Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Volume 458 Issue 7235, 12 March 2009

The age of Homo erectus, known familiarly as Peking Man, has been hotly debated. This week Shen et al. use a recently developed dating technique that computes deposits to be about 770,000 years old — about 300,000 years earlier than usually thought. The cover shows a replica skull reconstructed from several H. erectus fossils from Zhoukoudian. [Image: Skulls Unlimited International, Inc.] There has been a correction associated with this cover.

Authors

Editorial

  • Editorial |

    Engaging with the public helped US scientists build the consensus that finally overturned federal restrictions on human embryonic stem-cell research. That public outreach should not stop now.

  • Editorial |

    The US electricity grid needs to evolve and requires fresh standards of communication.

  • Editorial |

    China's autocratic approach to environmental issues may not always reap the desired rewards.

Research Highlights

Journal Club

News

News in Brief

News Feature

  • News Feature |

    Waste heat from industrial plants and electricity-generating stations represents a huge amount of lost energy. David Lindley finds out what engineers and regulators need to do to get it back.

    • David Lindley

Correspondence

Commentary

  • Commentary |

    Traditional approaches to supplying food are an inefficient 'band aid', says Pedro A. Sanchez. New evidence shows that helping farmers to help themselves is more effective and would be six times cheaper.

    • Pedro A. Sanchez

Books & Arts

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Re-evaluation of the age of Zhoukoudian, a prominent site of Homo erectus occupation in China, prompts a rethink of the species' distribution in both the temperate north and the equatorial south of east Asia.

    • Russell L. Ciochon
    • E. Arthur Bettis III
  • News & Views |

    A model analysis of the uptake of carbon dioxide in the North Atlantic carries with it a cautionary reminder about interpreting what may be short-term trends as signals of long-term climate change.

    • Nicolas Gruber
  • News & Views |

    The Johnston's hearing organ of the fruitfly has newly discovered sensitivities to gravity and wind. As in our inner ear, different sensory signals from this organ travel in parallel to separate zones in the brain.

    • Ruth Anne Eatock
  • News & Views |

    How fast can light and matter be made to interact? 'Almost instantaneously' is the answer provided in the latest study of semiconductor structures embedded in an optical microcavity.

    • Claire Gmachl
  • News & Views |

    When is a metal not a metal? When it is under high pressure, if it's lithium or sodium. The strange behaviour of dense forms of these elements exposes difficulties with commonly used models of electronic structure.

    • N. W. Ashcroft
  • News & Views |

    Cells use various protein complexes to remodel membrane-bound organelles. In vitro reconstitution of the activity of one such complex, ESCRT-III, shows that it promotes membrane bending in an unconventional way.

    • Hélène Barelli
    • Bruno Antonny

News and Views Q&A

  • News and Views Q&A |

    On the Origin of Species ... the title of Charles Darwin's great work of 1859 seemed to promise a solution to this “mystery of mysteries”. Although we now know vastly more about speciation than we did 150 years ago, the one mystery has become many — and the possible solutions have multiplied.

    • Andrew P. Hendry

Article

  • Article |

    One of two papers identifying distinct clusters of neurons in the Johnston's organ, a structure from the fruitfly antenna previously associated with courtship song detection, that specifically respond either to continuous deflections of the antenna, as provoked by wind or gravity, or to vibrating stimuli such as sounds. The segregation of different mechanosensation modalities through separate neuronal pathways in one organ is reminiscent of the hearing and vestibular system division of mammals.

    • Azusa Kamikouchi
    • Hidehiko K. Inagaki
    • Kei Ito
  • Article |

    This study has reconstituted membrane invagination and scission in vitro using purified endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT)-III subunits and giant unilamellar vesicles. Snf7 is important for membrane scission whereas the ATPase Vps4 is required for recycling ESCRT-III proteins for further rounds of membrane budding.

    • Thomas Wollert
    • Christian Wunder
    • James H. Hurley

Letter

  • Letter |

    This study has developed a time-resolved measurement set-up in which strong light–matter coupling can be switched on in a semiconductor quantum-well structure as fast as within one cycle of light. This makes it possible to monitor directly how a population of bare photons is converted to polaritons, mixed light–matter modes.

    • G. Günter
    • A. A. Anappara
    • R. Huber
  • Letter |

    This paper shows that under about 5-fold compression, sodium transforms into an optically transparent phase. Thus, about ten years after the basic effect was first predicted it is now shown that high pressure can turn an archetypal simple metal such as sodium into a dense insulating material with a rather complex structure and lacking a metallic sheen.

    • Yanming Ma
    • Mikhail Eremets
    • Vitali Prakapenka
  • Letter |

    This paper presents balanced geologic cross-sections showing that crustal shortening, structural relief and topography are strongly correlated in the Longmen Shan mountain range front, suggesting that crustal shortening is a primary driver for uplift and topography of the Longmen Shan on the flanks of the Tibetan plateau. The authors conclude that the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake is an active manifestation of this shortening process.

    • Judith Hubbard
    • John H. Shaw
  • Letter |

    This study uses the relatively new aluminium/beryllium method to date the fossiliferous sediments of Zhoukoudian ('dragon-bone cave', which yielded specimens of Homo erectus) to around 750,000 years old, some 200,000 years older than usually thought. This implies that hominins lived at the site during some rather chilly periods, causing us to revise our ideas about the migration of early hominins northwards only in clement, interglacial times.

    • Guanjun Shen
    • Xing Gao
    • Darryl E. Granger

    Collection:

  • Letter |

    One of two papers identifying distinct clusters of neurons in the Johnston's organ, a structure from the fruitfly antenna previously associated with courtship song detection, that specifically respond either to continuous deflections of the antenna, as provoked by wind or gravity, or to vibrating stimuli such as sounds. The segregation of different mechanosensation modalities through separate neuronal pathways in one organ is reminiscent of the hearing and vestibular system division of mammals.

    • Suzuko Yorozu
    • Allan Wong
    • David J. Anderson
  • Letter |

    This study shows that blockade of PD-1 in SIV-infected macaques transiently increases the frequency, activation and functionality markers of virus-specific CD8 T cells without adverse side effects.

    • Vijayakumar Velu
    • Kehmia Titanji
    • Rama Rao Amara
  • Letter |

    This paper reports the observation that T-cell expansion after initial activation occurs irrespective of TCR affinity. Low-affinity cells generate functional effector and memory responses; however, their expansion ceases earlier, resulting in an overall decreased total number of low-affinity cells compared to their high-affinity counterparts.

    • Dietmar Zehn
    • Sarah Y. Lee
    • Michael J. Bevan
  • Letter |

    The mitotic regulator Cdc14 is shown to mediate transcriptional silencing of yeast ribosomal genes by preventing the nucleolar localization of a subunit of RNA polymerase I. If ribosomal transcription is not shut down, the presence of transcripts prevents the loading of condensin and blocks chromosome condensation and segregation.

    • Andrés Clemente-Blanco
    • María Mayán-Santos
    • Luis Aragón
  • Letter |

    This study uses chromatin marks in four mouse cell types to identify 1,600 large multi-exonic transcriptional units that do not overlap known protein-coding loci and are highly conserved. Putative functions are assigned to each of these large intervening non-coding RNAs, which range from ES pluripotency to cell proliferation.

    • Mitchell Guttman
    • Ido Amit
    • Eric S. Lander
  • Letter |

    This paper shows that the yeast ubiquitin-like protein Urm1p is a sulphur carrier that modifies tRNA. It identifies a pathway whereby Urm1p is first adenylated by Uba4p, then is subsequently thiolated by Uba4p, after which the sulphur moiety is transferred from the thiolated Urm1p onto U34 of a cytoplasmic adenylated tRNA.

    • Sebastian Leidel
    • Patrick G. A. Pedrioli
    • Matthias Peter
  • Letter |

    This paper reports the unusual structure of the metabolite-sensing domain of a flavin mononucleotide (FMN)-specific riboswitch bound to FMN, riboflavin and an antibiotic. The relatively open ligand-binding pocket suggests that antimicrobials based on FMN could be devised.

    • Alexander Serganov
    • Lili Huang
    • Dinshaw J. Patel

Corrigendum

Addendum

Corrigendum

Technology Feature

  • Technology Feature |

    Next-generation sequencing is pushing gene-expression profiling further into the digital age. But analog methods still have plenty of wind left. Nathan Blow looks at the looming battle over the cell's transcriptome.

    • Nathan Blow

Prospects

  • Prospects |

    Coalition could become an important voice for contingent and adjunct faculty members.

    • Gene Russo

Postdocs and Students

  • Postdocs and Students |

    Community-college programmes in the United States can be a quick, cheap route into the pharmaceutical industry. Ted Agres talks to scientists making the grade.

    • Ted Agres

Futures

  • Futures |

    • Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Vonda N. McIntyre
Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing

Search

Quick links