The Chemistry of Scorpions

Introduction

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I chose the chemistry of scorpions because I find them interesting and I came to the realization that my knowledge on them is very little so i figured this would be a great way to learn more about them.

Composition of ...

  • The exoskeleton of insects including scorpions is made out of chitin (C8H13NO5)n

  • There are two different types of scorpion toxins that affect sodium channels on the host.

    • First type is a-  This toxin is a cluster of proteins that bind to the 3 receptor in sodium channels of vertebrates

    • Second type is β-  This toxin also binds itself into a vertebrates sodium channel but it binds to the 4 receptor instead of the 3.  This binding to the sodium channel is what causes symptoms of the venom.

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Chitin

 

How: Chitin is a natural occurring polysaccharide that is one of the most organic carbon containing compounds.

 

What: Chitin is made out of 8 carbon, 13 hydrogen, 1 nitrogen, and 5 oxygen. It is also a natural occurring polymer.

 

When: Chitin is natural occurring.

 

Why: Chitin is very similar to the chemical that makes up hair on mammals, although it is a lot stronger than what makes up our hair and this is why it makes up the strong exoskeleton of scorpions.

Where: Chitin is found in exoskeletons to the cells walls of some fungus.

 

Scorpion toxic a- and β-

 

How: both toxins are aimed to defend a scorpion by blocking sodium channels of a prey so certain molecules or atoms are unable to pass through these channels this is what causes symptoms of the toxin like being fatigued, muscle spasms, and paralysis in some cases. Certain proteins are the toxins.



What: These proteins need to find the right shape to block said channels so most scorpion venom can change its shape up to 256 ways so it can block the channel.

 

When: Both toxins are naturally occurring.

 

Why: Each toxin reacts with different prey depending on what the [rey is for example one will only affect mammals and the other one will only affect insects.


Chemistry's Role

Both of my components are naturally occurring in nature.  Starting with chitin, chitin is a polysaccharide that makes up exoskeletons and fungus cell walls. Its molecular formula is (C8H13NO5)n. Its role is vital for most insects and arachnids to live because without their vital exoskeleton these animals would be more vulnerable to attacks from predators.

While the role of the venom is also essential to scorpions because it helps defend and attack for the the scorpion which is essential to its survival. The venom is normally a cluster of a protein that will block the sodium channels of certain animals this cause the know side effects of being stung by a scorpion.  Some of these symptoms in mammals are muscle spasms, irritability, paralysis or death.  Knowing the chemistry of the venom is vital for treating those who have been stung.


Background Research


What is it? The Scorpion is an arachnid with 1750 species. The scorpion has 8 legs and is know with having two claws and for having its distinctive stinger at the end of its torso.

 

What is it made out of?  The scorpion has no bones but rather has a exoskeleton which makes up the structure of the its body. Exoskeletons protect, sense, support, and help feed insects.  Known as an invertebrate it also has a stinger that releases venom.  Scorpions also have exoskeletons that when exposed to UV light the scorpion's body will be fluorescent.

 

What chemicals are in it?  What makes up the venom is a protein.  The protein is referred to as chlorotoxin.  This Neurotoxin is known for being perfect to block chloride channels which stops chloride ions from entering muscle cells.  This then causes paralysis.


Resources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorpion

  • Basis of what a scorpion is

  • Some of what a scorpion is made out of

https://www.britannica.com/science/venom

  • More about scorpions venom

  • What venom can do when in contact with humans  

https://askabiologist.asu.edu/venom/scorpion_venom

  • Told me what makes up venom telling me about how it is a protein and how it interacts with human muscles

http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1636/S03-047.1

  • What makes up the scorpion’s exoskeleton

  • How scorpions are fluorescent

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exoskeleton

  • What a exoskeleton is.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2010/903295/

  • Tells me more about the peptide toxins in scorpion venom

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Chitin

  • Tells about what makes up exoskeletons

  • Also tells the chemical composition of chitin

About the Author
Bowen Kosovich is a junior at senior high school. He enjoys learning what makes up everyday life. He is currently unsure of his future outside of high school but has a very good idea on what he might do. He is an avid mountain biker and skier in his free time.








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