Wanted, Dead or Alive

When scientists go scavenging at a bioblitz, anything they can find that’s organic is considered fair game

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"Wait! I haven't given you my dung beetles yet," another entomologist yelled, fondly cradling his entire collection in a jar lid.

A small crowd had gathered outside to hear the final count for this BioBlitz. It came to 1,369 species. Less than the record at Walden Pond. "Wait'll next year," someone muttered. (Censky's crew will try again on June 2 in Meriden, Connecticut. The Massachusetts survey will take place June 9-11.) "I know some of you won't be happy to hear this," the parasitologist was telling the crowd, "but we were delighted to find 35 species of parasites. So congratulations, Hartford." And from the enthusiasm in her voice, you could tell that the weird little creatures in our own backyards, even down to the lowliest flatworm, were as glorious to her as a pride of lions.

By Richard Conniff

About Richard Conniff
Richard Conniff

Richard Conniff, a Smithsonian contributor since 1982, is the author of seven books about human and animal behavior.

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