UD bio-influencer goes viral with ‘spider sheep’

That video everyone's talking about featuring the gravity-defying sheep comes courtesy of Imogene Cancellare of #scientistswhoselfie fame.

A post on Imogene Cancellare's biology-focused Instagram.


Chances are, you’ve seen it: That video of a cliff face with several goats inexplicably walking down it as if it’s a horizontal field. It not only trended on Twitter, but it also got a coveted Twitter Moment.

The video, taken in the Valley of Cats in China, was posted by University of Delaware Ph.D. student Imogene Cancellare.

Cancellare, who is studying the population dynamics of snow leopards in high Asia, is no stranger to social media. Her Instagram account, @biologistimogene, is devoted entirely to conservation biology — plus heavy use of the #scientistswhoselfie hashtag. And in May of this year, she spoke out in response to an op-ed published in Science magazine that railed against female scientists who maintain a social media presence.

The campaign was about more than simply posting selfies. Cancellare co-authored a study that found that women scientists who Instagram are influencing young people who may otherwise see science as a boring, male-dominated field.

“What we found was that the perception of scientists as warm was increasingly more prominent when viewing an image that includes a person,” she said in an interview with at the time. “But more specifically, and what’s even cooler, is that that perception of warmth was even more prominent if the images contained a female scientist. There was also [contrary to the Science op-ed’s suggestion] a slight increase in the perceived competence of female scientists in selfies.”


As for the gravity-defying sheep, they’re actually called blue sheep, bharal or naur. Their ability to effortlessly climb the cliffs in the high mountain ranges of China and Tibet is believed to be an antipredator strategy they’ve adapted.

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