Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (11/20/13): When do you search for more information?

I'd like to continue our conversation from last week (you remember--the debate about the origins of Earl Grey tea).  

Let's do a small investigation on another topic that will shed some light on finding credible stories.  

Recently, there’s been much todo in the blogosphere (and in the press) about a remarkable image on a set of fly wings on a fly with extraordinary eyes.  

See for example, this blog post on Why Evolution is True.   In that post, this image appears: 

Link from Why Evolution is True blog

The press buzz about this image is that it's remarkable:  How could a fly have evolved to have TWO images of other insects on its wings.  

Our SearchResearch questions for today: 

1.  Do you believe that these are images of insects on the wings of this fly?  (Yes or no.)   
2.  WHY do you believe whatever-it-is-you-believe about this?  Can you give evidence for your belief about this?  

Just to be clear, I'm NOT making a statement here about evolution, or even about flies.  I'm hoping that we'll have a discussion about what causes you--when you read something, or see an odd picture--pull up and say "Hey.. wait a second.  Let me look into that a bit more."  
In essence, I'm hoping this will prompt a discussion about (A) how you know when you should go digging around in background information to check on things, and (B) how do you go about trying to do that digging?  

So, when you write in, tell us WHAT YOU DID to find evidence for your belief about these fancy fly wings.  What did you search on?  How did you evaluate what you found?  

See you in the discussion forum below!  

Search on!  (Skeptically!)  


  1. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers


    [your image] in Google Images

    Fruit Fly G tridens

    In this post I found 2 more links

    Ny Times Survival of the Extraordinary – A Fly With Tricky* Wings Here found more insects and more information about this fly. Ants, spiders, or wishful thinking? Post by entomology (the branch of zoology concerned with the study of insects) Morgan D. Jackson

    And. The National Fruit fly with the wings of beauty

    [Brigitte Howarth] She was the Doctor who first discovered G tridens according to The National.
    Dr. Brigitte Howarth

    [g tridens Tephritidae] and [Goniurellia tridens] Found

    Book "Fruit Flies (Tephritidae): Phylogeny and Evolution of Behavior"


    1. Do you believe that these are images of insects on the wings of this fly? (Yes or no.)
    A. At first, thought it was a "Photoshop" Image. After doing the research I think it is real.

    2. WHY do you believe whatever-it-is-you-believe about this? Can you give evidence for your belief about this?
    A. I found enough data from experts on the field and reputable sources like Ny Times, University and books that mentions and shows this Goniurellia tridens fruit fly In addition to that, reading through the provided URLS I am sure the Tephritidae family and others have created ways to protect by themselves.

  2. I would have to say maybe. First I searched the name to be sure that this was a real picture and not photoshopped. In the discussions that I read on various sites, people make credible arguments on both sides of the question, but I could not find a scientist who gave a definitive answer.

  3. New SearchResearch>

    [Goniurellia tridens entomology]
    Found Entimology News

    In there gives link to Fly With Bizarre Wing Markings, 'Three-In-One Insect,' Has Scientists Scratching Their Heads (PHOTO) That mentions: "Dr. Brigitte Howarth spotted in UAE but was first identified in 1910 by an Austrian entomologist, Friedrich Georg Handel

    [Friedrich Georg Hendel Goniurellia]

    Lead me to Goniurellia tridens (Hendel, 1910)

  4. Well the appeal to teachers and librarians certainly caught the attention of Anne and me. When we first looked at the picture we couldn't believe it was true. So we just used our intuition to guide us into delving further into the topic. We started by clicking on the link to the original blog. In that blog the name of the researcher, Dr. Brigitte Howarth was mentioned. We looked up the researcher and got to her site at the Zayed Univ. One thing we found interesting was that when you clicked on her CV it just brought you back to the main univ. website. There didn't seem to be a lot about this researcher on the web. Did find one other article she co-authored. Then we did a search on the scientific name of the insect Goniurellia tridens and came up with articles that kept coming back to this article and reactions to this article and the original tweet. So then we went to google scholar and did a search on the scientific name there. There were many hits. Selected this article - The article did have a picture and in that picture there are markings on the fly that resemble the picture but don't look exactly like the ones in the picture above. Added the word markings to the search in google scholar and came up with nothing. Also checked in Google books and there was no other article that mentioned wing markings that looked exactly like ants. So while I think that this fly has markings on its wings we didn't find anything to corroborate that the normal marking pattern looks exactly like an ant or some other insect. In the twitter feed on the tweet above there is a link to this article which also gave us some skepticism.

  5. another example, different taxon (right term?)
    capitites ramulosa
    from Portugal

    1. Do you believe that these are images of insects on the wings of this fly? (Yes or no.)
    No… those aren't images of other insects on the wings — it's all in the formulation of the question, coupled with the material presented and the
    predisposition of the reader/viewer to be swayed one way or another.
    If the question had been: Is this a photo of a real fly that has patterns on its wings that resemble other insects? the answer would be yes…
    or if the question had been: Isn't this an extraordinary photo of the endless ways nature patterns creatures and how those patterns can be
    interpreted in different ways by other creatures?
    again yes…

    2. WHY do you believe whatever-it-is-you-believe about this? Can you give evidence for your belief about this?
    I'm not sure that on my own I would have spent any time checking this out beyond noting it was an interesting picture & premise…
    but since you prodded… first looked to verify the photo source: by searching [Peter Roosenschoon Dubai]
    when that checked out, looked for additional info on the fly:
    bug guide
    USDA Diptera site
    Wikipedia/Tephritdae - [peacock flies]
    National Center for Biotechnology Information
    "Some species display sexually dimorphic WIPs, suggesting sexual selection as one of the driving forces for their evolution." PNAS article ☝
    The National UAE
    found this article helpful in coming to my conclusion:
    Biodiversity in Focus

    wtrt - (A) how you know when you should go digging around in background information to check on things I would suppose it has to be something
    of interest to begin with (that definition is a tangled web) and if it runs counter to my exceptions or assumptions as opposed to confirming
    or being in line with what i expect or anticipate… then the onion peeling begins.

    black seadevil
    Psychological projection

    1. Hi Remmij. I agree with you :
      No… those aren't images of other insects on the wings and with your two "Yes"

      I understood the question as "this is a real photo of a real animal or it is just some photo created by humans." That is why my answer is yes, it is real. And no, there are not either flies nor ants on the animal.

      wtrt - (A) how you know when you should go digging around in background information to check on things? I agree with you that it needs to be interesting; but not necessarily about a topic that I like. For example, I don´t know much about insects but this was interesting so therefore, I wanted to search more.

    2. greetings Ramón, you are nailing the nuances of english… parsing and all. I admire your curiosity and evolving skills at sleuthing information - the willingness to adopt and adapt pays dividends.
      btw, sorry about the wtrt typo - should have been wrt… unless it was "with typo regard to"…
      other fly aesthetics:

  6. … flies that look like ants - go figure.
    Insects of Scotland
    and my favorite: cupcakes that look like ants, or visa-versa
    queen of Yahoo behind this?

    for real evidence of evolution, perhaps ants & fruit flies should show a human silhouette on their wings to evoke an "anti-cannibal" response in the "predator"?
    off to lunch

  7. 1. Do you believe that these are images of insects on the wings of this fly? (Yes or no.)
    2. WHY do you believe whatever-it-is-you-believe about this? Can you give evidence for your belief about this?
    An expert says its real and here is the evidence.
    Here is what I did searching this fly:
    Dragged your image into IMAGES which produced
    From this SEARCH [Dr. Brigitte Howarth of Zayed University]
    which produced
    from this SEARCH [Mark Moffett] aka Dr Bugs
    which produced
    Which shows he is a smarty-pants: Mark remains active in science, with over 80 peer-reviewed publications. He has penned more than 25 articles for National Geographic Magazine, which has featured 500 of his images. You have experienced him on Conan O'Brien, the Colbert Report, and NPR. Invite Mark to speak at your institution and be inspired by his courage, fascinated by his knowledge, and intoxicated by his passion.
    Back to the NYT article Dr Bugs says this: the images on this fly’s wings are jumping spiders

    Time about a minute.

    I have OCSD. I am in a group of similar people who all try to encourage each other with Obsessive Compulsive Search Disorder. I'll search any topic any time. Health claims are popular with our aged friends so I can help sort out the rubbish from the real by choosing say Mayo Clinic info over RavingLooneynutbar 'info'


    1. like the affliction - OCSD… not sure why you consider Hellman's as more credible than RLNB, but I support infodiversity… even when practicing selectivity and discrimination. Dr. Mark Moffett is an interesting character.
      as far as the #1 yes - Ceci n'est pas une pipe, oui? The Treachery of Images

  8. You need to verify with credible sources and still question the degree of enhancement.

    My opinion is that the fruit fly is real but the image is enhanced. To determine the image’s authenticity I followed the links from the original article through to a book found in a Scholar Search using the species and person that discovered this fruit fly Goniurellia tridens (Hendel, 1910) which provided a drawing of the wing

    The degree of enhancement is subjective but when I see blurring of a background including the body for no discernible purpose, sharp mask and color saturation used on the eyes, and wings that seem to be floating above the body I would suggest this is photo is compiled.

    The degree to which we accept images as real or not is not black & white (outdated phrase). When National Geographic has photo contests the rules about enhancement are interpreted by a panel of judges. I consider National Geographic reliable & one of the best photo/visual based magazine/video organizations.

    National Geographic guidelines for a photo contest recently quotes:

    “Only minor burning, dodging and/or color correction is acceptable, as is cropping. High dynamic range images (HDR) and stitched panoramas are NOT acceptable. Any changes to the original Photograph not itemized here are unacceptable and will render the Photograph ineligible for a prize.”

    I wondered if National Geographic ever published fakes. Yes. Here’s a recent documentary

    Are there others? Here’s another reference to “fake photos” in 2013. It refers to Congresswomen being inserted into a photo This article mentions two photo authentication apps FourMatch and InformaCam but neither were available (cost/no download found).The article suggests “ technical solutions should be a priority to ensure media ethics, accuracy, truth.”

    Which brings me to my first hand experience at creating a fake. Yes I was assigned to create a fake photo. I was taking a one year graphic design course at a reputable college now university back in the 1997. Our final exam was to create a fake. The scenario was create a photo of the Board of Directors of an international company. Each director had submitted a photo of themselves and our task was to create a photo showing all of them in the company headquarters boardroom even though these people never were on the same continent let alone the same room. This would be published in the company annual report. I never forgot that experience. I am naturally skeptical of images and videos.

    1. Rosemary, good to know info on the NGS. Am very distressed that you would engage in disinformation - even in the context of an academic requirement (especially in 1997 - pre-Google)… holy musk ox, that's very "grassy knoll" - credibility is vaporous in nature… no doubt you will be receiving visitors:
      CSIS-SCRS, nice truck
      Jar Jar
      وِزارَتِ اِطّلاعات جُمهوریِ اِسلامیِ ایران

      I guess it is all about [trust, but verify]… may have to rely on the deep web from here on… or maybe truth is allergic to fiber optic cable…?

      surely you aren't suggesting this isn't real? (from your PBS link)
      Madame Pelosi

      F-S-D — they even link to GooNews
      saw one entry that suggested the "insect wing pattern" was really the logo for the International Insect Drone Surveillance Society (IIDSS), but can't locate confirmation.

      tongue firmly in cheek, grains of salt abound ;-P

      SearchDeSearch or SearchDaSearch on!… Sketchily!

    2. Rosemary - ran across these and thought they might be of interest in this context…
      Google Earth Pics - Behind the Scenes of National Geographic
      GEP - cloud shark

  9. interesting quandary: how to stimulate curiosity & get people to use the tools available…

    I like to roam the room… back in 2006, comments are worth a read -
    Drew Gardner

    a couple other bugs evolving…? ;)
    pattern recognition/cogitation/confabulation
    some other patterns to attract or ward off…
    reading meaning… whatever that is
    rose-lynn fisher
    need some Earl Achromatic 茶 - Hot.

  10. Began with [ fly adaptations wings ] Realized quickly that fly was going to be the wrong word. [ insect fly wing adaptations ] again not helpful. Maybe with the scientific name.

    [ insect fly ] to get Diptera. Followed that looking at different suborders Brachycera, Schizophora, Cryptochetidae

    Back to the article to read it again. Sidetracked to [ apophenia ] in the comments.

    Scholar search [ diptera wing adaptation predators ] and [ diptera wing adaptation predators "middle east" ] to find Secondary Anti-predatory Devices

    [diptera turquoise eyes ] to describe the photo and maybe find others.

    Finally tried to search by the image on the blog post. Just others re-blogging.

    Image search [ diptera "middle east" ] and interesting collection of wing pictures about half way down lead me to Key to the Species of Euaresta Explore that site but don't find anything.

    Back to the article and now I see [ g tridens ]

    Go to Fruit fly with the wings of beauty | The National

    [ Goniurellia tridens ] and then Image search [ Goniurellia tridens ] for images prior to 10/31/2013. I get this pictured wing fly Goniurellia tridens (Hendel, 1910) which was posted in 2006. So I have something prior to recent buzz. I also found this UAE Birding forum post ANTS? NO! Wait, It a Fly.

    Back to the web search for [ Goniurellia tridens ] and go to Ants, spiders, or wishful thinking? The author does a good job of skepticism on the fly picture hype. His post could be the answer to the challenge.

    [ Goniurellia "friedberg" ] to March 2002 Newsletter - Emirates Natural History Group Find what might be
    the original post by Brigitte Howarth. She was mentioned in The National article.

    I decide to try one last search on a site I follow for science stories, EurekAlert.

    EurekAlert Search [ picture wing fly ] to On a fly's wing, scientists tally evolution's winners and losses It doesn't talk about the G Tridens specifically but does mention the "yellow" that has been found to be the "paintbrush" for wing pattern

    1. No I don't think they are insects on the wings.

    2. Based on what I read above in the articles it is a variation wing pattern more probably for mating. The wings are spread at a weird angle so it wouldn't look like that with the wings normally folded on its back. Depending on the predator it would probably think it was getting 3 for the price of one rather than be afraid and avoid this meal.

  11. amazing what some fruit flies and ants in the pattern buffer will produce, something still seems a bit off, but next time you are in Paris…
    … wait, this was suppose to be about T-EG-H -

    and Paris? familiar grounds to the sRs crowd —
    Jardin des Plantes
    in country

  12. … like jon said, OCSD - a blast from the sRs past - roll cloud in the colonies:
    not just AU, no passport required

  13. To provide more feedback I want to elaborate on the paper/book Fruit fly genera south of the United States (Diptera: Tephritidae) By Richard Herbert Foote, United States. Science and Education Administration" dated 1980 or prior mentioned by me above at and the Goniurellia tridens Figure 72 (This second link will show you many wing pattern drawings of various patterns). Should they look like ants or insects that is more Freudian if that's the right word than nature's intent. Hendel describes (1914) the wings as " Trupanea-like, with subcostal cell connected to apical stellate mark by broad dark band". But I see nothing to suggest specific patterns for particular purposes.

    To aid in our discussion I would go the extra distance depending om my purpose. However when an image or comment seems odd or off to me if the subject is of interest and makes me curious I tend to have a lot of "StickToITness". How far to research is dependent on finding evidence to support or challenge like we do with triangulation. The more credible information found chances are the faster the conclusion.

  14. My OCSD kicked in this morning.

    I add a little more to my previous comment: I still say YES to first question.

    This article cautions against seeing patterns where none may exist:

    And this article describes in scholarly detail why this pattern may be really be there

    We don't know how insects see these patterns (if they are patterns) and not just markings

    The second article explain 1 use in 1 species of fly

    So, I think they look like insects but I have no idea how other insects interpret them. So, a qualified YES.

    Why do I believe these points of view can co-exist ? The first article explains this

    1. patterns vs markings? my OCSD had me look for an image of the Mexican native, Zonosemata vittigera… to see the "leg-like pattern" on its wings… ok, will stipulate to the described "agonistic territorial displays of jumping spiders (Salticidae)" behavior. Still not clear how that translates to Middle Eastern Goniurellia tridens, but it did get me wondering about the marking on its back torso and if that scares off or attracts this?