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Top Stories: The Next Pandemic, Dark Matter Disappointment, and Snakes on the Brain
iStockphoto/Thinkstock; Libiao Zhang/Guangdong Entomological Institute/South China Institute of Endangered Animals; U.S. Navy

Top Stories: The Next Pandemic, Dark Matter Disappointment, and Snakes on the Brain

Bats May Be Carrying the Next SARS Pandemic

The SARS virus appeared suddenly in 2002 and within 1 year spread to 33 countries, sickening more than 8000 people and killing more than 700. Now, researchers say, they have found that bats in China are carrying a closely related virus—one that can directly infect human cells and could potentially cause the next global pandemic.

New Experiment Torpedoes Lightweight Dark Matter Particles

It’s not the result physicists were hoping for, but the first data from LUX, the most sensitive dark matter detector in the world, show no signs of the lightweight dark matter particles hinted at by other experiments. The results could mean that there's no such thing as lightweight dark matter particles after all.

Huge Research Gaps on Youth Concussion in Sports, U.S. Report Finds

Amid growing concern about sports-related brain injuries, a new Institute of Medicine (IOM) report finds that there is a huge lack of knowledge about sports concussions in young people. Most published research on sports-related concussions has been conducted in adults, and IOM says it’s dangerous to assume that these findings can be mapped onto children because of the changes that occur during brain development.

Cleaning Up Ancient Human DNA

Gleaning the entire genetic code of ancient humans is pretty hard. Old human remains are usually riddled with bacteria, and separating out the human DNA from bug DNA is a costly process. Now, researchers say they've come up with RNA probes that filter out human DNA quickly and cheaply, meaning we can learn a lot more about our ancient relatives. The new method might also come in handy for modern-day forensic scientists dealing with bacteria-tainted DNA samples.

Did Snakes Help Build the Primate Brain?

A new study of the monkey brain suggests that primates are uniquely adapted to recognize snakes and react in a flash. The results lend support to a controversial hypothesis: that primates as we know them would never have evolved without sneaky, slithering snakes.