Top stories: Walking fish, alien water clouds, and erasing memories


Top stories: Walking fish, alien water clouds, and erasing memories

Genomes reveal start of Ebola outbreak

A new paper published yesterday in Science analyzes the genetics of the Ebola virus and provides insights into how the virus is changing during the current outbreak. The analysis could help improve current diagnostic tests and, in the long term, guide researchers working on vaccines and treatments. The study also highlights the unrelenting toll the outbreak has taken on health workers on the front lines: Five of the paper's co-authors contracted Ebola themselves and died before its publication.

See all of Science’s coverage of the Ebola outbreak, including the World Health Organization’s latest predictions, the push to test Ebola vaccines, and reports of deaths in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A gut microbe that stops food allergies

Scientists have discovered that a common gut bacteria can keep mice safe from food allergies. The finding may help explain the recent alarming increase in food allergies—these same bacteria, Clostridia, are reduced by antibiotic use in early childhood.

‘Walking’ fish give clues to evolution of life on land

A primitive, air-breathing fish walks much better when it's raised on land rather than in the water. The landlubbers even undergo skeletal changes that improve their walking skills. The discovery may provide clues to how Earth's first swimmers evolved and adapted to start living on land.

Researchers erase fearful memories in mice

By manipulating brain activity with light, a research team has neutralized “fearful” memories in mice and even colored them with more positive emotions. The technique is too invasive to use on humans, but researchers hope it will lead to treatments for post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders.

Water clouds tentatively detected just 7 light-years from Earth

Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth—less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to the sun. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system.

Is ecology explaining less and less?

Ecologists are testing more and more hypotheses, but their studies are explaining less of the world. That’s the striking conclusion of a new study that analyzes 8 decades of research papers. What exactly is driving these trends isn’t clear, but researchers fear it could undermine confidence in ecological research.