FIU News – Can you tell the difference between a young dolphin and an old one? Neither can scientists — not without pulling a tooth, sawing it in half and counting the growth layers like the rings of a tree.

But that process isn’t pleasant for anyone, especially the dolphins. It’s also expensive and a complicated. This kind of information is important, though. Age isn’t just a number. It’s a critical part of learning more about the overall health of a population.

That’s why FIU researcher Jose Eirin-Lopez and Ph.D. student Andria Beal created and developed a tool that can determine a dolphin’s age through a small skin sample. The less-invasive Bottlenose Dolphin Epigenetic Age Estimation Tool — or BEAT — gets rid of the guess work.

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