Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Now this is more like it.

Yesterday, I pointed out a *terrible* example of science reporting (now picked up by several large news agencies). The science was not peer-reviewed, and the only other expert interviewed had a direct attachment to the work being described. Just bad.

Today, Carl Zimmer shows them how science reporting should be done in this fantastic piece in the New York Times:

One of the most famous monsters in film history is the extraterrestrial beast of the “Alien” series. It slowly opened its glistening fangs to reveal a second set of jaws that shot forward to kill its victims.

Scientists have now discovered a fish that does the same thing.
Wicked. And peer-reviewed, even! This is work published last week in Nature.
Dr. Mehta rigged up a high-speed video camera that could peer into the mouth of a feeding moray. “When we got the movies, we sat and stared in disbelief,” Dr. Wainwright said.

The movies showed that when morays lunge for prey, they first grab it with the teeth on their front jaws. The pharyngeal jaws then shoot forward out of the eel’s throat, into the mouth, and snap down on the prey.

The eel can then open its front jaws, releasing the prey, while the pharyngeal jaws move back down into the throat, dragging the food with them.
Check it out here:

Nicely done, Mr. Zimmer.



alien appreciator said...

Wicked indeed!
So every alien feature one might imagine can be found in nature?! and do the morays have acid for blood?

The Factician said...

Yep. Better check under your bed for facehuggers...

here today, gone tomorrow said...

Oh my god!!! Now I'm going to start having nightmares again.