Daily Archives: November 20, 2018

A mass grave — and chilling secrets from the Jim Crow era — may halt construction of a school in Texas

It was once known as the Hellhole on the Brazos — a notorious network of sugar cane plantations and prison camps where former slaves worked and died.
A tract near Houston, in what is now known as Sugar Land, became a graveyard for many of those people; it was unmarked, untouched and unconfirmed for decades.

How DNA from snow helps scientists track elusive animals

Getting your paws on a Canadian lynx is no easy task. These rare cats inhabit remote forests and steep rocky mountains. In fact, lynx are so scarcely-seen, they’ve been dubbed the “ghost cat”—and little is known about their distribution. This lack of information has hindered efforts to conserve the animal, which is listed as a threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Scientists have now begun using a new technique to track these animals down, by detecting trace amounts of DNA left in the snowy tracks of these and other creatures. In a study to be published in the journal Biological Conservation, scientists from the U. S. Forest Service were able to confirm the presence of a lynx in the Northern Rockies through genetic analysis of snow it had stepped in.

California Turns to War-Zone DNA Test to ID Fire Remains

At least 77 people are dead and more than 900 remain missing after the Camp Fire swept through the Sierra foothills town of Paradise, destroying more than 11,000 homes and scorching an area hundreds of square miles wide. Many victims were burned beyond recognition, making identifying remains a difficult task using traditional DNA-analysis techniques. Those samples typically must be shipped off to a laboratory, and the identification process can take weeks — if it works at all.