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Copper Scorpion


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I was over at a friends house checking out his museum quality mineral collection and he showed me this copper encrusted scorpion. I believe it was found decades ago in an Arizona copper mine. Sorry about the poor photo....Took the pic with my cell phone.

20180730_090142.jpg

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An artist friend of mine plates insects and lots of other organic stuff with copper. It is an electrolytic process. You would think it would only plate to a conductive metal but that s not the case. She does rings and charms out of pecan halves, coffee beans and dragonflys. She has a few copper lizards on chains too. All of them are a real item on the inside with a copper electroplate shell. I would imagine that scorpion got his copper shell in much the same way. A little slow chemistry with some sulphuric acid rock drainage and just the right environment.

Edited by Bedrock Bob
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My chemistry is a little out of date, but I think that copper sulfide in the presence of groundwater might react with the oxygen component of the chitin that makes up an arthropod's exoskeleton, and possibly would precipitate the copper, which might attach to the remains of the bug.  That bug probably sat in a puddle of green, gooey mine leach water for half a century to reach its current state.  As Bob infers, there would have been some natural battery action going on.  And it would have smelled badly, plus maybe released some carbon monoxide in the process. 

Somewhere in the literature I once read of a ground squirrel skeleton found in a cave in Eastern Europe that had similarly been partially encrusted in copper.  Pretty cool.

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2 hours ago, Bedrock Bob said:

An artist friend of mine plates insects and lots of other organic stuff with copper. It is an electrolytic process. You would think it would only plate to a conductive metal but that s not the case. She does rings and charms out of pecan halves, coffee beans and dragonflys. She has a few copper lizards on chains too. All of them are a real item on the inside with a copper electroplate shell. I would imagine that scorpion got his copper shell in much the same way. A little slow chemistry with some sulphuric acid rock drainage and just the right environment.

I wonder if she ever grew silver crystals via electroloyisis for use in jewelry? I saw someone that was doing this and I experimented with the process but could never replicate the results they had.

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