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Volume 630 Issue 8017, 20 June 2024

Soar point

Birds of prey, such as the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) pictured on the cover, spend much of their time in the air soaring. In this week’s issue, Emma Schachner and colleagues reveal a link between the wings and respiratory system that helps these birds maintain this mode of flying. The researchers focused on the subpectoral diverticulum (SPD), an extension of the respiratory system that dives between the main muscles responsible for wing flapping and forms air sacs on the chest beneath the wings. The team found that the SPD is present in most soaring birds but is absent in other species. Soaring birds can inflate the SPD air sacs at will and the sacs reduce the energy required to keep the wings outstretched when gliding.

Cover image: Raymond Gilbert

This Week

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News in Focus

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Books & Arts

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  • News & Views

    • Certain air sacs have evolved in multiple lineages of soaring birds, and it emerges that these probably function to reduce the force required from the major flight muscles as they hold the wings in place during gliding and soaring.

      • Bret W. Tobalske
      News & Views
    • Knowing the occupation timescales for ancient sites offers insights into population dynamics. A dating approach now establishes the time frame during which prehistoric hearths were in use at a high level of precision.

      • Ségolène Vandevelde
      News & Views
    • The enzyme angiogenin functions in stress responses and aids the formation of blood vessels. It emerges that the ribosome takes a break from its usual role of making proteins to activate angiogenin and position it to cleave transfer RNA.

      • Pavel Ivanov
      News & Views
  • Perspectives

    • Evidence from neuroscience and related fields suggests that language and thought processes operate in distinct networks in the human brain and that language is optimized for communication and not for complex thought.

      • Evelina Fedorenko
      • Steven T. Piantadosi
      • Edward A. F. Gibson
    • This Perspective considers the implications of advances in human physiology, single-cell and spatial transcriptomics and long-term culture of resected human brain tissue for the study of network-level activity in human neuroscience.

      • Anthony T. Lee
      • Edward F. Chang
      • Tomasz J. Nowakowski
  • Articles

    • The thermal emission spectrum of the rocky exoplanet 55 Cancri e obtained by the NIRCAM and MIRI instruments aboard the JWST indicates that it has a secondary volatile-rich atmosphere, possibly arising from a magma ocean.

      • Renyu Hu
      • Aaron Bello-Arufe
      • Brice-Olivier Demory
    • Independent control of the electric field and charge-carrier density in double-gated graphene allows the decoupling of proton transport and lattice hydrogenation, enabling both accelerated proton transport and proton-based logic operations.

      • J. Tong
      • Y. Fu
      • M. Lozada-Hidalgo
      Article Open Access
    • Hallucinations (confabulations) in large language model systems can be tackled by measuring uncertainty about the meanings of generated responses rather than the text itself to improve question-answering accuracy.

      • Sebastian Farquhar
      • Jannik Kossen
      • Yarin Gal
      Article Open Access
    • A dual-additive crystallization method using PyNI and 5AVA as additives results in highly efficient 3D perovskite films with enhanced photoluminescence quantum efficiencies and external quantum efficiencies, and hence increased LED performance.

      • Mengmeng Li
      • Yingguo Yang
      • Jianpu Wang
      Article Open Access
    • Assessment of surface contamination shows that trace oxygen is a key factor influencing the trajectory and quality of graphene grown by low-pressure chemical vapour deposition, with oxygen-free synthesis showing increased reproducibility and quality.

      • Jacob Amontree
      • Xingzhou Yan
      • James Hone
    • The development of advanced polymer electrochemical liquid cells for transmission electron microscopy allows direct monitoring of the atomic dynamics of electrified solid–liquid interfaces during copper-catalysed CO2 electroreduction reactions.

      • Qiubo Zhang
      • Zhigang Song
      • Haimei Zheng
    • Deformation of soft colloidal crystals lead to work hardening, similar to that seen in the deformation of metals.

      • Seongsoo Kim
      • Ilya Svetlizky
      • Frans Spaepen
      Article Open Access
    • Charged-sorbents are a new class of designer sorbent materials for the capture of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and can be regenerated at low temperatures with direct heating generation using renewable electricity.

      • Huaiguang Li
      • Mary E. Zick
      • Alexander C. Forse
      Article Open Access
    • High-resolution time differences between six Middle Palaeolithic hearths from El Salt Unit x (Spain) obtained through archaeomagnetic and archaeostratigraphic analyses show sometimes decade-long intervals between hearths.

      • Ángela Herrejón-Lagunilla
      • Juan José Villalaín
      • Ángel Carrancho
    • An investigation of the subpectoral diverticulum—an inflatable air sac structure between the major flight muscles—in 68 avian species reveals that the respiratory system has a role in the mechanics of flight in soaring birds.

      • Emma R. Schachner
      • Andrew J. Moore
      • Karl T. Bates
    • Measurements of activity in the entorhinal cortex of monkeys indicate that the recruitment of a cognitive map is a key part of mental navigation, and that cognitive maps can support behavior in the absence of external sensory input.

      • Sujaya Neupane
      • Ila Fiete
      • Mehrdad Jazayeri
      Article Open Access
    • A genetic screen that expresses single guide RNA libraries targeting host genes in the human cytomegalovirus genome enables identification of host factors and provides insights into their roles during the viral replication cycle.

      • Yaara Finkel
      • Aharon Nachshon
      • Noam Stern-Ginossar
    • How strand-asymmetric processes such as replication and transcription interact with DNA damage to drive mechanisms of repair and mutagenesis is explored.

      • Craig J. Anderson
      • Lana Talmane
      • Martin S. Taylor
      Article Open Access
    • Structures of the kainate receptor GluK2 with and without concanavilin A and BPAM344 show how these ligands modulate channel activity and reveal the molecular basis of kainate receptor gating.

      • Shanti Pal Gangwar
      • Maria V. Yelshanskaya
      • Alexander I. Sobolevsky
      Article Open Access
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  • Changing climate patterns have caused a monumental shift in the world’s agricultural processes.

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