Morphology and Physiology
Scorpions are predatory arachnids of the order Scorpiones. They have eight legs, a pair of grasping pedipalps and a narrow, segmented tail, often carried in a characteristic forward curve over the back, ending with a venomous sting.
The most characteristic element of the Giant Scorpion is the immense size. Specimens most commonly recorded are around 12m (39.37ft) in length, but at least one specimen over 20m (65.61ft) has been recorded, and far larger individuals are reported to have been seen.
The exterior shell of the giant scorpion is softer than most arthropods of any size, having a flexible, leathery feeling most similar to large caterpillars. In the creases of the joints and the abdominal panel which holds the so-called "REDACTED", this softness increases, giving the overall feeling of human skin.
Other characteristic features of the giant scorpion include the flattened aspect of the tail (often held flat against the back) and the broad, flat "fins" extending laterally from a central, spinal ridge.
The biochemistry and internal anatomy of Hadrurus is entirely unique. Based on what appears to be a combustion-based organ in the gut, the biological "fuel" of approximately 60% of giant scorpions is a mixture of bitumen and radioactive materials, presumably due to underground nuclear testing in the area. Their mitochondria are heavily reduced, nearly vestigial, and make no ATP: indeed, the Hadrurus metabolism seems to be anaerobic, only needing air to initiate combustion of the heavy, oil-soaked radioactive gravel in the gut.
Another biochemical oddity is the production of "milk". The Hadrurus spp. "REDACTED" is a panel under the abdomen of increased REDACTEDness, covered in between 7 and 23 REDACTEDs. These REDACTEDs produce a frothy, yellow-white substance often compared to milk, though it appears to be byproducts of the combustion of the radioactive hydrocarbons in its internal furnace.
Beyond the biochemical differences in anatomy, the scorpion’s neural ladder is broken in places and the brain has taken a complex geometrical shape, fueling pseudoscientific speculation that the animals are animated by unnatural intelligences from the depths of Hell due to the occult geometry of their neurological systems.
The primary habitat of the giant scorpion is within the Hellmouth itself, with lure lines indicating they do not naturally climb any higher than 300 feet (approx. 90m) from the surface. Their preferred microhabitat within the gaping pit to Hell can only be speculated, but if non-Hellmouth scorpions are any indication they scuttle along the rocky walls of the Hellmouth, using the Hellmouth’s teeth as footholds. Giant scorpions have also been reportedly sighted in the Underworld.
The ecological role of H. moabenthoshades is relatively unknown, due to difficulties associated with conducting research in the Hellmouth proper. Most of what is known of the Giant Scorpion’s feeding behaviour comes from detailed observations made of a specimen feeding on a horse, during the ill-fated Hellmouth interior expedition of 20XX.
H. moabenthoshades are most likely secondary consumers, feeding on insects, animals and lesser infernal entities around the interior of the Hellmouth. After prey is paralyzed by an initial sting, it is externally digested in the REDACTED, using digestive juices excreted from the REDACTED. Faint fluorescence was observed from this digestive fluid, as well as a strong smell of beans. Attempts to obtain this fluid to allow for detailed chemical analysis have been thus far stymied by REDACTED.
Physical injuries often observed on still-living specimens suggests they may be prey for a larger predator, although an animal fitting this description has never been observed. The most common, seemingly-catastrophic injury involves entire chunks of their body missing, cut in perfectly spherical or planar sections. The giant scorpion never seems to be physically harmed by this damage, balancing its weight without issue on legs which are no longer there. This has allowed Hellmouth resident scientists to record much of the interior physiology without even dissecting the animals. Sightings of scorpions in the Hellmouth appearing to grapple large, shadowy tentacles are common, but thus far unverified.
Many parasites have also been collected from scorpions by ranchers, who will remove them while milking the scorpions. The taxonomy of these parasites is still undecided, as they do not appear to be in any known taxonomic domain. The parasite load of each scorpion varies considerably, ranging from none to being present in sufficient numbers to prevent access to the REDACTED.
Proposed Evolutionary Pathways
Before the opening of the Hellmouth, scorpions ranged in size from 9–12 mm (0.35–0.47 in) in Microtityus minimus to 23 cm (9.1 in) in Heterometrus swammerdami. Giant scorpions, first recognized in the Utah Hellmouth, are heavily divergent. As a result, there is a large contingent of scientists who suggest that the Giant Scorpion must be a convergent evolution of an entirely different group of organisms, generally suggested to be outside of Animalia but occasionally left within Arthropoda. As the Pancrustacea hypothesis has been fully rejected by resident scientists, and such a hypothesis would be essential to resolve the conflicting evolutionary trees, this proposal remains inconclusive.
One proposal, championed by Hellmouth Sunbeams batter Professor Dr. Nerd Pacheco, is the Dinocaridia hypothesis. This points to features similar to the prehistoric Anomalcaris in the giant scorpion, such as the fins and structures within the pedipalps. However, there are too many features lacking for the heavily disfavored Dinocaridida hypothesis to gain any traction.
Interaction with humans
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- Initial interactions and discovery of giant scorpions by Hellmouth residents
- Sustainable harvesting of scorpion milk
- The other 40% of sampled scorpions appear to be insectivorous or subsist on infernal fauna, though marked individuals have shown both nutrition pathways at different times (to the vexation of researchers).
- When not powered by radiation and/or pure disregard for the laws of animal metabolism.
- Pacheco themself has stated that they are “not an evolutionary biologist, [they've] just read some stuff and [are] mostly spitballing here.”
- A consistent hypothesis for all unexplained happenings around the Hellmouth, much to the frustration of scientists - “it’s ended up like this to specifically make scientist’s lives hell”.
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