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LONDON (Reuters) – A global team of scientists plans to scour the icy depths of Loch Ness next month using environmental DNA (eDNA) in an experiment that may discover whether Scotland’s fabled monster really does, or did, exist.
The use of eDNA sampling is already well established as a tool for monitoring marine life like whales and sharks.
The article goes on to state the following:
Whenever a creature moves through its environment, it leaves behind tiny fragments of DNA from skin, scales, feathers, fur, feces and urine.
“This DNA can be captured, sequenced and then used to identify that creature by comparing the sequence obtained to large databases of known genetic sequences from hundreds of thousands of different organisms,” said team spokesman Professor Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago in New Zealand.
According to National Geographic:
Since April 2018, an international research team led by University of Otago geneticist Neil Gemmell has collected water samples from the iconic freshwater lake. In June, Gemmell’s team will begin extracting DNA from the samples, hunting in part for Nessie’s genetic fingerprint.
The team expects to announce their findings by January 2019. In the meantime, the project will shine a bright spotlight on environmental DNA, or eDNA for short—a relatively new field of study that’s giving scientists unprecedented insights.