Scientists vacuum zoo animals’ DNA out of the air

Read the full story at Georgia Public Broadcasting.

A key part of protecting endangered species is figuring out where they’re living. Now researchers say they have found a powerful new tool that could help: vacuuming DNA out of the air.

“This is a bit of a crazy idea,” admits Elizabeth Clare, a molecular ecologist at York University in Toronto, Canada. “We are literally sucking DNA out of the sky.”

But it works. Clare’s group was one of two to publish papers in the journal Current Biology on Thursday showing that dozens of animal species could be detected by simply sampling the air.

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