Humans have shrunk the planet's mammals – Humans have been altering the course of mammalian evolution for thousands of years, according to new research.

Source: Body size downgrading of mammals over the late Quaternary. Science, 2018.

Robot builds an Ikea chair. Everyone goes nuts. – The two-arm robot performed the 50 step assembly in about 20 minutes, making a mockery of the average dorm-dweller

Source: Francisco Suárez-Ruiz, Xian Zhou, Quang-Cuong Pham. Can robots assemble an IKEA chair?. Science Robotics, 2018.

New microscope captures detailed 3-D movies of cells deep within living systems – Merging lattice light sheet microscopy with adaptive optics reveals the most detailed picture yet of subcellular dynamics in multicellular organisms.

Source: Observing the cell in its native state: Imaging subcellular dynamics in multicellular organisms. Science, 2018.

This plastic-gobbling enzyme just got an upgrade – Scientists tweaked a bacterial enzyme and made it more efficient in breaking down plastics found in polyester and plastic bottles.

Source: Harry P. Austin, et al. Characterization and engineering of a plastic-degrading aromatic polyesterase. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018.

Immune Therapy Improves Lung Cancer Patients Survival – Pembrolizumab combined with chemotherapy nearly doubles survival rates and shrinks tumors in some individuals.

Source: Leena Gandhi, et al. Pembrolizumab plus Chemotherapy in Metastatic Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 2018.

Larger spleens may help ‘sea nomads’ stay underwater longer – The Bajau people of Southeast Asia have a gene variant associated with larger spleens, boosting their oxygen while breath-hold diving, researchers say.

Source: Melissa A. Ilardo, et al. Physiological and Genetic Adaptations to Diving in Sea Nomads. Cell, 2018.

Paleo Profile: Martin's Sea Turtle – This Cretaceous chelonian is close to the origin of the hard-shelled sea turtles that still swim the oceans.

Source: Andrew D. Gentry, James F. Parham, Dana J. Ehret, Jun A. Ebersole, Thierry Smith. A new species of Peritresius Leidy, 1856 (Testudines: Pan-Cheloniidae) from the Late Cretaceous (Campanian) of Alabama, USA, and the occurrence of the genus within the Mississippi Embayment of North America. PLOS ONE, 2018.

It's rude to ask a galaxy's age. Luckily, its shape offers a clue. – Previous research suggested the 3-D shape of a galaxy may hold important hints about its history. Now astrophysicists find these shapes may reveal clues about the age of galaxies, a discovery that could in turn yield insights on the dramatic ways galaxies can form and evolve over time.

Source: Jesse van de Sande, et al. A relation between the characteristic stellar ages of galaxies and their intrinsic shapes. Nature Astronomy, 2018.

An artificial beauty spot could warn you of cancer before symptoms emerge – Researchers from ETH Zurich have developed a smart biomedical “tattoo” that’s able to detect 40 percent of cancer types, including colon, breast and prostate cancer. The tattoo, which looks like a beauty spot, is able to identify these cancers before they have any visible symptoms.

Source: Aizhan Tastanova, et al. Synthetic biology-based cellular biomedical tattoo for detection of hypercalcemia associated with cancer. Science Translational Medicine, 2018.

Sweet Potato DNA Challenges Historic Notions of Crop Transport – Pre-Columbian history just got a lot clearer, thanks to root vegetables. New research from Oxford University suggests the sweet potato arrived naturally in Polynesia, not transported from America to the island region. The …

Source: Pablo Muñoz-Rodríguez, et al. Reconciling Conflicting Phylogenies in the Origin of Sweet Potato and Dispersal to Polynesia. Current Biology, 2018.