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Biotech Earth Science

Carrion Flies Used To Find New Species 51

sciencehabit writes "If carrion flies have one enviable talent, it's finding animal carcasses in the wilderness, something they surpass even the most systematic and intrepid field biologists at doing. Now, researchers may be able to capitalize on the insects' gruesome gift to survey biodiversity. Capture the flies, a new study shows, and DNA from their last meals will tell you which animals live in the area. In addition to scanning an area's biodiversity, the technique has the potential to reveal species that are new to science."
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Carrion Flies Used To Find New Species

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  • Any bigfoot DNA in there?
    • by Fned ( 43219 )

      I don't think the BFRO [bfro.net] has tried this yet...

    • Possibly but at this point skepticism around Bigfoot is so high that DNA taken from a sample that matches no known species does not qualify as credible evidence. Such DNA has been found before, is consistent with what one would expect Bigfoots DNA to look like and the results are labeled inconclusive and dismissed as contamination by skeptics.

      At this point nothing short of catching a live specimen will suffice. And even that would likely only be enough to kick off years of testing and analysis before there

      • You'd think we would have a roadkill by now if they existed. Instead you have dodgy people pushing dodgy claims using the same scam style approaches with blair-witch videos. Appreciate you keeping an open mind but at some point it has to be put up or shut up. That time passed a long time ago.

        • Why? A reclusive and intelligent species with a low population in a massive mostly unpopulated forest. I don't see any particular reason there should be. There is DNA and video. Hell we didn't have video of a giant squid until recently.

          • Wanna buy some swampland?

            There are very DODGY videos done by very DODGY people. There was a hunter who said he shot one but didnt bring back the sample. There were people who claimed to have stuff but rather than rushing to share it out they did the usual dodgy thing and said that the guvmint and others were trying to suppress the info and so they would have it privately tested by unknown firms. DODGY DODGY DODGY. And playing you all for fools as you lap it up. Put up or shut up.

            • "DODGY videos done by very DODGY people."

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem [wikipedia.org]

              Hunter said he shot one but didn't bring back a sample. Okay, dismissed. It doesn't provide data either way.

              "And playing you all for fools as you lap it up."

              In other words you have nothing of substance to contribute to a discussion. Just Ad Hominem attacks.

              At the end of the day I have to admit that I'm no primate expert. I highly doubt you are either. If only there were a highly credible primate expert who could end our discussi

              • It just takes one sample to prove it all. Don't these things die? Don't they cross the road?

                google "dead mountain gorillas" and you will see lots of images. Mountain Gorillas are rare yet lots of pictures. Now do the same for "dead bigfoots" and you will see fakes. Despite stories from around the world about bigfoot/yeti/sasquatch.

                Just find one and you can happily laugh in our face. Instead we get obviously fake videos and gullible people like you.

                Jeffrey Meldrum: "publicly acknowledged that the results o

                • More Ad Hominem attacks. Are you capable of rational discourse?

                  "so one scientist and its case solved for you"

                  First of all I listed three and you just listed two although you gave a quote of something one of them said about one expedition he went on because he had integrity which only lends credibility to his other work. Then you launched into an Ad Hominem attack on the other. You do know it is a logical fallacy to discount a message by attacking the messenger rather than the content? I note you didn't have

  • Wrong! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mikkeles ( 698461 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @01:50PM (#42534173)

    ...their last meals will tell you which animals live in the area.

    I think they mean: ...their last meals will tell you which animals died in the area.

  • People Finding (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AaronLS ( 1804210 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @01:54PM (#42534215)

    I wonder if this technique could be used with mosquitoes to find people. I.e. remember them verifying Bin Laden's location using DNA collected from a fake inoculation campaign(I think that was it). Instead this wouldn't require direct contact with someone, but instead capturing local mosquitoes.

    Could have both nefarious and benevolent applications.

    Only thing is mosquitoes don't travel very far. Which is bad in that you have to travel around and collect mosquitoes from lots of areas, and good in that when you find a match you have a pretty good idea how close you are.

    • by xaxa ( 988988 )

      Your comment is the only one that's not a joke, shame.

      I wonder if this technique could be used with mosquitoes to find people. I.e. remember them verifying Bin Laden's location using DNA collected from a fake inoculation campaign

      if not yet, it probably won't be long.

      The taxonomists (and botanists, zoologists etc) have only recently been able to discover new species by sequencing the DNA. Previously, it took laborious searching and comparison of samples -- especially difficult with insects -- and that's not so accurate. Now, you can lay out some sticky paper and feed whatever sticks through a machine.

  • Have we sequenced the DNA of every known species or what?

    • No. That's why sequencing DNA that doesn't match to any known species would reveal a previously unknown species. Based on sequence homology scientists could probably then figure out the genus of the new species, since the majority of the DNA would be similar.
      • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

        Or it would be a known species we haven't sequenced yet.

        • Possibly, but at the rate of sequencing these days, it could help narrow down the search.

        • Also true. But if it's a known species they could find it and sequence it to compare. If it matches you're good, but if it isn't a match you know to keep looking for something new.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Gee, I misread the headlines to say Carreon Files [arstechnica.com].

  • Flies (Score:5, Funny)

    by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @02:08PM (#42534353)
    Time flies like an arrow. Carrion flies like a carcass.
  • ...they'd try it with carrion crawlers, not flies.
  • Cannot. Resist. Link. To. Image [botaday.com].

  • ...is a tiny little Heimlich machine to get them to purge their meals. Wouldn't want any of the little critters to be harmed, or PETA will be railing against science again.

  • by craigminah ( 1885846 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @03:23PM (#42535469)
    Do carrion flies have any relation to carrion luggage? I always get funny looks when I bring it onto the plane...
  • There are over 150,000 species of flies alone, yet we still need more? The taxonomists are running amok!
    • Bah, any fly DNA discovered with this technique would likely be labeled contamination so we probably won't find new flies this way.

  • It sounds very promising but obtaining biodiversity profiles from flies guts is no easy tasks. When you collect samples from an enviorement to analyze which litle bugs and bacteria are there you end up with an estimation. The reason? You obtain the DNA from all of them and then proceed to break it into small chunks at discrete places and those are sequenced. Then a piece of software tries to guess how all that fits, and barely achieves it most times...Now ad to that, that the fly has already diggested those

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal