Top stories: How sliced meat drove human evolution, new accusations in the CRISPR patent fight, and why high ‘good’ cholesterol can be bad news
(Left to right) sirawit99/iStockphoto; Eye of Science/Science Source; The Natural History Museum/Alamy

Top stories: How sliced meat drove human evolution, new accusations in the CRISPR patent fight, and why high ‘good’ cholesterol can be bad news

How sliced meat drove human evolution

Chimpanzees spend 6 hours a day gnashing fruits and the occasional monkey carcass—all made possible by the same type of big teeth and large jaws our early ancestors had. So why are our own teeth and jaws so much smaller? A new study credits the advent of simple stone tools to slice meat and pound root vegetables, which could have dramatically reduced the time and force needed to chew, thus allowing our more immediate ancestors to evolve the physical features required for speech.

Reversing the legacy of junk science in the courtroom

For decades, forensic examiners have sometimes claimed in court that so-called pattern evidence—like ballistic markings, fingerprints, shoeprints, and more—could conclusively link evidence to a suspect. But a committee at the National Academy of Sciences concluded in 2009 that this kind of evidence can’t consistently show a connection between evidence and any specific person. In other words, judges and juries were sometimes sending people to jail based on bogus science. The committee’s report sent shockwaves through the legal system, and forensic science is now grinding toward reform.

Why high 'good cholesterol' can be bad news

A 67-year-old woman had sky-high levels of the form of cholesterol long seen as protective against heart disease, and yet her arteries were lined with plaque. Her paradoxical case has helped motivate a team of scientists to show how high “good cholesterol” can sometimes be a signal not of heart health, but of the opposite: a cholesterol system unable to siphon the fatty particles from circulation.

Accusations of errors and deception fly in CRISPR patent fight

Adversaries in the legal battle over the rights to the CRISPR gene-editing technology are preparing to fire their initial shots. In two documents filed with the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board last week, lawyers for the Regents of the University of California (UC) and the Broad Institute (BI) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offered hints at how they will lay claim to the breakthrough technology and its financial spoils. And UC lawyers have made accusations of error and deception that, if true, could invalidate BI’s patents early in the proceedings.

Corrupt societies encourage lying

When do we decide it’s OK to tell a lie? Perhaps when we see people in positions of power doing the same. A new study finds that individuals are more likely to lie if they live in a country with high levels of institutional corruption and fraud—suggesting that poorly run institutions hurt society in more ways than previously suspected.