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PLOS ONE’s Top 5 Videos of 2015 (So Far)

At the end of 2014, we highlighted some of our favorite research videos from that year. We’re only mid-way through 2015, but we already have a number of popular research videos that we’d like to share. Here are some of this year’s most popular videos of the first half of the year, all published in the Supporting Information of each research article.

To read the full research article associated with each video, click the links in the descriptions below them.

Java sparrow percussionists

Birds use vocalizations and movements to communicate with each other. In this video, the male java sparrow sings, and both birds produce bill-clicking sounds. Interestingly, the male java sparrow appears to coordinate his bill-click sounds with the notes of his song, which is similar to a human percussionist. The authors of the PLOS ONE study published in May suggest that bill-clicking sounds may be integrated with vocal courtship signals, as we see in this video, although further research is needed to understand the role bird vocalizations and movements play in courtship.


Oyster-cracking macaques

These Burmese long-tailed macaques use stones as tools to crack open oysters. The authors of this PLOS ONE study published in May found that 80% of a population of Burmese long-tailed macaques on an island in southern Thailand use stone and shell tools to crack open seafood. The video shows that there’s more than one way to crack an oyster – in fact, there are 17 different ways!


Not-so-silent cicadas

This insect species Karenia caelatata is called the “mute” cicada since it lacks the usual organs required to produce sounds. However, the authors of this PLOS ONE study published in February describe a new sound-production mechanism for these cicadas: banging the forewing costa, or front wings, against the operculum, or body cavity, to create impact sounds, which you can hear in this video.


Escaping the jaws of death

Trap-jaw ants have large mandibles, or insect mouth parts, that they use to consume prey. The authors of this PLOS ONE study published in May found that these mouth parts can also be used to escape from an antlion predator. This video depicts an ant using its mandible to jump away and escape from the antlion buried in the sand. The trap-jaw ant snaps its mandible against the wall of the pit, and the strength of the force propels it out of the pit and out of danger.


Joint-cracking MRI

Our most popular video from 2015 is a real-time MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of joint cracking in a human, with over 500,000 views! For more than a half century, cracking sounds from human synovial joints, or the most common and movable type of joint, were attributed to bubbles collapsing within the joint. The authors of this PLOS ONE study published in April found evidence from MRI that joint cracking is related to the formation of cavities, rather than the sudden collapse of a cavitation bubble as was previously thought. Further research is needed on how joint cracking may impact health outcomes.

We hope you enjoyed watching some of this year’s most popular research videos, and we encourage you to check out more of our videos on the PLOS Media YouTube channel here! Feel free to subscribe to stay up-to-date on all of our latest Open Access research videos.


Image and Video 1: Soma M, Mori C (2015) The Songbird as a Percussionist: Syntactic Rules for Non-Vocal Sound and Song Production in Java Sparrows. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0124876. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124876

Video 2: Tan A, Tan SH, Vyas D, Malaivijitnond S, Gumert MD (2015) There Is More than One Way to Crack an Oyster: Identifying Variation in Burmese Long-Tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis aurea) Stone-Tool Use. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0124733. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124733

Video 3: Luo C, Wei C, Nansen C (2015) How Do “Mute” Cicadas Produce Their Calling Songs?. PLoS ONE 10(2): e0118554. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0118554

Video 4: Larabee FJ, Suarez AV (2015) Mandible-Powered Escape Jumps in Trap-Jaw Ants Increase Survival Rates during Predator-Prey Encounters. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0124871. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124871

Video 5: Kawchuk GN, Fryer J, Jaremko JL, Zeng H, Rowe L, Thompson R (2015) Real-Time Visualization of Joint Cavitation. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0119470. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0119470

All videos are published under a Creative Commons Attribution license, and may be freely reused and remixed.

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