Who knew the next generation of social media stars would consist of giant arachnids? Recently, biologists’ use of Facebook to gain insight on the baboon spider, a mammoth tarantula species native to southern Africa, has emerged as a case study demonstrating social media’s power to transform how scientists collect data and discover new creatures.
Baboon Spiders: A Study in Crowdsourcing Scientific Discovery
Seeking to learn more about baboon spiders, researchers created a tool to collate images of the elusive eight-legger: the aptly-named Baboon Spider Atlas. The atlas, which crawls Facebook and other social media platforms in search of relevant photos, takes advantage of the public’s proclivity to post photos of particularly strange or startling creatures online.
On March 21, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control issued its first-ever recommendation to limit the prescription of habit-forming painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin, noting that about 40 Americans die each day from overdosing on prescription painkillers and an estimated 1.9 million people are addicted to prescription opiates. The problem of painkiller addiction has reached epidemic proportions.