Animals, Technology

“Barcode” Of A Beaver On CN Tower

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Image: Wladyslaw
Image: Wladyslaw

Canada is leading the way in “barcoding” all animals on earth.

Scientists around the world are undertaking a massive project to help protect animals. And Canadians (in fact, Torontonians) are leading the way.

One day, the project will allow you to point your camera phone at an animal or a bug and a screen will pop up with the name of the species and a description of it.

It’s all thanks to the “Barcode of Life” project, which is designed to protect endangered species, and track the movement of animals and bugs – and even pinpoint the sources of contaminants in food.

Every animal and insect (including humans) has DNA. DNA is a set of molecules that stores information about an individual. Everyone’s DNA is unique to them. Scientists are using the DNA from animals to create “barcodes” for them, which they will then record in databases in Toronto and Guelph, Ont.

We’ve all seen barcodes on items – cereal, for instance – in the grocery store. Those barcodes are used by the scanner to let the grocery store know what the product is, and to track it. This barcoding project is just like that, except with animals.

Today it takes about two days and a whole lot of technology to create one barcode. But the process is getting easier and more cost effective. Scientists expect to have more than five million barcodes in the system within the next five years.

The system is already working. Recently, barcoding was used to track a mouse head that showed up in a TV dinner in Asia. They used its barcode to trace it back to a chicken farm that had exported the dinner.

Related links
International Barcode of Life website.
Wikipedia’s definition of DNA.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

Writing/Discussion Prompt
The “Barcode of Life” is a project that costs a lot of money. Protecting animals is an issue that concerns everyone. So who should pay for this project? Why do you think so?

Reading Prompt
After reading today’s article, what predictions can you make about the “Barcode of Life” project? Do you think it will be a success or a failure?

Primary and Junior
Use stated and implied information and ideas in texts to make simple inferences and reasonable predictions (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Grammatical Feature: Parentheses
Parentheses are used several times in this article in order to include extra information. A few examples are given below.

“Scientists around the world are undertaking a massive project to help protect animals. And Canadians (in fact, Torontonians) are leading the way.”

“Every animal and insect (including humans) has DNA.”

Write a few sentences about what you had for breakfast this morning. Use at least two sets of parentheses.

This article was originally published on Sept. 27, 2010.