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Top stories: Tracking the Himalayan wolf, trusting science, and finding our ‘ghost’ ancestors

High-altitude genes could turn Himalayan wolves into a new species

In the high grasslands of Earth’s tallest mountains lives a group of wolves known for their long snouts; pale, woolly pelts; and low-pitched calls. Now, their genes are also setting them apart. A new study suggests these wolves—which range across northern India, China, and Nepal—are genetically distinct from the gray wolves that live nearby, thanks to genes that help them cope with the thin air above 4000 meters.

Do you trust science? These five factors play a big role

Are you excited about the migraine treatment you saw in a TV ad, or do you need more information? Do you trust news outlets when they say your risk of catching coronavirus is low, or would you rather hear it from a government official? Researchers say five factors determine how much you trust science, when other factors such as gender, education level, and cultural background are taken into account.

For full coverage of the AAAS annual meeting, click here.

Mysterious ‘ghost’ populations had multiple trysts with human ancestors

The story of human evolution is full of ancient trysts. Genes from fossils have shown that the ancestors of many living people mated with Neanderthals and with Denisovans, a mysterious group of extinct humans who lived in Asia. Now, a flurry of papers suggests the ancestors of all three groups mixed at least twice with even older “ghost” lineages of unknown extinct hominins.

The real ‘paleo diet’ may have been full of toxic metals

You’ll be healthier if you ate as your ancestors did. At least that’s the promise of some modern fads such as the “caveman,” or paleo, diet—characterized by avoiding processed food and grains and only eating things like meat, fish, and seeds. But a new study suggests the food some early humans in Norway ate may have not only been unhealthy, but downright toxic.

‘The spark has ignited.’ Latin American scientists intensify fight against sexual harassment

Universities across Latin America are struggling to protect women within cultures that have long tolerated, and even celebrated, male privilege and a set of attitudes known as machismo. But now, the tide might be turning. Administrators are promising to adopt and enforce stronger policies and enforce them, and in some countries, legislators are moving to enact new, nationwide standards for reporting sexual harassment at campuses and research institutes. And an emerging constellation of advocacy groups has been ratcheting up the pressure for reform through social media campaigns, legal challenges, and other tactics—including marches and even the takeover of university buildings.