Here are some of the most interesting research papers to have appeared in top science journals last week.
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Music of the past
(A) Side view. (B) Front view and naming of the anatomical areas. Credit: Fritz et al., Sci. Adv. 2021
About 18,000 years ago, the inhabitants of Marsoulas Cave (now in France) tuned a sea snail shell into a wind instrument and used it during important social events and rituals. Musicologists and researchers worked together and have now reproduced the sound of the horn. “This seashell horn, with its unique sonority…sheds light on a musical dimension until now unknown in the context of Upper Paleolithic societies,” notes the paper.
Why did North America’s megafauna go extinct?
The arrival of humans and over-hunting were believed to be one of the reasons behind the extinction of North America’s largest mammals such as the woolly mammoth and saber-tooth cat. A new study found that climate change (a decrease in global temperatures around 13,000 years ago) initiated the decline of these massive creatures. They write that there was no evidence for a relationship between human and megafauna population levels in North America.
Science of siestas
If your parents scold you for sleeping during the day, tell them to blame your genes. “Daytime napping is biologically driven and not just an environmental or behavioral choice,” says Hassan Saeed Dashti, co-author of the study that identified 123 regions in our genome that are associated with daytime napping.
New imaging technology
Ever wanted to look inside a semiconductor or a computer’s microchip? Meet a new imaging technology called Coherence Tomography with Extreme Ultraviolet Light. The researchers write that the method is highly precise and can help inspect the deep structure of the tiny samples and also study the chemical composition of the samples in a non-destructive manner.
Genome of white-faced capuchin sequenced
White-faced capuchin monkeys found across Central and South America, have the largest relative brain size of any monkey and are also known to live past the age of 50, despite their small size. A study of their genome has now identified genes associated with longevity, brain development and also shown how they live in different environmental conditions.