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DNA explorers at NYC high school

December 31, 2009


Great work by 2 DNA explorers — it seems high school students are kicking ass all over the place, first in sushi, now this! Check out this big DNA species identification project, about 200 samples from around the neighborhood and lots of cool findings. Even one that suggests they found a new species of cockroach!

From their website: “We identified 95 different animal species.”

You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that all of the species displayed above were found in local supermarkets and homes in New York City. A feather from a duster yielded Ostrich DNA. A delicacy labeled “sturgeon caviar” instead turned out to be from the strange-looking Paddlefish. A popular Asian snack was revealed as Giant flying squid. Bison DNA was found in a dog biscuit.


We found DNA evidence all around us. We found DNA “name tags” in all kinds of human and pet foods including raw, cooked, dried, and processed items. We obtained DNA from dried soup mix, scrambled eggs, dog food, chicken McNuggets, hamburger, beef jerky, bologna, yogurt, cheese and even butter. By analyzing DNA, we traced tiny, unrecognizable bits of once-living things to their source.

We could identify animals from what they left behind in the environment. We found tell-tale DNA in dried-out horse manure in Central Park, a pigeon feather on the sidewalk and a shed snakeskin.

Good work!

PDF of samples and results:,%20results.pdf


Post a comment
  1. January 4, 2010

    Would be interesting to see them publish what COI primers sequences were used for the experiment. Please post the link to the paper if you find it…

  2. February 3, 2010

    Freaking sweet! Didn’t know this could be done so accessibly

  3. March 7, 2010

    Good post, thanks a lot!

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