Daily briefing: An X-ray map of the Universe

Space telescope marks a “return to world-class science” for Russia, mouse lemurs might be the next big thing in genetics and an open-access publishing model in which journals compete for funding.

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illustration of Anhanguera santanae

The pterosaur Anhanguera santanae, a close relative of the dinosaurs, had a wingspan of almost 4 metres.Credit: Raul Ramos

Fossil bounty will go back to Brazil

Brazil has won a legal battle over 45 dinosaur and animal fossils after a French court ruled that they had been removed illegally. Next, the court will rule on the fate of a spectacular pterosaur fossil, which palaeontologists flagged up five years ago after it was listed on eBay. Authorities in Brazil suspect that the fossils were taken from the country in the 1980s and 1990s, but have not said who might have done so. All fossils in Brazil belong to the government, whether they are found on public or private land.

Nature | 5 min read

An X-ray map of the Universe

Next Friday, a joint German–Russian mission called Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma (SRG) will launch into space to create an unprecedented map of the sky in high-energy ‘hard’ X-rays. This part of the spectrum offers a view of otherwise faint objects in the Universe and will give researchers a new way to track its expansion and acceleration over the aeons. For Russia, the SRG marks a “return to world-class science”, says high-energy astrophysicist Mikhail Pavlinsky.

Nature | 5 min read

Ebola spreads to Uganda

A five-year-old boy in Uganda is the first confirmed case of Ebola there since an outbreak of the virus emerged in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ten months ago. The outbreak in the DRC is now the second deadliest on record. Nearly 1,350 people have died out of just over 2,000 confirmed and probable cases of the virus, according to the World Health Organization.

Nature | 2 min read


The very model of a modern model organism

When researchers scoured the tree of life for the perfect model organism, they hit on one of the planet’s smallest and most abundant primates: mouse lemurs. They are more closely related to humans, genetically speaking, yet still have many of the advantages of mice in terms of small size, rapid reproduction and relatively large litters. But first, researchers are getting to know the animals in the wild, using citizen science to build a living genetic library of wild mouse lemurs in the forests of Madagascar.

Nature | 13 min read

Mouse lemurs are also super cute. See them — and researchers in Madagascar — in action in this Nature video.

Beautiful equations in documents with LaTeX

A 2014 study that pitted the LaTeX typesetting language against Microsoft Word’s built-in equation editor ignited a fiery debate about the merits of total control versus ease of use. (For what it’s worth, the study found that LaTeX users were slower and made more errors, but enjoyed themselves more.) Now that even Microsoft has ditched Word’s built-in editor if favour of native support for LaTeX’s equation-writing syntax, it’s time to tackle it yourself — if you haven’t already. Nature Toolbox explores the online tools and software add-ons that can make things easier.

Nature | 7 min read

Reference: PLOS One paper

Journals should compete for funding, too

Imagine a scientific journal in which readers don’t pay for access, authors don’t pay for publication and reviewers are paid for each report. That’s how things are done at Swiss Medical Weekly, which pays its bills thanks to a consortium of academic and medical bodies that has evaluated the journal’s qualities. The journal’s director, neuropathologist Adriano Aguzzi, describes how a system in which funders award competitive grants directly to journals could help to usher in open access without creating perverse incentives to publish more papers.

Nature | 5 min read


“The one thing that almost everyone agrees on is that, right now, it is irresponsible to pursue further human germline editing to make babies.”

Another researcher has announced controversial plans to gene edit babies. The scientific community must intervene, argues a Nature editorial.

Academics are responding to political scientist Elizabeth Cohen’s call for the perfect fake job to tell strangers when you just don’t want to get into it. “I write an email” works for me. If you fancy trying my job, why not write your email to and tell me what you think of this newsletter.

Thanks for reading!

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

Nature Briefing

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