Kids' Animal Station

For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals

Anatomy of A Monster: The Manticore

What is a Manticore?

This week’s mythical creature is one of the few that actually freaks me out quite a lot, mainly because it’s just so…weird. And surprise, surprise, another score for the Greeks in the mythology department! Both Ctesias and Pausanias described the manticore as a man-eating monster brought from India as a present for the Persian king. According to their accounts, the manticore is a large, red, and lion-like creature with a man’s face and barbed spikes across its tail and head like that of a scorpion. Weirdly enough, it’s also described as having the voice of a trumpet…anyone can be a singer, I suppose! Although dangerous monsters were quite commonly described in Greek mythology, the manticore in particular seems to be nothing to scoff at. The sharp projectiles flung from its tail are venomous and arrow-like, making this creature deadly at both short and long range, and their blood-lust is especially aimed at devouring human beings. The elephant seems to be the only animal spared by the manticore.

Uh…if I got one of those as a present, I think I’d send it back!

A Real Life Manticore?

We’ve already discussed the overwhelming strength and power of the adult African lion. And the fact that the manticore has a man’s face just makes it creepier, but not really much more dangerous. So let’s talk scorpions! First off, I was actually surprised to learn that the scorpion’s “tail” is not actually a tail, because it’s not a separate appendage. It’s the last segments of the arthropod’s body, with a sharp, venomous barb tip at the end. Among the 2,500 different species of scorpions, this “tail” is for a lot more than simply stabbing things–although it does make up their primary mode of defense and offense besides their pinching claws. The scorpion’s “tail” also comes in handy for digging, mating, and even defecating!

Obviously, no Greek accounts of the manticore name exactly what species of scorpion it stole it’s “tail” apparatus from, but the shape, length, size, and structure all factor into the scorpion species’s strategies of attack and the potency of the venom contained within. The venom of the notorious Deathstalker scorpion causes the victim excruciating pain and attacks the nervous system, often proving fatal to humans and a variety of animals. The dark, iridescent Emperor Scorpion may look intimidating but is fairly docile and its venom causes a mild, albeit painful, reaction when stung. When feeding, the Fattail Scorpion crushes its prey between its two large pincers in order to stab it, then rotates their body to feed on the liquified remains. Yeeeeshhhh…not sure they needed to add anything to the scorpion to make it terrifying…..


This entry was posted on March 18, 2023 by in Animal Facts, Fiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .


Wise Words

"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if a person or animal is at stake."
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."
— Translation of African Proverb

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