Stephen Fry looks at insects and other invertebrates. With Sarah Millican, Jimmy Carr, Johnny Vegas and Alan Davies.
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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Goooood evening, good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening.
And welcome to QI for a show that's all about insects and other invertebrates.
Let me introduce our completely spineless panel.
-Busy as a bee, Jimmy Carr.
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
-Snug as a bug, Sarah Millican.
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
-Knee-high to a grasshopper, Johnny Vegas.
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
-And banging his head fruitlessly against a window, Alan Davies.
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
So before we begin, we should hear your buzzes. Jimmy goes...
-Ooh, it's annoying.
-CRICKETS CHIRP Aw!
-MOSQUITO BUZZES / LAUGHTER
-And Alan goes...
Now, don't forget, there are some questions to which nobody knows the answer.
If you play your joker to a question to which nobody knows the answer you get extra points.
-If you use it at the wrong time, you look like a bit of a tit.
-So, to question one.
-What's the point?
What do bees do better than dogs?
Make honey. LAUGHTER
That's probably true, I have to say.
Probably true! You're giving me probably on making honey.
OK, if that's the way you want to play it.
-I'll give you that one.
-Thank you very much. I'm already in the lead. LAUGHTER
They're better at sneaking up on you than dogs are. You'd never know if a bee had sniffed your crotch.
-Well, you might not.
-There'd be a buzzing noise. But oddly enough, you used the word there...
-Is it crotch?
-Sniffing. We use dogs to sniff,
-to sniff in customs and for security...
..for explosives and drugs.
It takes a dog about three months at least to be trained
to be a sniffer dog. It takes a bee ten minutes.
All you have to do is put it in a box,
add the smell and some sugar simultaneously, do that a few times,
and it will instantly associate that smell with sugar and a reward and next time it comes across the smell,
its proboscis will come out and if you set it all up right, it will cause an alarm.
-So why aren't we in airports killing bees, then?
-It's beginning to happen.
Unless drug dealers have an allergy to stings,
I can't see them being pinned up against the wall by a policeman...
-..with a bee on a bit of kite twine.
There's a company called Inscentinel which has developed this
and it is beginning to be used by the military and airports and various others.
You pop a bee in a little box and you train it.
-That's not a little box, that's like the worst rucksack ever invented.
What if they like savoury stuff? What if they haven't got much of a sweet tooth?
The great thing about bees is they only like sugar.
There may be a rogue bee that likes meat or salami, and that would be useless.
-He wouldn't be able to do that as a job.
-A Cornish bee.
-You shove a few in a box
and then waft them near the thing you want them to check, there it is.
That's not a bad idea cos that's the old joke about the best way to smuggle drugs being in a dog's bum.
Because when the sniffer dogs come through... LAUGHTER
..as soon as the dog sniffs, you just go, "Come here, you! Naughty little thing."
-But with bees, how much could you get in a bee's bum? Very little.
My dad once punched a bee.
-Punched a bee?
-Yeah, it went for him, and it was huge, so he just punched it.
He said it was like a velvet tennis ball. LAUGHTER
A rather beautiful phrase, velvet tennis balls of the sky.
I like that he was thinking of such poetic things when he was punching a bee.
-Bees are valuable and they are in trouble. There seems to be...
-That one was.
-I'm going to offer you a reward.
I've got a plate here of insect-related foods, Sarah,
and you can choose your reward. This is a lolly which has got ants in it.
This is a scorpion brittle, like a peanut brittle, only with a scorpion in it.
I don't know if you can see it. Or just some dried bugs here. Would you like one of those?
And where is the treat part? LAUGHTER
-Chocolate ant, would you like a chocolate ant?
-I'll suck it.
-Are you going to risk any of these?
-Erm, I'll have a look at them.
-If I had a chocolate ant, would you?
-Er, I'll let you go first.
-I've eaten it. There it is.
-I'm not really bothered, to be honest with you.
-You made me eat it!
-Well, I want more bravery, because these are treats.
-I don't even eat brown bread.
Don't give things like that to us.
-You think of brown bread as being some sort of strange life form that's...
-Well, it's unnecessary.
-If that's a new range of pick 'n' mix, no wonder Woolies went under.
-It may well be the world is going to turn towards this kind of food
because 2.5 billion of the world's population already regularly eat insects.
Is that just by mistake when you're on a bike? LAUGHTER
These are treats and it may well be that it will solve the problem.
By the year 2030, they reckon there will be
such a shortage of protein on the planet
that there will be a genuine problem of starvation. There's already a problem with starvation
but it will multiply enormously as the population increases.
And insects and other invertebrates may be the answer.
-Spider is genius. Like chicken legs but they have loads of them.
What do you think are the advantages of eating and breeding insects for food?
-You get to pretend to be a giant.
A giant of commerce.
And you can train them all to come and exercise in front of you and get them to build tiny cars.
-Well, there is that.
-And I'll say, "Call me Johnny Nissan!"
-In the wild, when they lay eggs, they lay billions.
Only a few of them survive. But if you've got them, you can have all billion of them.
Yeah, exactly. And they need far less feed than cattle.
They produce far less noxious gas than cattle.
-But how would you contain the insect equivalent of foot-and-mouth?
-That would be a problem.
-"Have you been near a fly?" "Yes." "Leave the airport."
If you're trying to get this as an idea, this could solve starvation,
could you maybe pick a picture of a guy that looks less nuts? LAUGHTER
If you're trying to market it, if he's meant to be Captain Birdseye of the insect world,
he couldn't look any creepier. LAUGHTER
He looks as if he's auditioning to play the master in the original Dr Who.
-Even the frame in the picture looks like he's about to black out.
-And the spider.
-"They're good for you."
"My vocal chords are swelling up."
-There is no reason not to eat them.
-"I expect you to die, Mr Bond."
-Shrimp is essentially the same thing. It's just in the sea. That one is on land.
-They are delicious.
-We eat shrimp if there's a special on at Iceland.
-Take a moment.
-It may be that ant.
-It's the ant!
Oh, no, they're delicious, they could solve the problems of starvation...by killing us all.
-I have got a problem in my throat.
Look at that man looming over you going, "At last, I got you, Fry."
-Maybe that was a mistake.
-There's one brave ant. "We're going to cover you in chocolate,
"we'll put you in front of Stephen Fry, you're going to go down there and sort things out."
-"Once you're inside, release it."
-I've eaten those.
They've got a terrible bitter aftertaste, the smoked insects,
the little ants. I had them at Bug World in Liverpool.
Were you supposed to eat them? Cos isn't that like a zoo?
Is it shut now because you ate everything? LAUGHTER
-That giant snail was a mistake.
-It looked like a burger.
-You're offered a bit at the end. But then you're not meant to go back on a frenzy and break the others.
Just with a different hat on every time.
I like a zoo where there's a buffet on the way out. Panda burger anyone? LAUGHTER
Go to the Natural History Museum just lifting the cases.
I've also got acid reflux, I have to say. One little ant.
Here am I supposed to be advertising it as the future of humanity,
-and I have to say, I feel like shit at the moment.
-That has not gone down well.
The meat marketing board are watching this at the moment going, "Die! Die!"
-Talking of bees and dogs,
do you know the premier site on the internet for dogs that are dressed as bees?
LAUGHTER The best one? My favourite or the most popular one?
LAUGHTER It's beedogs.com.
Can you imagine a bee flying back and going, "I've found the queen!"
-"I've found the mother of all queens!"
I've got a little extra question for you. I was going to offer you a reward of a chocolate ant,
but I suspect there'd be no takers. I think I've got a leg stuck between my teeth.
-There are hundreds of ants coming across the studio floor.
How can you tell if your dog has a guilty conscience?
Is there a particular... Aww. Look at that boxer.
-Is it that your slippers are full?
-Your slippers are full?
-I was trying to put it in a nice way. Of shit.
-I know what you mean.
I know what you're saying.
I think they go in the opposite direction.
What a dog does with a guilty conscience is make a massive fuss of you.
-Ah, very interesting.
-More than usual.
-To try and make you love it and to make up...
-I thought that was husbands.
LAUGHTER When you say a guilty conscience, do they have a...
That's a point. The answer should've been nobody knows. The people who own dogs
think they can recognise a guilty look in their dog, but they've done a number of tests
in which they have told their owner their dog has done this particular thing
and the owner has said, "Oh, yes, that's its guilty look, I recognise that" and it hasn't done anything.
It's all in the mind of the owner. I've still got a little scaly something in the back of my throat.
-Have a bit of scorpion brittle to take it away.
-Take the edge off, yeah.
I was so looking forward to being brave and butch and taking this insect.
Revolting! There it is. Oh, a little wing casing or something.
Dogs can identify guilt in people.
-Yes, can they? They probably can.
-Yeah, they can.
-If you come in...
-Certainly in airports, but bees are better at it. LAUGHTER
That's very good. Now, why aren't there any vegan Venus flytraps?
-Maybe there are, but people don't invite them round for dinner
cos it's too complicated. LAUGHTER
That's a very good answer. Would you like a reward?
No, thank you. LAUGHTER
-Are you all right?
-No, I'm not all right.
Suppose a leaf fell in, why don't they eat the leaf?
Cos hasn't it got... I had one of these when I was a kid.
-Hasn't it got to hit two of them within a certain time frame?
They have a sort of time system on these tiny hairs,
you can see it here. Poor little thing.
-And then it just does another movement and bang.
-And it is really...
-Do you know what the coolest thing about them is?
When that closes, that bit there is the stomach.
It just closes really tight and then that becomes the stomach.
And all the digestive juices absorb the little animal.
It has a design fault, then. If you were one of those plants and you were starving
-but you had a mouthful of lettuce...
-..it would never know.
-It would starve to death rather than eat a salad.
-Because the salad didn't move
-in the right way.
-You have so much in common with these. LAUGHTER
-If you fell asleep next to one of them for long enough...
..and it closed on your finger,
would it be able to digest part of your finger?
I'm going to send you one and you will do the experiment.
-And let us know. You could try your knob, as well. It'd be funnier.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
-In the cause of science.
-It would be a penis flytrap then.
-LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
-Well, we'll see.
-You're considering it.
There are other exciting ways of catching insects.
-You know the South American bolas, like a sling that you swing round?
There's a spider that does the same thing to catch insects.
There, look at that. It's very clever.
-It swings this...
-That's not real, it's just a drawing.
-I admit, we don't actually have a photo of it.
I'll tell you why you don't have a photo. Because you made it up. It's not even a good picture.
That isn't even a good spider. It's a heart-shaped thing.
You started off doing a heart, it was probably a love letter, then you went, "I'll put some legs on it".
I'm very sorry. But do look it up on the net. I'm sure you'll find a photograph. The bolas spider.
-And he's doing this, is he?
-He makes a sort of lasso.
-He lassos the insect
-and then he does...
-He goes, "Yee-hah!"
-It does seem crazy, but nature is crazy.
-And then he drinks in a saloon.
What's the best way to charm a worm?
There's a worm. How would you charm a worm?
You tap, don't you? Because when it rains, they come up.
Birds do that when they jump up and down, they make a noise like rain and they come up.
Yes, actually, what they think is that there is a mole nearby.
And the earthworm's way of escaping is to come to the surface, because moles don't come up.
-Are they not friends? I imagine they would be friends.
-No, Moley and Wormy, not friends.
-Moley eaty Wormy.
-I'm going to stop you there, because in my mind, they are quite good friends.
They live underground and they have a terrific old time.
Could you charm a worm with a tiny flute?
Well, it's good you should say this because worm charming is a big, I won't say industry,
but it is a big pastime, both in America and in this country. There is the commercial side of it.
-Oh, for God's sake!
-I know you've got your "get a life" look on.
-And I do know what you mean, but...
-I really have.
There's nothing that discernable, is there? When you go, "Hi, you've got lovely..."
-Oh, you mean charming them in that sense.
-They have a little saddle, that can be attractive.
-But that's that myth, that that's where they've been cut in half.
-Oh, I see, and re-grown. Yes.
-Something happened between...
-You can chop them in half. You can do it with any animal.
-Yeah, but they...
-They don't join back together.
No, they can't. It's a myth. But in America they call it grunting, worm charming,
and it's reasonably big business because Americans love to fish,
and obviously bait shops need worms as well as maggots as...
-The girl in the foreground is tapping the ground with flip-flops.
-She's got flip-flops on so she's taken extra flip-flops.
-She's only done it to annoy you.
-It looks like a car boot sale where everyone forgot the cars.
-They've been Photoshopped out of the picture.
-It does rather, doesn't it?
-What it is, in Britain, the sport, if I can call it that...
-You may not!
..involves dozens of competitors. Oh, my God!
-Is that a worm on her T-shirt?
-She has a worm on her shirt!
-I don't know if that's a worm. I don't think we should look at that.
-You have to lure as many worms...
-Ken Dodd on the right.
-..as you can in 30 minutes.
-With a recorder?
-Well, with anything you choose. You can just tap...
And why the time constraint, is that because you're out on day release?
-Possibly. The low point was in Woodhall.
The Woodhall worm charming festival in Lincolnshire, none of the entrants in August 2010
-managed to lure a single worm.
-This is the worm-charming festival, isn't it?
Were those people inside at the time, were they in a building?
Yeah, it was raining, they had to do it in the church hall.
-That would explain it.
-I'm getting nothing.
How do they decide the winner if nobody actually lured any worms?
Well, a spokesman said they were all winners because they raised more than £200
for the Woodhall Spa Twinning Association. I don't know who Woodhall is twinned with.
I don't think it's twinned with anywhere. I think they had a suicide pact.
-Why has she got string on her fork? What's going on with these people?
That's her fork, like when you're at the airport, with your case going round, you put a ribbon on.
-At least when you go trainspotting, there are trains.
That's the best thing. The trainspotters are stood on the hill going, "Losers!"
-"Get a life!"
-Oh, dear. It's true.
-"Keep digging, Cynthia, they're only jealous."
Well, the fact is, yes, you can vibrate worms to the surface by pretending to be a mole.
Now, when would you go out with a bucketful of ladybirds?
What about if you had a bit of spare time and your hobby was collecting ladybirds?
-Would that work?
-It might. But why do we like ladybirds?
-Don't they kill, er...
-Greenfly, yeah. They are very good pest controller animals.
-Are you sure they're not pests? I think they might be.
-Well, they're a pest if you're an aphid.
-I thought you said if you were an atheist.
That's a fantastic idea.
Those ladybirds, proving the existence of God again.
LAUGHTER There must be a god because they're so adorable.
Well, they're sold on the internet to gardeners
-and the idea is that they help you with your aphid control problem.
-So they're all alive in a bucket?
Yeah. There are all kinds of insects you can buy. I remember buying for a conservatory,
you can buy gall wasps, I think they were,
because there was some sort of pest I had in the conservatory.
Did they just ring the bell? Two wasps turned up?
LAUGHTER "We're here about the aphids."
LAUGHTER "Where do you want us?"
No, ladybirds are very helpful, obviously, but the problem with them is,
if you order them on the internet and you get a bucketful,
if you release them, they'll simply fly away.
So there's a secret to it. You release them at night cos they don't fly at night.
So you release them into your garden at night and they go to work.
Then during the day, they may fly away, but they may by then have eaten your aphids.
-Why don't they fly at night?
-They prefer not to.
-Can't see where they're going.
-We don't have an answer to that.
-My mum used to be like that driving. Didn't like it.
Why not just go through them individually and break a bit of wing?
-And then keep them in your garden?
-You do want them to fly a bit.
-Well, that's why I said break a bit. I didn't say snap both.
Break a bit so they can have a bit of aspirational flight, but they can't escape.
-Well, I paid for them online. It's not like I go out picking on random ladybirds.
-Slavery is what it is.
-No, no, no.
What it is, it's about getting your money's worth.
LAUGHTER A bucketful of ladybirds.
Now, how did the thing with the amazing eyes escape from the tank? Look at that.
It's known as a mantis shrimp, although it isn't a true shrimp.
-It's a crustacean.
-It doesn't sound like anything.
-It looks amazing, doesn't it?
Are those the eyes on the top?
The top bits are the eyes, which are extraordinary because they're divided into three.
-So they have three types of vision in each eye. Look at it.
-Yes, they are.
They've got two of these eyes, but even more than that, they have power that is almost beyond belief.
-They can cut through glass.
-Hang on, this is sounding like Saturday morning kids' TV.
-Power beyond belief.
-They do! It's extraordinary...
-Is it the power of prayer, Stephen? Do they pray...
LAUGHTER Do they pray to get out of the tank to the little baby Jesus?
They're mantis shrimps, but not praying mantis shrimps.
Nice though, come on! LAUGHTER
They can accelerate, they can accelerate through the water at 10,000 times the force of gravity,
which causes the water in front of them to boil. I know it sounds mad.
-That's how extraordinary they are.
-It seems like a disadvantage cos when you stop, you're in boiling water.
LAUGHTER "I seem to have cooked myself." So they cook themselves?
They have this amazing power.
They have been known to break out of aquarium glass with one strike of their claw.
-They can actually break the glass and get out of their aquariums.
-Have we got footage of this?
-I can show you one punching its prey.
-It had better have a "Kapow!"
That's it on the left there. And this is obviously massively slowed down.
-And there it... Bang!
And that was a really... There you go...
-That is insect domestic violence.
It really is. They're very powerful creatures.
They have three sections of each eye. They can see ultra-violet, infrared, polarised,
and are the only creature on earth that can see circularly-polarised light.
-Does that mean they can watch Avatar without the glasses?
That's exactly what it means, basically. They're very remarkable creatures.
-Where do they live?
-Vietnam, that's where you find them.
-Would you like to see a shrimp on a running machine?
-More than you know! LAUGHTER
-Take a look at this.
-It's the Iceland research facility.
-Aw! How good's that?
-It's very good, isn't it?
-They've not got it with a stop button.
No, I know, it doesn't have control. Do you know, they can go three hours before they get exhausted?
What has he got on the iPod?
-He does look much slimmer than he did at the beginning of the footage.
There are various excuses that scientists have given for why they're doing that to them.
Was it mainly boredom? LAUGHTER
I was kicked out of there for just breaking one wing on a ladybird, and look what they're doing.
Are they doing any research into Marie Rose sauce? LAUGHTER
Because you need the two together, in a wine glass.
It's like shrimp horse-jumping. When the white line comes round, it jumps.
-Oh, does it? Oh, yes!
-And he's coming up here now on the third turn.
And he's looking strong. He's not looking bad.
-He's lost his jockey but he's still in the race.
The man responsible is called Professor David Scholnick of Pacific University in Oregon.
-He gives his name out?
He said, "These studies will give us a better idea of how marine animals can perform in their native habitat
"when faced with increasing pathogens and immunological challenges". How I've no idea.
-We have to take his word for it.
-I'm waiting to see a crab with some dumbbells.
LAUGHTER It is strange, when you look at that,
because the shrimp is an insect, but we quite happily eat that.
-Pick the legs off it, take the head off.
-I know. And lobsters and things.
As you say, we'll happily eat them as a treat.
-But these... Oh, God.
It's not done me any favours. And I felt so confident.
-I was going to have the scorpion, as well, but I'm not now.
-I'll have the scorpion.
-Would you like the scorpion?
-I'll have it.
-Oh, my dear fellow. There you are.
-You mean you're going to take it...
-I've had those. The aftertaste is just horrendous.
It's there for hours. But I'll have that.
-Yeah? Are you going to eat it now in front of us?
-If I put it all in my mouth, it might...
-I'll break it in half.
-Make it manageable.
-# Half the poison, half the fun
-That's God telling me something, isn't it?
-Wow, that is one tough...
-I think the scorpion might be alive. I think it might be like Han Solo.
-Not any more, it's not.
-Erm... Tail end or front?
I would go for the front. The tail end might have a sting in it.
-Always ask a lady.
-LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
Well, you could hardly break the thing, so...
-Come back in nine hours.
-Oh, you're having one, too! Good for you!
-I've been licking the brittle and I'll be there all night.
-I was eating it like a Club biscuit.
-Licking all the chocolate off.
-Is it quite sweet? It's basically sugar.
-I can't feel my toes.
It's like hemlock. It just works all the way up.
It's like bonfire night with death.
-Go on, Sarah, you know you want to.
-You've got to be joking.
-Have a lick anyway.
-Is this what you had, the chocolate ant?
-Sarah, just think, what if we all develop superpowers as a result?
-Alan had the ant.
-How could you eat that?
-He has the power!
-You saw what it did to me.
-He has the power of nausea!
-That is absolutely repellent.
-As soon as you break the chocolate, if whiffs.
-I know, it's not nice.
Something's happening. Something's happening!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
-Oh, my word!
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
-Power of the scorpion!
LAUGHTER Can I ask, are scorpions known for forward rolls?
-Oh, yes, Sarah, you're showing your ignorance there.
-I've tried a scorpion and I've tried an ant.
-And that's it.
-That's like the start of a really bad musical.
BOTH: # I tried a scorpion, I tried an ant
-# And that's it
-# Try a bug, try a bug, no
-# Now I'm an insect sycophant
-Have you had anything, Sarah?
-You should try an ant.
-I think you should have an ant.
-Well, you're not me mam, so...
You might all end up with superpowers, but you'll need somebody to save.
-No, we'll need somebody to push us round.
-We'll need some home help once we get our superpowers. We'll all be delirious.
-That'll be champion.
-Remember, never put anything in your mouth that hasn't been boiled.
I thought that was an old mother's thing.
My mam said you don't have to put anything in your mouth you don't want to.
-That was my sex chat.
-That was your sex chat?
-She didn't mention your vagina, then? Just your mouth.
-I don't know what came over me.
-This is my first time on the show!
Don't make me put a scorpion up me nunny.
LAUGHTER Sarah, if you would just entertain...
I'm not saying now, I'm not saying now,
but if you did five minutes before an gynaecological appointment
and you went, "I've got a bit of an itch..."
-You would be the subject of a medical paper
that would be published around the world!
-You would be the miracle woman.
-That shrimp is now looking like it's going, "Hurry up".
-"Is there another round? Cos I don't think I've got another jump in me."
Apparently it'll take him three hours to get exhausted.
Anyway, from shrimp mills to ant mills. What does an ant mill do?
-Is it like ground ants?
-Would you like some ground ant?
-Do they make bread?
No, what happens is, occasionally they lose the pheromone trail
that the leaders have and they start following each other in a circle
and the circle just goes round and round and round and round until they die.
-They just get completely stuck.
-What, like an ultimate conga?
HE SINGS CONGA
There was one observed in the 1920s. It was 1,200 feet in circumference.
It took two and a half hours for an ant to complete a whole circuit
and they were just going round and round and they just follow the one in front.
-Like dads at a wedding.
If one of them was a bit down
and wanted to take some others with it...
Yes! It could lead them on a false trail.
-Wouldn't that be beastly?
I've got a rule. If it comes in my house then I'm allowed to kill it.
-So how many Jehovah's Witnesses have you...
-Yeah. You're laughing, but...
-Under the floorboards.
But if it's outside, I have to leave it alone, cos technically I'm in its house.
That's a rather sweet way of looking at it.
Ants in an ant mill follow each other round in a circle until they died.
Why shouldn't you breathe... Excuse me, what shouldn't you breathe in...
-What shouldn't you breathe in if you're a stink ant?
-Is it your own...
-Your friend's anus.
I think that's a general rule.
-You don't have to be a stink ant.
It's a really weird life cycle, this.
It's a really creepy and unpleasant life cycle that the stink ant is victim of.
It spends its life in the rainforests of Cameroon
foraging on the ground, eating bits of leaf mould and generally having a perfectly reasonable life.
And way up in the canopy somewhere is this spore.
And occasionally they go "Pssshhh!", a fungus, and millions of these things drop down.
And if the ant breathes it in, it eats the ant from inside
and it starts with the brain and it sends the ant a bit mad.
And it does something that the ant would never otherwise do.
It makes the ant climb the tree.
So the ant climbs the tree and it gets to a certain height
and it's kind of programmed its brain. It sounds insane.
The ant then puts its mandibles into the tree and waits to die
and then the spore keeps growing and growing
and it pushes a shoot out of what was once the brain of this poor ant,
it's eaten all its other soft parts,
and this great shoot comes out which produces more spore
that drops down and drags up more ants.
We've got a picture, just in case you don't believe me, of a poor ant...
-You've done a picture of this happening.
-This is a real thing. This is the ant climbing up,
looking a bit unfortunate. You'll be able to see, this is it here.
It's been eaten from the inside and there is the spore growing out of what was once its brain.
You can see, the rest of its body has been eaten.
And that is... And there's that spore growing out
and then it eventually stops and the whole thing starts again.
-What a weird and cruel thing. Isn't it?
-Aw, that's sad.
It's like when people say, "There must be a god because of skylarks and water voles."
-You say, "Yeah, and because of that?"
It's called cordyceps, this particular fungus, and that's its life cycle,
basically to rain down onto the forest floor,
get breathed in by an ant, make the ant go crazy and climb a tree and complete its cycle.
Or to give it its human name, Special Brew.
That is a good visual representation of what the hangover's like off it.
-Ohh, what am I doing up a tree?
-Agh, my head feels like I'm growing spores!
-Imagine if it happened to people.
-To see someone, like, "Oh, no, he's going up a tree".
-And all the soft tissues get eaten.
You can see, it's not just the brain, it's all the bits lower down.
-You'd just have to let them go.
-I'd be really gutted if I breathed it in,
didn't really climb the tree, fell off and just ended up with a bump.
-Cos there wasn't enough material to feed off.
-You just wake up and they go, "What's that?" and you go, "Oh, nothing".
-There's plenty in there.
And so to the inevitable backbone of QI, General Ignorance.
Fingers on buzzers if you please. Name a vertebrate with no backbone.
Nick Clegg. LAUGHTER
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
A popular answer.
-A vertebrate without a backbone?
-It seems an impossibility.
-But there is something that is classified as a vertebrate that has no backbone.
-No, a big...
-Like a whale or something?
-Well, it's not a mammal. It is a fish, though. Big fish.
-Er, a dolphin isn't really a fish, to be honest.
-LAUGHTER Well, it looks like one.
-It looks like one, I agree.
-Well, stingrays and mantas don't have them, but it's the shark.
Sharks are classified as vertebrates.
They neither have ribcages nor do they have backbones.
They have things that look very like a backbone, but they're half the weight of bone,
they're cartilaginous matter with connective tissue. You can see a cross-section.
-He doesn't look very happy.
-No. It's a very cross section.
LAUGHTER You see the thing behind his eye going all the way back to his tail,
along his back that looks like a bone? LAUGHTER
-I'm just saying...
-I know. It's not actual bone, though. It's cartilaginous matter.
Cartilage, as we would say in England.
-That's all I have to say on that subject. So, there we are.
-Let that be an end to it!
What's the strongest creature for its weight in the world?
-Is it Johnny? LAUGHTER
There is a stronger man than Geoff Capes in the world at the moment.
-Zydrunas Savickas, who can...
-Can he pull a lorry along with his teeth?
A 70-tonne plane. But that's only 411 times his own weight and it has to have wheels.
This creature can pull a force equal to 100,000 times its body weight.
When I say creature, I mean, it is a living thing,
-but it's not even an insect, it's tinier.
-Our old friend bacteria.
It's a bacterium. It's a bug in that sense. And it's not one you want to catch.
It's one that would be most unwelcome in the trouser department.
-No, no, no, it's an actual bacterium, not an insect.
-Gonorrhoea is the right answer.
-The strongest thing in the world?
-Yep, the gonorrhoea...
-It pulls down your pants and...
-Oh, that's your excuse for catching it.
-Seriously, love, I didn't stand a chance.
Stripped me bare! Do you know how strong they are?
They have these bundles of long, thin, contractile filaments called pilis...
-Why is all that toast on screen?
-They use these to crawl
and they can pull along 100,000 times their weight, which is a very small weight.
Do you know what the cure for gonorrhoea used to be?
-Yeah. They'd put a sort of umbrella up the urethra,
press a button to open the umbrella inside the shaft and then pull out...
-We've heard it all. We don't need to hear it.
-I'd like to hear it. Tell us again.
-You can only do it if they're in your house.
If you had a particularly unsympathetic doctor,
he'd then jump around the room going # I'm singing in the rain
And he'd splash in your own tears.
LAUGHTER They then cover it in chocolate and sell it as ants.
-Oh, dear me. Yeah.
That's enough of gonorrhoea, I feel. What do oystercatchers mainly eat?
-They're just misnamed, oystercatchers.
-What do they catch?
-Is it other shellfish?
-Yes. Cockles and mussels, mostly.
-Are they not very good at catching oysters?
-They just love a cockle.
Who doesn't, pet? Who doesn't? LAUGHTER
-Are they mainly cockneys?
-A huge percentage of European ones are in Britain.
And the amount they catch is astonishing. Each oystercatcher can get 500 cockles a day
and given that half of the European population is in Britain,
that's more than 300,000 birds,
that's a potential seasonal consumption of 8.9 million tonnes of cockles.
-I love a cockle.
-I love cockle. In vinegar.
-With a stick.
-Yep. That's it. Gorgeous.
-From a man in a little mobile kiosk.
-A little hint of grittiness sometimes.
-Bit of vinegar.
-Yep. Anyway, which animal has the most genes?
It's to do with the age, it's not to do with the complexity.
-It's Jeremy Clarkson, then.
-Isn't it some plant that has loads more genes than us?
There are quite a few things that have more genes than us. The fruit fly has many more.
-This is a little water flea.
-Don't they think that's because of the age?
-It's just been around for so long, it's mutated all these different times?
-8,000 more genes than us.
It's quite a lot. It doesn't do much. It lies around.
-It carries its own umbrella.
It's a very important part of the food chain in water.
-It's eaten by fish and...
-You can imagine the fish going, "Mm, taste those extra genes!"
Now, why are moths attracted to light?
-Oh, Alan! Well done!
-You're good at this.
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
-Well, I just feel that it would've come up, someone would've told me.
Yes, you're right. There are various theories.
One is that they're used to the moon and that other sources of light disorient it
-and they use the moon for navigation and...
-It does seem odd that they only come out at night.
-If they saw the sun, they would love it.
-Yes, you'd think!
-It would be... LAUGHTER
If they got up in the morning, they'd go, "Look at that!"
-Cos the amount they love my bedside lamp...
I mean, they love my beside lamp, but the sun is significantly bigger than my bedside lamp.
Maybe that's why they don't, cos if they went for the sun,
they would all just go for the sun and then fly into the atmosphere and that would be a disaster.
Some people believe different sources of light confuse their navigation system
and others think that the moth may think the light is the moon,
others think the infrared spectrum from things like candles
may contain a few of the same frequencies of light
that are given off by a female moth's pheromones. But they're all theories. No-one really knows.
I like their ambition. They think it's the moon and they go, "I could make it. Look at these. Come on!"
If you try and catch one, if you're trying to kill it like I do, cos it's in the house,
and then you turn the light off, I always feel really guilty
-cos it's as if they go...
-So, nobody knows.
And that mystery brings us to the eternal mystery of the scores and how fascinating they are.
In a resolute last place with minus-24, it's Mr Jimmy Carr!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Almost teetering on the brink of plusness is Alan with minus-1!
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
And Sarah Millican's first performance has been astonishing with plus-2!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
But tonight's winner with plus-4 is Johnny Vegas!
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Ohh! That's all from Jimmy, Johnny, Sarah, Alan and me,
apart from this final word from Bill Vaughn.
"We hope that when the insects do take over the world,
"they will remember with gratitude how we took them along on our picnics." Good night.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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