The best from the science journals

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First footprints?

Published in Science Advances

South China is now officially the place where an animal laid the first footprint. A new fossil containing track imprints, believed to have been made by a pair-legged creature like a millipede or a worm with legs has been discovered here. The fossil is about 635 to 541 million years old, which means that the creature lived during the geological period known as Ediacaran Period. With this new fossil, scientists now have solid evidence to prove that the Ediacaran Period saw the first animal with paired appendages, thus filling gaps in evolutionary history.

Blood protein atlas

Published in Nature

Blood drawn for testing 

Did you know that we have above 1,500 proteins in our blood? And there are about 2,000 genetic associations with these proteins? An international team of researchers has now created the first detailed genetic map of the proteins in human blood plasma. The scientists built this map after studying about 3,300 individuals, their DNA, and genomes. The authors say that this atlas can improve our understanding of diseases and help in developing new drugs.

Hidden state of matter

Published in Nature Materials

Using new high-tech equipments researchers have now seen electrons interacting inside a superconductive alloy. Short pulses at terahertz frequency were used to bombard the superconductor (niobium-tin) and these flashes suddenly turned the compound into a new state of matter. Further studies are planned to understand more about this hidden state which can find applications in quantum computing.

Unhappy fungi

Published in Nature

Image for representational purposes only

Even lowly fungi leading a hidden life in tree roots are affected by pollution. Looking at 40,000 roots, 13,000 soil samples from 137 forests in 20 European countries, a ten-year study has now shown that increased nitrogen and carbon in the air is causing stress to helpful fungi that live on the roots of many trees. The team also found that as the fungi went sick the trees also looked malnourished indicating how the plant-fungal symbiotic relationship was important for the survival of the tree.

Stubborn Zika

Published in Science Advances

The best from the science journals: Melancholic moulds and the first footprints

To understand if Zika infection in newborn babies can persist into adulthood, researchers infected three-day-old mice with the virus and observed its developments. They found that even after reaching adulthood, the mice suffered from seizures, showed reduced motor functions and did not perform well in behavioral and memory tests. The team also found that by using a drug called infliximab, the number of seizures could be reduced. This study is the first to look at the long term effects of the disease.