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Volume 579 Issue 7798, 12 March 2020

Small wonder

The piece of amber on this week’s cover is just 31.5 millimetres across. Found in Myanmar, it contains the complete skull of what is believed to be the smallest known dinosaur from the Mesozoic era. Described in this issue by Jingmai O'Connor and her colleagues, the skull is around 99 million years old and is from a primitive bird-like species the researchers have named Oculudentavis khaungraae. The skull itself is a mere 14.25 mm long, meaning that the creature was similar in size to the bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) — the smallest living bird. The small aperture of the eye suggests that O. khaungraae would have been active in well-lit daytime environments, and the long row of teeth on the jaws hint at a predatory diet that consisted mainly of invertebrates. The diminutive size of the fossil hints that miniaturization may have evolved earlier than was previously thought.

Cover image: Xing Lida

This Week

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News in Focus

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  • News & Views

    • Identifying Earth’s building blocks from terrestrial rocks is challenging because these ingredients have become mixed as the planet evolved. Evidence of an unknown building block in ancient rocks provides fresh insight.

      • Katherine R. Bermingham
      News & Views
    • Blood cells called myeloid cells can facilitate metastasis — the spread of a tumour to distant organs. Taming these cells with drugs that alter the chemical structure of their DNA limits metastasis in mice.

      • Ali Ghasemi
      • Michele De Palma
      News & Views
    • A key DNA-repair enzyme has a surprising role during the early steps in the assembly of ribosomes — the molecular machines that translate the genetic code into protein.

      • Alan J. Warren
      News & Views
    • A brain structure called the cerebellum has mostly been associated with learning from errors. The discovery that the cerebellum is also involved in reward-driven learning in monkeys implies a previously unappreciated role in cognition.

      • Jennifer L. Raymond
      News & Views
  • Articles

    • The existence of the Kondo cloud is revealed by the spatially resolved characterization of the oscillations of the Kondo temperature in a Fabry–Pérot interferometer and its extent is shown to be several micrometres.

      • Ivan V. Borzenets
      • Jeongmin Shim
      • Michihisa Yamamoto
    • Chiral coupling between neighbouring magnetic domains is used in domain-wall racetracks to realize various all-electric logic operations by cascading the gates.

      • Zhaochu Luo
      • Aleš Hrabec
      • Laura J. Heyderman
    • Graphene is shown to be impermeable to helium and several other gases, except for hydrogen, which is attributed to the strong catalytic activity of ripples in the graphene sheet.

      • P. Z. Sun
      • Q. Yang
      • A. K. Geim
    • Three techniques for estimating mass losses from the Greenland Ice Sheet produce comparable results for the period 1992–2018 that approach the trajectory of the highest rates of sea-level rise projected by the IPCC.

      • Andrew Shepherd
      • Erik Ivins
      • Jan Wuite
    • Oculudentavis khaungraae—a newly discovered theropod from the Cretaceous period of Myanmar—reveals a previously unknown bauplan and ecology associated with miniaturization, highlighting the potential for recovering small-bodied vertebrates from amber deposits.

      • Lida Xing
      • Jingmai K. O’Connor
      • Gang Li
    • Computational modelling, imaging and single-cell ablation in layer 2/3 of the mouse vibrissal somatosensory cortex reveals that recurrent activity in cortical neurons can drive input-specific amplification during behaviour.

      • Simon Peron
      • Ravi Pancholi
      • Karel Svoboda
    • Phylogenetic and metagenomic analyses of the complete viral genome of a new coronavirus from the family Coronaviridae reveal that the virus is closely related to a group of SARS-like coronaviruses found in bats in China.

      • Fan Wu
      • Su Zhao
      • Yong-Zhen Zhang
      Article Open Access
    • Large-scale single-cell sequencing of RNA and T cell receptors in samples from patients with cancer shows clonotypic expansion of effector-like T cells not only in tumour tissue but also in normal adjacent tissues and peripheral blood, which associates with clinical response to cancer immunotherapy.

      • Thomas D. Wu
      • Shravan Madireddi
      • Jane L. Grogan
    • A role and mechanism of action are identified for INSP3R1 in the stimulation of hepatic gluconeogenesis and mitochondrial oxidation by glucagon, suggesting that INSP3R1 may be a target for ameliorating dysregulation of hepatic glucose metabolism.

      • Rachel J. Perry
      • Dongyan Zhang
      • Gerald I. Shulman
    • In mouse models of pulmonary metastasis, adjuvant epigenetic therapy targeting myeloid-derived suppressor cells disrupts the premetastatic microenvironment after resection of primary tumours and inhibits the dissemination of residual tumour cells.

      • Zhihao Lu
      • Jianling Zou
      • Malcolm V. Brock
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