Genetics

This year’s picks include Fresh Banana Leaves, Origin and Starry Messenger.

The Best Books of 2022

The Ten Best Science Books of 2022

From a detective story on the origins of Covid-19 to a narrative that imagines a fateful day for dinosaurs, these works affected us the most this year

Workers converting a 15th-century granary (large brown building pictured) into a parking garage in Erfurt, Germany, uncovered graves from a medieval Jewish cemetery.

How Construction of a Parking Lot Uncovered New Insights About Medieval Jews

A new DNA study suggests Ashkenazi Jews living in 14th-century Germany were surprisingly genetically diverse

Under the right conditions, researchers say, some crop yields could increase by 50 percent or more.

Is Hacking Photosynthesis the Key to Increasing Crop Yields?

It’s an agricultural moonshot, but scientists hope to make plants like corn, wheat and barley as heat and drought resistant as cactus

A sonogram of a human fetus. 

Doctors Treated a Child for a Genetic Disease Before She Was Born

Treating fetuses for the enzyme deficiency might prevent early disease progression

An image captured by a scanning electron microscope of Yersinia pestis bacteria, which causes the bubonic plague. 

Medieval Skeletons Reveal How the Bubonic Plague Influenced Human DNA

Genes passed down by survivors fended off the Black Death, but they now increase the risk of immune disorders

About one in five students has a language-based learning disability. 

Scientists Identify Genes Linked to Dyslexia

In the largest study of its kind, researchers pinpointed 42 genetic variations tied to the language-based learning disability

An illustration of a Neanderthal father and his daughter

Cool Finds

Ancient DNA Reveals the First Known Neanderthal Family

The lived with a small community in a Siberian cave some 54,000 years ago

Svante Pääbo poses with a model of a Neanderthal skeleton after winning the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Svante Pääbo Wins Nobel Prize for Unraveling the Mysteries of Neanderthal DNA

The Swedish geneticist used 40,000-year-old bones to sequence the early humans' genome

Skull of a Neanderthal, or Homo neanderthalensis

What's the Difference Between a Human and Neanderthal Brain?

One small variation in DNA may have helped Homo sapiens out-compete our ancient relatives

Immortal jellyfish (Turritopsis dohrnii) are smaller than the nail on your pinky finger.

‘Immortal Jellyfish’ Could Spur Discoveries About Human Aging

After reaching maturity, these deep-sea creatures can revert to a juvenile stage and repeat their life cycle

Digital facial reconstructions of two of the individuals found in the well, based on skeletal remains and DNA

Bones Found in Medieval Well Likely Belong to Victims of Anti-Semitic Massacre

A new DNA analysis suggests the 17 individuals were Ashkenazi Jews murdered in Norwich, England, in 1190

Australia is home to roughly 200 million rabbits, which are not native to the country and damage crops and ecosystems. 

How Two Dozen Rabbits Started an Ecological Invasion in Australia

The country’s “most serious pests” can be traced to one shipment from England in 1859, study shows

Four pairs of "human doubles" included in the study

Art Meets Science

Doppelgängers Don't Just Look Alike—They Also Share DNA

New research finds genetic and lifestyle similarities between unrelated pairs of "virtual twins"

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito

How Can Mosquitoes Find Humans So Easily?

A sophisticated sense of smell makes the Earth’s deadliest animal hard-wired to hunt us

A variegated snailfish (Liparis gibbus)

This Arctic Snailfish Is Loaded With Antifreeze Proteins

But climate change could threaten these cold-adapted fish, scientists say

Thylacines were dog-like, carnivorous marsupials.

Why the Idea of Bringing the Tasmanian Tiger Back From Extinction Draws So Much Controversy

Using gene-editing technology, researchers hope to “de-extinct” the iconic marsupial carnivore

A new species of giant isopod, Bathynomus yucatanensis

New Species of Deep Sea Isopod Discovered

The giant crustacean was originally mistaken for a different species at an aquarium in Japan

Experts were unable to pinpoint a cause of death, but three medical witnesses who testified during an inquest into the Somerton Man case agreed that his passing “was not natural.” 

Have Scholars Finally Identified the Mysterious Somerton Man?

New DNA analysis suggests a body found on a beach in Australia in 1948 belongs to Carl Webb, an electrical engineer from Melbourne

Based on the remnants left on pottery fragments, researchers can say northern Europeans have been drinking milk for 9,000 years.

Why Did Europeans Evolve Into Becoming Lactose Tolerant?

Famine and disease from millennia ago likely spurred the rapid evolution of the trait on the continent

The current rate of climate change does not bode well for penguins.

Penguins Might Not Be Ready to Adapt to Modern Climate Change

A new study looking at genomes and the fossil record shows that penguins evolve slower than other birds

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