Biologists have found 27 different species of pseudo-scorpion living in the twiggy mounds which dusky-footed wood-rats build to raise their young. 27 different species of pseudoscorpion!
That just boggles my mind. First off, a pseudoscorpion is a tiny little arachnid, about the size of a tick, but a pseudoscorpion is not a parasite. Pseudoscorpions hunt and eat small parasites and mites that the rats attract. That explains why scientists find so many pseudo-scorpions in a rat’s nest, but it doesn’t explain why they find 27 distinct species of pseudo-scorpion in rats’ nests.
All pseudo-scorpions look pretty much the same. They look a little bit like ticks, except that instead of the long pointed mouth parts, a pseudoscorpion has a pair of large pincers on it’s foremost appendages, like a scorpion.
In fact, a pseudoscorpion looks just like a scorpion, except for its tiny size, and the fact that pseudo-scorpions have no tail, and no venomous sting. They are harmless little creatures who spend their time in dark shadowy places, like rats’ nests. Besides that, they can barely see with their very tiny eyes.
When two pseudoscorpions meet, they do a sort of dance where they face each other and engage each other’s large front claws.
If the dance goes well, they might mate.
If the dance does not go well, one pseudoscorpion, the larger, usually, will drive the other away. Most of the time, the dance does not go well, and this amazes me. How did pseudo-scorpions get to be so particular about who they fuck?
What makes one pseudoscorpion clasp claws with another, gender-compatible, pseudoscorpion, and go “Eewwww, yuck, gross! I wouldn’t fuck you in a hundred-million years!”? I don’t understand that at all. I’m like, “Come on, it’s dark. We’re both pseudoscorpions, We’re both horny. Let’s do it!”
To get 27 species of pseudoscorpion, the female pseudo-scorpion, and you know it’s the female pseudoscorpion, has to say, “You’re not my type.” categorically, at least 26 out of 27 times.
That tells me that female pseudoscorpions strongly disagree with each other about what they find attractive in a male pseudoscorpion.
Apparently, these strong preferences have almost no effect on the species’ ability to survive, since they all continue to thrive together, as they’ve done, through multiple extinction events, changes in the composition of the earth’s atmosphere, and climatic shifts, for something like 400 million years.
Pseudoscorpions can be counted as some of the earliest known terrestrial animals on Planet Earth and their descendants have changed very little in the ensuing eons.
Probably only a female pseudoscorpion or a knowledgeable aracnologist would recognize the difference between a 400 million year old fossilized pseudoscorpion and a modern living specimen. To the rest of us, they’re just another bug.
What could a pseudoscorpion possibly be so picky about?
It’s not like one of them has a nicer pad, or takes them to better restaurants. They all live in the same rat’s nest, and they all eat the same mites and parasites. They’ve lived together, side by side, for eons, and endured many global changes, but they’ve never learned to find each other any more attractive, so each species continues to pursue it’s own aesthetic, it’s own habits and it’s own proclivities, and each individual pseudoscorpion selectively chooses from individuals of the same species, even if that means a pseudoscorpion has to endure 27 categorical rejections, just to get one real rejection.
That’s got to be rough on those little guys, who already kind of look like ticks, which can’t help their self-esteem any. You might even say that pseudoscorpions kind of look like ticks who work out too much to compensate for how little they are.
By being so particular, they practically guarantee themselves a lifetime of loneliness and I suppose that’s why, when you see a pseudoscorpion, say in the bathroom, behind the toilet tank, they are usually alone. If you do see a pseudoscorpion, however, take a close look, because they are really quite cute, and you should tell them so, because I’m sure they don’t hear it enough.