PLoS ONE News and Blog Round-Up

This month in PLoS ONE: Bathroom germs, yawn contagion and more!

The  specific locations and breeds of bacteria found in public restrooms was recently revealed when researchers at the University of Colorado took samples from public restrooms on campus, and used a genetic sequencing tool to identify 19 of the most common bacteria. This article was covered by CBS News, Scientific American and NPR.

Researchers from the University of Pisa explore possible causes associated with yawn contagion. The results indicate that yawns are most contagious between family members, followed by friends and then acquaintances.  The scientists attribute this phenomenon to emotional bonds, suggesting that we empathize and thus mimic, individuals we know better. The BBC, Fox News and International Business Times covered this article.

An archaeological excursion to Dhofar, Oman reveals artifacts dating back roughly 74,000 to 128,000 years. This new evidence suggests that the exodus from Africa may have occurred significantly earlier than previously estimated, and that early humans traveled inland, across valleys, rather than along the coast line. This article was covered by CBS News, ABC News and The Examiner . The image above comes from Figure 6 in the manuscript and shows Nubian Type 1 cores from Aybut Al Auwal.

Roughly 7,500 feet under the sea, a team of scientists capture video of the recently discovered ‘Yeti Crab’ (Kiwa puravida). The lack of sun at extreme ocean depths has forced many species to develop unique feeding methods. The Yeti Crab hosts nutrient-rich bacteria on its claws, and waves them near hydrothermal vents, that release hydrogen sulfide and methane. The bacteria ‘feed’ on these compounds, which the Yeti Crab then consumes. Wired, National Geographic and Scientific American covered this article.

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PLoS ONE News and Blog Round-Up

Fig 3 from e26322This month in PLoS ONE: Mind Control in a Virtual World, The Network of the Global Economic Structure Revealed, and more!

Scientists at the University of Minnesota have developed technology that allows users to control movement of 3D objects using only their minds. Previous studies required the use of invasive techniques, involving surgically implanting electrodes in the user’s brain, whereas this research recorded brain signals via electroencephalogram (EEG). — This article was covered by ABC, Scientific American, and National Journal.

A new study finds that 147 companies control 40% of the world’s economy. Swiss researchers have produced a map of the global economic structure, showing the intricate, interconnectedness among companies, similar to the relationships found in nature. This article was covered by The Huffington Post, NewScientist, and Forbes.

How do woodpeckers avoid brain injury while pecking at high speeds? Scientists reveal how the woodpecker’s unique skull structure could provide insight to more effective headgear design. Watch the slow motion video illustrating the forces experienced during a woodpecker’s pecking. This article was covered by Wired, The Independent and International Business Times

Researchers collected and analyzed data from the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) database, spanning 1998 through September 2010. The results indicate that of 3,249 reported cases of suicidal/self-injurious behavior or depression, 90% reported use of varenicline, an anti-smoking drug sold under the brand Chantix. While the results have previously been reported, experts believe the FDA should implement stricter policy when prescribing Chantix to smokers, and approve use only as a last resort. This article was covered by CNN, ABC News, and TIME.

New evidence reveals how unique vocal cord anatomy allows lions and tigers to roar loudly with little effort. Researchers previously thought that the enormous sounds were attributed to the large animal’s substantial vocal cords. However, a new study shows that this may not be the only factor. A layer of fat tissue, as well as a flat, square-shaped vocal cord, as opposed to the triangular shape found in most mammalian species, generates the terrifyingly loud and low vibrations.  This article was covered by The Smithsonian, Scientific American and The New York Times.

For more in-depth coverage on news and blog articles about PLoS ONE papers, please visit our Media Tracking Project.

Image credit: Figure 3 from manuscript e26322