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This article is part of the supplement: Eighteenth Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2009

Open Access Poster presentation

How a sand scorpion determines the distance to its prey

Roland Utz* and Leo van Hemmen

Author Affiliations

Physics Department, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany

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BMC Neuroscience 2009, 10(Suppl 1):P114  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-10-S1-P114

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:13 July 2009

© 2009 Utz and van Hemmen; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Poster presentation

The sand scorpion Paruroctonus mesaensis is able to determine the distance to its prey [1]. Experimental data shows that a sand scorpion, which has a diameter of 5 cm, can accurately determine distances up to 15 cm with an error of about 1 cm. For distances exceeding 15 cm, a scorpion must only move approximately 10 centimeters towards the source before receiving another cue. We have identified a mechanism that would allow a scorpion to match a unique pattern to each distance and developed a neuronal model that performs distance determination up to the precision needed. Generalization to other animals is considered.


  1. Brownell PH: How the sand scorpion locates its prey.

    Science 1977, 197:497-482. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL