Museum of Science and Industry


Despite what popular culture would have you expect, scientists almost never become supervillains. But sometimes a study comes along that makes you perk your ears up and reach for the Bat-Signal. Researchers in Copenhagen have pioneered a new method for DNA monitoring that’s as easy as taking candy from a baby, except instead of candy, it’s blood! And instead of a baby, it’s a hideous mass of leeches.

By collecting leeches and testing the blood in their tummies, researchers can get a basic survey of local mammal populations. In one experiment, leeches taken from the Vietnamese jungle proved to be carrying DNA from a rabbit species not seen there since 1996, allowing scientists to confirm the existence of a population they couldn’t directly observe. Researchers hope that this type of monitoring could also aid preservation efforts for endangered or near-endangered species that otherwise might be difficult to track. And that's all! That's all they want to do with their leech network. Sure.

We're watching you, Copenhagen.

Image: University of Copenhagen

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Museum of Science+Industry
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60637
1 (773) 684-1414
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