JERUSALEM, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Israeli researchers have revealed the multilayered structure of the exoskeleton that covers the scorpions' pincers, which can lead to the creation of new synthetic materials, the Weizmann Institute of Science located in the center of the state published on Monday.
The researchers examined the sophisticated arrangements that have evolved to create these pincers, on the nanometer scale up to the level of millimeters.
The scorpions, which have existed for more than 400 million years, use their multifunctional pincers to protect, prey, dig and even court and multiply.
Although there are about 2,000 species of scorpions, all of them are built along the same lines, but they differ in one crucial way - the size and shape of their pincers.
A scorpion with thin pincers uses them to hold its prey and sting, while a scorpion with thick ones will use them to crush the prey, or to dig underground for protection.
In both cases. the two-part scorpion pincers' hard cuticle is composed of chitin fibers bound within a protein material that is hardened with metal ions.
The researchers found that the cuticle has as many as eight levels of hierarchy, with the level of the second one divided into four sublayers, compared to only three in lobsters and crabs.
It was also found that in the fat pincers, the most inner layer is gradually thickened, while the thin pincers have alternating thick and thin layer.
Figuring the sophisticated structure of the exoskeleton in both scorpion species revealed that the cuticle of the thin pincers is built to speed more than to force, and therefore allows the scorpion to capture quickly and accurately a small, fast prey.
On the other hand, the thicker pincers are stronger, providing better protection.