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Porcupine Quills

Published: 9.27.2021
Level 6   |   Time: 4:20
Accent: American
Source: PBS Deep Look

Researchers are using porcupine quills as new surgical staples that mimic the quill's shape to promote healing.


triangle Directions 목표 Direcciones Instruções


    It is important to read the vocabulary before you watch the video. This will improve your ability to understand the video. It will also help you understand how the new vocabulary is used naturally.

  2. WATCH the VIDEO

    The first time you watch the video, just try to understand the overall situation.


    First try to answer all the questions from memory. Then rewatch the video and try to answer the questions that you missed.

  4. WATCH and READ the SCRIPT

    Watch the video again while you read the script. Reading and listening at the same time will help you hear each individual word and improve your listening accuracy.


    There are several different activities that focus on test preparation, vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure.


    Es importante leer el vocabulario antes de ver el video. Esto mejorará su capacidad para comprender el video. También le ayudará a comprender cómo se usa el nuevo vocabulario de forma natural.

  2. VER el VIDEO

    La primera vez que vea el video, intente comprender la situación general.


    Primero intente responder todas las preguntas de memoria. Luego, vuelva a ver el video e intente responder las preguntas que se perdió.


    Mire el video nuevamente mientras lee el guión. Leer y escuchar al mismo tiempo lo ayudará a escuchar cada palabra individual y mejorará su precisión auditiva.


    Hay una serie de actividades diferentes que se centran en la preparación de la examen, el vocabulario, la gramática y la estructura de las oraciones.

  1. 어휘 읽기

    비디오를 보기 전에 어휘와 배경을 읽는 것이 중요합니다. 이렇게 하면 비디오를 이해하는 능력이 향상됩니다. 또한 새로운 어휘가 어떻게 자연스럽게 사용되는지 이해하는데 도움이됩니다.

  2. 비디오 보기

    비디오를 처음 볼 때 전체 상황을 이해하려고 노력하세요.

  3. 문제에 답하기

    먼저 모든 질문에 답을 해보세요. 그런 다음 비디오를 다시보고 놓친 질문에 답해보세요.

  4. 비디오 보면서 대본 읽기

    대본을 읽는 동안 비디오를 다시 보세요. 읽기와 듣기를 동시에 하면 각각의 단어를 듣고, 듣기 정확도를 향상시킬 수 있습니다.

  5. 액티비티 하기

    듣기 정확도, 발음, 어휘, 문법 및 문장 구조에 초점을 맞춘 다양한 액티비티가 있습니다.


    É importante ler o vocabulário antes de assistir ao vídeo. Isso melhorará sua capacidade de entender o vídeo. Também ajudará você a entender como o novo vocabulário é usado naturalmente.


    Na primeira vez que assistir ao vídeo, tente entender a situação geral.


    Primeiro, tente responder a todas as perguntas de memória. Em seguida, assista novamente ao vídeo e tente responder às perguntas que você errou.


    Assista ao vídeo novamente enquanto lê o roteiro. Ler e ouvir ao mesmo tempo ajudará você a ouvir cada palavra individualmente e a melhorar sua precisão auditiva.


    Existem várias atividades diferentes que se concentram na preparação para o teste, vocabulário, gramática e estrutura de frases.

triangle Vocabulary 어휘 Vocabulário Vocabulario

  • ☐ ☐ ☐ impale [v] - make a large hole with a long sharp weapon or tool
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ next to impossible [exp] - almost impossible
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ fearsome [adj] - scary, dangerous
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ wield [v] - use (a weapon)
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ plod along [phv] - walk slowly and without grace or skill
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ packing [adj] - containing
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ pierce [v] - make a hole with a sharp instrument
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ quills [n] - the hollow sharp spines of a porcupine [image] vocab image
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a decoy [n] - a thing used to mislead or lure an animal or person into a trap
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ spikey [adj] - like a spike, sharp
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ mess with [phv] - bother
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ bristle [v] - make hair (or quills) stand up away from the skin [image] vocab image
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ densest [adj] - thickest
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ stink [v] - smell bad
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ coated [adj] - covered
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ waxy [adj] - covered in wax (a thick yellow liquid. the material of candles)
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ grease [n] - a thick oily liquid
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ pungent [adj] - having a bad smell
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ musky [adj] - a bad smell
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ back off [phv] - get away (from someone)
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a myth [n] - not true
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a hypodermic needle [n] - a medical needle [image] vocab image
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a tip [n] - the sharp point or end of something
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ microscopic [adj] - very very small
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a barb [n] - a sharp projection near the end of an arrow or fishhook [image] vocab image
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ lodged in [adj] - stuck in
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ an infection [n] - becoming sick with disease because of bacteria or dirt
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ an antibiotic [n] - a medicine that fights bacteria and infection
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ inhibit [v] - prevent, reduce, slow
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ clumsy [adj] - awkward in movement
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ stay put [v] - not move
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ take hold [v] - become fixed, stable, common
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ dissolve [v] - change from solid to liquid, disappear
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ sharp [adj] - smart, clever

[n] - noun,  [v] - verb,  [phv] - phrasal verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression

triangle Questions 문제 Questões Preguntas [ ? ]


These are guided listening questions. These questions are NOT designed to test or trick you. They are designed to guide you through the video.

TIP: If you don’t understand something in the video, click "Show Answers". You should be able to understand all of the important points of the video by reading the questions and the correct answers.


Estas son preguntas de escucha guiada. Estas preguntas NO están diseñadas para ponerte a prueba o engañarte. Están diseñados para guiarlo a través del video.

CONSEJO: Si no entiende algo en el video, haga clic en "Show Answers". Debería poder comprender todos los puntos importantes del video leyendo las preguntas y las respuestas correctas.


이것은 안내식 듣기 질문입니다. 이 질문들은 당신을 시험하거나 속이기 위한 것이 아닙니다. 동영상을 통해 안내하도록 설계되었습니다.

팁 : 동영상에서 이해가 되지 않는 부분이 있으면 "Show Answers"를 클릭하세요. 질문과 정답을 읽으면서 영상의 중요한 요점을 모두 이해할 수 있어야 합니다.


Estas são perguntas de escuta guiadas. Essas perguntas NÃO foram elaboradas para testar ou enganar você. Eles são projetados para guiá-lo através do vídeo.

DICA: Se você não entender algo no vídeo, clique em "Mostrar respostas". Você deve entender todos os pontos importantes do vídeo lendo as perguntas e as respostas corretas.

  1. Porcupine quills are _____ to remove.
    almost impossible

  2. Porcupines tend to eat _____, _____, and _____.
    pine cones

  3. Porcupines have about _____ quills.
    30 000
    300 000

  4. Porcupines quills are _____ the long white hairs.

  5. The quills are densest _____.
    around their face
    on their backside
    on their tail

  6. The quills smell bad because they are covered in _____.
    feces (shit)
    a pungent grease

  7. Porcupines can also _____ to defend themselves.
    use their tails
    shoot their quills

  8. The tip of a porcupine quills are covered in _____.

  9. Getting stuck with a quill _____ to infection.
    doesn’t usually lead
    usually leads

  10. The quills' grease _____ the growth of bacteria.

  11. Porcupines are quite _____.

  12. Researchers wants to make surgical staples that work like porcupine quills because _____.
    they are very sharp
    they dissolve over time
    they will reduce infection
    they are inexpensive to produce

  13. Normal surgical staples _____ and _____
    cause damage
    are not very sharp
    are expensive to produce
    increase the risk of infection

triangle Sentence Building (Summary) 문장 만들기 Construção de sentença Construcción de oraciones [ ? ]


This activity is designed to improve sentence accuracy and complexity. Most students can produce the key content words in a sentence. However, they have difficulty with accuracy because the functional words are difficult or can seem unimportant. This activity will help learners eliminate problems with these functional words by giving them immediate feedback on the mistakes they are making. It will also help students develop their use of more natural, varied and complex sentence structures.

TIP: Say the sentence out loud. Notice the types of mistake you make often. Focus on those types of errors. (singular/plural, subject-verb agreement, article use, prepositions, gerunds and infinitives, noun clauses, adjective clauses, word order, and word forms.)


Esta actividad está diseñada para mejorar la precisión y complejidad de las oraciones. La mayoría de los estudiantes pueden producir las palabras clave del contenido en una oración. Sin embargo, tienen dificultades con la precisión porque las palabras funcionales son difíciles o pueden parecer poco importantes. Esta actividad ayudará a los alumnos a eliminar problemas con estas palabras funcionales al brindarles retroalimentación inmediata sobre los errores que están cometiendo. También ayudará a los estudiantes a desarrollar su uso de estructuras de oraciones más naturales, variadas y complejas.

CONSEJO: Diga la oración en voz alta. Observe los tipos de errores que comete con frecuencia. Concéntrese en ese tipo de errores. (singular / plural, concordancia entre sujeto y verbo, uso del artículo, preposiciones, gerundios e infinitivos, cláusulas sustantivas, cláusulas adjetivas, orden de las palabras y formas de las palabras).


이 액티비티는 문장의 정확성과 복잡성을 개선하기 위해 고안되었습니다. 대부분의 학생들은 문장에서 핵심 내용 단어를 생성 할 수 있습니다. 그러나 기능적 단어가 어렵거나 중요하지 않은 것처럼 보일 수 있기 때문에 정확성에 어려움이 있습니다. 이 액티비티는 학습자가 실수에 대한 즉각적인 피드백을 제공함으로써 이러한 기능적 단어의 문제를 제거하는 데 도움이 됩니다. 또한 학생들이 보다 자연스럽고 다양하며 복잡한 문장 구조를 사용하는 데 도움이 됩니다.

팁 : 문장을 크게 말하세요. 자주 저지르는 실수 유형과, 이러한 유형의 오류에 집중하세요. (단수 / 복수, 주어-동사 일치, 관사 사용, 전치사, 동명사 및 부정사, 명사절, 형용사절, 어순 및 단어 형태)


Esta atividade foi desenvolvida para melhorar a precisão e a complexidade das frases. A maioria dos alunos pode produzir as palavras-chave do conteúdo em uma frase. No entanto, eles têm dificuldade com precisão porque as palavras funcionais são difíceis ou podem parecer sem importância. Esta atividade ajudará os alunos a eliminar problemas com essas palavras funcionais, dando-lhes feedback imediato sobre os erros que estão cometendo. Também ajudará os alunos a desenvolver o uso de estruturas de sentenças mais naturais, variadas e complexas.

DICA: Diga a frase em voz alta. Observe os tipos de erro que você comete com frequência. Concentre-se nesses tipos de erros. (singular/plural, concordância sujeito-verbo, uso de artigos, preposições, gerúndios e infinitivos, cláusulas substantivas, cláusulas adjetivas, ordem das palavras e formas das palavras.)

Directions: Write sentences about the video clip using the words given. You can change the word form or add words, but you cannot change the word order.

Instrucciones: Escriba oraciones sobre el videoclip usando las palabras dadas. Puede cambiar la forma de la palabra o agregar palabras, pero no puede cambiar el orden de las palabras.

Instrucciones: Escreva orações sobre o videoclipe usando as palavras-chave. Você pode alterar a forma da palavra ou adicionar palavras, mas não pode alterar a ordem das palavras.

지시 : 주어진 단어를 사용하여 비디오 클립에 대한 문장을 씁니다. 어형을 변경하거나 단어를 추가할 수 있지만 어순은 변경할 수 없습니다.

Sentence 1

porcupine / have / razor / sharp / quill / that / design / impale

Porcupines have razor sharp quills that are designed to impale.

Sentence 2

although / porcupine / slow / clumsy / they / safe / predator / because / quill

Although porcupines are slow and clumsy, they are safe from predators because of their quills.

Sentence 3

porcupine / quill / under / layer / long / hair

Porcupine quills are under a layer of long hair(s).

Sentence 4

porcupine / usually / keep / quill / flat / against / body / but / they / bristle / when / they / danger

Porcupines usually keep their quills flat against their body, gut they bristle when they are in danger.

Sentence 5

quill / smell / bad / because / they / coat / pungent / wax / grease

The quills smell bad because they are coated in (a) pungent waxy grease.

Sentence 6

porcupine / not / actual / shoot / quill

Porcupines can't actually shoot (out) their quills.

Sentence 7

tip / quill / cover / microscopic / backward-face / barb

The tips of {their/the] quills are covered in microscopic, backward-facing barbs.

Sentence 8

when / you / try / remove / quill / barb / fan

When you try to remove the quills, the barbs fan out.

Sentence 9

get / stuck / quill / not / usually / lead / infection / because / grease / act / like / natural / antibiotic

Getting stuck [with/by] a quill doesn’t usually lead to infection because the grease acts like a natural antibiotic.

Sentence 10

because / porcupine / quite / clumsy / they / be / know / accidentally / quill / self

Because porcupines are quite clumsy, they are known to accidentally quill themselves.

Sentence 11

researcher / want / copy / design / porcupine / quill / for / surgical / staple

Researchers want to copy the design of porcupine quills for surgical staples.

Sentence 12

these / staple / cause / less / damage / and / keep / infection / out

These staples will cause less damage and keep infection out.

triangle Discussion 논의 Questões de discussão Discusión

  1. What are the three most interesting facts that you remember about porcupines?
  2. Researchers want to make surgical staples that are similar to porcupine quills. Explain why. Try to use these words:
        bacteria, barbs, curved, damage, dissolve, infection, speed up, wounds
  3. Can you think of any other technology or innovation that was inspired by some animal body part or feature?
  4. Have you ever seen a porcupine? Do you know where (in which countries) they are common? Are they common in your country?
  5. A group of porcupines (mother + babies) is called a prickle. These words also refer to animal groups - a school, a pride, a murder, a pod. Can you guess which animal each word is associated with?

    a school - a group of fish
    a pride - a group of lions
    a murder - a group of crows
    a pod - a group of whales

triangle Script 대본 Roteiro Texto

You can now support Deep Look on Patreon. Details after the show.

Razor sharp. Designed to impale. And next to impossible to remove. The fearsome creature that wields these weapons? Aw, look at that face.

A North American porcupine may be slow, as she plods along. She can take her time looking for tasty leaves and bark, or munching on acorns. She doesn’t have much to worry about. That’s because she’s packing 30,000 piercing quills.

But hold on, those white things aren’t quills. They’re just extra-long hairs, decoys to make her look even more spikey. The real quills are underneath. They’re white too, but usually hidden under that dark fur.

Most animals learn, do not mess with porcupines.

A porcupine normally keeps its quills flat against its body. But when threatened, it bristles, showing off an area on her backside where the quills are the densest, called the rosette.

And it stinks. The quills are coated in a waxy grease that puts off a pungent, musky smell, unique to porcupines, that says “back off.”

But if that’s not enough, she uses her tail to slap anyone who gets too close.

Watch this. She didn’t shoot her quills out – that’s a myth. The quills don’t release easily unless they hit something and get pushed in first.

They’re super sharp – sharper than this hypodermic needle. And check out: The tip is covered in microscopic, backward-facing barbs. When you try to remove it, the barbs fan out, keeping the quill lodged in. Yowch.

If you get a bunch in an unlucky spot, like your mouth, that makes it hard to, you know, live.

But even though they’re super painful, getting stuck with a quill doesn’t usually lead to infection.

The quill’s grease acts like a natural antibiotic, inhibiting the growth of some dangerous bacteria. Maybe it’s because porcupines are actually pretty clumsy. They’ve been known to accidentally quill themselves, falling out of a tree maybe.

Researchers at Harvard are now looking at these quills for inspiration. Surgical staples that doctors use to close wounds curve in under the flesh to stay put. That causes damage on the way in and leaves room for bacteria to take hold.

So what about a staple with barbs like a porcupine quill? It could make a smaller wound and stay put without curving. That could keep infection out, and speed up healing time. Then it just dissolves. Pretty sharp, right?

That’s something about this spiky, little fuzzball that anyone could love.

Hey. A couple things before you go ... Did you know that every single Deep Look episode has original music? Come on over to our Patreon site to meet our composer, Seth Samuel, and hear how he creates the music for the show.

Also, definitely check out Sound Field, a new show about music from our partner network, PBS Digital Studios. Sound Field breaks down our favorite songs, from Bach to Beyoncé. Links are in the description. Thanks.