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Krill Have History, Too

As we grow and go through life, we accumulate evidence of our age. We get bigger. Our hair turns gray. We drive slower. Well, krill are crustaceans and they’re smaller than a baby’s finger, but they’re just like us: they age.

Biochemist Rodger Harvey and technician Rachel Pleuthner, both from the University of Maryland, are collecting krill on this cruise to learn how the little guys age and what they eat. These researchers study lipids, a group of chemicals that includes fats and can be very handy in figuring out an organism’s past. Because krill do not keep scrapbooks.

And lipids can be used to learn more than just a krill’s age. Like an obsessive digital camera owner who takes a picture of his lunch every day, a krill’s lipids carry a history of what it’s eaten.

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