Nature Podcast


How humans adapted to digest lactose — after thousands of years of milk drinking

00:45 Working out how the ability to digest milk spread

Humans have been drinking milk for thousands of years, but it seems that they were doing so long before the ability to digest it became prevalent. Then around 2000 years ago, this ability became common in Europe, presenting a mystery to researchers – why then? Now by analyzing health data, ancient DNA, and fats residues from thousands of ancient pots, scientists have worked out what caused this trait to suddenly spread throughout Europe.

Research Article: Evershed et al.

News and Views: The mystery of early milk consumption in Europe

08:56 Research Highlights

How genes stolen from outside the animal kingdom have altered insects’ abilities, and a dormant black hole beyond the Milky Way gives insights into these objects' origins.

Research Highlight: Genes purloined from across the tree of life give insects a boost

Research Highlight: A quiet black hole whispers its origin story

11:21 Assessing the addiction potential for therapeutic ketamine

Ketamine has shown great promise as a fast-acting antidepressant, but there have been concerns about the risks of addiction relating to this therapeutic use. Now, a team have looked in mice to see whether ketamine causes the behavioural and neuronal changes characteristic of addictive substances. They find that ketamine likely has a low addiction risk, which could inform future prescribing decisions in humans.

Research article: Simmler et al.

News and Views: A short burst of reward curbs the addictiveness of ketamine

17:51 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, a report shows a significant decline in Australia’s environment and ecosystems, and how adding a gene greatly increases rice yield.

The Conversation: This is Australia’s most important report on the environment’s deteriorating health. We present its grim findings

Science: Supercharged biotech rice yields 40% more grain

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More Episodes


A trove of ancient fish fossils helps trace the origin of jaws

In this episode:00:45 Piecing together the early history of jawed vertebratesA wealth of fossils discovered in southern China shed new light onto the diversity of jawed and jawless fish during the Silurian period, over 400 million years ago. Nature editor Henry Gee explains the finds and what they mean for the history of jawed vertebrates like us.Research article: Zhu et al.Research article: Gai et al.Research article: Andreev et al.Research article: Andreev et al.News and Views: Fossils reveal the deep roots of jawed vertebrates09:09 Research HighlightsMice studies help explain why some people with a rare genetic condition have heightened musical abilities, and high-resolution images reveal how bees build honeycomb.Research Highlight: How a missing gene leads to super-sensitivity to soundResearch Highlight: X-rays reveal how bees achieve an engineering marvel: the honeycomb11:27 A lack of evidence in transgender policy makingAround the world, many laws are being proposed – and passed – regarding the rights of transgender people to participate in various aspects of society. We talk to Paisley Currah, who has written a World View for Nature arguing that these policies are frequently not backed up by data, and that policy affecting trans people’s lives needs to take a more evidence-based approach.World View: To set transgender policy, look to the evidenceWatch our video about research trying to crack the nature of consciousness by dosing volunteers with psychedelic drugs and scanning their brains.Subscribe to Nature Briefing, an unmissable daily round-up of science news, opinion and analysis free in your inbox every weekday.