Dario Lopez-Mills / AP

Rare species can be difficult to detect, but scientists are looking to environmental DNA (traces of cells from skin, feces, and hair) to pin them down, according to The Scientist.

What they found: There are billions of cells that organisms leave behind in their environment, and they act as a marker of which species have traveled through various areas. So far, scientists studying eDNA have discovered the only cave-dwelling salamander to exist in Europe and Yangtze finless porpoise in China's Yangtze River. Bighead and silver carp in Lake Michigan, and alien and Asian carp in the Illinois and Mississippi rivers were also detected early thanks to eDNA.

Why it matters: The eDNA is helping scientists discover rare species "that are some of the most elusive animals on Earth," per The Scientist. "eDNA represents a revolution over traditional monitoring methods," Kathryn Stewart, a postdoc at the University of Amsterdam who led the study, wrote in an email to The Scientist. It is "perfectly suited for studying this cryptic, elusive, and rare species."

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 19,680,042 — Total deaths: 727,777 — Total recoveries — 11,962,565Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 5,002,523 — Total deaths: 162,455 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Nancy Pelosi says states don't have the funds to comply with Trump's executive order on employment — Trump adviser Larry Kudlow says he regrets suggesting the benefits could only be extended by Congress.
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — Poll: 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Schools: Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo showing packed hallway went viral — How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.