Daily briefing: Why science needs philosophy

Let’s get together to think better, phage therapy makes a comeback and why dinosaurs just had one (very) bad day.

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Skull of a Triceratops

Triceratops was doing just fine thank you.(Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty)

Dinosaurs just had one bad day

Were the dinosaurs flourishing just before an asteroid (probably) marked the end of their reign, or were they already facing a long-term decline owing to Cretaceous climate change? We find fewer dinosaur fossils from the time leading up to the big boom, fuelling the theory that the species were already on the way out. Palaeontologists turned to tools developed to analyse the distribution of modern-day animals to simulate how the dinosaurs were doing back in the day. It seems that the decline in dinosaur fossils is more likely down to the land becoming less friendly to fossil formation.

National Geographic | 13 min read

Reference: Nature Communications paper

It’s also well worth checking out palaeontologist Alfio Alessandro Chiarenza's Behind the paper blog post, if only for the great images. (Nature Ecology & Evolution Community)

UK considers post-Brexit research fund open to world

The UK government is considering creating a research fund that would be open to international and British scientists. The aim is to fill the gap left by the loss of Horizon 2020 funding after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. Adrian Smith, director of the Alan Turing Institute in London, will lead the project.

Nature | 3 min read

A notable week for open access

It’s been a busy week for the open-access movement as eLife named a new editor, Springer Nature began putting some papers on ResearchGate and Clarivate released a report on Plan S. Science runs down these and other stories that have made it a week to remember.

Science | 5 min read


Why we’re creating Wikipedia profiles for BAME scientists

An ‘editathon’ can help black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) scientists — and science as a whole, says peptide chemist Nicola O'Reilly. She shares her experience of editing Wikipedia for the first time and suggests how to get started yourself.

Nature | 5 min read

Antibiotic resistance sets the stage for phage

“As a specialist in infectious diseases, I have been interested in phage therapy as long as I can remember, but only recently have I felt comfortable saying this out loud,” says physician and researcher David Pride. “Why? A physician might be considered a ‘quack’ just for mentioning phage therapy.” Pride takes a measured look at how phage therapy, which uses viruses to kill disease-causing bacteria, is ready to make a comeback in a world plagued by antibiotic resistance.

The Conversation | 6 min read

Why science needs philosophy

Nine philosophers and scientists come together to argue for a rapprochement for their disciplines. They offer three examples in stem-cell, microbiome and cognitive science to show how philosophy can boost understanding and clarify scientific thought — and they offer a host of suggestions for how to make it happen.

PNAS | 13 min read


Today’s dose of delight comes courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History’s reconstructions of Tyrannosaurus rex as turkey-sized babies covered in fluffy feathers. Help this newsletter grow up big and strong by sending your feedback to

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Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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