Volume 463

  • No. 7284 25 February 2010

    Fedorov et al. use a coupled climate model and a hurricane model to show that hurricane activity in the central Pacific during the early Pliocene (5 to 3 million years ago), a period often taken as a close analogue to contemporary global warming, may have contributed to maintaining a permanent El Niño-like state. The larger globe on the cover shows a simulated year of early Pliocene hurricane tracks (coloured by intensity) with the sea surface coloured by temperature with ocean mixing from the hurricanes included in the simulation. The smaller globe shows a year of modern hurricane tracks, with sea temperatures, but with no hurricane-induced mixing. Cover credit: C. Brierley/Google/US Dept of State Geographer/DMapas/Europa Technologies.

  • No. 7283 18 February 2010

    In this issue, Stephan Schuster and colleagues present the complete genome sequences of an indigenous hunter-gatherer from Namibia's Kalahari Desert and of a Bantu from South Africa. Initial analysis of genetic variance in what may be the oldest known modern human lineage shows that the Bushmen differ more from each other, in terms of nucleotide substitutions, than typical Asians and Europeans. The cover depicts foraging Bushmen of the southern Kalahari, the group from which the full genome sequence was determined. Cover photo by Stephan C. Schuster.

  • No. 7282 11 February 2010

    The sequence of a near-complete nuclear genome has been obtained from the tissue of an ancient human - a male palaeo-Eskimo who lived in southern Greenland about 4,000 years ago. The genomic DNA was found in a permafrost-preserved lock of hair. This sketch by Nuka K. Godtfredsen represents the sequenced individual based on the genome analysis and images of the closest related contemporary populations.

  • No. 7281 4 February 2010

    A study of the capture silk of the spider Uloborus walckenaerius reveals the structural changes that allow the silk to harvest water. In 'wet rebuilt' fibres this structure produces a surface energy gradient between the spindle-knots and the joints, and a difference in the pressure acting on drops in contact with either the spindle-knots or the joints. This ensures that water can continuously condense around the joints and is then transported to the spindle-knots, where it can accumulate in large hanging drops, as represented on the cover.

  • No. 7280 28 January 2010

    For most of human evolutionary history, before the advent modern running shoes, humans ran either barefoot or in minimal shoes. A comparison of the biomechanics of habitually shod versus habitually barefoot runners suggests that running barefoot is not only comfortable but may also help avoid some impact-related stress injuries. On the cover, the feet of Kenyan adolescents who have never worn shoes and run up to 20 km a day. Their feet are healthy and strong - and until recently, everyone’s feet looked like this. Photo: Adam Daoud.


    Building a Cell

  • No. 7279 21 January 2010

    The genome sequence of the giant panda (of the female Beijing Olympics mascot Jingjing in fact) has been determined using short-read sequencing technology, an achievement that should pave the way for the use of next-generation sequencing for de novo assembly of large eukaryotic genomes. The sequence reveals considerable genomic diversity and a full set of the genes needed for a carnivorous digestion. Yet there are no digestive cellulase genes, so the panda appears to depend on its gut microbes to handle its bamboo diet. Photo by Jianjun Wen, Chengdu Panda Base, November 2009.

  • No. 7278 14 January 2010

    A male Drosophila fruitfly performs a �wing threat�, typical aggression behaviour, towards a rival male. Liming Wang and David Anderson show that the volatile pheromone cVA promotes male-to-male aggression by activating olfactory sensory neurons expressing the receptor protein, Or67d. This work opens the study of aggressive behaviour to detailed genetic manipulation and investigation. Cover image: Liming Wang & Michael Maire, Caltech.

  • No. 7277 7 January 2010

    The cover shows a trackway and an isolated footprint (highlighted with charcoal) that were made by early four-legged land vertebrates (tetrapods) almost 400 million years ago. That’s 18 million years older than the earliest known tetrapod body fossils, and 10 million years older than the oldest elpistostegids — Tiktaalik, Panderichthys and their relatives, seen as transitional forms between fishes and tetrapods. The hands on the right belong to Grzegorz Niedźwiedzki, first author of the paper reporting the finds. (CREDIT: Piotr Szrek)