As technology improves, so does the hunt for the Loch Ness monster. Buzz60’s Sam Berman has the full story.
A group of scientists plans to find out once and for all if Scotland’s most famous “resident,” the Loch Ness Monster, is or ever was hiding in the deep by sequencing as many DNA fragments as they can find in the lake’s murky waters.
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.
Wondering what the Loch Ness project is all about? We’ve got you covered.
WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL DNA?
As organisms go about their daily lives, they leave bits and pieces of themselves behind: skin, poop, eggs, sperm, you name it. This bio-schmutz contains samples of the organisms’ DNA, which then get mixed into the surrounding water and dirt. That means a single vial of soil or water can act as an accidental genetic library. Scientists can isolate and decode this eDNA and compare it against a database of known DNA sequences to identify the creatures that left it behind.