Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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Anatomy of an elaborate hoax: If you know anything about birds, then you knew immediately that none of the parrots portrayed in these videos are known as the “Galvão”, nor are (most of them) endangered, nor are their feathers used in any sort of Brazilian celebration.

If you do have even a rudimentary knowledge of Portuguese, then you know that Cala Boca Galvão actually means “shut your mouth, Galvão!” Who the heck is Galvão? A little googling reveals that he is Carlos Eduardo dos Santos Galvão Bueno — more commonly known as Galvão Bueno, the best-known sports announcer in Brazil. Apparently, Brazilians hate him because he spews clichés and melodrama — if he can be understood at all — when making play-by-play commentary about sporting events. Because Galvão is so annoying, he has been compared to a vuvuzela, and his commentary often inspires Brazilians to react the same way: muting the sound on their TVs.

So annoying are Galvão’s spewings during sports events that the phrase Cala Boca Galvão became Twitter’s top trending topic recently. Of course, the sudden appearance of this phrase at the very top of Twitter’s list of trending topics led to speculation among nonspeakers of Portuguese about what it could possibly mean. That in turn led some Brazilians to offer elaborate and entirely fictional explanations, the most popular of which was that the phrase actually means “Save the Galvão,” a supposedly endangered species of parrot that can only be saved by a Twitter campaign.

On Sunday, a hoax video was uploaded on YouTube imploring the world to help save the Galvão birds from extinction — by “retweeting” the phrase “Cala Boca Galvão” on Twitter, which supposedly resulted in a donation of 10 cents towards the conservation of these parrots. On the other hand, the campaign seems to be working — the video has been watched more than 200,000 times and not one Galvão has died:

But more hoax Cala Boca Galvão videos have also been uploaded to YouTube. Here is another video in support of the Galvão, but depicting a completely different species of parrot — this is an Old World parrot species endemic to New Guinea, which you should know is an island located in the south Pacific Ocean. I have kept and bred this species myself. The species? The Dusky Lory, Pseudeos fuscata:

No, Dusky Lories are not endangered.

Here is yet another video, this time depicting a seriously endangered species of parrot endemic to parts of Brazil, the Little Blue (Spix’s) Macaw, Cyanopsitta spixii, a parrot that is now extinct in the wild. This video includes footage of the last known wild specimen, a male that was paired with a female Blue-winged (Illiger’s) Macaw, Primolius maracana (the green bird):

The last wild male Spix’s Macaw, which lived in northeastern Brazil, disappeared in 2000 when he was roughly 15 years old, and has not been seen since, thereby making this species extinct in the wild (although there are roughly 70 individuals in captive breeding programs, so the species still clings to life).


  1. #1 super Canalha
    June 21, 2010

    Estragou a brincadeira

  2. #2 "GrrlScientist"
    June 21, 2010

    oh, don’t worry; i’ve only ruined the joke for the three people who actually read my blog.

  3. #3 Tabor
    June 21, 2010

    I wonder how much of this stuff gets twittered around only rising to the surface for analysis if it gets twittered enough.

  4. #4 catarina
    June 21, 2010

    estragou a brincadeira (2)

  5. #5 "GrrlScientist"
    June 21, 2010

    aw, i’m sorry, catarina! it looks like my three fans (two of you are brazilian, too, wow) are now mad that i ruined the prank! well, please do accept my apologies; this was my chance to talk about birds to you once again. i find such opportunities irresistible.

  6. #6 Augusto
    June 21, 2010

    Estragou a brincadeira (3) =/

  7. #7 Lana
    June 21, 2010

    CALA A BOCA GALVÃO! americans… dont screw it up, é muito engraçado!

  8. #8 Prof.Pedant
    June 21, 2010

    And then there is the new Lady Gaga song: Cala Boca Galvão

  9. #9 Prof.Pedant
    June 21, 2010

    Hitler, who sticks his nose into everything, reacts to CALA BOCA GALVAO

  10. #10 Rafael
    June 22, 2010

    Today a coworker here in Los Angeles asked me what Cala Boca Galvão was. That was really funny! (By the way, I guess this blog has about 8 fans, not 3. Maybe all of us are Brazilians…)

  11. #11 Michelle
    June 23, 2010

    Is Chico Xavier involved too?


    That’s reallllllllllly funny!!!! hahahaha

  12. #12 sabrina
    June 27, 2010

    We are a very, creative people….

    Estragou a brincadeira (4)

  13. #13 Galvão Bueno
    July 20, 2010

    I support the campaign!

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