Japanese Scientists Track Radiation With Monkeys

They'll gather data from collars attached to wild ones
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2011 1:14 PM CST
Japanese Scientists Track Radiation With Monkeys
A Japanese baby macaque suckles as so-called "snow monkeys" bathe in the hot spring of Jigokudani Monkey Park in the mountains in Yamanouchi town, Nagano, central Japan, in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Japanese scientists are recruiting some unusual agents to investigate the radiation levels in the forests around the Fukushima reactor: wild monkeys. A professor of robotic technology at Fukushima University is leading a team that plans to capture up to three wild monkeys and outfit them with a collar that will measure radiation levels around the monkey while broadcasting its location via GPS, he tells CNN. The monkeys will then be released back into the wild.

After about a month, the team will detach the collars via remote control, so that researchers can retrieve them and analyze the data. "We would like to know how much impact (the radiation has) on the natural world," the professor explains, saying that attention has so far focused on radiation levels in the air, and ignored its effects on wild animals. He first tried the experiment in October, but the collar malfunctioned. The design has since been improved. (More Japan stories.)

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