Skeptical Soccer Cynicism (or: The Big Green Grasshopper)

Perhaps it’s all the rolling around to waste time by soccer (football) players who are obviously unhurt.

Or maybe it’s my distrust of the Internet (see: The Pocket Guide to B.S. Detection).

But when Matt showed me the photo of the giant green insect that landed on James Rodriguez’s arm right after he scored in last night’s match, I didn’t believe him. I thought, no way: the photo/video is doctored, it’s from Reddit, it must be a joke… Matt’s comments about viral marketing didn’t help.

Then I went to look online at the archived video of the match itself. The bug was really there! The insect’s lurid, nearly fluorescent green color made it look fake to me, as did its size. The big blur on Rodriguez’s arm was there, and then it wasn’t. Even after watching the video several times, I still didn’t quite believe it.

But I wasn’t taking into account Brazil’s flora and fauna — where researchers just discovered female cave-dwelling insects with penises, where pink dolphins swim in the Amazon River, and where uncontacted human tribes live among the rich diversity of the Brazilian rainforest (quickly being deforested).

A bit of Googling took me to this encyclopedia of entomology (keyword: locust). I suspect that the green bug on Rodriguez is related to (or might be?) Rhammatocerus schistocercoides, a swarming locust from South America.

But that’s just a guess. Be skeptical of my armchair entomology.

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