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Uploaded:2014-10-08
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Team Brain Scoop is about to helicopter into a biologically unknown region of the Peruvian jungle with a team of conservationists to study and document the area's biodiversity for the first time in its history.

Join along with the Action Center Rapid Inventory #27 by Liking the Facebook page! http://http://on.fb.me/1nZtpts

Read more about The Field Museum's Rapid Inventory programs: http://www.fieldmuseum.org/science/blog/rapid-inventories

Special thanks to Corine Vriesendorp, Anna Goldman, Bruce Patterson, Bill Stanley, Corrie Moreau, and Josh Engel for their help in producing this video! Really hoping I don't come home with flesh-eating bacteria.

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Subreddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/thebrainscoop/
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Producer, Writer, Creator, Host:
Emily Graslie

Producer, Editor, Camera:
Tom McNamara

Theme music:
Michael Aranda

Created By:
Hank Green

Production Assistant:
Katie Kirby
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Filmed on Location and Supported by:
The Field Museum in Chicago, IL
(http://www.fieldmuseum.org)

Huge thanks to the adventurous Caitrin McCullough for creating subtitles and Tony Chu, Barbara Velázquez, Martina Šafusová, and Seth Bergenholtz for translating!
EMILY: In three days' time, Team Brain Scoop is setting out for the Peruvian Amazon.

We're in search for genus and species known and unknown: reptiles and amphibians, plants, birds, mammals, fishes, and insects.

Our expedition is for three weeks in the jungle.

Cameraman and frogman Tom McNamara and I will go beyond the dead ends of roads, deep into the neotropical forest where few people have journeyed.

We'll be well out of range of cellphones, subjected to the harsh realities of weather, insects, and disease, and there's definitely gonna be no Twitter.

The voyage to our camp in Peru will take four days, three airplanes, a half-day boat ride, and a trip by helicopter, dropping in to a little charted region between the rivers Tapiche and Blanco with a crew of a few dozen researchers.

The objective? To document and save the rainforest.

For the past few decades, the Field Museum's top-notch conservation team, aptly named the Action Center, has been working in conjunction with local scientists and communities, making annual expeditions to Central and South America in order to study and preserve the natural wonders that still remain there.

This medley of ornithologists, ichthyologists, herpetologists, geologists, botanists, and anthropologists - it's like the Avengers, but with scientists - identify uncharted areas of the rainforest. So pretty much anywhere Google Maps hasn't been yet.

They spend just a few weeks the selected area's biodiversity, and at the end of their time, these scientists come together and write a cohesive report of their findings, to be presented to the governing bodies of that country. Then, the case can be made for protecting the surveyed area, potentially even designating it as a national park, which is a step for preventing illegal deforestation and mineral extraction.

The challenge of implementing conservation is that you can't hope to protect an area if you don't know what's there - that's where the Action Center comes in.

In the last 20 years, they've discovered more than 150 new species to science and have protected 32 million acres of wilderness.

So, Team Brain Scoop is joining in on this amazon adventure, a journey to the limits of what we know about the natural world.

In 72 hours' time, we're packing up and shipping out with the Action team.

We can't know what to expect; I imagine I'll come home with some gastrointestinal parasites and a boatload of unidentified diseases, Tom will probably come back with a monkey companion/rival.

In order to better prepare ourselves for this mission, we interviewed some of our colleagues who are well-seasoned in conducting field research - let's see what they have to say.

EMILY: How many field expeditions would you say you've been on?

BILL: In the past 20 years, I've probably been on 30 or 40? I spend basically two months of the year in the bush

CORINE: 16. And counting! We leave in three weeks.

ANNA: I would say I've done field work for a little less than a year.

EMILY: Where have you conducted your field work?

CORRIE: Um, I've been fortunate to get to travel all over the world, so I've been to Ecuador, and Peru, and Venezuela, and Uganda, and South Africa, in Madagascar, in Borneo, in Australia, in China...

BRUCE: I work on rats, bats, and cats in Peru, and Ecuador, and Brazil, and Kenya - tropical countries.

JOSH: I've done two trips to Malawi, one to Uganda, one to Congo. And also one to Brazil.

CORRIE: Oh and Costa Rica, too.

BRUCE: You can plan for an expedition, but they don't always come off the way you've drawn them up on paper

EMILY: Good advice.

ANNA: A little wild boar started foraging around my site, and uh, so I started peeing all round the proximity of my little site, so I thought "Yeah, I'll-I'll show YOU, you don't come back to my space, I gotta count these leaves". So I kept peeing, I kept peeing, in like, these like, really specific spots so my urine would like, accumulate. Momma came back, with like, the two babies, and Momma's like, challenging my space, right? And I'm like... "Bleh!!" and she's like... *wild boar noise* so I was like "BLAHA" and she's like *wild boar noise*. And then like, finally i like lunged off my little seat and like threw my arms up and yelled really loud. And they ran away.

EMILY: So do you or do you not recommend urinating around the perimeter of our work sites?

ANNA: Apparently if you're a boy, that works really well.

EMILY: Oh.

ANNA: But lady pee doesn't do so much.

EMILY: Ok.

ANNA: Apparently. Except to attract to come back, and apparently wanna take your space.

EMILY: Today I learned...

ANNA: Yeah...

CORINE: So, stalked by a jaguar... attacked by a sort of rival indigenous group in Peru last year... Mistaken for the FARC in Ecuador. A helicopter came in and dropped a whole bunch of soldiers thinking that they were gonna raid a camp of terrorists, of guerrilla soldiers.

BILL: We were looking for bats near the coast of Tanzania and ran into a five-year-old kid and asked him where the bats were, and he said "follow me", and we ran back to the village and went to the local hospital. I climbed up to get these, uh, free-tailed bats, which turned out to be a new species to science, and as I was climbing, I hit a weak spot in the false ceiling and I fell out of the ceiling right into what they call the "chumba ya sindano" which is "the room with the needles", and I fell in there right as a kid was getting inoculated in his butt, and the doctor saw me coming through the ceiling and screamed and hit the needle and the kid screamed, and everyone was screaming and the bats were flying everywhere... It was a pretty amazing day.

*laughter in the background*

EMILY: What sort of complications have you experienced?

CORRIE: Things like, uh... engorge ticks in my nose that I came home from Africa with. I had no idea, I knew something was wrong with my nose but I didn't know what, so eventually an entire field season there and then a plane ride home, and figured out I had a giant engorged tick in my nose.

EMILY: Did you report that to customs? Cause you're not supposed to be importing...

CORRIE: I know, smuggling ticks.

CORINE: Giardia, amoebas, uh... Dengue... And then the worst thing for me has been leishmaniasis, so flesh-eating bacteria...

BRUCE: Uh, I've contracted malaria three times.

ANNA: You're gonna get diarrhea. Even if you don't want to, even if you think you've being careful about what you're putting in there, this does not agree all the time.

EMILY: What's it like having diarrhea in the rainforest?

ANNA: Uh, basically any diarrhea you've had to date is nothing like the diarrhea you're gonna get down there. You think your sphincter's pretty tight and you have a pretty good communication with it, but all of a sudden everything goes out the window or the bottom of your pants, and it's like, "What happened?!" but everybody with you will understand, because it's happened to them too. 

EMILY: What has been one of the more notable discoveries on one of these expeditions?

BILL: We've come back with new hero shrew, I found a new genus of primate in Southwestern Tanzania, several new species of shrews, bats, rodents.

CORINE: We flew over this area, and it looked like there were all these palm trees, I thought "Gosh, it's gonna be super wet, it's gonna be totally inundated, maybe it's not even gonna be worth going here, it's just gonna be so grim. Well, it's really unique on the landscape, we should go there." And when we got there, we realized it wasn't wet at all. It was this huge white sand forest that nobody knew about. It's the biggest one discovered in Peru. And it's chock full of all these endemic species, species that only live there, so plants, birds, insects, frogs, that only live in this place.

JOSH: Rediscovering a bird called Rockefeller's Sun Bird in Congo, which is a bird that hadn't been seen in like 50 years, since the early 1960's, and it's only known for a couple of locations in the mountains of eastern Congo.

BILL: We are the dictionary definition of the planet Earth, right? and that definition changes with every trip to Peru, and every trip to Africa. I actually like to think of what we're doing as defining the edges. Every new discovery, every new observation that you guys are gonna go and make, are gonna come back and help redefine that edge. The Olinguito was just discovered and is now the smallest member of the Raccoon family, so the edges of the Raccoon family are now different than they were a year ago. And this is why it's important for the world that what you're gonna do is go out and redefine the edge. Maybe you'll find that it's exactly the way we thought it was, maybe you will find that it's slightly different, but with every new definition, we now have the 'real' edges in place.

EMILY: So what do you think it's gonna be like for me?

CORRIE: The story of Darwin, when he was out collecting beetles and he was so excited that he collected one and then he saw another one and he had to have collected, and then he saw the third that he absolutely had to have, and he couldn't let go of the third, so what did he do? He popped it in his mouth and grabbed the third one! And I think that's gonna be you in the field!

EMILY: Yeah, that's pretty accurate. That's pretty accurate.

CORRIE: Yeah.

TOM: So what do you think about going to the Amazon?

EMILY: I don't know if I could ever fully prepare myself for what we're going to do. I have no idea. I have no idea what to anticipate!

It's like when you go camping as a kid and you feel like you're camping, but you're in the woods and then you turn around and the RV is there, or there's like the road or you can hear the highway or the airplanes? It's not gonna be like that at all.

EMILY: Interview with Tom McNamara. Cameraman, frog man, demolitions expert. What do you think about the jungle?

TOM: If it comes down between me and a monkey? It's gonna be me. I'm not pulling any punches for a monkey.

EMILY: I think there's totally a romance that accompanies these kind of expeditions, right? It is an adventure, I'm wearing all of this ridiculous adventure gear, we're getting our adventure packs and going into the forest, but there are a lot of realities that are never addressed in any of these kind of documentaries. Um, honestly one of the questions - we are keeping this part of the video - one of the things that I'm most concerned about that nobody has addressed so far is what do women do in the field when they're on their period? 

EMILY: What are you packing in preparation for the trip?

TOM: Camera, lenses, Swiss army knife, red Jacques Cousteau hat, and Charles Boyer's 1966 album, "Where Does Love Go?"

EMILY: Can you take a look at this.

TOM: Oh, is this a penis fish? This was in Peru?

EMILY: Yeah, that was collected in Peru.

TOM: Wow. So this is public enemy #1?

EMILY: Yeah. That is the most dangerous and most feared animal in the Amazon.

TOM: Yeah, cause they will swim right up your urethra.

EMILY: If you're peeing in the river, it can detect your urine stream, it senses the ammonia in the water, and it will swim upstream.

TOM: What about Anna using a perimeter peeing technique as a defense against warthogs?

EMILY: I don't know what she was thinking with that one. I mean, I kind of get what she was thinking, but- 

TOM: Do you respect it?

EMILY: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. But I just, I want to know what was going on in her subconscious where her like fight-or-flight response was like, "I gotta pee. My primal instinct tells me that I need to urinate to protect my area."

EMILY: What do you think is gonna happen?

TOM: My world is about to get a whole lot bigger and I'm about to get a whole lot smaller.

EMILY: I don't even know what I would do if we were in camp and an anteater came in camp. I would be like "What are you doing here?  We're people, we're here", and the anteater would be like "Oh, I'm an anteater... meeeh... Got any termites?"

"I have no idea what that is" and "There's a stick insect the size of my arm!" There's gonna be a tarantula, there's gonna be a freaking boa constrictor in the trees, and it's like... Here we are. We are in their world, we have no business being there, and... I think my mind's just gonna be blown.

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DFTBA!