ONE Size Fits All: Bumper Special

Since the launch of the PLoS online store and Bora Zivkovic’s Science Online 2010 conference, we have amassed several more photos of PLoS aficionados modelling some of PLoS’s marvellous merchandise. As you can see from these photos, ONE size really does fit all!

The first photo shows PLoS Biology Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Eisen and Bora (Bora is wearing the ever-popular “hamsters love PLoS” shirt, and Jonathan’s shirt was a homemade ‘one off’ as far as we know we stand corrected, see the comment thread – Ed.). Photo credit: @ivanoransky (via Graham Steel)

Graham Steel also attended Science Online 2010, although as a virtual participant. He too opted for an item from the “hamsters love PLoS” collection; this time, a hoodie, which given the recent UK weather, is more suitable than a t-shirt. Photo credit: Graham Steel

The third photo was taken on Pete Binfield’s latest trip to Paris with his family. Pete’s daughter is wearing the PLoS ONEsie in front of some non-descript French building… Photo credit: Kim Binfield

Finally, the last photo is of me, mid-run, in Central Park on a recent trip to New York. I’m wearing the PLoS ONE first birthday t-shirt (you can see the t-shirt design better in this photo from PLoS ONE Section Editor Jason Stajich).

Today is my last day at PLoS so I won’t be blogging here any longer (although you can find me on Twitter); however, after three great years at PLoS ONE, I have amassed a fair amount of PLoS gear (including the now rare messenger bag), which will undoubtedly come with me on my travels.

For now, though, thanks for reading and goodbye!

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PLoS ONE News and Blog Round-Up

As we are now more than half-way through January, this blog is long overdue for a PLoS ONE media update. Here’s a round-up of some of the news and blog coverage of PLoS ONE articles over the past few weeks.

At the end of 2009, PLoS ONE published a paper by Jeffrey Ross-Ibara and colleagues in which the authors report that a southern Californian scrub oak has been cloning itself for at least 13,000 years, which would make it one of the world’s oldest plansts. The shrub, a Palmer’s oak (Quercus palmeri), was discovered about ten years ago in the Jurupa mountains in Riverside county and according to the authors, its ability to clone itself may explain why the plant was able to survive in the face of climate changes. The study was covered by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, New Scientist, the Independent and Not Exactly Rocket Science.

The birds appearing on state-wide and nation-wide endangered species lists in the United States might not do so well in the face of adversity, however. Earlier this month, Jeff Wells and colleagues reported that state-specific lists are failing to help the most endangered species nationally because they fail to take into account global conservation priorities. For example, a bird that is rare in one state might appear on the state’s endangered list even if the bird is abundant on a national level; on the other hand, a bird that is abundant in one state might not appear on its list of endangered species even if the bird is rare nation-wide. The authors conclude that as a result, birds that are at risk both nationally and globally have not received the attention they need. Some of the online coverage of the study has included: the Philadephia Inquirer, the Field of View blog and A DC Birding Blog.

In another recent conservation study published in PLoS ONE, authors Peter Mumby and Alistair Harborne at the University of Exeter report that local action to reduce the amount of fishing can help coral reefs to recover from damage. The authors stressed the importance of protected marine areas, or marine reserves where fishing is prohibited or highly limited, in promoting coral regrowth after damage. Planet Earth Online, Ars Technica and Treehugger all wrote about the study.

PLoS ONE has also published a number of medical studies that have received a lot of news coverage recently. A paper by Otto Erlwein and colleagues, Failure to Detect the Novel Retrovirus XMRV in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, has attracted a lot of attention in the media; here’s a selection of the some of the coverage: New Scientist, the Economist, the Guardian, the BBC News, Mind Hacks, Neuroskeptic and NHS Choices.

In their recent PLoS ONE article, David Melzer and colleagues report that higher exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in food and drinks packaging, reflected in higher urinary concentrations of BPA, is associated with reported heart disease among adults in the USA. Scientific American, National Geographic, Ars Technica and Effect Measure all covered the study.

Earlier this month, Lance Price and colleagues reported The Effects of Circumcision on the Penis Microbiome. This study was highlighted by Scientific American and Improbable Research; you can also read Jonathan Eisen’s comments on the paper and its press release (along with comments from the corresponding author) on his blog, the Tree of Life.

And finally, here is a brief summary of some of the other PLoS ONE papers that have made the headlines or been discussed in the blogosphere recently:

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PLoS ONE in the Science Superlatives, 2009 Edition

As we start 2010 in earnest, we felt it was high time to round-up some of the papers published in PLoS ONE last year that made it into various lists of the best—and quirkiest—research of the year; not to mention the biggest, oldest and cleverest discoveries. A number of these studies were also covered in our Media Round-Up of 2009 and, of course, you can freely read the full scientific papers online at PLoS ONE.

Best Bone Structure

2009 was a big year for paleontology research in PLoS ONE and our Paleontology Collection now contains over 40 papers. Scott Hocknull’s discovery of three new dinosaurs in Australia appeared in ABC Science’s review of 2009 and National Geographic’s top 10 (most viewed) dinosaur and fossil finds; this National Geographic list also included PLoS ONE research published by Jack Horner and Mark Goodwin that suggests three dinosaurs thought to be separate species may actually be from the same species. The report of two 47.5-million-year old whale fossils discovered in Pakistan, one of which was a pregnant female, was featured in the “Life” category of Science News’s top stories of the year and was one of four PLoS ONE studies to make Not Exactly Rocket Science’s review of 2009. Unsurprisingly, the fossil that appeared in most lists was Darwinius masillae, aka Ida. As well as some of the stories mentioned above, Ida was discussed in the annual round-ups of New Scientist, LiveScience, the BBC News, among others.

The W.C. Fields Award for Best Study Involving Animals

W.C. Fields is credited with the line, “never work with children or animals.” Well, he should be glad he wasn’t a scientist! A number of interesting and intriguing animal studies appeared in the 2009 round-ups, covering categories from “cleverest” and “biggest” to “best candidate for a 2010 Ignoble.”

Sakamoto and colleagues studied black-browed albatrosses by affixing a small camera to them and watched the birds interacting with a killer whale; this study was highlighted in the BBC’s list of “clever nature” in 2009. Another clever creature was the crow in Alex Kacelnik’s study, which found the birds could use up to three tools sequentially – a study which appeared in the Science News “life” round-up.

If asked the question, “does my web look big in this?” by a spider from the new species Nephila komaci, the answer is definitely yes.  Kuntner and Coddington reported that the new spider is one of the largest known orb-weaving spiders and the study made National Geographic’s top 10 new species of 2009. The chimpanzees that exchanged sex for food on a long-term basis were included in ABC Science’s list of the year, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the study reporting fellatio in bats was named as one of the weirdest science stories of the year by Cosmic Log, Conservation Maven and New Scientist.

The Human Condition: Best Study about People

Of course, we don’t just like to read about animals in the news; we want to know more about ourselves—people. A study published last January reporting the potential use of the video game Tetris to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder, made Not Exactly Rocket Science’s Review of 2009, as well as the New York Times’s Year in Ideas and the top 10 psychology studies at True/Slant. What may have been one of the scariest studies of the year (Indicution of Empathy by the Smell of Anxiety by Prehn-Kristensen and colleagues) appeared in Discover Magazine’s top 100 science stories of 2009, a list that they are continuing to expand through the end of the month. People also turned out to be one of the most surprising creatures to glow, according to this review in Scientific American. In the “best use of science to solve a historical mystery” category, one of the candidates must surely be the paper that revealed that inbreeding may have been responsible for the decline of the Habsburg dynasty in Spain; this was another study included in the Not Exactly Rocket Science round-up.

Most Innovative

As many of you will know, PLoS ONE won the ALPSP’s award for Publishing Innovation of 2009 and we were very proud to be recognised for our constant efforts to innovate and to change the face of scientific publishing. In 2009, we launched our new programme of article-level metrics, which was nominated as one of the open science breakthroughs of 2009 on the World Association of Young Scientists blog. According to The Scientist, meanwhile, Mark Welch’s study, reporting a new recipe for protein expression, is one of the top 10 innovations of 2009.

It goes without saying, that 2009 was a great and superlative-filled year for PLoS ONE and we wish all of our readers, authors, editors and reviewers a very happy New Year!

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PLoS ONE Media Highlights of 2009

Pete has already rounded up some of the many exciting events in the PLoS ONE year in his Review of 2009, but there were so many new developments that we needed a separate post to summarise some of our news and blog coverage in 2009.

You can read more about PLoS ONE papers in the news via the Media category of this blog and our Media Archive also lists much of the news coverage for many of the papers published in PLoS ONE since our launch in 2006.

As over 200 of our papers were covered by the international press and bloggers in 2009, it hasn’t been easy to choose, but here are some of the highlights from PLoS ONE’s year of headlines (in roughly chronological order). As with all PLoS articles, you can see how many times each one has been downloaded (and blogged about, bookmarked, rated etc) by clicking on the ‘Metrics’ tab at the top of the article.

PLoS ONE paleontology articles proved to be of frequent interest to the media this year, right from the start, with some of the most widely covered papers including: Andy Farke’s paper on combat in Triceratops, Philip Gingerich’s report of two 47.5 million year-old whale fossils, including a pregnant female, and Leon Claessens’s article on respiration and flight mechanics in Pterosaurs. Other articles that made the headlines in January and February included Julian Finn’s study on dolphins’ culinary (or, at least, cuttlefish handling) skills and a study by Oxford University researchers on the potential use of the game Tetris to reduce post-traumatic flashbacks.

Clickstream Map of Science (Fig. 5 from PLoS ONE e4803)

In March, Johan Bollen’s article, Clickstream Data Yields High-Resolution Maps of Science, was published; as well as featuring prominently in the news, Figure 5 from the paper now appears on the t-shirts available to buy from the new PLoS store. In other news that month, Michael Singer and colleagues reported a case of self-medication in the woolly bear caterpillar and Michael Coble’s study confirmed, via forensic DNA testing, that skeletal remains of two individuals discovered in Russia in 2007 belong to the two missing children of the last Tsar of Russia (the Crown Prince, Alexei Romanov and one of his sisters).

Another historical mystery was solved in April with the publication of a paper about the Habsburg kings of Spain. The researchers used genetic evidence to show that the high frequency of inbreeding (mating between closely related individuals) was a major cause for the decline of the dynasty with the death of King Charles II in 1700. In the same month, Cristina Gomes reported the long-term exchange of meat for sex among chimpanzees—male chimps that share the meat gained from their hunting expeditions were found to mate twice as often as other males.

Darwinius masillae (from Fig. 2 of PLoS ONE e5723)

Darwinius masillae (from Fig 2. of PLoS ONE e5723)

One of the biggest news stories of the year followed the publication of a paper describing an extremely well-preserved, 47-million-year-old primate fossil, formally named Darwinius masillae and nicknamed “Ida.” We rounded up some of the news and blog coverage of the paper in earlier blog posts and with over 70,000 views of the full scientific article, Ida is still being discussed more than six months later. The Darwinius paper wasn’t the only PLoS ONE paper to make the news in May, however; a study reporting a 4,000-year-old case of leprosy and a paper on the commonness of data fabrication and falsification among scientists also generated major news coverage.

Scientometrics also featured in PLoS ONE’s June media coverage in a study that reported that the reliability of research findings published in the scientific literature decreases with the popularity of the field. June also saw the publication of one of the year’s many psychology and behavioural neuroscience papers to attract media interest: a paper by Bettina Pause and colleagues, which investigated empathy induced by the “smell of fear” (the lucky study participants got to smell sweat samples produced by students about to take an exam and those about to exercise—only the former appeared to activate the part of the brain associated with empathy).

Diamantinasaurus matildae (Artwork by Travis R. Tischler)

PLoS ONE showed no signs of disappearing from the press or the blogosphere over the summer months. In July, Scott Hocknull and colleagues reported the discovery of not one but three new species of dinosaur in Queensland, Australia; the dinosaurs, nicknamed Matilda, Banjo and Clancy, brought an end to Australia’s dinosaur dearth. In Evan Wolff’s paper, meanwhile, he and his colleagues reported that Tyrannosaurus rex might have died out because of an infectious disease similar to trichomonosis. Other popular studies from the summer included: a cell-phone based microscope application with implications for the diagnosis of infectious diseases in the developing world, research on the impacts of climate policy on natural habitats in the US, and the rise in hospital deaths during August—when trainee doctors start work.

October could have been Albatross Month for PLoS ONE with widespread news coverage about both Kentaro Sakamoto’s article on the interactions between black-browed albatrosses and a killer whale, captured on video by a small camera attached to the birds, and Lindsay Young’s on plastic ingestion by Laysan albatrosses in the Pacific. October’s other popular studies included: the discovery of a new species of giant, orb-weaving spider, a report of fellatio in bats and the revised understandings of both Archaeopteryx (now thought to be less avian and more dinosaurian) and of the dinosaurs Stygimoloch and Dracorex (now thought to be juveniles of Pachycephalosaurus). Four of these articles were highlighted by the New York Times.

One of the last dinosaur papers published in 2009 was by Herman Pontzer and colleagues, who studied 14 species and reported that many dinosaurs were probably warm-blooded like present-day birds and mammals rather than cold-blooded like present-day lizards. Later in November and just in time for Thanksgiving came Kevin Hall’s article on the environmental problems posed by America’s growing food waste production.

PLoS ONE papers continued to feature prominently in the news throughout December, with studies reporting: the results of an ancient DNA analysis of the Tomb of the Shroud in Jerusalem, the better than expected performance of orphanages in terms of the healthcare and emotional wellbeing of the children who occupy them, and the discovery in California of a 13,000-year-old tree that may have survived climate changes by cloning itself.

It is also worth mentioning that throughout the year we ran a “blog post of the month” competition to recognise some of the high quality blog posts that are being written about our articles. The list of winners can be found in these posts.

These papers barely scratch the surface (in variety and scope) of the 4,400 articles that were published in PLoS ONE this year and we look forward to publishing many more papers in 2010—regardless of whether they make the headlines.

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Three Years On

December 20 is not only the anniversary of the first screening of Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), and of the Louisiana Purchase (1803), but it’s also PLoS ONE’s third birthday: we launched on December 20, 2006, with our first 105 articles (plus the sandbox article). Why not help us celebrate by visiting the new PLoS Online Store and ordering a t-shirt or hoodie from our range of official merchandise?

To commemorate our birthday, we’ve selected ten papers published in our inaugural release on December 20, all of which highlight some of the usage data made available on all PLoS papers earlier this year as part of our article-level metrics programme. This is how they have performed in the various metrics over the past three years:

A Virtual Reprise of the Stanley Milgram Obedience Experiments
Mel Slater, Angus Antley, Adam Davison, David Swapp, Christoph Guger, et al.

  • Total article views: 69353
  • Cited in: Scopus (23), PubMed Central (4), CrossRef (9)
  • 1 User Rating
  • 6 comment/note threads
  • The Evolution of Mammalian Gene Families
    Jeffery P. Demuth, Tijl De Bie, Jason E. Stajich, Nello Cristianini, Matthew W. Hahn

  • Total article views: 17975
  • Cited in: Scopus (41), PubMed Central (21), CrossRef (19)
  • 1 User Rating
  • 8 comment/note threads
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Mediated Functional Tooth Regeneration in Swine
    Wataru Sonoyama, Yi Liu, Dianji Fang, Takayoshi Yamaza, Byoung-Moo Seo, et al.

  • Total article views: 22970
  • Cited in: Scopus (50), PubMed Central (6), CrossRef (24)
  • 3 comment/note threads
  • Taxonomic Reliability of DNA Sequences in Public Sequence Databases: A Fungal Perspective
    R. Henrik Nilsson, Martin Ryberg, Erik Kristiansson, Kessy Abarenkov, Karl-Henrik Larsson, Urmas Kõljalg

  • Total article views: 6555
  • Cited in: Scopus (39), PubMed Central (9), CrossRef (13)
  • 1 User Rating
  • 6 comment/note threads
  • Sexual Selection and the Evolution of Brain Size in Primates
    Michael A. Schillaci

  • Total article views: 10993
  • Cited in: Scopus (7), CrossRef (4)
  • 1 User Rating
  • 8 comment/note threads
  • Perceptual Learning of Motion Leads to Faster Flicker Perception
    Aaron R. Seitz, Jose E. Nanez, Sr., Steve R. Holloway, Takeo Watanabe

  • Total article views: 4968
  • Cited in: Scopus (5), CrossRef (1), PubMed Central (1)
  • 1 User Rating
  • 6 comment/note threads (from the Perception Journal Club School of Psychology Sydney University)
  • Concentration of the Most-Cited Papers in the Scientific Literature: Analysis of Journal Ecosystems
    John P. A. Ioannidis

  • Total article views: 16967
  • Cited in: Scopus (4), CrossRef (2), PubMed Central (6)
  • 2 User Ratings
  • 2 comment/note threads
  • A Systems Biology Strategy Reveals Biological Pathways and Plasma Biomarker Candidates for Potentially Toxic Statin-Induced Changes in Muscle
    Reijo Laaksonen, Mikko Katajamaa, Hannu Päivä, Marko Sysi-Aho, Lilli Saarinen, et al.

  • Total article views: 15132
  • Cited in: Scopus (34), PubMed Central (9), CrossRef (19)
  • 1 comment/note thread
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing Breathes Life into a Microbial Metagenome
    Eshwar Mahenthiralingam, Adam Baldwin, Pavel Drevinek, Elke Vanlaere, Peter Vandamme, et al.

  • Total article views: 23594
  • Cited in: Scopus (13), PubMed Central (3), CrossRef (9)
  • 4 comment/note threads
  • Depauperate Avifauna in Plantations Compared to Forests and Exurban Areas
    David G. Haskell, Jonathan P. Evans, Neil W. Pelkey

  • Total Article Views: 5098
  • Cited in: Scopus (2), CrossRef (3)
  • 3 note/comment threads
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    Weekly PLoS ONE News and Blog Round-Up

    In this week’s PLoS ONE media digest: orphanages and the quality of care of young children, an investigation on the remains in the Tomb of the Shroud, first glimpses at memory in real time, and much more.

    Caring for the hundreds of millions of orphans and abandoned children (OAC) worldwide is becoming an increasing challenge for global leaders. Kate Whetten, of Duke University, and colleagues investigated whether institutional care settings (such as orphanages) for OAC are associated with worse health and wellbeing than community residential care. Among the 6- to 12-year-old OAC studied in 6 sites across 5 countries, the authors found that health, emotional and cognitive functioning and physical growth were no worse for children living in institutions than for those living in the community. The study, reported in PLoS ONE today, has been covered by the New York Times, USA Today and Scientific American.

    Ancient DNA analysis of the human remains from the Tomb of the Shroud, a first-century tomb discovered in Jerusalem, suggests it was a family tomb. Reporting in PLoS ONE, Carney Matheson of Lakehead University and an international team were able to identify maternal relatedness among some of the skeletal individuals found in the tomb. Both Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) and Mycobacterium leprae (leprosy) dating back to the first-century CE were also detected among some of the remains—this is the earliest case of leprosy with a confirmed date in which M. leprae DNA was detected. Some of the news coverage of the study has included: National Geographic, the BBC News, the Times and AFP.

    One of the key challenges in neuroscience is to understand the formation and retrieval of brain’s associative memory traces in real time. In their new paper, Joe Z. Tsien and colleagues at the Medical College of Georgia apply a set of interface techniques to examine this issue. On the basis of data relating conditioned fear responses to the activity of neurons in the hippocampus of mice subjected to a trace conditioning procedure, the researchers were able decode the “conversations” between neurons as they form and recall memories. There is a discussion of the paper on the Neurophilosophy blog.

    And finally, here is a round-up of some of the other PLoS ONE papers in the news this week:

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    Worth a Thousand Words

    Mimoperadectes houdei, a new species of peradectid marsupial formally described by the authors of the new PLoS ONE paper, Cranial Anatomy of the Earliest Marsupials and the Origin of Opossums, is too small to count as megafauna but it certainly is very charismatic. This week’s PLoS ONE featured image is taken from Figure 6 of this published paper and shows a reconstruction of Mimoperadectes houdei by Jorge González (La Plata, Argentina).

    This image forms Figure 6 of PLoS ONE article e8278; any reuse should cite the authors and journal; reconstruction by Jorge González (La Plata, Argentina)

    Most species of North American mammals known only from their teeth, but in the new article, Inés Horovitz of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues describe a 55 million-year-old skull from the new species, discovered in the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming. High-resolution, CT imaging allowed them to provide some detailed descriptions of the animal’s internal anatomy, particularly its ear, which can provide clues about the animal’s locomotion. The discovery of the new species allowed the researchers to show that peradectids, a family of marsupials known from fossils found mainly in North America and Eurasia, were close relatives of living opossums, which originated and live primarily in South America. The researchers also analyse the exceptionally well preserved skeletons of Herpetotherium, a herpetotheriid marsupial from North America, also reconstructed in Figure 6.

    The findings lead the authors to conclude that the evolutionary split between the ancestor of opossums and the ancestor of all other living marsupials occurred at least 65 million years ago—this is the approximate age of the oldest known peradectid and represents an older calibration point for the evolution of marsupials than researchers could use confidently before. The authors also suggest that North America played an important role in early marsupial evolutionary history and it may have even been the centre of origin of living marsupials and opossums.

    If you would like to read other similar PLoS ONE articles, check out our Paleontology Collection. To receive notifications when new PLoS ONE articles are published, why not sign up for our eTOCs or one of our RSS feeds?

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    Weekly PLoS ONE News and Blog Round-Up

    In this week’s PLoS ONE media digest: many Canadian HIV-positive women hope for pregnancy; are stem cells key to the fight against HIV?; decoding the calls of Campbell’s monkeys, and much more.

    In their article published in PLoS ONE on Monday, Mona Loutfy and colleagues report the findings of their study, which aimed to understand desire and intention to become pregnant among a sample of HIV-positive women living in Ontario, Canada. The researchers found that the proportion of HIV-positive women of reproductive age living in Ontario was higher than earlier North American studies had suggested and was in fact more similar to the percentages reported among African populations. The study has been covered by the Canadian Press, CTV and CBC.

    Another article published on Monday by Scott Kitchen of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues, brings hope for the treatment of HIV infection and a range of chronic viral diseases that are characterized by the loss of immune control. In the study, the researchers demonstrate the ability to genetically modify human stem cells to engineer a specific T cell immune response in vivo. Some of the online coverage of the study includes: the Examiner, NBC and

    The meaning of alarm calls made by male Campbell’s monkeys can be altered through the addition of an acoustically invariable suffix, according to research published in PLoS ONE last month by Karim Ouattara and colleagues. The call “hok,” for example, is associated with the presence of a crowned eagle while a “hok-oo” call, with the suffix, is made in the context of a range of general disturbances, such as the presence of eagles and neighbouring groups. The same team has a new study in PNAS in which they describe some of the rules of combination of the calls—one of the most complex examples of a “proto-syntax” of an animal communication system to date. The BBC News, Wired Science and the Telegraph have written stories on the two studies, and a ScienceNOW piece summarises the PLoS ONE paper.

    And finally, here’s a round-up of some of the other PLoS ONE news stories and blog posts this week:

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    Worth a Thousand Words

    As we approach PLoS ONE’s third birthday (or, rather, our third second birthday), this week’s featured image comes from a paper published on the day of the journal’s launch, December 20, 2006, Predator Mimicry: Metalmark Moths Mimic Their Jumping Spider Predators, by Jadranka Rota and David L. Wagner.

    In their article, Rota and Wagner report a case of mimicry among metalmark moths in the genus Brenthia, which mimic jumping spiders, one of their predators. The authors found that in the presence of jumping spiders, Brenthia moths had a higher survival rate than other moths of a similar size. Given that the spiders also responded to Brenthia with territorial displays, the researchers suggest that the spiders were mistaking these moths for other jumping spiders rather than recognising them as prey.

    This image forms Figure 1 of PLoS ONE article e45; any reuse should cite the authors and journal (drawing by Virginia Wagner)

    This week’s featured image is Figure 1 in the published article and shows a Brenthia moth’s (top) mimicry of a jumping spider (bottom) with wing markings, wing positioning, posture, and movement (drawing by Virginia Wagner). You can also watch the moths and spiders in action via the videos in the supporting information section of the paper.

    As with all PLoS content, the image, videos and text from this article can be downloaded, modified, distributed or otherwise reused, as long as the authors and journal are credited, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. If you would like to read other PLoS ONE papers on similar topics, please browse the journal website by subject.

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    Weekly PLoS ONE News and Blog Round-Up

    This week in the PLoS ONE news and blog round-up: coral reefs strike back, scaling up our understanding of musical scales, the physical characteristics that make us look our age, and much more.

    In a recent PLoS ONE article, Ruth Reef and colleagues report a new defensive role for coral skeletons. The researchers examine the ability of coral skeletons to absorb UV radiation, thus reducing the potential for UV damage to corals, which results from the sun’s rays reflecting off the reef and striking the corals. The study has been covered by ScienceNOW and the Examiner.

    Why do most Western musical scales have either five or seven notes and why have humans, throughout recorded history, favoured a small number of specific scales from among the large number of collections of tones we can perceive? A paper by Duke researchers Kamraan Gill and Dale Purves examines musical scales in terms of their similarity to a harmonic series. The authors report that the most common used musical scales are based on the physics of human vocalisations, suggesting that the preferred use of certain musical scales has a biological basis. Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog and the Examiner have highlighted the study this week.

    In a new study, David Gunn and colleagues investigate some of the characteristics that make women appear older or younger than their age. The researchers studied the actual chronological and perceived facial age in a sample of 102 pairs of female Danish twins (aged 59 to 81) and 162 British females (aged 45 to 72) and found that skin wrinkling, hair greying and lip height were significantly associated with a woman’s perceived age. Gunn and colleagues also report that while women’s perceived age, pigmented age spots, skin wrinkles and the appearance of sun-damage are influenced about equally by genetic and environmental factors, hair greying, the recession of hair from the forehead and lip height are influenced mainly by genetic factors. The study was featured by the BBC News, the Press Association and the Telegraph.

    And finally, some of the other PLoS ONE media coverage this week includes:

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