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Volume 512 Issue 7514, 21 August 2014

John Sibbick’s painting imagines the iconic Early Jurassic basal mammals, Morganucodon and Kuehneotherium, hunting their favoured prey on the small island that they shared in what is now Glamorgan, southern Wales. The very earliest mammals, living in the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic around 200 million years ago, were small and are often presumed to have been generalized insectivores. Now a close study of Morganucodon and Kuehneotherium shows that niche partitioning and dietary specialization were well under way even at that early date. Analysis of tooth wear and jaw biomechanics shows that whereas Morganucodon had powerful jaws, capable of crushing hard prey such as beetles, Kuehneotherium was adapted for snapping at softer prey, such as the scorpion flies illustrated here. Cover:


  • Editorial |

    Federal restrictions on the use of drones by US researchers threaten an increasingly productive tool. The scientific community must speak out while there is a chance to change matters.

  • Editorial |

    The NIH is right to investigate whether bias makes grant awards unfair.

World View

Research Highlights


Seven Days

  • Seven Days |

    The week in science: Africa’s Ebola problem continues to worsen, the true cost of scientific misconduct in the United States, and Maryam Mirzakhani is first woman to win a Fields Medal.



News Feature


Books & Arts


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    The first description of the microorganisms inhabiting a subglacial lake deep below the Antarctic ice sheet reveals some of the complex interactive metabolic processes that sustain these microbial communities. See Letter p.310

    • Martyn Tranter
  • News & Views |

    Blood stem cells derive at least in part from an embryonic vessel called the dorsal aorta. It emerges that a flanking tissue called the somite contributes cells and signals to this process. See Letters p.314 & p.319

    • Suphansa Sawamiphak
    • Didier Y. R. Stainier
  • News & Views |

    An earthquake off Chile in 2014 occurred in a region where a great seismic event was expected. Two studies reveal that months of foreshocks and slow slip on the associated plate-boundary fault preceded the event. See Letters p.295 & p.299

    • Roland Bürgmann
  • News & Views |

    The application of improved radiocarbon-dating techniques to samples from archaeological sites ranging from Russia to Spain has redefined the timing of the final disappearance of Neanderthals from Europe. See Letter p.306

    • William Davies


  • News & Views |

    Devices known as magneto-optical traps have long been used to cool and confine atoms, but not molecules — until now. This new ability should enable many studies and applications of the physics of ultracold molecules. See Letter p.286

    • Francesca Ferlaino
  • News & Views |

    New genetic methods to analyse mixed human populations have extended existing, multidisciplinary evidence for the historical migrations and mixings of Austronesian peoples.

    • Jared Diamond


  • Article |

    Programmed −1 ribosomal frameshifting (−1 PRF) is a process by which a signal in a messenger RNA causes a translating ribosome to shift by one nucleotide, thus changing the reading frame; here −1 PRF in the mRNA for the co-receptor for HIV-1, CCR5, is stimulated by two microRNAs and leads to degradation of the transcript by nonsense-mediated decay and at least one other decay pathway.

    • Ashton Trey Belew
    • Arturas Meskauskas
    • Jonathan D. Dinman
  • Article |

    GABAA receptors are the principal mediators of rapid inhibitor synaptic transmission in the brain, and a decline in GABAA signalling leads to diseases including epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety and autism; here, the first X-ray crystal structure of a human GABAA receptor, the human β3 homopentamer, reveals structural features unique for this receptor class and uncovers the locations of key disease-causing mutations.

    • Paul S. Miller
    • A. Radu Aricescu
  • Article |

    The first X-ray crystal structure of the mouse serotonin 5-HT3 receptor, a pentameric ligand-gated ion channel, is similar to those of other Cys-loop receptors — though here electron density for part of the cytoplasmic domain, which is important for trafficking, synaptic localization, and modulation by cytoplasmic proteins, but not visible in previous structures, is also described.

    • Ghérici Hassaine
    • Cédric Deluz
    • Hugues Nury


  • Letter |

    A model in which the stellar wind of the fast-moving red supergiant Betelgeuse is photoionized by radiation from external sources can explain the dense, almost static shell recently discovered around the star, and predicts both that debris from Betelgeuse’s eventual supernova explosion will violently collide with the shell and that other red supergiants should have similar, but much more massive, shells.

    • Jonathan Mackey
    • Shazrene Mohamed
    • Hilding R. Neilson
  • Letter |

    Magneto-optical trapping is the standard method for laser cooling and confinement of atomic gases but now this technique has been demonstrated for the diatomic molecule strontium monofluoride, leading to the lowest temperature yet achieved by cooling a molecular gas.

    • J. F. Barry
    • D. J. McCarron
    • D. DeMille
  • Letter |

    The 2014 Iquique event was not the earthquake that had been expected to fill the regional seismic gap; given that significant sections of the northern Chile subduction zone have not ruptured in almost 150 years, it is likely that future megathrust earthquakes will occur south and potentially north of the 2014 Iquique sequence.

    • Gavin P. Hayes
    • Matthew W. Herman
    • Sergey Samsonov
  • Letter |

    There has been active debate over microbial life in Antarctic subglacial lakes owing to a paucity of direct observations from beneath the ice sheet and concerns about contamination in the samples that do exist; here the authors present the first geomicrobiological description of pristine water and surficial sediments from Subglacial Lake Whillans, and show that the lake water contains a diverse microbial community, many members of which are closely related to chemolithoautotrophic bacteria and archaea.

    • Brent C. Christner
    • John C. Priscu
    • S. Tulaczyk
  • Letter |

    A new somite compartment, called the endotome, that contributes to the formation of the embryonic dorsal aorta by providing endothelial progenitors is identified here; endotome-derived endothelial progenitors, whose formation is regulated by the activity of the meox1 gene, induce haematopoietic stem cell formation upon colonization of the nascent dorsal aorta.

    • Phong Dang Nguyen
    • Georgina Elizabeth Hollway
    • Peter David Currie
  • Letter |

    Notch signalling has a key role in the generation of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) during vertebrate development; here two adhesion molecules, Jam1a and Jam2a, are shown to be essential for the contact between precursors of HSCs and the somite during embryonic migration, and the Jam1a–Jam2a interaction is shown to be needed to transmit the Notch signal and produce HSCs.

    • Isao Kobayashi
    • Jingjing Kobayashi-Sun
    • David Traver
  • Letter |

    The mutant IDH1 protein, which is expressed in a large fraction of human gliomas, is shown to be immunogenic; mutant-specific immune responses can be detected in patients with IDH1 mutated gliomas and generated in mice and are shown to treat established IDH1 mutant tumours in a syngeneic MHC humanized mouse model in a CD4 T-cell-dependent manner.

    • Theresa Schumacher
    • Lukas Bunse
    • Michael Platten
  • Letter |

    To investigate the mechanism of frameshifting during messenger RNA translation, a technique was developed to monitor translation of single molecules in real time using Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET); ribosomes were revealed to pause tenfold longer than usual during elongation at the frameshifting sites.

    • Jin Chen
    • Alexey Petrov
    • Joseph D. Puglisi
  • Letter |

    This study solved structures of the glutamate-gated chloride channel (GluCl), a Cys-loop receptor from C. elegans, in an apo, closed state and in a lipid-bound state — comparison of these structures with a previously published structure of GluCl in an ivermectin-bound state reveals what conformational changes probably occur as this membrane protein transitions from the closed/resting state towards an open/activated state.

    • Thorsten Althoff
    • Ryan E. Hibbs
    • Eric Gouaux





  • Futures |

    A message to the stars.

    • Debbie Urbanski
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