IU scientist plays role in discovery of ‘Jurassic butterflies’


Photo by Jim DiLoretto

IU paleobotanist David Dilcher contacted the IU Newsroom on Feb. 1 about his role as a co-author on a journal article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B announcing the identification of an insect whose behavior and appearance resembled a butterfly’s, despite evolving 40 million years earlier than the modern butterfly.

The lead researchers on the work were located at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, which was developing a news release. IU Newsroom opted to put out a related blog post to highlight Dilcher’s important supporting role in the study, identifying the plants upon which the insect fed. The Smithsonian Institution’s press office was kept up-to-date about the development of the post through Dilcher.

On Feb. 3, the IU Newsroom uploaded the post, “IU scientist plays role in discovery of ‘Jurassic butterflies,’” to the IU Viewpoint’s “Science at Work” blog. A version of the post, which included a quote from Dilcher, was also submitted to EurekAlert, a news distribution service for science journalists. IU and the Smithsonian’s posts on the research appeared online within minutes of each another.

The first media outlet to pick up the announcement from IU was Motherboard, the science and technology channel of VICE Media. Their reporter also shared a link to the original IU Viewpoints blog story on twitter.

Other reporters, many of whom drew information and quotes from both the Smithsonian release and IU’s coverage, included:

In addition, the Science Channel shared the news in a tweet that garnered 61 likes and 49 shares. Other notable social shares included 93 likes and 32 shares on a tweet from Fox News; 45 likes and 38 shares on a tweet from Motherboard; and 326 likes and 71 shares on a post on the IU facebook page.


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