Courtesy of Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology; Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH; Robert M. Brucker

Top Stories: Sniffing Out Cancer, Sonic Levitation, and How to Create a New Species

Gut Microbes Can Split a Species

A new and potentially groundbreaking study suggests that DNA isn't the only thing that separates species: Some populations diverge because of the microbes in their guts. The finding, which centers on three different species of parasitic jewel wasps, challenges the existing dogma of how species evolve.

Apes Capable of 'Mental Time Travel'

Many researchers think that humans are the only animals capable of "autobiographical memory" and the ability to travel down memory lane to remember highly specific past events. Now, chimps and orangutans are showing us we might not be as special as we thought. In zoo experiments, the animals drew on 3-year-old memories to solve a problem, suggesting that the animals are capable of similar "mental time-travel."

MERS Virus Not Yet a Global Emergency, WHO Panel Says

A special panel established by the World Health Organization decided that the novel coronavirus that has been infecting people in the Middle East is "very concerning," but does not yet constitute a "public health emergency of international concern." The new pathogen, known as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus, has sickened 82 people and killed 45 of them so far.

Smart Knife Sniffs Out Cancer Cells

When surgeons can't determine the edges of a tumor, it's a problem. Cut too much, and they risk hurting the patient. Cut too little, and they may leave stray cancer cells behind. Now, researchers have developed a surgical knife that can sniff the smoke made as it cuts tissue, almost instantly detecting whether cells are cancerous or healthy.

Obesity Gene Linked to Hunger Hormone

One in six people carry a gene variant linked to obesity. Now, researchers think they've figured out why this common gene causes weight gain: Those who carry a version of it don't feel full after eating and take in extra calories.

A Momentous Shift for Sonic Levitation

The tragic opera Rigoletto may move you to tears, but here's a more literal application of the moving power of sound. Sound waves with frequencies just above human hearing can levitate tiny particles and liquid droplets and even move them around, a team of engineers has demonstrated. The advance could open up new ways to handle delicate materials or mix pharmaceuticals.