I’m Sabrina, Defector’s newest staff writer. I’ll mainly be covering the creature beat, writing about non-human life, meaning all the little cuties and weirdos that generously share the planet with us. (We humans are very bad at sharing the planet, and for that I am ashamed!)
You may be wondering: Defector is mostly a sports blog. What sport is there in creatures? Not very much, which is perhaps for the best considering how many historical animal-related sports often also revolved around killing the animals (see: eel-pulling, as well as the related and deadly eel-pulling riot of 1886). But in my eyes, Defector is a perfect home for the creature beat because Defector is a site that is full of joy and, more importantly, obsession.
To me, obsession seems crucial for the creature beat because if you were to randomly encounter a creature in the wild, you might feel confused, flustered, or even repulsed. Maybe that creature is a small bug that has more legs than you’re accustomed to seeing. Maybe that creature has something standoffish about them, such as spines, slime, or a stinger. Maybe that creature is actually very beautiful and mysterious but has no interest in knowing you—to which I say, good for them! I encounter creatures every day that I cannot comprehend. I encounter even more creatures that I never even notice. But I want to notice them, and to understand them!
Here is where I come in. I am not a scientist or an expert in any particular creature, but I am a science journalist who loves to talk to people who devote their entire lives to unraveling the secrets of frog feet or weevil snouts. At Defector, I hope to be your guide to the many creatures that slither, flop, and burrow around us on this stupidly beautiful planet—building on the excellent coverage of Birdfector and blogging my way into the secrets of the evolution of life on Earth.
I will also write about humans in science, such as the people who shaped its history and the many other people who are now working to fix what the aforementioned people ruined or got wrong. I aim to be deeply skeptical about what is morally permissible in the name of science and scientific discovery, and hope to center the voices of those who are directly affected by said science and are critical about the harm research can bring to marginalized communities. I’m also interested in the ways science can advance equity and justice, as well as the ways science percolates in more mainstream culture, whether that’s in goofy memes or yet another vaguely erotic film about a man and an octopus.
To be clear, I won’t be covering our nation’s headlining science news, such as infectious disease or SpaceX rocket launches that go kaboom. Instead, I’ll seek out stories that might slip through the cracks or have no topical relevance beside the fact that I learned about them and now want to tell all my friends. Consider the entomologist Dr. Alexander Riedel in Germany who had to come up with names for 101 weevils in one fell swoop (my favorite is Trigonopterus sordidus, named for the singular quality of being indistinguishable from a grain of dirt.)
I would be remiss to talk about science blogging without acknowledging one of the best to ever do it. Ed Yong’s decade-long blog Not Exactly Rocket Science had the simple mission “to celebrate the wonder of science and above all else, to make it as interesting and fun to any reader as it is to me.” I started reading Ed’s blog when I was a wee intern at Scientific American who had no background in science, had never taken (and passed) a science class in college, and had no idea what on earth I was doing interning at a place like Scientific American. Not Exactly Rocket Science wasn’t just my guide into learning about and loving the sciences, it was also a model of the kind of science writing I realized I wanted to do: blogs that are accessible, engaging, and full of wonder.
And now here I am, finally free to blog about little guys—a term I deploy in a gender-neutral sense—to my heart’s content. Maybe some big guys will sneak in, too, but only if they’re a little funky. Welcome to Creaturefector. I hope you like it here.