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Having worked together for years, it's time for Emily Graslie and Michael Aranda to go head to head in a SciShow Quiz Show Grudge Match.

Special Thanks to the Montana Natural History Center for bringing Emily back to town and for inspiring so many of these questions!

For more of Emily, check out The Brain Scoop:
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  (00:00) to (02:00)

Michael Aranda: Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Scishow Quiz Show, the only quiz show on YouTube where... excuse me...

Blake De Pastino: The asker will become the askee.

MA: Aaaah. Hey. Hey. So here's the thing. Hank is sick today, so I've been demoted today. Blake, our head writer here at Scishow, is taking over. Here are your cards. Ah. So it's me. Versus Emily Graslie.

Emily Graslie: Wait, but do you know the answers though?

MA: I don't.

EG: You had the cards!

MA: I only -- I mean I didn't read them either. This first one doesn't --

BDP: Good question!

MA: -- it just says the, the intro stuff.

(Blake knocks cards against table)

BDP: I wanna point out I'm a huge fan of Emily. I, uh, send you fan mail on Tumblr.

EG: Oh!

BDP: I think you're the best thing to come out of the South Dakotas since the soybean.

EG: Well, what about Sid the dinosaur?

BDP: Oh!

EG: That was more recent. Than the cultivation of soybeans in South Dakota.

BDP: Mmm. That's a good question. Anyone have a pen?

EG: Just saying! I dunno!

MA: I am doomed!

EG (laughs evilly)

BDP: I'm Blake De Pastino, I'm head of content for Scishow, and since Hank is sick, um, Aranda is the tallest man for the job. He promises us he has not looked at the answers. Emily Graslie is, uh, host of The Brain Scoop. Emily was brought to us here by the Montana Natural History Center, so I'd like to thank them for bringing her here, and making this contest possible. Those of you in the front row, you will get wet. Blood will be shed.

(Michael and Emily laugh)

EG: Wow. I didn't think that I was going to be that aggressive.

BDP: Fine print.

EG: Oh, okay.

BDP: So, as you know, our contestants will be competing for Patreon Patrons, today Michael will be competing on behalf of Justin Ove and Emily will be playing for David Campos.

MA: So, you get what you pay for.

EG: Finger guns.

(All laugh)

BDP: I told you, there would be gun-play. Now for our contestants, we'll start you off each with one thousand Scishow bucks, and when you answer a question correctly, I will give you however much money I think is appropriate.

(Michael nods)

EG: Sounds fair.

MA: After so long of me getting to... make up rules... during these things, now I have to live with someone else... just wingin' it.


  (02:00) to (04:00)

MA: Good.

BDP: The winger has become the wingee.

MA: I'm gonna get to...

BDP: I'm going to be using that all day.

MA: I get to swallow my own medicine today.

BDP: Whoever has the most money at the end of today wins a collection of special SciShow prizes. Stephan, can you show our players and the audience what they'll be playing for?

Stephan: Both Justin and David will be taking home autographed cards from Michael and Emily with their final guesses and wagers on them as well as an I Won SciShow Quiz Show or the highly valued I Lost SciShow Quiz Show pin, a super-cool out of print Hank Green CD signed by the man himself, and the winner will also take home some secret SciShow swag. And the loser will, also, take home some secret SciShow swag. Back to you.

BDP: Okay, ready?

EG: I think so?

BDP: Hands on your -- there is no hands on your lights. I'm the one who put that in every script. Now that I do this, I know how (bleep)ed the scripts are.

(Michael and Emily laugh)

BDP: I like voice these -- who writes this? Okay. Our first round is the... lightning round! Know what that means?

EG: No!

BDP: It means that --

MA: -- it goes fast?

BDP: The questions are, literally, about lightning. (To Michael) No, you would think so.

MA: Oh. Okay.

BDP: But no! It's about lightning.

EG: Are they multiple choice? I think I made this error last time I was on the show, where I rang in and tried to give an answer and the answers were multiple choice.

BDP: Oh, that was -- no.

EG: Okay.

BDP: That was a bad idea. Of mine.

EG: Oh. So there...

BDP: These are a slightly, ah, less bad idea, called true or false.

EG: Oh, okay.

MA: (quietly, as if he's pumping himself up, lol what a nerd) Okay. Okay.

BDP: Our first question: there is a type of mineral formation that only occurs in nature when lightning strikes sandy soil.

(Buzzer rings)

BDP: True or false?

(Buzzer rings)

BDP: Yes, Ms. Graslie.

EG: True!

(Ding noise)

BDP: Yes! It is true!

MA: (despondently) I feel like there was a movie... starring... Reese Witherspoon, about this.

EG: Yeah! Sweet Home Alabama.

MA: That's the one.

BDP: Really?

EG: I don't know... I am embarrassed that I know that, a little bit.

BDP: I had no idea.

EG: Yeah, because the whole thing is that they goes down to the beach and it's romantic and she collects the sculptures that the lightning - or he does - and - I don't know. Anyway.

MA: Yep, yep, yep. Mhmm.

EG: I don't typically go to romantic comedies for my science knowledge.

MA: That's exclusively where I go for my scientific knowledge.

BDP: Me too. I actually got that question idea from the Reese Witherspoon fan page. Which I host.

  (04:00) to (06:00)


Hank Green: It's known as fulgurite and it forms when the intense heat from a lightning strike causes silica or other conductive minerals in sand or sandy soil to melt and refuse into a glassy tube or cluster sometimes referred to as petrified lightning. 

BDP: Emily you get 500 points.

(clapping) (Michael mouthing "What the...?")

MA: That's so many points.

EG: I'm winning!

BDP: Are we doing in dollars or are should we do in euros...?

MA: It was SciShow bucks to start with.

BDP: Ah so bucks.

MA: Yeah. (Incredulously) 500!

EG: 500.

BDP: 500 bucks, okay.

EG: My moneys.

BDP: Second question: a lake in Venezuela has been found to experience more lightning than any other place on earth, because of methane that is escaping from nearby oil fields. True or false?

(Michael buzzes)

BDP: Yes, Mr. Aranda?

MA: False?

BDP: Uh, that is correct. It is false.

HG: There is a lake in Venezuela that's thought to experience more lightning than anywhere else, Lake Maracaibo, where lightning strikes about every 2 seconds during the peak of the rainy season. And methane was thought to be a possible cause since the lake is both above and near large oil deposits and the gas might increase the conductivity of the air, but this hypothesis has not been proven, neither has the hypothesis that the lightning had to do with large deposits of uranium in the ground. Instead, researchers think that Lake Maracaibo owes its electric skies to warm winds from the Caribbean colliding with cool winds coming down from the Andes, creating violent thunderstorms.

MA: I mean, methane is just like farts, right?

(Emily laughing)

MA: That doesn't draw lightning.

EG: It could be a fart field.

(Michael and Emily laughing)

BDP: Which, you know-

EG: I don't know. Bogs exist. Yeah.

BDP: South Dakota has lots of livestock.

EG: Yeah. I was, swam in some of those.

BDP: It's practically like, a fart mine.

EG: It is. It's disgusting.

BDP: (?) can have like a fart mine up there.

EG: Lucrative.

BDP: You 'cause I like your face,(clicks tongue) 150 points.

(Emily snorts, laughs)

MA: So, let me just, hold on, let me get this straight.

  (06:00) to (08:00)

MA: She answered a question correctly and got 500 points.

BDP: Whose holding the cards?

MA: I answered a question correctly and I got 150 points.

BDP: Uh huh. You'll see.

MA: Ok, ok whatever I'm fine.

BDP: Final question: there's such a thing as positively-charged lightening. True or false?

(Michael buzzes)

BDP: Yes.

MA: True.

BDP: That is true!

HG: The vast majority of lightening strikes are negative because they carry a net negative charge from the storm cloud to the ground. But around 5% of lightening strikes are positive and are generated near the top of the thunderstorm, as opposed to the negative lightening which forms at the base of the storm. Storms usually have a positively charged region but it rarely gets strong enough to create a lightening strike. When it does the positive lightening strike can be as much as 10X stronger than a negative one, which can cause a lot more damage.

BDP:So 350 points.

MA: Kay

BDP: Happy now?

MA: I am. Yeah, I guess. 

BDP: On to our next round, because who needs Segways right? This segment is dedicated to one of the founders of modern paleontology, a fascination of mine. Georges Cuvier.

MA: Ok

BDP:Ring a bell? Do you know all these answers already?

EG: No, I don't.

BDP:You know anything about him? How about you? Georges Cuvier.

MA: I do know things about him, yes.

BDP:He's you lifting buddy at the gym?

(MA laughs)

MA:I, I know he's, he's into elephants.

BDP: Very good!

EG: Wow

BDP:Ok we're gonna here about those later.

MA: Ok

EG: Oh

BDP: The game is rigged. I'd watch myself if I were you.

EG: Yeah, I'm nervous all of a sudden.

BDP: Alot of what we know about ancient life, as well as how we still think and talk about it is based on the work done by this french naturalist who lived in the late 1700's and early 1800's. His analysis of fossils revolutionized the study of biology and helped us usher in a whole new field, Natural History. Perhaps Cuvier's most famous paper was published 220 years ago this April. In which he analyzed the skeletons of four different kinds of Proboscideans, the order of animals that includes..

MA: Elephants

BDP: Elephants! That's not the question he just knows that. But one of these animals had never been seen in a fossil before. That specimen was known only as the Ohio animal until Cuvier came up with a name for it and it's a name we still use today.


  (08:00) to (10:00)

BDP: So my question and I do actually have one in there somewhere, is what was the Ohio animal that Cuvier studied and named? Was it A. The Gomphothiere, which is sort of like an elephant with a shovel shaped jaw. B. The Mammoth. C.The Manatee. Or D. The Mastodon?

(Emily buzzes)

BDP: Yes?

EG: The Mastodon

BDP: The Mastodon, yes! Very good.

HG: Mammoths were known from remains in Siberia as early as the 1600's. While the weird looking Gomphotheres weren't identified until the 1830's. Manatees are closely related to Proboscideans but they are a member of a different order known as Sirenians. When Cuvier studied the animal excavated in Ohio the cone-shaped cusps of the teeth reminded him of breasts, so he called the new animal mastodon or 'breast tooth'.

BDP: Mmhm

EG: I don't know why I keep applauding myself.

(Blake laughs)

MA: I was gonna go with shovel face.

BDP: Shovel face, yeah it's a good guess, that's why I put it in there.

EG: Well Ohio was a hotbed for Mammoth's and Mastodon's.. fossils.

BDP: Oh I didn't know that.

EG: Yeah they like dig one up in a farm every month or something.

MA: Hmmph

EG:That's hyperbolic, frequently, more frequently than I find them in my backyard.

BDP: Hm. Euh, you get 350 points.

EG: Boy!

(Emily laughs)

BDP: OK this is also a Cuvier elephant related question. One of the key findings of Cuvier's paper had to do with how modern Indian elephants compared to fossils of mammoths and mastodons found on other continents. Cuvier found that the structure of their teeth and jaws were much too different for them to have come from the same animal. So, this lead him to a STARTLING, all caps I want to point that out, this is written in all caps. A STARTLING conclusion. Was is that A. animals that looked the same could actually be different species? Was is B. that living things change form over time? Was is C. that animals once lived on different continents than they do today? Or was is D. that animals can go extinct?

(Blake makes tick tock noise)


  (10:00) to (12:00)

EG: Can you read those again?

(Blake laughs)

EG: I'm thinkin!

(Micheal buzzes)

EG: (under her breath) Damn it!

BDP: Yes, Sir!

MA: That, eh, animals can go extinct.

BDP: Yes, that is correct!

EG: Wow.

BDP: Cuvier's paper uh, advanced the idea that extinction is a thing.

EG: How so?

BDP: Uh its all in the text-y text, that I don't have in front of me. 

(Micheal laughs)

EG: Oh ok.

MA: Someone will tell you about it right now!

(Emily laughs)

BDP: Yeah, well there you go.

HG: Before this it was widely assumed that the earths population of living things was static. Thomas Jefferson, for example, said he expected Lewis and Clarke to find mammoths wandering around the west. The idea that a type of animal could just disappear was basically unheard of. But Cuvier's work showed that there were many living things that no longer existed, and he suggested that they died out during periodic extinction events that he called 'revolutions'. 

BDP: Heh, 250 points.

MA: Hmm

EG: Whhaaatt?

BDP: Now, Cuvier's work went far beyond elephants and the Ice Age, he also investigated much older reptilian life like the Mosasaur and the Pterodactyl, which is another name that he coined. Among his observations were the fact that these reptilian fossils came from much deeper layers in the earth than modern animals. So this lead Cuvier to propose yet another theory that scandalized his peers. What was it? A. that dinosaurs were related to modern reptiles? B.that reptiles were once more plentiful than mammals? C. That all mammals shared a common ancestor? OR D. that dinosaurs could fly and swim?

(Micheal buzzes) 

BDP: Yes, Aranda.

MA: B.

BDP: Yes, correct!

HG: Cuvier had no idea how old those reptile fossils were but he theorized that their prevalence in the deeper layers of the earth suggested that there was once an 'Age of Reptiles'. This was a time. he said, that reptilian forms dominated the environment as much as mammals do today. In the decades after his death the discovery of many dinosaur, (?), and other reptilian fossils would prove him right.

  (12:00) to (14:00)

MA: If it's a scandal, it's because humans are finding out that they... weren't as plentiful as they thought they were. That's my, my thinking.

BDP: Yeah.

EG: Your thinking thoughts led you to the right thought... thinker.

MA: Humans like to think they're reeaal important, is the thing about it.

EG: Yeah.

BDP: You have soooome attitude, fella.

EG: Basically. And also like it couldn't have been the last one because pterosaurs aren't in any way related to dinosaurs. They're just pkhoooo - they're different.

MA: Pkhoooo.

EG: Yeah yeah. Pkhooo. They went in different directions. That's what it sounds like when they split from an evolutionary lineage.

MA: Pkhoooo.

EG: Pfffffffff. Yeah.

BDP: You get... 407 points.

EG: Awwww.

BDP: The extra seven is just because I like your face. Get yourself somethin' nice.

MA: Okay. Okay.

EG: Man. I gotta, I gotta turn it up this last round.

BDP: I know. And! You should.

MA: How many more - how many more rounds do we have?

BDP: This is the last round!

MA: Okay.

BDP: We will pay tribute to Emily's home state of...

EG: South Dakota!

BDP: South Dakota!

EG: That's where I'm from!

BDP: That's right!

MA: (in a significantly less enthusiastic tone) Hmmm.

BDP: As we enter our third and final round, it's time for our contestants to wager their winnings. Emily has eighteen hundred and fifty points, or SciShow bucks if that helps you, Michael Aranda has twenty-one fifty seven. So. Contestants, make your wagers while we break for this commercial announcement or whatever we... (bleep).

(All laughing)

BDP: I forgot the word...

(SciShow logo flashes)

BDP: Contestants, are you ready?

MA: I guess so...

EG: Yes.

BDP: Okay. Our topic is South Dakota, and we have a lot of factors to consider, there's a lot to write about in South Dakota, very rich in natural history, beautiful in geology, but we decided to focus on... invasive species.

EG: Oh boy! I mean - no. Invasive species are bad. But I know about the topic so I'm excited.

BDP: Okay! (To Michael) Hope you're ready.

Michael: (nervously) Me too.

BDP: South Dakota happens to be the birthplace of one of the most pernicious and now well-known native plants in the United States, thanks to the help of some unwitting 1800s farmers. What famous invasive plant got its start in South Dakota? (ct'd)

  (14:00) to (16:00)

BDP (ct'd) Was it (a) chamomile, (b) kudzu, (c) tumbleweed, or (d) wild parsnip?

MA: Okay. So there's one of those that I know didn't originate in the United States, and I know nothing about the others. So I don't know if this... ugh, Gd.

EG: Just writing down a letter! We'll see how this goes. Maybe I don't know my natural history as well as I thought.

BDP: Hmm!

EG: Ugh, that would be embarrassing. I'm sorry South Dakota.

BDP: Oh my gosh...

EG: Letting you down.

BDP: Now I feel bad.

EG: Mmmmmm.

BDP: For the whole state.

EG: I know. My dad's a farmer! D'oh!

BDP: Well, imagine how much fun it will be at Thanksgiving when you wow them with this question. At the table.

EG: Wow! Okay.

MA: My heart's beating fast.

EG: It should, Aranda!

MA: Okay.

BDP: Botany does that to him... Michael, you're ahead, so show us your answer. (Pause) "C," tumble-bumble! I think that is not the (?) name for that, but.

MA: Okay.

BDP: (To Emily) What's your answer? (Pause) "D," parsnips! The correct answer is "C," tumbleweed!

EG: Bollocks! Aaaaaaugh.

MA: I think tumbleweeds are like Russian, or something.

Hank: The iconic tumbleweed is actually known as Russian thistle, and it was first reported in the US around 1877 in Bon Homme County, South Dakota. Apparently, Ukrainian farmers who had moved there planted their crops of flax with seeds that had been contaminated with thistle from the old country. Within twenty years, the plant had spread all the way to California. Chamomile, kudzu, and parsnip are all invasive species in North America as well.

MA: Ah, I need to give a big shoutout to Mrs. Statura in, uh, fifth or sixth grade, for telling me about tumbleweeds, because uh, yeah!

BDP: It put him over the top!

MA: Congratulations, Justin Ove! Uh, you're a winner!

  (16:00) to (17:06)

EG: David Campos... from the bottom of my heart... know that I am ashamed of my performance and I am so sorry you didn't get the swag. That you needed.


EG: That was like way too sentimental --

Offscreen: Really sincere...

MA: No, but the great thing about, about SciShow Quiz Show is that even the loser gets a little bit of swag.

EG: Oh boy!

BDP: Thanks for sitting through this SciShow Quiz Show, even though you had to look at this (points to self) instead of this (points to Aranda) the whole time asking the questions, and, uh --

MA: I think you did a fantastic job.

BDP: Thank you! You should see my pit stains... I was really nervous...

(Michael and Emily laugh)

BDP: Make sure to check out Emily on The Brain Scoop and at VidCon. Thank you the Montana Natural History Center for bringing in Emily Graslie to make this conversation possible, and thanks to all our Patrons on Patreon who make all of SciShow possible! If you want to see any more of this, go to and subscribe, finger gun!

(Emily and Michael high-five)

MA: Yeah!

(Outro plays. Clip from other video:

Michael: We also have pygmy goat enthusiast, uh, Phil Plait.

Hank: Is that a thing?

Phil: It is now, apparently.

Hank: Right. Well, you better - study up. Because it's all going to be pygmy goat questions!)