Egyptian scorpions YOU think should be featured! I believe museums should involve the community as much as possible, and as a community of knowledgeable scorpion enthusiasts, your thoughts are important!
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PostSubject: Re: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/15/2011, 10:59 am

according to wikipedia, they are found in Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Very Happy
that includes egypt, and factors in for the country growing and shrinking

A. australis and bicolor are very nice.. but as you said "deathstalker" will grab the attention a bit more
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PostSubject: Re: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/15/2011, 1:04 pm

Please take to mind that the sp. posted by Pluto might have changed since (~3000 BC - 300 AD), i would recommend writing a mail to the founder of this site http://www.ntnu.no/ub/scorpion-files/ iam pretty sure he will be able to provide you with more specific facts on what scorpion sp that lived in that time and maybe some pictures of fossile founds.. who knows..

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pluto
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PostSubject: Re: Researching Scorpions for a Museum Exhibition...   7/16/2011, 11:47 am

Species dont change in a timespan of a few hundred to thousand years.
Their distribution might, which is probably not the case either.

As said, you can always double check at scientific centres for certainty!

Predynastic Egyptian period began at around 5500bc btw... so I doubt even then, it wouldnt matter much.

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