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Two authors battle it out on SciShow to see who knows the most about animal clothes and mysterious circumstances.

Hank's book:

Christie's book:

Hosted by: Michael Aranda

Head to for hand selected artifacts of the universe!
Support SciShow by becoming a patron on Patreon:
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Chicken glasses

Dung beetle boots

Frog pants

Exploding frogs

Sinking ship


 (00:00) to (02:00)


Michael: Welcome to SciShow Quiz Show, where we try and stump very smart people who know a lot of random things about science.  I'm Michael Aranda, your host.  Today, we have Hank Green, who's the author of a book that is apparently full of surprise billboards and sponsors and a bunch of very cool sports teams.

Hank: That's true.  Do you know about this?

M: I may have heard a little something.

H: Okay.

M: He's competing against one of SciShow's script editors, Christie Wilcox, who is our resident venom and weird animal expert and even wrote a book about it.

Christie: That's true.  I did.  

M: But that book maybe doesn't have billboards?

C: I don't think there's any billboards in it.

H: We can fix that.  Patreon, help.

M: As a special thank you to our supporters on Patreon, we've selected two people at random to win some prizes.  So Hank, you're playing for Deborah Joseph.

H: Hey, Deborah.

M: Christie, you're playing for Jeff Albert.

C: Hi, Jeff.

M: Stefan, show our players and the audience what they can win.

Stefan: Deborah and Jeff, Deborah and Jeff, hello there, you wonderful contestants.  Are y'all ready to find out what's at stake in today's game?  Everybody's gonna get the autographed final answer cards from the final round today.  The winner gonna get a pin that proclaims their victory to the world, the 'I Won SciShow Quiz Show' pin, and the loser gonna get a pin that, well, it tells everyone that you lost the game, but it's a very nice pin, and you know what?  I'm going rogue.  Everybody gets some SciShow swag today.  Well, not everyone, but Deborah gets some swag, Jeff gets some swag, I get some swag, too, right?  Do I get some swag, too?

M: You both start out with 1000 SciShow bucks.  Each time you answer a question correctly, you'll win 200 points.  If you get it wrong, you'll lose 100 points.  

H: Can I go negative?

M: You can try.  Okay, round one is about animals in clothes, because who doesn't love a good dog in a sweater or a snake in a party hat?

H: Agreed.  

M: Question one, since the early 1900s, thousands of chicken eyeglasses have been created and sold. 

 (02:00) to (04:00)

The basic design is pretty simple.  Two lenses with a thin metal band to clip or pin them onto a beak.  Over time, people started making rose-tinted glasses and in the late 1980s, someone even designed chicken contact lenses, but they aren't just high fashion.  They were meant to help farmers with a key problem that comes from raising lots of egg-laying chickens at once.  So what was the goal of these glasses?

H: Oh my God.  I like the idea that we might have thought it was aesthetic.  Like, that the chickens were putting on glasses for like, a reason, but then they got them contact lenses, because the chickens didn't want to look like, too nerdy?

C: You don't want to look nerdy, yeah, exactly, I mean, obviously.

M: So was the goal of these glasses to trick them into eating cheap grains, preventing cannibalism--

H: Oh my God.

M: Preventing inbreeding--

H: It's all gonna be sad.

M: Or preventing aggression while collecting eggs?

H: I'm gonna say that it's to make them eat the cheap grain.

M: Unfortunately--

H: It's a good--that was a good made-up fact, though.  I liked it.

C: Let's go with the preventing cannibalism.  That sounds (?~3:13)

M: You are correct!  

C: Haha!

H: Why would that help prevent cannibalism?

O: The answer is B, preventing cannibalism.  Egg-laying chickens can be pretty brutal, especially if they're packed together in tight quarters.  They'll peck at each other and pull out feathers and a couple things seem to especially aggravate them, like too much bright light or seeing bloody wounds on other chickens.  At some point in the 1800s, someone tried making tiny glasses to keep chickens from attacking and eating each other, and the first eye protector for chickens was patented in 1903.  Unlike our glasses, chicken eyeglasses make their vision worse and rose-colored lenses were designed to try to hide blood.  Their reasoning goes, if the whole world is tinted red, chickens might not notice red splotches on each other.  Although we're not quite sure how well those glasses actually worked, a few experiments have shown that red light could make chickens calmer and even stimulate egg production.  

 (04:00) to (06:00)

So even though modern farmers still have to prevent cannibalism, they usually focus on making living conditions less stressful and chicken glasses have largely gone out of style.

M: Maybe we should move on to dung beetles, which are known for their poop-hoarding.  Some species take fresh, stinky dung and roll a ball of it through the desert to snack on later.

H: Just like you do.

M: Yeah.  Researchers have noticed that beetles climb on top of their balls to orient themselves before traveling.

H: Just like you do.

M: But also they climbed more under certain conditions, like in the middle of the day.  To test a hypothesis about why, researchers made some little silicone boots for the beetles' front legs.  

C: Just got a great visual now.

M: When they wore the boots, they didn't climb on the poop as often, and that gave scientists a hint about what might be going on.  So why else do dung beetles climb on their poop balls?  Is it to get sticky feet for traction, to feel for any damage, to warm up, or to cool down?  

H: But what does that have to do with their boots?

C: I'm gonna go with the warming up.

H: To warm up?

M: Incorrect.  

H: What does that have to do with boots?  Why would they put boots on 'em?  To get traction?  

M: Incorrect.

H: Aah!  I should have just abstained.

O: The answer is D, to cool down.  Sand in African savannahs can get really hot, like over 60 degrees Celsius, so a lot of organisms have adaptations to stay cool, and for one species of dung beetle, it's their ball of poop.  To figure this out, researchers created two, three meter wide arenas in the South African desert, one shady and one hot and plopped some dung beetles inside.  They noticed that when the ground was cooler than 50 degrees, the beetles would just roll their balls out, no problem, but if the ground was hotter than that, they would hop on their poop more often and preen their front legs, possibly cooling them down by spitting up a liquid.

 (06:00) to (08:00)

Using an infrared camera, the scientists discovered that the dung beetles' front legs heated up as much as ten degrees while they were rolling and cooled down again on top of the ball, and as one final test, the scientists made tiny boots out of a dental silicone to protect some beetles' front legs from heating up as much, and these snazzy dressers climbed to their dung balls 35% less often, so it turns out that dung beetles aren't only rolling a snack around.  It's also a big portable cold pack so they don't have to find shade.

H: Aw, 'cause their little feets got hot.  They got little boots for their feets.

C: That's so cute.

M: In the 18th century, natural philosophers were studying animal behavior and biology by messing around with lots of strange experiments, and some important progress came from one particular technique: sewing pants for frogs.  Some pants were made of stretchy animal bladder or loose fitting cloth, but the frogs would generally hop out.  Eventually, researchers used custom tailored pants made from waxed taffeta, a waterproof material.  Sometimes they even sewed little straps, like overalls.  

H: Why?  Why?

M: So what were they trying to learn with these experiments?  Whether frogs excrete waste on land or in water, how frogs move and hunt for food, how fertilization works, or how different fabrics affect frogs' sex drive?  

H: That's--I'm gonna--let me go first.  Let me go first 'cause I have no idea and you went first--

M: That's not how the game works.

H: But like, I feel like she's ge--it's worse for you if you go first.  If you don't know.  Unless you know.  Do you feel like you know?

C: I have no idea.  

H: Okay.  It's not the sex drive thing.

C: It should be, though.

H: They wanted to figure out if the frogs were pooping on land or in water?

M: Incorrect.

H: Aaah.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

C: I'm gonna go with the fertilization.

M: That is correct.

H: Aah, that was my second guess.

O: The answer is C, how fertilization works.  By the time Lazzaro Spallanzani was experimenting with pants for frogs in the 1760s, a design for tight taffeta pants had pretty much been nailed down.  At the time, we knew that frogs had semen and that semen was possibly made up of a thicker, more goopy portion and a thinner fluid.  The idea of sperm wasn't quite figured out yet.  To understand what semen did and how fertilization worked, Spallanzani gathered up some male and female frogs.  Then, he sewed pants on some of the males and let the frogs go at it, which he called "the act of generation".  Afterward, he watched the eggs that were laid to see if they developed and the frogs that were wearing semen-blocking pants never fertilized eggs.  So he concluded that frogs needed the stuff from the male and female to make babies.  Eggs alone wouldn't cut it.  There were probably simpler ways to figure that out, but frog pants make the story that much better.

M: Okay, this next round is called mysterious disasters.  

H: Oh.

C: Ooh.

M: And this first question also involves frogs, but it's a little less cute.  In 2005, hundreds of common toads near one pond in Hamburg, Germany were dying in a weirdly explosive gut-spewing way.  Typically, toads protect themselves by secreting toxins or inflating so they look too big for predators to swallow, but those defenses turned deadly because of something that happened to all of these toads.  What caused their mysterious deaths?  

H: They just started exploding?

M: Snakes that bit into inflated toads and popped them like balloons--this is serious, Hank!--crows that avoided the toxins and pecked out the toads' livers, a fungus that released a lot of gas into toads' guts, or a virus that infected toad poison glands and made their skin really thin?  

 (10:00) to (12:00)

C: I'm gonna go with the gas-producing fungus.

H: That's what I would have also said.

M: Incorrect.

C: Ohh!

H: That's why you don't go first.

C: I see, I see.

H: How is it not that one?  Ow.  I stopped listening after that.  What was the last one again?

M: A virus that infected toad poison glands and made their skin really thin.

H: I'm gonna go with that one.

M: Incorrect.

H: What?  No way it's one of those other two.

C: It can't be the snakes.  It's not the snakes, right?

O: The answer is B, crows that ate livers.  When these exploding frogs first hit the news, there were a lot of frantic hypotheses about what could have happened and after some initial tests, microbial infection was ruled out, but one veterinarian took a closer look and noticed a weird pattern.  The frogs all had small circular cuts in the exact same place and their livers were gone.  Now, this kind of sounds like the work of an amphibian serial killer, but really, it was just clever hungry crows.  They didn't want a mouthful of toxins, so they went straight for the tasty liver.  According to that researcher, if the toads tried to inflate themselves with a missing liver, the rest of their organs wouldn't stay put, so that's why so many of them popped.

M: Next up, we have a bigger scale disaster: sinking cargo ships.

H: If you're a human.  What if you're a toad?  Which is the bigger scale disaster?  Your ship sinking and being like, oh, we've gotta get rescued or (bleeping) exploding?

M: What if the cargo ship was full of toad pants and all of those pants got lost at sea?  

C: That would be a tragedy.

H: We'd never know anything about toad semen again.  

M: One of the most unexpectedly dangerous things ships can carry are solid bulk cargos.  This is basically solid uniform stuff that gets dumped straight onto the ship without containers, like a bunch of iron ore.  

H: Okay.

M: These particles inevitably have some water mixed in, and if the ship sways and vibrates too much, the cargo can start acting like a liquid, slosh around, and cause serious damage or even sink the ship.

 (12:00) to (14:00)

What natural phenomenon creates similar conditions to what's happening to these ships: rip currents, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, flash flooding?  

C: Go, by all means, Hank.  You wanna go first?  

H: This is so hard.  Rip currents.

M: Nope.  That's not the one.

C: Earthquakes.

M: Yes.

H: Aw man, I wouldn't have even guessed that.

O: The answer is C, earthquakes.  Just like the ground beneath our feet, some solid bulk cargoes are just a bunch of small grains crammed together.  When the particles are touching, there's friction between them to hold them in place, plus little gaps.  This framework makes the cargo or dirt act like a solid, but liquefaction can happen when those conditions are disrupted and those gaps collapse, so the grains lose their stability and start acting like a liquid.  This can happen to sandy soil during an earthquake because of vibrations and cause buildings to sink.  On a boat, there's always a little water between the particles, and the water pressure can increase as the cargo gets dumped in and the ship sways and vibrates, compressing the gaps and causing liquefaction.  When the cargo sloshes, it can cause a serious imbalance in boats and sink them, which is a problem.  According to one paper, over around three decades, there were at least 18 ships and crews lost to liquefaction, so it's a problem engineers are still working on.  

H: Well done.  Can't fault ya.

M: Ah?   

H: That was not on purpose.

M: Ah?  That was on accident?  

C: I don't know if that's better or worse that it was on accident.

M: Alright, let's move on to our final question.  All I'm going to tell you before you place your bets is that it is about human body weirdness.  

H: Oof.

M: You may bet any or all of your points. 

 (14:00) to (16:00)

You may not bet more points than you have.  

C: How many points do we have?

M: Previous episode requires us to state this very explicitly.  Christie, you've got 1400 points.  Hank, you've got 500 points.

H: Wow.  It's gonna be a bit of a hill to climb there.  

M: While you guys place your bets, let's go to commercial break.

H: There's a safe bet for you.

M: Welcome back.  Sometimes, fertilization can happen and an embryo can start developing outside the uterus, like in a fallopian tube.  That's called ectopic pregnancy and in even rarer cases, an embryo can start developing somewhere in the abdomen, where it's definitely not supposed to be.

H: Weird.

M: This is a really risky situation and oftentimes, the embryo dies, but if it's allowed to grow for a couple months, it can become too large to be broken down and reabsorbed by the body, so something strange happens to protect the mother from its dead tissue.  What is it?  It calcifies and becomes basically a big stone, it grows a layer of keratinous filaments and basically becomes a big hairball, it becomes a big benign cyst full of blood--

H: None of these are gonna be good.

M: --the nearest organ causes of layer of cell growth, so for example, it might look like a third kidney?

H: Oh my God.  That's so--all of those are weird.  I'm so excited to find out which one it is.  

M: Are you ready? 

H: Yeah.

M: Reveal your answers.  

H: I went for the kidney.

M: Oh my, it looks like Christie's got the answer there.

H: No way, it turns into a frickin'--

M: Coming in with 398 additional points.  

H: I bet 1000.  

M: Hank Green.

C: We talked about this, Hank.  

M: I think--

H: I just wanted to go negative one time.  

 (16:00) to (17:31)

I did it.  I went negative.

M: Alright, well, uh.  

O: The answer is A, it calcifies.  This phenomenon is called a lithopedion, which means 'stone child' in Greek, and it's super rare, just a couple hundred cases have ever been reported in human history.  Basically, it happens because calcium compounds sometimes get deposited as an immune response when there's tissue damage, from breast tissue to tendons, so a chunk of dead tissue in the abdomen likely looks like damage to her immune system and gets covered in a tough mineralized layer of calcium.  Lithopedions often don't cause medical problems besides some reported pain, so they can go undetected for years, typically until doctors notice a strange tiny skeletal shape in an x-ray.  

C: Yay, Jeff!  We did it!

H: I lost for Deborah.  I went negative for you.  Yeah, so Deborah, you have to send us a pin, a shirt--

C:Oh, it's an assigned thing, right?

H: Yeah, and you have to sign a piece, like an index card and send it to us.  Thanks, Deborah.  

M: Well, thank you for joining us on this SciShow Quiz Show and thanks, as always, to all of our Patrons on Patreon who make these videos possible.  If you want to read Hank's book, you can find a link to that in the description.  If you want to read Christie's book, you can find a link to that in the description.  Sorry for hitting you with cards.