This exoplanet whizzes around its star once a week and is bombarded by flares

digitaltrends.com – Astronomers recently discovered a Nepune-sized planet orbiting the baby star AU Mic, which could teach us more about how planetary systems form and develop.

Source: Peter Plavchan, et al. A planet within the debris disk around the pre-main-sequence star AU Microscopii. Nature, 2020.

Polynesian and South American people met, interbred many centuries ago

cbc.ca – Centuries before Europeans reached the Americas, two groups of people separated by 6,800 kilometres of ocean met, exchanged sweet potatoes — and interbred, a new study confirms.

Source: Alexander G. Ioannidis, et al. Native American gene flow into Polynesia predating Easter Island settlement. Nature, 2020.

Rat empathy is surprisingly like human empathy — including the negative aspects

zmescience.com – The Bystander Effect is also real for rats, a new study concludes.

Source: John L. Havlik, et al. The bystander effect in rats. Science Advances, 2020.

COVID-19 and blood type: What's the link?

latimes.com – Scientists are finding evidence that blood type may be a risk factor for COVID-19. In one study, people with Type A blood were more likely to be hospitalized.

Source: Caren G. Solomon, David A. Berlin, Roy M. Gulick, Fernando J. Martinez. Severe Covid-19. New England Journal of Medicine, 2020.

Exoplanet in the hot-Neptune desert is the first of its kind

arstechnica.com – Hello, planetary delivery service? I'll take one gas giant, hold the gas.

Source: David J. Armstrong, et al. A remnant planetary core in the hot-Neptune desert. Nature, 2020.

This pocket-sized shaggy reptile hopped around a pre-dino world

popsci.com – Researchers report the discovery of an ancient reptile that stood at just four inches tall.

Source: Christian F. Kammerer, Sterling J. Nesbitt, John J. Flynn, Lovasoa Ranivoharimanana, André R. Wyss. A tiny ornithodiran archosaur from the Triassic of Madagascar and the role of miniaturization in dinosaur and pterosaur ancestry. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020.

Avian earworm: ‘viral’ bird song is shifting tune preferences among Canadian sparrows

zmescience.com – The three-note ending song is making room for an unique two-note variant

Source: Ken A. Otter, Alexandra Mckenna, Stefanie E. LaZerte, Scott M. Ramsay. Continent-wide Shifts in Song Dialects of White-Throated Sparrows. Current Biology, 2020.

As COVID-19 spreads, researchers tracking an influenza virus nervously

arstechnica.com – The virus has sometimes moved from pigs to humans, but not between humans.

Source: Honglei Sun, et al. Prevalent Eurasian avian-like H1N1 swine influenza virus with 2009 pandemic viral genes facilitating human infection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020.

Researchers Identify An Infectious Mutation Of COVID-19

medicaldaily.com – The D614G genetic mutation of SARS-CoV-2 is considered the dominant strain of the virus circulated across the globe currently.

Source: B. Korber, et al. Tracking changes in SARS-CoV-2 Spike: evidence that D614G increases infectivity of the COVID-19 virus. Cell, 2020.

Masks help prevent the spread of the coronavirus—here’s a breakdown of how effective they are

popsci.com – Over the past several months, the idea of wearing a face covering has been hotly debated. In the beginning of the pandemic, the general recommendation was that masks should be reserved for medical professionals only. But now, a mounting body of evidence makes it clear that masks do prevent the spread of the virus—especially the more people wear them properly.

Source: Siddhartha Verma, Manhar Dhanak, John Frankenfield. Visualizing the effectiveness of face masks in obstructing respiratory jets. Physics of Fluids, 2020.

Solar-Powered Nanotubes Could Bring Water to the World

popularmechanics.com – Wood and bacteria will help, too.

Source: Qing-Fang Guan, Zi-Meng Han, Zhang-Chi Ling, Huai-Bin Yang, Shu-Hong Yu. Sustainable Wood-Based Hierarchical Solar Steam Generator: A Biomimetic Design with Reduced Vaporization Enthalpy of Water. Nano Letters, 2020.