Friday, November 13, 2009

Viral Video

Science, Twitter, and YouTube? Seems like one of these things is not like the others (remember the old Sesame Street song?). But, sure enough, internet tools like Twitter and YouTube are being used to convey science to the world, and not just scientists.

Two recent, and most fabulous, examples hit my e-mail inbox today, and could not demonstrate the phenomenon more aptly.

The first came in the form of a message from a friend and colleague, with a link to his colleague’s blog post. These two colleagues co-teach a course. My friend showed a neat video as part of his lecture, to demonstrate a fascinating bit of evolution, about the sling-jaw wrasse. Like the name implies, the sling-jaw wrasse has developed a series of hinges and joints in the head that allows it to literally throw its jaws at its prey. This is what I do for a living – study how animals work. I was sent the message because I had worked a little bit on this particular species (but I was not the one to discover the most amazing biological feat I just told you about). Check it out. Or, just do a search for “Epibulus” in Youtube.

The sling-jaw wrasse is amazing. What I find more amazing is that the colleague posted a twitter feed that went something like this “My co-instructor showed this crazy sling-jaw wrasse video in our class today” with the link above. A few folks tweeted back. It hit a couple of blogs, including Discover Magazine….then web news sites, then the London Telegraph (a newspaper), and a week later there had been 165,000 views of the YouTube video.

The second example hit my inbox just one hour and twenty-six minutes earlier, courtesy of ScienceNow. This is about bone worms. You know with a name like bone worms, these have got to be cool animals. Researchers right here in Monterey Bay, from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, have been studying these worms that show up at food falls in the deep sea. Whales die, sink, and become an important source of nutrition for the next several years for species like bone worms. These worms arrive at the carcass as larvae, and metamorphose into adult females. Additional larvae that arrive after that point settle on the females and become males, living in a sort of harem serving the female (there is just something quite fabulous about that). Researchers have been sinking carcasses that wash up on the beach for the last few years and tracking who shows up. Turns about there are at least 15 species of these worms in Monterey Bay, most of them new to science. Check out the bone worms in action. Or, just search for “MBARI bone worms” in YouTube.

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