#143 Bird flu sweeps UK; secrets of the Neanderthal family

#143 Bird flu sweeps UK; secrets of the Neanderthal family

By New Scientist

Wild bird populations have been devastated by an avian flu variant that’s sweeping the UK - and more than 3.5 million captive birds have been culled. It’s expected to be the worst winter on record for avian flu - and the team finds out why.

Female robins sing just as much, and just as beautifully, as their male counterparts. It might sound like a no-brainer, but we’ve only just found this out, which the team explains is due to a male bias in ornithology. They share songs from both a male and female robin, and discuss how brutally aggressive these birds can be.

New Neanderthal genomes have been sequenced, giving us a glimpse into the lives - and inbreeding habits - of a family that lived in a cave in the Altai mountains.

Livers transplanted from older donors can keep working for over 100 years - outliving those given by younger donors. There are some clues that might explain how this is possible, and the team says it could be a game-changer for the future of transplant surgery.

If all the ice in Greenland melted, it would raise the sea level by 7.2 metres. Although some melting is already locked in due to climate change, it might be possible to physically slow the rate of ice loss. Following a meeting of the Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland, a team of scientists is investigating a way of slowing the ice melt by stopping warm sea water getting underneath the ice sheet. Rowan speaks to glaciologist John Moore and environmental social scientist Ilona Mettiäinen, both from the University of Lapland in Finland.

On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Carissa Wong, Madeleine Cuff and Michael Le Page. To read about these subjects and much more, you can subscribe to New Scientist magazine at newscientist.com.

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