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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."

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

New wave of strikes will test worker power

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Thousands of John Deere workers hit the picket line this week after the union smacked down a new worker contract from the farm and equipment maker.

Why it matters: There’s a wave of worker angst spreading across the country. They wield new power that’s come with a historic worker shortage.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
5 hours ago - Technology

The smart city comes of age

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Better sensors, more intelligent AI, and the coming wave of 5G wireless could finally fulfill the promise of the smart city.

Why it matters: How we organize, run and power our cities will be increasingly important in the years ahead, as urbanization expands and the damaging effects of climate change compound.

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