Tag Archives: video

“Make me thrill as only you know how, sway me smooth, sway me now…” – ‘Dancing’ grasshopper

Last September in the south of Spain, I came across an insect, a grasshopper of the Acrididae family (I believe), that struck me by its unusual behaviour.

I was getting closer to the individual to take a quick picture, but the it turned out that it was not fleeing from me, as I had expected. In fact, it:

  • stayed pretty much in the same spot, taking only a few steps backwards at a time
  • swayed from side to side, sometimes slowly and other times more rapidly
  • jumped away only when I was less than 10 cm from it, if not closer.

Some people suggested that the “swaying” was a sort of defence mechanism, whereas others thought that the guy might have been ill. I side with the latter explanation since not jumping is putting it more at risk of predation.

Anyone have any thoughts, either on the species or on the behaviour?

Slow-Motion Hummingbirds: Flight and Body Shakes!

Great talk with field biologist Phil Torres on Breaking Bio!

The Influence of Colour and its Intensity on the Enjoyment of Flavour

A slightly updated (and translated (and blurry, apparently)) version of a research project I co-conducted for a college course a while back.

We had to follow some strict guidelines, which is why this video isn’t entertaining in nature. It’s more of a copy of the oral presentation we did, which, by all means, you are free to criticize! No, but really, I’d love some feedback (except for my apparent articulation problems – I discovered them while listening to the video :s).

On crowd-sourcing in animal behaviour research

Science–Public (post illustration)

Science <–> Public

Or in science in general, really.

The basic idea is the following: what if researchers used the public as a bunch of data collectors? Organisations such as ‘Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation’ already engage people to become citizen scientists (more about them on their website).

Nelson and Fijn (2012) recently suggested that visual media could be extremely valuable for studying animal behaviour. Specifically, they discussed how YouTube video clips of play behaviour, given they met certain requirements, can help explore hypotheses and further ideas by providing inspiration. As they conclude:

… displaying behaviour using YouTube as a visual medium is an excellent avenue to report or illustrate findings in the field of animal behaviour, in addition to its potential for further observation and research.

For links to hilariously cute videos, I definitely recommend taking a look at their paper (see below)!

I have to say, this essay brought quite a few ideas to my mind. For example, why not formalise crowd-sourcing like this by creating an online platform dedicated expressly to citizen scientists’ recordings – video clips as well as photos? These wouldn’t need to be restricted to animal behaviour, either. I imagine a variety of content, from corvids playing in the snow to peculiar rock formations, accompanied by information on the recording (time, location, weather context, etc.).

Maaaybee I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Either way, I’m excited for the future and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more projects actively bringing science and the public together.

What about you? Has content from social media ever been an inspiration for your research?


Nelson, X. J., & Fijn, N. (2012). The use of visual media as a tool for investigating animal behaviour. Animal Behaviour, 1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.12.009

A 3-step guide to the perfect bee trap

Reduviidae. Credit: Gustavo (lu7frb)

Reduviidae. Credit: Gustavo (lu7frb)

HELP !!!!!!!!!! (post illustration)

Aand yeah – you’re trapped.

Brought to us by the ingenious bee assassin bug. Watch it happen in this excerpt from Sir David Attenborough’s The Amber Time Machine:

STEP 1: Find out what they like

As shown in the video, these stingless bees are resin addicts. With it, they build solid nests and protect their young. So go grab some resin.

STEP 2: Get close

Needless to say, if you find the local resin dealer, in our case amber producing bean trees, you will also find its clients.

STEP 3: Wait patiently

Stay put and be ready to seize a bee. The amazing thing is that more will arrive as your first victim calls for help. Warning: you might need to wrestle a bit to secure your preys.

Aaaand – that’s it! You have just gotten yourself a substantial meal with really not much effort at all.

Want more? See below for a nice close-up view of a bee assassin bug collecting resin. As it turns out, some of them use it as protection for their eggs against predators (Choe & Rust, 2007).


Choe, D.-H., & Rust, M. K. (2007). Use of plant resin by a bee assassin bug, Apiomerus flaviventris (Hemiptera: Reduviidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 100(2), 320-326. doi: 10.1603/0013-8746(2007)100[320:UOPRBA]2.0.CO;2

Gunton, M., Martin, T. (Producers), & Leith, B. (Director). (2004). The Natural World: The Amber Time Machine [TV episode]. Worldwide: BBC Worldwide.

Octopus Tool Use

Common octopus Octopus vulgaris. Credit: OpenCage Systems.

Common octopus Octopus vulgaris. Credit: OpenCage Systems

According to St. Amant and Horton (2008, cited by Bentley-Condit & Smith), tool use can be defined as the use of an object to either alter the physical properties of another one or to mediate the flow of information between the user and its environment (non exhaustive definition). It has been observed and studied in various vertebrate species, perhaps most typically in primates, passerines and corvids. Among the invertebrates catalogued as tool users, which include several ant species, cephalopods seem to be only “borderline” users. Nonetheless, the internet contains some compelling videos showing octopuses with coconut shells:

[brightcove vid=57069207001&exp3=2227271001&surl=http://c.brightcove.com/services&amp
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Learning task for canaris


In the summer of 2012, I was an intern at the Laboratory of Compared Ethology and Cognition in Nanterre, France.

My supervisor wanted to test the learning abilities of common domestic canaris Serinus canaria, so I co-designed with her and carried out a learning task. The basic principle of the task is the following: remove the obstacles to get the food hidden underneath. We guided our subjects through 4 levels of difficulty, the criterion of success being to eat out of at least 2 (out of 10) wells in the 15 minutes allocated for the task.

Common domesticated canary Serinus canaria

Common domesticated canary Serinus canaria

Below is a compilation of video clips of a test period at the 4th level. After first taking time to approach the experimental apparatus, the bird goes on to executing the task. It took him about 10 minutes to eat out of 8 wells.

That particular individual was rather “gifted” compared to others, since he was the first one to complete the 4 levels of the task. I am therefore pretty sure that he could have finished eating all the bits of food, i.e. uncover the 10 wells. Maybe the fact that, at some point, the camera almost fell of the tripod troubled him in some way. Maybe.