06 Jun
Searching for Monster DNA Searching for Monster DNA

Searching for Monster DNA

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A team of researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand recently announced plans for a quest to analyze everything that lives in the body of water known as Loch Ness.

And yes, that would include the fabled Loch Ness Monster.

Beginning in June 2018, the researchers, led by Professor Neil Gemmell, will rely on environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling of the lake's waters to find minuscule DNA traces deposited by life in the loch.

The team will then make a specific list of everything living in Loch Ness and compare that with lists made of the life in a few other lochs to determine how Loch Ness is different from those locations -- if, in fact, it even is.

If evidence is picked up of DNA sequences that resemble those believed to be tied to a sizable extinct marine reptile-- something known as the “Jurassic hypothesis” -- that will surprise Professor Gemmell, though he also says he is open to whatever the team discovers.

“Large fish, like catfish and sturgeons, have been suggested as possible explanations for the monster myth, and we can very much test that idea and others,” he says.

Gemmell adds, though, that the research project isn't simply a quest to find Nessie: “While the prospect of looking for evidence of the Loch Ness monster is the hook to this project, there is an extraordinary amount of new knowledge that we will gain from the work about organisms that inhabit Loch Ness – the UK’s largest freshwater body.”

Gemmell hopes to document new species of life, especially bacteria, and to uncover significant information concerning several new invasive species recently spotted in the loch, such as Pacific pink salmon.

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Read 1472 times Last modified on Thursday, 31 May 2018 02:49
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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