The Canadian research organization Genome BC has unveiled a science education website, Genomics Education. One of the features of the website is Floyd the Fruit Fly, who, we can only presume, is some sort of cartoon drosophilid. Or maybe he’s a tephritid, but I highly doubt it. When you hear “fruit fly” and “genetics”, you think Drosophila, even if they really aren’t fruit flies.
In the accompanying illustration, we see Floyd with smelly feet. Apparently, Floyd thinks that his foot stank is due to mitosis. He then learns, via a disembodied voice backed up by a soundtrack from an early Ron Jeremy film, that mitosis is cell division. The first half of the video, however, is spent going into way too much detail regarding DNA replication, transcription, and translation. The whole thing is an example of information overload and failing to direct the focus on the material that is allegedly being covered.
And then there’s Floyd. Take a look at him. He’s got two four legs (or two legs and two arms). And they’re growing out of what appears to be the space between his gray abdomen and gigantic head. And that head! It’s like an orange on a toothpick. But where the hell is Floyd’s thorax? And his fifth and sixth legs? Has he got a mutation in a homeobox gene? Flies are insects, and insects are hexapods, and hexapods, as the name suggests, have six legs. And a thorax where those legs (and the wings) are attached. It’s one thing to take a few liberties in illustrating a cartoon animal; it’s another to totally butcher the anatomy.
The Genomics Education website seems like a good idea. As of now, it’s in its infancy, so it’s impossible to provide a thorough evaluation. But there is some promise that it could become a valuable resource for students and science educators, provided they don’t get sloppy and play fast and loose with the facts.