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A map of genomic regions could explain the evolution of our unique skeletal architecture, which enables us to walk upright. Researchers used deep learning to analyse measurements from whole-body X-rays of more than 31,000 people, and combined them with their genetic data. One hallmark of walking upright is having longer legs relative to arms; another is narrower hips. Genomic regions linked to these features bore signs of evolutionary selection in humans. The work also points to regions of our DNA that place us at risk of the common skeletal disease osteoarthritis.
Nature | 4 min read
Reference: Science paper
An overview of data from several continents has confirmed that there has been a surge in cases of type 1 diabetes in children and teenagers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before COVID-19, the incidence of type 1 diabetes in children was rising at a steady rate of around 2–4% a year. “Now, all of a sudden, we see a tenfold increase,” says diabetes researcher Clemens Kamrath. It’s not clear why — scientists have not found evidence linking the rise to SARS-CoV-2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s own immune system misfires, so the surge could be attributable to environmental or lifestyle changes.
Nature | 5 min read
Reference: JAMA Network Open paper
Features & opinion
When the Colombian government made peace with the guerrilla force known as FARC in 2016, huge tracts of unexplored forests, caves and mountains became accessible to science. “We are living in the spring, in terms of research interests in the country,” says botanist Mauricio Diazgranados. But loggers, ranchers and miners are moving in, too. Discover the country’s unparalleled biodiversity — and overlapping challenges — in this richly illustrated feature.
Nature | 11 min read
A mother’s drive to protect her child overcomes every other imperative in the latest short story for Nature’s Futures series.
Nature | 6 min read
Scientists and local communities took on the backbreaking effort of clearing 432 tonnes of invasive plants to break the cycle of transmission of a parasitic disease called schistosomiasis. The work protected children from infection by deterring the freshwater snails that transmit the parasites. It also cleared clogged waterways and provided a source of cheap fertilizer and livestock feed. “We tried to convert this public nuisance, this aquatic vegetation, into a private resource,” ecology and public-health researcher Jason Rohr tells the Nature Podcast. “We showed that that compost significantly increased onion and pepper production … and it was up to 141 times cheaper than purchasing feed.”
Nature Podcast | 25 min listen
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