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A tank of captive bred Chinese sturgeons about to be released to the Yangtze River in 2019.

A tank of captive-bred Chinese sturgeons about to be released to the Yangtze River.Credit: Xiao Yijiu/Xinhua via Alamy

Why Yangtze fish-rescue plans failed

Five iconic Chinese fish species have gone extinct or will be extinct by 2030 — and dams on the Yangtze river are responsible, an analysis suggests. Six huge dams, and tens of thousands of smaller hydropower stations, degrade habitats and block the path of species such as the critically endangered Chinese sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis), which migrates thousands of kilometres up the Yangtze to reproduce. Decades-long conservation efforts, including the release of millions of captive-bred fish and the introduction of a fishing ban, are insufficient, argues the study. Fish ladders to bypass the dams could help for small species, but river-like side channels could be needed for large species like sturgeons.

Nature | 6 min read

Reference: Science Advances paper

Lessons learnt from pig-organ transplants

Researchers say that they have learnt valuable lessons from the first pig-organ transplants into humans, ranging from the types of medication that recipients need to the amount of testing that pig organs must undergo. Three of the living people who have received pig organs — two received a heart and one received a kidney — died around two months after their transplants. Last month, 54-year-old Lisa Pisano became the fourth living person to receive a pig transplant — a thymus and kidney.

Nature | 5 min read

Babies in South Korea sue the government

Tomorrow, the South Korean constitutional court will hold its second and final hearing in a landmark case. Alongside adults, parents filed on behalf of their babies, children and even a fetus in the womb to sue the South Korean government for not doing enough to tackle climate change. The plaintiffs claim that the government’s climate goals are too weak, threatening their right to live in a healthy environment. It is the first lawsuit to challenge national climate policies in East Asia and could lead to more cases of its kind in the region, say researchers. “The very fact that this case went to the constitutional court — that is already a certain sense of success,” says Mingzhe Zhu, who studies the links between politics, science and nature.

Nature | 3 min read

US halts funding to virus-hunting group

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has suspended federal funding for EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit organization that came under scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic for collaborating with a virology laboratory in China that was accused of potentially leaking the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Researchers who spoke to Nature are divided in their reaction to the decision: some think that the HHS made the right call, given EcoHealth’s apparent failure to comply with the terms of a grant that it had received, undermining public trust; others say that the decision seems to be unfairly wrapped up in politics.

Nature | 7 min read

Features & opinion

Why Europe should join US Uranus mission

Without international partnerships, NASA’s groundbreaking mission to Uranus could fail to be ready in time for its optimal launch window, write astrophysicists Olivier Mousis and Robin Canup. In 2050, the planet’s position in its orbit will mean that sunlight will fully illuminate all parts of the spinning planet and its orbiting moons. That means we have to get started, and quickly. As a first step, the authors call for the European Space Agency to join the project by, for example, building the entry probe.

Nature | 7 min read

The ‘new atheism’ philosopher

Daniel Dennett “was the type of philosopher you couldn’t help but read,” writes cognitive neuroscientist Liad Mudrik. Dennett had strong views on some of the biggest questions about human existence, such as whether people have free will and the relationship between consciousness and neural activity. “And — a question that famously placed him as one of the ‘four horsemen’ of new atheism, together with Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris — does God exist?” Dennett has died, aged 82.

Nature | 5 min read

How 3M’s secret poisoned a chemist’s career

In the late 1990s, Kris Hansen was a young chemist working for the 3M Corporation when she was asked to figure out why one of the company’s flagship products, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), was showing up in blood samples from people who didn’t work in its factories. What she found shocked her: almost everywhere she looked, blood collected since 3M created PFOS was contaminated with the chemical. Today, 3M is facing a slew of lawsuits and the US Environmental Protection Agency has placed limits on ‘forever chemicals’ such as PFOS. The story of how Hansen’s findings, and those of other 3M scientists, were hidden or ignored show the halting process by which some secrets make their way into the light.

The New Yorker/ProPublica collaboration | 31 min read

Where I work

Neven Iveša stands in rock pool holding a blue crab

Neven Iveša is a biotechnologist at the Juraj Dobrila University of Pula, Croatia, and a professional fisher.Credit: Elisabetta Zavoli for Nature

“As well as working as a biotechnologist, I’m a fisher,” says Neven Iveša. In this image, he examines an invasive blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) in an ornithological reserve in Pula, Croatia. Iveša and his colleagues are encouraging people in Croatia to eat the crabs, which are spreading down the Adriatic coast. (Nature | 3 min read) (Elisabetta Zavoli for Nature)


“American hockey players are not trying to shift their speech to sound more Canadian… They’re trying to sound more like a hockey player.”

Linguist Andrew Bray interviewed US-born ice hockey players to investigate why some who adopt Canada’s national sport develop ‘fake Canadian’ accents. (Ars Technica | 5 min read)