(Left to right): SARA GIRONI CARNEVALE; THOMAS HIGHAM, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD; JOHN LEHMANN

Top stories: a wave of fraud, an ancient tryst, and hope for treating Huntington disease

Researcher at the center of an epic fraud remains an enigma to those who exposed him

Japanese bone researcher Yoshihiro Sato fabricated dozens of clinical trials before a group of researchers from the United Kingdom and New Zealand exposed the fraud in 2016. But by then, new trials with thousands of real patients had been held to follow up the faked studies, and several professional societies had based medical guidelines about bone fractures on his papers. Exposing Sato’s lies, correcting the literature, and tracing the effects of the fake studies has been a bruising struggle for the whistleblowers.

This ancient bone belonged to a child of two extinct human species

A piece of bone unearthed in a Siberian cave in Russia is providing the most direct evidence of a tryst between extinct human species. The 2-centimeter-long fragment contained enough ancient DNA for scientists to conclude that it belonged to a woman whose mother was a Neanderthal and whose father was a Denisovan, a mysterious group of ancient humans discovered in the same cave in 2011.

‘I feel so much hope’—Is a new drug keeping this woman’s deadly Huntington disease at bay?

For the first time, a drug being tested in humans has been shown to suppress the toxic protein behind Huntington disease, a brutal brain malady that inexorably robs victims of control of their movements and their minds. Michelle Dardengo of Coquitlam, Canada, was the first patient in the first human trial, which showed the drug is safe for human use. Now, the company behind the treatment is getting ready to launch another trial in hundreds of patients, which could finally answer the question on Dardengo’s—and doctors’—minds: Can it slow or stop the disease?

What does Trump’s pick for science adviser think about climate science? A 2014 talk offers clues

 In a 2014 talk at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Kelvin Droegemeier, the meteorology professor picked to advise President Donald Trump on science-related matters, offered his thoughts on the state of climate science, the capacity of the planet to withstand environmental disasters, and the way in which many climate scientists present their findings. Said Droegemeier of planet Earth’s resilience: “You can kick it in the butt really, really, hard and it will come back.”

This bright purple ribbon—named STEVE—is an entirely new celestial phenomenon

Aurorae—those bright waves of color that light up high-latitude skies—have a lower-latitude cousin named Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE). But this dazzling purple-and-white ribbon in the sky, recently discovered by citizen scientists, is in fact an entirely new celestial phenomenon, researchers report in a new study. Scientists aren’t yet sure how STEVE’s light is created, but one theory is that low-energy protons may be heating the upper atmosphere.