Podcast: Play in new window
BOB HIRSHON (host):
The warm and fuzzy side of arachnids. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Tailless whipscorpions are fierce-looking tropical arachnids best known for their nasty fights, but Cornell University entomologist Linda Rayor has discovered that they have a little-known sensitive side. On a quiet, dark day in the lab, Rayor noticed a mother and her young gently touching each other, using their long feelers, or whips.
LINDA RAYOR (Cornell University):
The mother came to this group, and the youngsters turned around and faced her, and they started touching her palps, and her whips started touching all the youngsters, and I was watching this and just went crazy.
Rayor says such playful, non-aggressive touch is extremely rare in arachnids, even among kin. Rayor suspects whip scorpions’ sweet-natured family life hasn’t been well documented because the young hide easily in the wild.
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.