How is a kidnapper's text message similar to a jellyfish? Both are tiny points in a sea of data that scientists can use to draw conclusions about a bigger picture -- be it identifying a serial rapist or measuring linkurl:biodiversity,; according to linkurl:Andrew Price,; a marine ecologist who is working with forensic scientists to apply taxonomic techniques to crime assessment. Ecologists routinely track biodiversity in different marine environments, and those same techniques can be used to assess similarities and differences in details relating to a linkurl:crime,; in order to determine, for example, if two assaults were committed by the same person. The connection is obvious, said linkurl:Tim Grant,; deputy director of the Center for Forensic Linguistics at Aston University in Birmingham, UK, who sought out Price's expertise. "What we're all interested in doing is measuring similarity." Grant and his collaborator, forensic psychologist linkurl:Jessica Woodhams,; first connected with Price about three...

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