Featured Image for WATCH: Sassy starfish informs Danish research team what it thinks about microchips
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WATCH: Sassy starfish informs Danish research team what it thinks about microchips

It won’t come as a surprise to you that personal privacy is becoming more and more of a red-button issue, with the rise of the internet leading to all sorts of creepy violations.

Things hopefully reached a low point a couple of years ago as the cloud was hacked and hundreds of images of celebrities in the altogether were posted online.

Yet even as scary as some of the misuses of technology are, the solutions suggested so far haven’t been much better, like in the UK where internet service providers are now required by law to keep details of customers’ online activities, to be made available to various state organisations.

Which, of course, sounds completely rational and not at all scary.

However, as with all things internet-related, wherever there is a story to ruin your mood, there is an animal video to bring you right back, hurrah!

Introducing Frederik Christensen and Trine Olson, two biology students in Denmark who were given the glamorous task of tagging starfish in order to differentiate between them in future studies.

As the study continued, the two students realised that the microchips were, more than a little unhelpfully, not staying in the starfish. Perplexed, they began to investigate through various means, including sonograms, before tying a magnet to the end of a strand of hair and using it to track the movement of the chip within the organism, which in turn led them to discover that the starfish, having absolutely no time for having freaky technology rolling around its body, was spitting them out in a manner best descried as ‘sassy’.

As stated in the Popsci report on the story, a handy human equivalent would be “like a human getting shot in the leg and then ejecting the bullet from their fingers without any internal injuries”.

It should be noted at this point, that while this would seem to provide fairly conclusive prove that having a microchip placed in your arm by pesky science-folks is not in fact what some starfish are in to, the practice is actually designed to help animals, as detailed by this National Geographic article.

While the article focuses predominantly on the migration patterns of animals and using that information to better plan effective conservation techniques, there are lots of ways that studying animals can be useful, some of which are described by the National Centre for the Replacement Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research as:

  • understanding species behaviour and ecology
  • species conservation
  • population management
  • evaluating methodologies for control
  • understanding the role of wildlife in disease transmission.

Having made their big discovery, the strange tale of the sassy starfish (which Techly is hereby claiming as the name for our upcoming B-movie) was published in a scientific journal, and the starfish became the poster-echinoderm for personal privacy in the 21st Century and is currently in talks with Netflix to bring its story to the small screen in a daring documentary. Probably.

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