top ten research highlights

The following highlights are the top ten most viewed research highlights on the English website of during the past month.


Palaeontology: Hummingbird-sized dinosaur preserved in amber

Nature, March 12, 2020

A new species of bird-like dinosaur identified from a skull trapped in amber is described in a paper published in this week’s Nature. The new species may represent the smallest Mesozoic dinosaur reported to date.

Discoveries in amber are providing unprecedented insights into the soft tissue and skeletal anatomy of small animals that are not typically preserved in other sedime...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2068-4

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Environment: Opening plastic bags and bottles may generate microplastics

Scientific Reports, March 20, 2020

Opening plastic packaging, such as plastic bags and bottles may contribute to the generation of small amounts of microplastics — small plastic particles less than 5 mm long — during daily tasks, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Microplastics are generally believed to originate directly from industry, for example as cosmetic exfoliates, or indirectly fro...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-61146-4

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Metabolism: Bacteria in human internal organs characterized

Nature Metabolism, March 10, 2020

A detailed analysis of how bacterial DNA is distributed among human internal organs is described in a paper published in Nature Metabolism.

Bacteria can be found all over the body and inside the gut. Although internal organs are typically sterile, in diseases - such as obesity - fragments of bacteria can move from the gut into the blood and trigger inflammatory responses. Howev...

doi: 10.1038/s42255-020-0178-9

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Ecology: Artificial light disrupts marine life during polar night

Communications Biology, March 6, 2020

Arctic marine life, down to 200 meters below the surface, is disturbed by artificial light from ships, according to a paper published this week in Communications Biology. These findings suggest that during the polar night, artificial light can affect population surveys, which can thus influence sustainable management efforts.

Fish and marine animals called zooplankton rely on c...

doi: 10.1038/s42003-020-0807-6

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Ecology: The collapse of large ecosystems modelled

Nature Communications, March 11, 2020

The collapse of large vulnerable ecosystems, such as the Amazon rainforest and Caribbean coral reefs, may only take a few decades once triggered suggests a modelling study in Nature Communications.

In ecology, regime shifts are large, persistent, and often unexpected changes in stable ecosystems, which may be driven by feedback loops once a ‘tipping point’ has been reached....

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15029-x

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Animal behaviour: Anxieties and problematic behaviours may be common in pet dogs

Scientific Reports, March 6, 2020

Anxieties and behaviour problems may be common across dog breeds, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. The findings suggest that noise sensitivity is the most common anxiety trait, followed by fear.

Hannes Lohi and colleagues used an owner-reported survey to examine seven anxiety-like traits and problematic behaviours in 13,700 Finnish pet dogs and found that 7...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-59837-z

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Machine learning: An algorithm designed to smell

Nature Machine Intelligence, March 17, 2020

A neural algorithm designed to mimic the biological perception of smell is reported in a paper published in Nature Machine Intelligence. These findings may support a future application in which an artificial nose can be trained to recognize specific odours, despite the presence of unknown background odours.

Neuromorphic chips are designed to use computational machinery inspired...

doi: 10.1038/s42256-020-0159-4

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Astrophysics: When a neutron star and black hole collide in a crowd

Communications Physics, March 6, 2020

The merger between a neutron star and a black hole within a dense stellar environment might not emit the electromagnetic radiation seen when the same process occurs in an isolated environment, according to a modelling paper published in Communications Physics. A merger within a dense environment might also exhibit two additional distinct signatures compared to an isolated merger. These f...

doi: 10.1038/s42005-020-0310-x

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Geoscience: Earth and Moon not identical oxygen twins

Nature Geoscience, March 10, 2020

The Earth and Moon have distinct oxygen isotope compositions that are not identical, reports a study in Nature Geoscience. This finding may challenge the current understanding of the formation of the Moon.

The Giant Impact Hypothesis suggests that the Moon was formed from debris following a giant collision between early Earth and a proto-planet named Theia. The Earth and Moon a...

doi: 10.1038/s41561-020-0550-0

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Palaeontology: Fossil trove sheds light on ancient antipodean ecology

Scientific Reports, April 3, 2020

The oldest known animals and plants preserved in amber from Southern Gondwana are reported in Scientific Reports this week. Gondwana, the supercontinent made up of South America, Africa, Madagascar, India, Antarctica and Australia, broke away from the Pangea supercontinent around 200 million years ago. The findings further our understanding of ecology in Australia and New Zealand during...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-62252-z

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