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Modern humans live in an “exploded” network with unusually large circles of trust that form due to prosociality toward unfamiliar people (i.e. xenophilia). In a set of experiments we demonstrate that semi-free ranging bonobos (Pan paniscus) - both juveniles and young adults - also show spontaneous responses consistent with xenophilia. Bonobos voluntarily aided an unfamiliar, non-group member in obtaining food even when he/she did not make overt requests for help. Bonobos also showed evidence for involuntary, contagious yawning in response to videos of yawning conspecifics who were complete strangers. These experiments reveal that xenophilia in bonobos can be unselfish, proactive and automatic. They support the first impression hypothesis that suggests xenophilia can evolve through individual selection in social species whenever the benefits of building new bonds outweigh the costs. Xenophilia likely evolved in bonobos as the risk of intergroup aggression dissipated and the benefits of bonding between immigrating members increased. Our findings also mean the human potential for xenophilia is either evolutionarily shared or convergent with bonobos and not unique to our species as previously proposed.

Concepts: Human, Natural selection, Evolution, Species, Hominidae, Chimpanzee, Human evolution, Bonobo


Ayahuasca is a natural psychedelic brew, which contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Its potential as a psychiatric medicine has recently been demonstrated and its non-medical use around the world appears to be growing. We aimed to investigate well-being and problematic alcohol use in ayahuasca users, and ayahuasca’s subjective effects. An online, self-selecting, global survey examining patterns of drug use was conducted in 2015 and 2016 (n = 96,901). Questions were asked about: use of ayahuasca, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and magic mushrooms; demographics, current well-being and past-year problematic alcohol use of past-year ayahuasca users and comparison drug users; and subjective effects of ayahuasca and comparison drugs. Ayahuasca users (n = 527) reported greater well-being than both classic psychedelic users (n = 18,138) and non-psychedelic drug-using respondents (n = 78,236). Ayahuasca users reported less problematic drinking than classic psychedelic users, although both groups reported greater problematic drinking than the other respondents. Ayahuasca’s acute subjective effects usually lasted for six hours and were most strongly felt one hour after consumption. Within our online, self-selecting survey, ayahuasca users reported better well-being than comparison groups and less problematic drinking than classic psychedelic users. Future longitudinal studies of international samples and randomised controlled trials are needed to dissect the effects of ayahuasca on these outcomes.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Drug addiction, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid, Ergot, Psilocybin mushrooms, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Dimethyltryptamine


Severe haze is a major public health concern in China and India. Both countries rely heavily on coal for energy, and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emitted from coal-fired power plants and industry is a major pollutant contributing to their air quality problems. Timely, accurate information on SO2 sources is a required input to air quality models for pollution prediction and mitigation. However, such information has been difficult to obtain for these two countries, as fast-paced changes in economy and environmental regulations have often led to unforeseen emission changes. Here we use satellite observations to show that China and India are on opposite trajectories for sulfurous pollution. Since 2007, emissions in China have declined by 75% while those in India have increased by 50%. With these changes, India is now surpassing China as the world’s largest emitter of anthropogenic SO2. This finding, not predicted by emission scenarios, suggests effective SO2 control in China and lack thereof in India. Despite this, haze remains severe in China, indicating the importance of reducing emissions of other pollutants. In India, ~33 million people now live in areas with substantial SO2 pollution. Continued growth in emissions will adversely affect more people and further exacerbate morbidity and mortality.

Concepts: Oxygen, Pollution, Sulfur, Pyrite, Smog, Volcano, Sulfur dioxide, Acid rain


Birds that travel long distances between their wintering and breeding grounds may be particularly susceptible to neurotoxic insecticides, but the influence of insecticides on migration ability is poorly understood. Following acute exposure to two widely used agricultural insecticides, imidacloprid (neonicotinoid) and chlorpyrifos (organophosphate), we compared effects on body mass, migratory activity and orientation in a seed-eating bird, the white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys). During spring migration, sparrows were captured, held and dosed by gavage daily for 3 days with either the vehicle control, low (10% LD50) or high (25% LD50) doses of imidacloprid or chlorpyrifos and tested in migratory orientation trials pre-exposure, post-exposure and during recovery. Control birds maintained body mass and a seasonally appropriate northward orientation throughout the experiment. Imidacloprid dosed birds exhibited significant declines in fat stores and body mass (mean loss: -17% low, -25% high dose) and failed to orient correctly. Chlorpyrifos had no overt effects on mass but significantly impaired orientation. These results suggest that wild songbirds consuming the equivalent of just four imidacloprid-treated canola seeds or eight chlorpyrifos granules per day over 3 days could suffer impaired condition, migration delays and improper migratory direction, which could lead to increased risk of mortality or lost breeding opportunity.

Concepts: Bird, Dose, Toxicology, Insecticide, Sparrow, American sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia


Whole-exome sequencing of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) could enable comprehensive profiling of tumors from blood but the genome-wide concordance between cfDNA and tumor biopsies is uncertain. Here we report ichorCNA, software that quantifies tumor content in cfDNA from 0.1× coverage whole-genome sequencing data without prior knowledge of tumor mutations. We apply ichorCNA to 1439 blood samples from 520 patients with metastatic prostate or breast cancers. In the earliest tested sample for each patient, 34% of patients have ≥10% tumor-derived cfDNA, sufficient for standard coverage whole-exome sequencing. Using whole-exome sequencing, we validate the concordance of clonal somatic mutations (88%), copy number alterations (80%), mutational signatures, and neoantigens between cfDNA and matched tumor biopsies from 41 patients with ≥10% cfDNA tumor content. In summary, we provide methods to identify patients eligible for comprehensive cfDNA profiling, revealing its applicability to many patients, and demonstrate high concordance of cfDNA and metastatic tumor whole-exome sequencing.

Concepts: Genetics, Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Mutation, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Prostate cancer


Every organisation has a unique culture. There is a widely held view that a positive organisational culture is related to positive patient outcomes. Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses statement, we systematically reviewed and synthesised the evidence on the extent to which organisational and workplace cultures are associated with patient outcomes.

Concepts: Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Culture, Review, Meta-analysis, Organization, The Culture, Organizational studies


Chemical analyses of ancient organic compounds absorbed into the pottery fabrics from sites in Georgia in the South Caucasus region, dating to the early Neolithic period (ca. 6,000-5,000 BC), provide the earliest biomolecular archaeological evidence for grape wine and viniculture from the Near East, at ca. 6,000-5,800 BC. The chemical findings are corroborated by climatic and environmental reconstruction, together with archaeobotanical evidence, including grape pollen, starch, and epidermal remains associated with a jar of similar type and date. The very large-capacity jars, some of the earliest pottery made in the Near East, probably served as combination fermentation, aging, and serving vessels. They are the most numerous pottery type at many sites comprising the so-called “Shulaveri-Shomutepe Culture” of the Neolithic period, which extends into western Azerbaijan and northern Armenia. The discovery of early sixth millennium BC grape wine in this region is crucial to the later history of wine in Europe and the rest of the world.

Concepts: Caucasus, Europe, Vitis vinifera, Wine, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan


According to the Intuitive Belief Hypothesis, supernatural belief relies heavily on intuitive thinking-and decreases when analytic thinking is engaged. After pointing out various limitations in prior attempts to support this Intuitive Belief Hypothesis, we test it across three new studies using a variety of paradigms, ranging from a pilgrimage field study to a neurostimulation experiment. In all three studies, we found no relationship between intuitive or analytical thinking and supernatural belief. We conclude that it is premature to explain belief in gods as ‘intuitive’, and that other factors, such as socio-cultural upbringing, are likely to play a greater role in the emergence and maintenance of supernatural belief than cognitive style.

Concepts: Psychology, Critical thinking, Cognition, Cognitive science, Experiment, Theory, Analytic, Supernatural


Addiction to cocaine is commonly preceded by experiences with legal or decriminalized drugs, such as alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana. The biological mechanisms by which these gateway drugs contribute to cocaine addiction are only beginning to be understood. We report that in the rat, prior alcohol consumption results in enhanced addiction-like behavior to cocaine, including continued cocaine use despite aversive consequences. Conversely, prior cocaine use has no effect on alcohol preference. Long-term, but not short-term, alcohol consumption promotes proteasome-mediated degradation of the nuclear histone deacetylases HDAC4 and HDAC5 in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region critical for reward-based memory. Decreased nuclear HDAC activity results in global H3 acetylation, creating a permissive environment for cocaine-induced gene expression. We also find that selective degradation of HDAC4 and HDAC5, facilitated by the class II-specific HDAC inhibitor MC1568, enhances compulsive cocaine self-administration. These results parallel our previously reported findings that the gateway drug nicotine enhances the behavioral effects of cocaine via HDAC inhibition. Together, our findings suggest a shared mechanism of action for the gateway drugs alcohol and nicotine, and reveal a novel mechanism by which environmental factors may alter the epigenetic landscape of the reward system to increase vulnerability to cocaine addiction.

Concepts: Ventral tegmental area, Histone, Histone deacetylase, Drug addiction, Dopamine, Mesolimbic pathway, Psychoactive drug, Cocaine


For the first time it is shown that carbon black inks on ancient Egyptian papyri from different time periods and geographical regions contain copper. The inks have been investigated using synchrotron-based micro X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and micro X-ray absorption near-edge structure spectroscopy (XANES) at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). The composition of the copper-containing carbon inks showed no significant differences that could be related to time periods or the geographical locations. This renders it probable that the same technology for ink production was used throughout Egypt for a period spanning at least 300 years. It is argued that the black pigment material (soot) for these inks was obtained as by-products of technical metallurgy. The copper (Cu) can be correlated with the following three main components: cuprite (Cu2O), azurite (Cu3[CO3]2[OH]2) and malachite (Cu2CO3[OH]2).

Concepts: X-ray, Light, Carbon, Copper, Pigment, Ancient Egypt, Carbon black, Papyrus