On Wednesday’s “Conan”, Will Ferrell was in full character as Ron Burgundy (Anchorman). He shared a chart of “species intelligence hierarchy” that includes the eagle, narwhal, and “the lowly sea otter”.
See if you can spot a mistake he made in sea otter biology (other than thinking that sea otters are stupid). The part about the hierarchy starts at 1:12.
“Pandas of the Sea”
“The Bright Side” via Poorly Drawn Lines & Deep Sea News
Raise the roof! Tomorrow is Friday!
via Michael Yang Photography
This southern sea otter is chilling out on a dock in Santa Cruz.
Sea Otter’s Paws Stick Up When She Sleeps via dailyotter.org
One of my favorite things to do when watching TV is to point out “science oopsies”, especially in crime shows like Bones, Body of Proof etc. I define a “science oopsie” as when something is not portrayed accurately in the show or movie, or done incorrectly.
Some examples of science oopsies that I have witnessed include characters touching their phones after touching a dead body/blood/preforming an autopsy (you wouldn’t do that! eww!) or when they take their gloves off the wrong way (by touching the outside of the glove, which defeats the whole purpose of wearing gloves in the first place). Another example are the blatantly obvious science montages, like in Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (which is obviously NOT a high quality film) where “science” consists of people pouring and mixing multicolored liquids in test tubes and beakers. Woo science!
Glowing liquid! Science!!!
I was recently watching Body of Proof (don’t judge me) and found this science oopsie by the main character Megan Hunt who is a medical examiner. She is pipetting what is supposed to be blood samples into a vial so she can test for drugs. Except she doesn’t use a pipette tip!!! What?!? That would never work!! Silly Megan.
Science Oopsie in Body of Proof, Season 3, Episode 8, “Doubting Tommy”
My friend Naomi (@naomilewski) and I were recently discussing how we appreciated that Amy Farrah Fowler (Sheldon’s girlfriend in the Big Bang Theory) takes her gloves of correctly, because shes a real life neurobiologist! She earned her PhD in 2007 and her dissertation was an investigation of hypothalamic activity in patients with Prader-Willi syndrome. How cool! (Side note: I did a big project on Prader-Willi syndrome in high school, another reason Amy and I would be BFFs).
Amy and Sheldon in the lab (Big Bang Theory)
I love that science is portrayed in pop culture, even if it is sometimes wrong, and it sure is fun to point out their mistakes! Are there any science oopsies that really get under your skin? Are there certain shows that are notorious for science oopsies? I want to hear about them!
Piglet Squid: Helicocranchia pfefferi
This strange little guy is a banded piglet squid. The “smile” is made up of chromatophores and the “hair” are tentacles. Any guesses about the thing that looks like a nose?
I thought this was fake when I first saw it, but upon further investigation I found that piglet squid are small (100mm) mesopelagic squid. The shiny part under it’s eyes are photophores, which make the squid look extra cute and dopey.
See this video for some footage of the piglet squid, and some other cool invertebrates! Some terrible effects, but still good footage from National Geographic.