Scientists share fake ‘gnus’

Biologists bust common myths about their study species on social media.

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The hashtag begun with a tweeting about a misconception about African wild dogs

The hashtag begun with a tweeting about a misconception about African wild dogs © Panoramic Images / Getty

 

The hashtag #fakegnus is being used by experts on Twitter to discuss frequent misconceptions about the animals or plants they are studying.

The social media trend was started by Daniella Rabaiotti, a BBC Wildlife contributor and PhD student studying African wild dogs. 

Rabaiotti tweeted about a wild dog fact she often hears that isn’t actually true, and then asked other scientists to share common misconceptions and correct statements about their study species. 

 

 

Responses from scientists included “fish don’t have individual personalities or provide parental care” (False, tweeted by Tiffany Armstrong) and “penguins aren’t eaten by polar bears” (True, tweeted by Dr Michelle LaRue).

"I started it because I think there are a lot of myths about different animals out there and researchers end up spending a lot of time debunking them," says Rabaiotti. "I thought #fakegnus was a great pun and very appropriate hashtag for people to talk about this on!"

The hashtag used is a play on the words “news” and “gnus” (a name for stocky antelopes), which are pronounced the same.

“Fake news” refers to false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media that are usually created to influence political views or as a joke.

 

Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine

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