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West Japan aquarium celebrates 'scissors day' with exhibition of sharp-clawed creatures

A tailless whip scorpion is seen at Susami Municipal Aquarium of Crab and Shrimp in Wakayama Prefecture on Aug. 2, 2021. (Mainichi/Yukihiro Takeuchi)

SUSAMI, Wakayama -- To celebrate "Scissors Day," an aquarium in this west Japan town is currently holding a special exhibition of creatures with scissor-like claws, pincers, horns and other appendages.

    Some in Japan celebrate Aug. 3 as Scissors Day because the numbers eight (ha) and three (mi) together sound like the Japanese word "hasami" -- or scissors, in English. In this spirit, the Susami Municipal Aquarium of Crab and Shrimp is holding an exhibition on creatures with scissor-like body parts. But while the institution's name might suggest the show would be full of crabs and shrimps, the creatures primarily on display are actually different, extraordinary-looking ones.

    An Amami whip scorpion is seen at Susami Municipal Aquarium of Crab and Shrimp in Wakayama Prefecture on Aug. 2, 2021. (Mainichi/Yukihiro Takeuchi)

    Among them is the tailless whip scorpion, measuring about 3 centimeters long. Native to tropical regions, they have grasping, scissor-like pedipalps -- appendages separate to legs on their heads -- and thin frontal legs more than twice their body length. While their grotesque appearance means they are counted among what is referred to in Japan as the world's three major peculiar bug species, they apparently are cowardly and have no venom.

    Amami whip scorpion are also on display as part of the whip scorpion genus, another of the three major peculiar bug species. They live in areas including the southern Kyushu region in southwest Japan and the Amami islands further south. They are about 5 cm long, and have scissor-like pedipalps and a whip-like tail. Unlike scorpions, they do not have venom, but acid secreted from the base of their tail can inflame human skin.

    Eleven species are featured at the special exhibition, including two of the three major peculiar bugs (only the sun spider is missing). Among the creatures are a 13-cm-long male Hercules beetle -- the world's largest beetle species and able to grasp objects with its two long horns -- and a coconut crab with a 10-cm-long shell. It is the world's largest land crustacean, and the force of its claws' pinch is reportedly equal to a lion's bite.

    An aquarium representative said, "We want people to know that, in addition to crabs and shrimps, there are actually many creatures with scissor-like appendages, and that it's interesting how jaws, tails and other body parts have scissor-like shapes."

    The Susami Municipal Aquarium of Crab and Shrimp is open daily, and the special exhibition will continue until Sept. 20. For more information, contact the aquarium by phone at 0739-58-8007 (in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Yukihiro Takeuchi, Tanabe Local Bureau)

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