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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Fossils: The earliest green algae discovered

Nature Ecology & Evolution, February 25, 2020

Millimetre-sized, multicellular green algal fossils from rocks dated to around 1,000 million years ago are described in a paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Green, photosynthesizing plants (Viridiplantae) are estimated (using molecular clocks and biomarker analyses) to have arisen sometime between the Palaeoproterozoic era (2,500 - 1,600 million years ago) and the Cryogen...

doi: 10.1038/s41559-020-1122-9

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Planetary science: InSights from Mars

Nature Geoscience, February 25, 2020

Results from the NASA InSight lander’s first 10 months on Mars are presented in a suite of papers published in Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications . The papers show that Mars is seismically active and reveal information about its interior and complex atmosphere, magnetic field and geology.

The InSight lander arrived on Mars on 26 November 2018, touching down i...

doi: 10.1038/s41561-020-0544-y

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Climate Change: A new Arctic marine ecosystem?

Nature Climate Change, February 25, 2020

Changes in the physical and biological characteristics of the Pacific Arctic Ocean may be linked to exceptionally warm years from 2017 - 2019, suggests a paper published in Nature Climate Change .

The Chukchi and northern Bering Seas comprise the Pacific Arctic Ocean. They are highly productive marine shelf areas dominated by the seasonal influence of sea ice. The area is rich i...

doi: 10.1038/s41558-020-0695-2

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Zoology: Parrots can understand probabilities

Nature Communications, March 4, 2020

The kea, a parrot species from New Zealand, is capable of understanding and acting upon probabilities, according to a study published this week in Nature Communications . This finding is the first known report of statistical inference in an animal outside of the great apes.

Amalia Bastos and Alex Taylor conducted a series of experiments designed to test several criteria for st...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-14695-1

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Biomechanics: How human feet are made for walking

Nature, February 27, 2020

Human feet have evolved two unique arches that enable us to walk and run on two legs, according to research published online in Nature. The findings provide an insight into the evolution of human feet and may help to improve the design of robotic feet.

Humans have evolved stiff, arched feet that are essential for effective upright walking, unlike other primates, such as chimpan...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2053-y

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Zoology: Biofluorescence may be widespread among amphibians

Scientific Reports, February 28, 2020

Biofluorescence, where organisms emit a fluorescent glow after absorbing light energy, may be widespread in amphibians including salamanders and frogs, according to a study in Scientific Reports . Biofluorescence had previously been observed in only one salamander and three frog species.

Jennifer Lamb and Matthew Davis exposed one to five individuals from 32 amphibian species t...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-59528-9

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Climate Change: Life’s a (disappearing) beach

Nature Climate Change, March 3, 2020

Half of the world's beaches, many of which are in densely populated areas, could disappear by the end of the century under current trends of climate change and sea level rise, suggests a paper published in Nature Climate Change.

Sandy beaches occupy more than one third of the global coastline and have high socio-economic value. Beaches also provide natural coastal protection fr...

doi: 10.1038/s41558-020-0697-0

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Climate Change: Future under fire

Nature Climate Change, February 25, 2020

A series of Comments and Correspondences about the recent Australian bushfires is published this week in Nature Climate Change . These pieces, accompanied by an Editorial, explore the fires’ impacts and the associated global response.

As of mid-January 2020, the Australian bush fires have burnt over 10 million ha across the southern half of the continent. The unprecedented natu...

doi: 10.1038/s41558-020-0720-5

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Archaeology: Surviving the Mount Toba super-eruption

Nature Communications, February 26, 2020

Modern human occupation of northern India spanned the Mount Toba super-eruption around 74,000 years ago, suggests a study published in Nature Communications this week. The paper reports the discovery of stone tools from a site in the Son River Valley, which indicates that it has been continuously occupied over the last 80,000 years. The findings provide insights into the eastward disper...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-14668-4

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