ICYMI: Cloned Monkeys, Ancient Humans, and a Challenging Oil Spill

Feb 5, 2018

Heidi Ledford, a senior biology and medicine reporter for the journal Nature, catches us up on major science headlines of the past month: 


Gene editing has been in the spotlight recently, but now cloning is back. Researchers in China have produced the first cloned primates. It wasn’t easy: it took 109 cloned embryos to produce six pregnancies, and only two babies survived birth. But the team says the breakthrough could hold promise for improved human drug development. 

It has long thought that modern humans (Homo sapiens) arose in East Africa about 200,000 years ago, but didn’t expand out of Africa until as recently as 60,000 years ago. New fossils found in Israel are challenging that idea. 

James Reilly is an oil and gas exploration geologist and an astronaut with five space walks to his name. He is only the second person with a Ph.D. to be nominated to lead a science agency under President Trump, and the science community is responding favorably. 

An oil spill in the East China Sea has scientists stymied. It’s been more than two weeks and they still don’t have a good handle on how big the spill is or where it’s headed. The spilled oil is natural gas condensate, a lighter, more volatile oil that behaves completely differently than the crude oil involved in past spills.