Blood-Sucking Creatures

As I’ve discussed previously, video is being increasingly used by scientists to complement and enhance journal publications. I came across a paper published in PLOS One by Choumet et al. called “Visualizing Non Infectious and Infectious Anopheles gambiae Blood Feedings in Naive and Saliva-Immunized Mice”. They provide several videos that show how mosquitoes probe in the skin of hosts for blood vessels. One of the videos amazingly shows the mosquito’s proboscis puncturing a blood vessel ; the vessel clearly blanches as the vessel contents are sucked out. You can see that video here:

The authors of this paper included twelve other downloadable videos as well as a slide show (on figshare) that contains still images and more videos. You can access the entire paper here.

Although the authors could have submitted a paper without video and relied on a word-based description to make their points, the videos provided visual evidence supporting their descriptions of mosquito feeding. Not only can video be useful in providing visual details of a behavior or other activity (that no text description can provide), it can be essential to convincing others about a new or controversial phenomenon. I can think of several occasions in the past when I submitted a paper describing an observation that was challenged by a reviewer. The jist of their objection was that I was mistaken in my observation or that they simply did not believe what I said. If I had had a video showing what I had observed, then the reviewer would at least have had to accept the fact that the phenomenon had occurred (although they could still disagree with my interpretation).

In any case, this is a good example of how to use video to enhance a journal article. We’ll be seeing a lot more examples of this in the future.