Trickster microbes, manels, Venus: Nature’s best long reads of 2019

A pick of the most compelling Nature feature stories this year.

150 years of Nature: a data graphic charts our evolution An analysis of the archive shows how the contributors and content have varied over the decades.

The trickster microbes that are shaking up the tree of life Mysterious groups of archaea — named after Loki and other Norse myths — are stirring debate about the origin of complex creatures, including humans.

Illustration by Fabio Buonocore

Gene therapy is facing its biggest challenge yet After finally gaining traction as a potential treatment for certain genetic disorders, gene therapy tackles the challenge of sickle-cell disease.

Meet the crystal growers who sparked a revolution in graphene electronics Two Japanese scientists supply hundreds of laboratories with a prized gem — and are now among the world’s most published researchers.

How the earliest mammals thrived alongside dinosaurs An explosion of fossil finds reveals that ancient mammals evolved a wide variety of adaptations allowing them to exploit the skies, rivers and underground lairs.

Early mammals like this rat-sized species Liaoconodon hui coexisted with feathered dinosaurs like Sinotyrannus in the temperate ecosystems of the Cretaceous in what is now Liaoning in northern China. Illustration by Davide Bonadonna

Exclusive: Behind the front lines of the Ebola wars How the World Health Organization is battling bullets, politics and a deadly virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Venus is Earth’s evil twin — and space agencies can no longer resist its pull Once a water-rich Eden, the hellish planet could reveal how to find habitable worlds around distant stars.

Illustration by Jasiek Krzysztofiak/Nature; Source image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

How China is redrawing the map of world science The Belt and Road Initiative, China’s mega-plan for global infrastructure, will transform the lives and work of tens of thousands of researchers.

How to banish manels and manferences from scientific meetings A Nature analysis finds that several fields of science are moving away from male-dominated conferences and panels — but it’s easy to slip back into old habits.

Maya bones bring a lost civilization to life Trained in both medicine and archaeology, Vera Tiesler has revealed how the human body was deeply woven into the religion, tradition and politics of the Maya world.

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-03875-9

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