Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Panda research in China

There’s a story from the BBC about a team of researchers in China trying to learn more about the giant pandas there. How are they doing it? In what has to be one of the ten worst jobs in science, they’re looking at samples of the animals’ dung:

Scientists aiming to discover more about China's giant pandas have collected the animals' droppings to extract unique DNA profiles.

It’s not like they have a shortage of material either:

"A panda can defecate 40 times a day so there's loads of poo to find," said Prof Bruford.
Must be all that bamboo roughage. Guess they wouldn’t make very good house pets. And if you thought this was safe, monotonous work, think again:

"The mountains are an absolutely wonderful place but it can be cold and difficult in winter.

"Our PhD student nearly fell off a cliff trying to gather samples, he was having to hike up 2,500 metres."

Wow, I’d never go that far for my dissertation. Whatever gets you out of the lab, I guess.

In other science news, I think Mary Mia and Rod’s Mentos & Diet Coke experiments look a lot more promising than cold fusion as an alternative energy source. Can Altoid-fueled cars be far behind?


Anonymous Robert Bolling said...

Did you explore further into their site to find this geM?

2:40 PM  
Blogger M3 (Mary-Mia) said...

Hm, altoids, huh? We just might have to take a crack at it... ;-)

4:32 PM  

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