Closer threats inspire a more primitive kind of fear

sciencedaily.com – Your brain handles a perceived threat differently depending on how close it is to you. If it's far away, you engage more problem-solving areas of the brain. But up close, your animal instincts jump into action and there isn't as much reasoning. And that is probably what makes it harder to extinguish the fear of a close-up threat and more likely that you'll have some long-term stress from the experience.

Source: Leonard Faul, et al. Proximal threats promote enhanced acquisition and persistence of reactive fear-learning circuits. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 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.