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Following the 1986 Chernobyl accident, 116,000 people were permanently evacuated from the 4,200 km(2) Chernobyl exclusion zone [1]. There is continuing scientific and public debate surrounding the fate of wildlife that remained in the abandoned area. Several previous studies of the Chernobyl exclusion zone (e.g. [2,3]) indicated major radiation effects and pronounced reductions in wildlife populations at dose rates well below those thought [4,5] to cause significant impacts. In contrast, our long-term empirical data showed no evidence of a negative influence of radiation on mammal abundance. Relative abundances of elk, roe deer, red deer and wild boar within the Chernobyl exclusion zone are similar to those in four (uncontaminated) nature reserves in the region and wolf abundance is more than 7 times higher. Additionally, our earlier helicopter survey data show rising trends in elk, roe deer and wild boar abundances from one to ten years post-accident. These results demonstrate for the first time that, regardless of potential radiation effects on individual animals, the Chernobyl exclusion zone supports an abundant mammal community after nearly three decades of chronic radiation exposures.


Hair analysis for cannabinoids is extensively applied in workplace drug testing and in child protection cases, although valid data on incorporation of the main analytical targets, ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THC-COOH), into human hair is widely missing. Furthermore, ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A (THCA-A), the biogenetic precursor of THC, is found in the hair of persons who solely handled cannabis material. In the light of the serious consequences of positive test results the mechanisms of drug incorporation into hair urgently need scientific evaluation. Here we show that neither THC nor THCA-A are incorporated into human hair in relevant amounts after systemic uptake. THC-COOH, which is considered an incontestable proof of THC uptake according to the current scientific doctrine, was found in hair, but was also present in older hair segments, which already grew before the oral THC intake and in sebum/sweat samples. Our studies show that all three cannabinoids can be present in hair of non-consuming individuals because of transfer through cannabis consumers, via their hands, their sebum/sweat, or cannabis smoke. This is of concern for e.g. child-custody cases as cannabinoid findings in a child’s hair may be caused by close contact to cannabis consumers rather than by inhalation of side-stream smoke.


Cervicovaginal mucus (CVM) can provide a barrier that precludes HIV and other sexually transmitted virions from reaching target cells in the vaginal epithelium, thereby preventing or reducing infections. However, the barrier properties of CVM differ from woman to woman, and the causes of these variations are not yet well understood. Using high-resolution particle tracking of fluorescent HIV-1 pseudoviruses, we found that neither pH nor Nugent scores nor total lactic acid levels correlated significantly with virus trapping in unmodified CVM from diverse donors. Surprisingly, HIV-1 was generally trapped in CVM with relatively high concentrations of d-lactic acid and a Lactobacillus crispatus-dominant microbiota. In contrast, a substantial fraction of HIV-1 virions diffused rapidly through CVM with low concentrations of d-lactic acid that had a Lactobacillus iners-dominant microbiota or significant amounts of Gardnerella vaginalis, a bacterium associated with bacterial vaginosis. Our results demonstrate that the vaginal microbiota, including specific species of Lactobacillus, can alter the diffusional barrier properties of CVM against HIV and likely other sexually transmitted viruses and that these microbiota-associated changes may account in part for the elevated risks of HIV acquisition linked to bacterial vaginosis or intermediate vaginal microbiota.


The early Middle Eocene locality of Grube Messel, near Darmstadt (Germany), is famous for its complete vertebrate skeletons. The degree of preservation of soft tissues, such as body silhouettes, internal organs and gut contents, is frequently remarkable. The present specimen was analyzed for remnants of the reproductive system. Classic anatomy and osteology and high-resolution micro-x-ray were applied to describe the fetus of the European Eocene equoid Eurohippus messelensis. Scanning electronic microscopy (SEM) was used for determination of soft tissue remnants. The fetus is the earliest and best-preserved fossil specimen of its kind. The postcranial fetal skeleton is almost complete and largely articulated, allowing the conclusion that the pregnant mare was in late gestation. The apparent intrauterine position of the fetus is normal for the phase of pregnancy. Death of mare and fetus were probably not related to problems associated with parturition. Soft tissue interpreted as the uteroplacenta and a broad uterine ligament are preserved due to bacterial activity and allow considerations on the evolutionary development of the structures.


Bolide impact and flood volcanism compete as leading candidates for the cause of terminal-Cretaceous mass extinctions. High-precision (40)Ar/(39)Ar data indicate that these two mechanisms may be genetically related, and neither can be considered in isolation. The existing Deccan Traps magmatic system underwent a state shift approximately coincident with the Chicxulub impact and the terminal-Cretaceous mass extinctions, after which ~70% of the Traps' total volume was extruded in more massive and more episodic eruptions. Initiation of this new regime occurred within ~50,000 years of the impact, which is consistent with transient effects of impact-induced seismic energy. Postextinction recovery of marine ecosystems was probably suppressed until after the accelerated volcanism waned.


Cooperative decision rules have so far been shown experimentally mainly in mammal species that have variable and complex social networks. However, these traits should not necessarily be restricted to mammals. Therefore, we tested cooperative problem solving in ravens. We showed that, without training, nine ravens spontaneously cooperated in a loose-string task. Corroborating findings in several species, ravens' cooperative success increased with increasing inter-individual tolerance levels. Importantly, we found this in both a forced dyadic setting, and in a group setting where individuals had an open choice to cooperate with whomever. The ravens, moreover, also paid attention to the resulting reward distribution and ceased cooperation when being cheated upon. Nevertheless, the ravens did not seem to pay attention to the behavior of their partners while cooperating, and future research should reveal whether this is task specific or a general pattern. Given their natural propensity to cooperate and the results we present here, we consider ravens as an interesting model species to study the evolution of, and the mechanisms underlying cooperation.


Despite a wealth of fossils of Mesozoic birds revealing evidence of plumage and other soft-tissue structures, the epidermal and dermal anatomy of their wing’s patagia remain largely unknown. We describe a distal forelimb of an enantiornithine bird from the Lower Cretaceous limestones of Las Hoyas, Spain, which reveals the overall morphology of the integument of the wing and other connective structures associated with the insertion of flight feathers. The integumentary anatomy, and myological and arthrological organization of the new fossil is remarkably similar to that of modern birds, in which a system of small muscles, tendons and ligaments attaches to the follicles of the remigial feathers and maintains the functional integrity of the wing during flight. The new fossil documents the oldest known occurrence of connective tissues in association with the flight feathers of birds. Furthermore, the presence of an essentially modern connective arrangement in the wing of enantiornithines supports the interpretation of these primitive birds as competent fliers.


Exercise is essential in regulating energy metabolism and whole-body insulin sensitivity. To explore the exercise signaling network, we undertook a global analysis of protein phosphorylation in human skeletal muscle biopsies from untrained healthy males before and after a single high-intensity exercise bout, revealing 1,004 unique exercise-regulated phosphosites on 562 proteins. These included substrates of known exercise-regulated kinases (AMPK, PKA, CaMK, MAPK, mTOR), yet the majority of kinases and substrate phosphosites have not previously been implicated in exercise signaling. Given the importance of AMPK in exercise-regulated metabolism, we performed a targeted in vitro AMPK screen and employed machine learning to predict exercise-regulated AMPK substrates. We validated eight predicted AMPK substrates, including AKAP1, using targeted phosphoproteomics. Functional characterization revealed an undescribed role for AMPK-dependent phosphorylation of AKAP1 in mitochondrial respiration. These data expose the unexplored complexity of acute exercise signaling and provide insights into the role of AMPK in mitochondrial biochemistry.


To assess the influence of stage at breast cancer diagnosis, tumour biology, and treatment on survival in contemporary times of better (neo-)adjuvant systemic therapy.


It is tempting to treat frequency trends from the Google Books data sets as indicators of the “true” popularity of various words and phrases. Doing so allows us to draw quantitatively strong conclusions about the evolution of cultural perception of a given topic, such as time or gender. However, the Google Books corpus suffers from a number of limitations which make it an obscure mask of cultural popularity. A primary issue is that the corpus is in effect a library, containing one of each book. A single, prolific author is thereby able to noticeably insert new phrases into the Google Books lexicon, whether the author is widely read or not. With this understood, the Google Books corpus remains an important data set to be considered more lexicon-like than text-like. Here, we show that a distinct problematic feature arises from the inclusion of scientific texts, which have become an increasingly substantive portion of the corpus throughout the 1900s. The result is a surge of phrases typical to academic articles but less common in general, such as references to time in the form of citations. We use information theoretic methods to highlight these dynamics by examining and comparing major contributions via a divergence measure of English data sets between decades in the period 1800-2000. We find that only the English Fiction data set from the second version of the corpus is not heavily affected by professional texts. Overall, our findings call into question the vast majority of existing claims drawn from the Google Books corpus, and point to the need to fully characterize the dynamics of the corpus before using these data sets to draw broad conclusions about cultural and linguistic evolution.