Few Buthidae scorpions are among the larger scorpions; on average the members of this family are mid-sized tending towards smallish. Microtityus and Microbuthus barely reach 2 cm (0.8 in). The largest members are found among Androctonus (fattail scorpions), Apistobuthus, and Centruroides; and can reach a dozen cm (approximately 5 inches). Most of them have between two and five pairs of eyes. Some resemble Vaejovidae. Chaerilidae and Chactidae have one pair of eyes at most, and the former show a yellowish spot between and to the rear of these.
Their vernacular name refers to the thick tails found in many Buthidae, especially in the Old World. The pedipalps on the other hand tend to be weak, slender and tweezer-like. Members of Buthidae are generally rather cryptically colored, quite uniformly ochre to brown, but some are black or (like Centruroides and Uroplectes) more vividly colored. More conspicuous patterns and shapes occur e.g. in Isometrus or Lychas.
"Peptide toxins found in scorpion venom interact with sodium channels in nervous and muscular systems -- and some of these sodium channels communicate pain, says Prof. Gurevitz. 'The mammalian body has nine different sodium channels of which only a certain subtype delivers pain to our brain. We are trying to understand how toxins in the venom interact with sodium channels at the molecular level and particularly how some of the toxins differentiate among channel subtypes.
"'If we figure this out, we may be able to slightly modify such toxins, making them more potent and specific for certain pain mediating sodium channels,' Prof. Gurevitz continues. With this information, engineering of chemical derivatives that mimic the scorpion toxins would provide novel pain killers of high specificity that have no side effects…some toxins have evolved with the capability to directly affect mammalian sodium channel subtypes whereas others recognize and affect sodium channels of invertebrates such as insects…
"Using an approach called 'rational design' or 'biomimicry,' Prof. Gurevitz is trying to develop painkillers that mimic the venom's bioactive components. The idea is to use nature as the model, and to modify elements of the venom so that a future painkiller designed according to these toxins could be as effective as possible, while eliminating or reducing side effects." (Science Daily 2010)
Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats Specimen Records:1268 Specimens with Sequences:756 Specimens with Barcodes:532 Species:97 Species With Barcodes:81 Public Records:555 Public Species:60 Public BINs:112