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Western Siberia, one of the coldest regions on Earth, is experiencing an unprecedented heat wave. “This winter was the hottest in Siberia since records began 130 years ago,” says meteorologist Marina Makarova. The arctic town of Khatanga set a new record of 25 ℃ in May, when it would usually be around freezing. The heat has been linked to the dangerous thawing of permafrost, widespread wildfires and swarms of tree-eating moths.
China is collecting DNA samples from up to 10% of its male population — that’s about 70 million adults and children — according to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The police say that the database will help them to fight crime, and that donors provide consent. But those who decline to provide samples can have “benefits like the right to travel and go to a hospital” revoked, reports The New York Times. US scientific-equipment giant Thermo Fisher Scientific provides some kits to police agencies that are gathering the data. Last year, Thermo Fisher stopped selling equipment to Xinjiang because of criticism over how Chinese authorities are monitoring and tracking the region’s Muslim Uighur people.
Read more: China expands DNA data grab in troubled western region (Nature, from 2017)
Reference: Australian Strategic Policy Institute report
News & views
New discoveries of intriguing fossilized soft-shelled eggs challenge the long-held idea that dinosaurs laid hard-shelled eggs whereas ancient marine reptiles gave birth to live young. Researchers analysed eggs containing embryos of the sauropod-like dinosaur Mussaurus from the Late Triassic, and the horned dinosaur Protoceratops, from the Late Cretaceous. The findings hint that the earliest eggs laid by dinosaurs were actually soft-shelled and did not tend to survive in the fossil record because of their fragility.
Separately, researchers report the discovery of a soft-shelled fossil egg dubbed Antarcticoolithus about the size of a football — among the largest eggs ever recorded — from a mysterious Cretaceous creature. It might have been laid by a giant marine reptile — or, given the other findings, even by a dinosaur.
Features & opinion
For decades, the global financial system has become ever-more ad hoc and ramshackle — precipitating crises with increasing frequency — argues economist and government adviser Ann Pettifor. She says that new lines of research into financial globalization are needed to manage domestic economies in these challenging times and mitigate the impact of future crises — from pandemics to climate breakdown and biodiversity collapse.
Those involved in the peer-review process should ensure that criticisms are honest, but collegial. That’s the top-line advice for journal editors from two Nature polls of authors and editors earlier this year. When career stakes are high, it can be a challenge to keep discussions cordial — but it’s one we all must rise to, urges a Nature editorial.
Infographic of the week
“It is high time for scientists who work on animal behaviour to identify, and mitigate, potential sampling biases,” write animal-behaviour researchers Michael Webster and Christian Rutz. “Simply gathering more data is not a solution, because researchers should always strive to minimize the number of experimental animals used.” Instead, they propose a framework with a fitting acronym — STRANGE — that researchers can use to interrogate how unusual their study subjects are. (Nature | 10 min read)