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Carrion Flies Used To Find New Species

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the delightfully-festering dept.

Biotech 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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They won't find PLANTS (2, Funny)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 2 years ago | (#42534103)

Plants are people, too. Stop ignoring plants, scientists. You are all a bunch of plant-haters.

Vegetarians are the worst offenders. They are mass murderers, literally, literally. Humans should respect our plant sisters and brothers and stop eating mushrooms and other plants.

Re:They won't find PLANTS (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 2 years ago | (#42534641)

Is a mushroom a plant? Or, is it something else? A fungus, maybe? I think there is something sinister about mushrooms, masquerading as plants as they do. Very sinister, maybe even evil!

http://www.allaboutmushrooms.com/mushrooms.htm [allaboutmushrooms.com]

What are Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are unique. They are neither animal or plant.

Some people consider them plants for various reasons, but they differ from plants in that they lack the green chlorophyll that plants use to manufacture their own food and energy. For this reason they are placed in a Kingdom of their own," The Kingdom of Fungi".

Mushrooms are also unique within the Fungal Kingdom itself, because they produce the complex fruiting body which we all know as 'The Mushroom', all of the mushrooms are placed in a division called 'Eumycota' meaning 'The True Fungi'.

The True Fungi are what we all know as mushrooms. They are divided into other groups depending on the structure of their fruiting bodies and various other macro and microscopic characteristics.

Re:They won't find PLANTS (2)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#42534697)

Plants aren't people. Soylent greens are.

Re:They won't find PLANTS (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 2 years ago | (#42543273)

I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals...
I'm a vegetarian because I HATE plants!

/OK, I'm actually omnivorous. *glares around the room menacingly*

Finding Bigfoot Tried This Already (1)

CyberSlammer (1459173) | about 2 years ago | (#42534105)

The flies kept on coming back and landing on Bobo.

Bigfoot DNA? (1)

kwiqsilver (585008) | about 2 years ago | (#42534145)

Any bigfoot DNA in there?

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42534223)

Unfortunately for Science, bigfeet bury their dead.

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42534451)

Any bigfoot DNA in there?

You can't discover a Squatch that way. According to the Finding Bigfoot cable show, you need to:

1. Knock on trees and/or yell loudly at night.
2. Listen carefully before saying, "What was that?"
3. Hold a party in the forest.
4. Shoot off lots of fireworks.
5. Put a woman in a tent overnight (Bigfoots are less intimidated by them).
6. Cook bacon or liver over a campfire.
7. Dress up like a hunter and carry a BB gun (Hunters see Bigfoots more often than non-hunters; ergo, Bigfoots are attracted to hunters).
8. Stay away from Matt, Ranae, Cliff and Bobo... Bigfoots avoid them.

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 2 years ago | (#42534483)

You're reminding me why I hate TV.

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (1)

able1234au (995975) | about 2 years ago | (#42540109)

That was funny. Were you posting as AC to avoid the bigfoot supporters?

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#42541895)

the women are just too ashamed to admit to the multiple orgasms they got from the massive footlong bigfoot

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (1)

Fned (43219) | about 2 years ago | (#42536945)

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

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#42538403)

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 could be any sort of consensus. At the end of which, there would be a camp claiming that it still wasn't Bigfoot because some detail propagated in the reports about the creature was wrong.

I am all for constructive skepticism. It is a necessary and practical tool. But when the bar starts getting raised over and over again under the tired old phrase 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence' a problem gets introduced. You see nobody wants to clearly delineate exactly what qualifies as extraordinary. Is the idea of a yet unknown reclusive primate living in a vast forested area really that extraordinary? Or a small population of large sea creatures living in a loch and its underwater cave system? I propose a new counter standard. "Labeling something extraordinary requires an extraordinary lack of hypothetical probability." Perpetual motion meets that standard. Bigfoot does not.

I'm not saying you take evidence for granted and fail to scrutinize it. That correlates to the number of false reports and data and there are plenty of those in Bigfoot land. But the standards by which it is authenticated should be no different than for any other unknown species.

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (1)

able1234au (995975) | about 2 years ago | (#42540145)

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.

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#42541969)

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.

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (1)

able1234au (995975) | about 2 years ago | (#42542257)

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.

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#42542795)

"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 discussion by clearly being so much better qualified that neither of us is qualified enough to argue against her opinion.

Like this chick http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Goodall [wikipedia.org] . As an expert on primate and especially chimps she was extremely well versed in primate communications and meaningful sounds. Very much unlike the Native Americans who could so effectively replicate the calls of Sasquatch that they sold her. But what does she know. I mean I'm sure if I'd walked up to her and said I saw a primate that went oh oh ah ah she'd have been totally sold.

Or maybe this nut http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grover_Krantz [wikipedia.org] . I mean sure dude is an expert in evolutionary anthropology and primatology but what does that even mean?

How about this guy? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Meldrum [wikipedia.org] . This nutter isn't even a primate expert! Just some nut with credentials in zoology, vertebrae locomotion, and anatomical sciences. He is about the only one ever to get an article related Sasquatch through peer review. Turns out, if skeptics label something as "extraordinary" peers tend to reject articles related to it without consideration of substance. Those same peers will point to a lack of a journal published peer reviewed paper to discredit anyone who claims they have evidence to disclose though.

But why so few even if they are credible? Well considering it tantamount to career suicide to claim evidence of bigfoot, yeti, etc it isn't surprising. But more than that it turns out there really aren't all that many esteemed primatologists in the first place. There are so few that it isn't especially meaningful if one or two believe something and the others don't because there aren't enough others for one or two to not represent a substantial sample.

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (1)

able1234au (995975) | about 2 years ago | (#42543075)

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 of the Russian expedition were most likely fraudulent. He claimed the supposed evidence found was simply an attempt by local government officials to drum up publicity"

Grover Krantz: "has been described as having been the "only scientist" and "lone professional" to seriously consider Bigfoot in his time, in a field largely dominated by amateur naturalists." so one scientist and its case solved for you. Perhaps because "his cryptozoology research was ignored by mainstream scientists, despite his academic credentials, in a bid to find an audience Krantz published numerous books aimed at casual readers and also frequently appeared in television documentaries". Perhaps that is why he went for a topic that would guarantee him publicity. Another publicity whore.

Now get off my lawn until you find some real evidence - not fake videos, fake handprints, fake footprints but bodies, skeletons, DNA. If these things are easy enough to video they should be easy to find dead bits. Damn there are enough guns and hunters in the U.S. Someone would have shot one by now.

Re:Bigfoot DNA? (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#42548189)

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 any material to attack Jane Goodall with so you skipped her.

But no, my argument isn't for the existence of Bigfoot but for the application of the same standards used to scrutinize other suspect but not yet confirmed species. You are the only one even concerned with solving the case or as you see it, who has already solved the case.

Wrong! (4, Funny)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wrong! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42534391)

Deep analogy of the day: Slashdot posters are the carrion flies hovering over Slashdot's rotting corpse.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42534749)

Actually, she didn't die there. If you bothered to look at the corpse, you can tell she was dumped there.

People Finding (3, Interesting)

AaronLS (1804210) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:People Finding (1)

xaxa (988988) | about 2 years ago | (#42540781)

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.

Re:People Finding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42547583)

remember them verifying Bin Laden's location using DNA collected from a fake inoculation campaign

It seems this story has been confirmed [wired.com] . It's a horrible thing. Aide workers are being killed and thousands of children are likely to get sick and die. Got to get those terrorists no matter how many innocents die.

New species? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#42534217)

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

Re:New species? (1)

DaemonDan (2773445) | about 2 years ago | (#42534357)

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.

Re:New species? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#42534433)

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

Re:New species? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 2 years ago | (#42534537)

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

Re:New species? (1)

DaemonDan (2773445) | about 2 years ago | (#42536359)

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.

X file / Y file (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42534469)

I remember a guy in Great Britain telling me that every person there had a private file. As they already have the place where to put it, like in the movie "Cube", I wonder which percentage have not got the equivalent DNA. And as they already have the DNA let us say...Gattaca?

Carreon Files (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42534221)

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

So Now We Can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42534249)

...examine fly tummies to see whether there's WoW players in the area.

No danger of stumbling into stinking carcass holes anymore.

Flies (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 2 years ago | (#42534353)

Time flies like an arrow. Carrion flies like a carcass.

Re:Flies (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#42541909)

more flies with carrion because checked baggage costs more

Re:Flies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42542061)

That's what trebuchets were made for.

Ah, but they didn't think of something (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42534393)

The joke's on them, since this is only going to find dead species.

Re:Ah, but they didn't think of something (1)

jandar (304267) | about 2 years ago | (#42534491)

Species can't be dead but rather they can be extinct.

If they had any guts at all... (1)

JeanCroix (99825) | about 2 years ago | (#42534607)

...they'd try it with carrion crawlers, not flies.

Re:If they had any guts at all... (1)

kilroy77 (2810321) | about 2 years ago | (#42535555)

I know what those are!! I know what those are!! Oh, I know what those are. Outed +1

You mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42534871)

...this isn't about that lawyer who was giving The Oatmeal such a hard time?

My Apologies (1)

carrier lost (222597) | about 2 years ago | (#42535209)

Cannot. Resist. Link. To. Image [botaday.com] .

All that's needed now... (1)

CyberDong (137370) | about 2 years ago | (#42535213)

...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.

Similar To? (2)

craigminah (1885846) | about 2 years ago | (#42535469)

Do carrion flies have any relation to carrion luggage? I always get funny looks when I bring it onto the plane...

Re:Similar To? (1)

SourceFrog (627014) | about 2 years ago | (#42539777)

Yes, because carrion luggage flies.

YOU FAI(L IT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42536213)

the most vibr48t [goat.cx]

How many is enough? (1)

edibobb (113989) | about 2 years ago | (#42537185)

There are over 150,000 species of flies alone, yet we still need more? The taxonomists are running amok!

Re:How many is enough? (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#42538469)

Bah, any fly DNA discovered with this technique would likely be labeled contamination so we probably won't find new flies this way.

PR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42538617)

I thought this was more PR for Charles Carreon. Oops.

Maybe (1)

HHealthy (2803519) | about 2 years ago | (#42578057)

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 pieces DNA in quite radom places and amounts... The idea sounds good, the reality...? Maybe good enough for general specied mapping but not for species discovering. Maybe for "unknown origin chunks"... For funding, research and peer finding please refer to the non-profit Aging Portfolio.
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