top ten research highlights

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


Geology: Alpine summits may have been ice-free during life of Tyrolean Iceman

Scientific Reports, December 18, 2020

Alpine summits at 3,000 to 4,000 m may have been ice-free until about 5,900 years ago, just before the lifetime of the Tyrolean Iceman (Oetzi), when new glaciers started to form, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. The findings suggest that only the highest Alpine summits (4,000 m and above) remained covered in ice for all of the current geological epoch, the Holocene, ...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-77518-9

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Genetics: Caribbean population history had two major waves

Nature, December 24, 2020

Humans settled the Caribbean in two major waves of migration prior to the arrival of Europeans, according to research published in this week’s Nature. The study provides a detailed analysis of ancient Caribbean population history, and reveals that descendants of these Indigenous inhabitants are still living in the Caribbean today.

Relatively little is known about the population...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-03053-2

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Conservation: Agricultural expansion could cause widespread biodiversity declines by 2050

Nature Sustainability, December 22, 2020

Almost 90% of terrestrial vertebrate species around the world might lose some of their habitat by 2050 as land is cleared to meet the future demand for food, according to a modelling study published in Nature Sustainability. However, proactive policies focusing on how, where and what food is produced could reduce these threats while also supporting human well-being.

Habitat loss ...

doi: 10.1038/s41893-020-00656-5

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Biomedical engineering: Tiny device goes with the (blood) flow

Nature Communications, December 23, 2020

A device that can access blood capillaries with diameters less than 100 microns in size, is reported in Nature Communications. The design of the device increases the possibility of entering previously difficult-to-reach blood vessels in the circulatory system, and may present new therapeutic options in structures such as the brain stem that could aid the treatment of certain neurological...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-20195-z

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Chemistry: Converting carbon dioxide into jet fuel

Nature Communications, December 23, 2020

The conversion of gaseous carbon dioxide (CO2) directly into jet fuel using inexpensive iron-based catalysts, is demonstrated in a paper in Nature Communications this week. As this CO2 is captured directly from the air, and would be re-emitted from jet fuels when combusted in flight, this raises the possibility in the future of the overall effect being carbon neutr...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-20214-z

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Epidemiology: Underdetection of COVID-19 after the first lockdown in France

Nature, December 21, 2020

An estimated nine out of ten symptomatic cases of COVID-19 were not detected by the surveillance system in France shortly after the nationwide lockdown ended in May 2020. The findings, reported in Nature, indicate that the testing system did not achieve the detection rates needed to contain the pandemic, although detection levels did increase over time. Increased targeted testing with ea...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-03095-6

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Archaeology: Sharing leftover meat may have contributed to early dog domestication

Scientific Reports, January 8, 2021

Humans feeding leftover lean meat to wolves during harsh winters may have had a role in the early domestication of dogs, towards the end of the last ice age (14,000 to 29,000 years ago), according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Maria Lahtinen and colleagues used simple energy content calculations to estimate how much energy would have been left over by humans from th...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-78214-4

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Planetary science: Over 100,000 new craters identified on the Moon

Nature Communications, December 23, 2020

More than 109,000 previously unrecognized craters have been identified on the Moon’s surface, reports a study published in Nature Communications this week.

Craters occupy most of the surface of the Moon. However, manual and automatic methods to detect the number of craters have resulted in inconsistencies as to the precise total. For example, it is often hard to detect irregul...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-20215-y

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Environment: Seagrass meadows may facilitate marine plastic removal from the sea

Scientific Reports, January 15, 2021

Underwater seagrass meadows may trap, extract and carry marine plastic debris to shore, thereby helping to remove plastic litter from the sea, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Previous research suggests that most plastics end up on the seafloor and that some are washed back to shore; however, how this occurs was unclear.

Seagrass meadows are widesprea...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-79370-3

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Genetics: Correcting for genetic associations between alcohol and disease

Nature Communications, January 13, 2021

Genetic studies on self-reported traits such as alcohol consumption may be biased by misreporting and changes in behaviour, reports a study in Nature Communications this week. These findings could help to explain conflicting reports about the correlation between alcohol consumption and certain diseases.

Increased alcohol consumption has long been believed to increase the risk of ...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-20237-6

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