Scorpions are relatively small in comparison with their marine arthropod cousins such as lobsters and crabs. Fossilized scorpion parts suggest that extinct species may have measured up to 3 feet. Modern scorpions come in a variety of sizes, their overall sizes determined by the size of their pincers, tails and bodies.
The smallest scorpions belong to taxonomic family Buthidae. This family of scorpions includes a number of highly venomous specimens, including the death stalker (Leiurus quinquestriatus), which can reach 11 centimeters in length. The smallest scorpion in the world is Microtityus waeringi, which measures just 12 millimeters when fully grown. The smallest scorpion species found in the United States is the Vaejovis waueri, which measures up to 23 millimeters fully grown. This scorpion is typically found in western Texas, living under rocks.
The longest scorpion is the South African rock scorpion (Hadogenes troglodytes). This beast can measure up 21 centimeters long, although the South African rock scorpion is not the heaviest scorpion. That honor belongs to two hefty varieties of emperor scorpions (Pandinus imperator). The central African and Asian varieties of this scorpion can grow up to 17 centimeters long, but they have stocky bodies, too, meaning their overall size is greater than that of the South African rock scorpion.
The average size of a scorpion is 6 centimeters long. The vast majority of scorpions are approximately this size. Variations occur, and certain species have evolved to be larger or smaller, according to their environments, their prey and their predators.
Pincers for Show
The emperor scorpion has the largest pincers of all scorpions, both relative to body size and literally. The emperor scorpion's pincers are similar to those of the lobster. They are thick and curved, naturally sitting in a curled position, capable of increasing the entire length of the scorpion by up to 4 centimeters when fully extended. Like most scorpions with large pincers, the emperor has relatively mild venom, comparable to that of a wasp sting. Although not a hard and fast rule, one can typically assume that potency of venom varies inversely with pincer size.
Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.