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Top stories: Giant amphibians, ancient gut bacteria, and genes you don’t need

(LEFT TO RIGHT) NASA/JPL/University of Arizona; Joana Bruno; Alexandra Obregon-Tito and Raul Tito

Top stories: Giant amphibians, ancient gut bacteria, and genes you don’t need

Jupiter destroyed 'super-Earths' in our early solar system

Lucky us: If Jupiter and Saturn hadn’t formed where they did—and at the sizes they did—as the disk of dust and gas around our sun coalesced, then our solar system would be a very different and possibly more hostile place, new research suggests.

Giant ancient amphibian was bigger than a human

Thanks to a fossil discovery in Portugal, we know that 230 million years ago, one of Earth’s top predators was a salamanderlike amphibian that was more than 2 meters long, weighed as much as 100 kilograms, and had a broad flat head the size and shape of a toilet seat.

Scientists argue over access to remaining Ebola hotspots

The slowdown in the West African Ebola epidemic is welcome news—but it’s also creating a new problem. With fewer new cases occurring, it is becoming more and more difficult to test vaccines and drugs. As a result, conflicts are looming over who can test Ebola drugs and vaccines in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Here are one thousand genes you could live without

Researchers this week unveiled the largest ever set of full genomes from a single population: Iceland. They've found new disease risk genes, insights into human evolution—and a list of more than 1000 genes that people can apparently live without!

Ancient bacteria found in hunter-gatherer guts

Attention paleo dieters: A new study suggests that humans who live in industrialized societies don’t have the guts to stomach a real hunter-gatherer diet. Compared with hunter-gatherers, industrialized peoples’ intestines have fewer kinds of microbes—and are missing at least one major group of ancient bacteria.