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Article Released Wed-18th-July-2007 17:18 GMT
Contact: Ruth Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 Earth sciences: Huge flood makes waves across northern Europe

Summaries of newsworthy papers include Evolution: Out of Africa, Ageing: Anti-ageing effect of protein duo, Quantum physics: Two electrons, together apart and finally… Geckos with mussel


This press release is copyright Nature.

VOL.448 NO.7151 DATED 19 JULY 2007

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Earth sciences: Huge flood makes waves across northern Europe

Evolution: Out of Africa

Ageing: Anti-ageing effect of protein duo

Quantum physics: Two electrons, together apart

And finally… Geckos with mussel

· Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo

· Geographical listing of authors

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[1] Earth sciences: Huge flood makes waves across northern Europe (pp 342-345; N&V)

Britain became separated from mainland Europe after a catastrophic flood according to research published in this week’s Nature. Sanjeev Gupta and colleagues provide evidence for one of the most significant megafloods in recent Earth history, and provide an explanation for Britain’s island status.

The team analyse a three-dimensional map of part of the English Channel, derived from high-resolution sonar data, and observe a large valley containing indications of large-scale erosion by a massive water discharge. The flood was probably caused by the breaching of a rock dam at the Dover Strait, which instigated huge drainage of a large glacial lake in the southern North Sea basin.

The evidence of a megaflood, they argue, explains the permanent isolation of Britain from mainland Europe, patterns of early human colonization of Britain and a large-scale reorganization of drainage in northwest Europe.


Sanjeev Gupta (Imperial College London, UK)

Tel: +44 207 594 6527 or +44 7789 647 954; E-mail:

Colin Smith (Press Officer, Imperial College London, UK)

Tel: +44 207 594 6712; E-mail:

Philip Gibbard (University of Cambridge, UK) N&V author
Tel: +44 1223 333 924; E-mail:

[2] Evolution: Out of Africa (pp 346-348)

Modern humans probably did evolve in Africa, a Nature study published this week suggests.

Andrea Manica and colleagues took multiple measurements from over 4,500 male skulls drawn from 105 populations. Skull diversity decreased with distance from Africa. Indeed, distance from Africa accounted for an average of up to a quarter of heritable variation in skull measurements — a remarkable proportion for traits known to be under selection, and a strong signal of a common African heritage.

The origins and dispersal of modern humans have been matters of some debate. Whereas genetic analyses tend to support a single origin in Africa, anatomical measurements have produced mixed results. The results from this exceptional dataset should help to resolve this matter.


Andrea Manica (University of Cambridge, UK)
Tel: +44 1223 336 627; E-mail:

[3] Ageing: Anti-ageing effect of protein duo (pp 375-379)

Boosting the levels of two proteins in mice suppresses cancer and delays ageing, a Nature paper reveals.

The tumour suppressor protein p53 and one of its regulators, ARF, are known to be involved in the detection and elimination of cellular damage. Manuel Serrano and colleagues now show that mice with an increased, but otherwise normally regulated, dose of the two proteins are resistant to the development of cancers. It comes as no surprise therefore, that these animals have an extended lifespan compared to wild-type mice.

Remarkably, however, on average these animals outlive their normal counterparts even when animals dying of cancer are removed from the survival curves. Moreover, various biological and molecular markers of ageing indicate that these mice stay younger for longer. The researchers conclude that boosting endogenous ARF/p53 activity provides a robust anti-oxidant effect that not only suppresses cancers, but also delays ageing.


Manuel Serrano (Spanish National Cancer Research Center, CNIO, Madrid, Spain)
Tel: +34 917 328 032; E-mail:

[4] Quantum physics: Two electrons, together apart (pp 333-337; N&V)

A much sought-after fundamental quantum effect has been demonstrated for the first time. In this week’s Nature, Moty Heiblum and colleagues reveal interference between two indistinguishable particles that come from independent sources.

Such interference can only be observed by recording a joint probability of finding the particles in two detectors at separate places. But despite concerted efforts, experiments with photons have so far not succeeded in observing the two-particle interference effect. Instead, the present experiment is carried out with electrons that are manipulated in a cleverly designed interference-producing device, fabricated in a two-dimensional ‘electron gas’ — a layer within a semiconductor device where electrons can move freely only in the plane.


Moty Heiblum (Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovat, Israel)
Tel: +972 8 934 3896; E-mail:

Markus Kindermann (Georgia Institute of Tech, Atlanta, GA, USA) N&V author
Tel: +1 404 385 6089; E-mail:

[5] And finally… Geckos with mussel (pp 338-341)

A new adhesive that combines the sticky prowess of both geckos and mussels works well on wet and dry surfaces, and can be reused over a thousand times.

The adhesive, made by Phillip B. Messersmith and colleagues, contains an array of nanosized polymer pillars resembling the specialized foot hairs of the gecko, which give the animal its ability to hang on to surfaces upside down with a temporary adhesion that allows the gecko to walk. The pillars are then coated with a thin layer of a different synthetic polymer that is similar to the adhesive proteins found in mussel holdfasts, which work well in a wet environment.

Although the gecko foot hair approach has been used before, the new combination product, described in this week’s Nature, outperforms previous ‘glues’ that could not function under water, or be stuck and unstuck over many cycles. The authors suggest it be called ‘geckel’.

Phillip B. Messersmith (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA)
Tel: +1 847 467 5273; E-mail:


[6] Conformational entropy in molecular recognition by proteins (pp 325-329)

[7] The sources of sodium escaping from Io revealed by spectral high definition imaging (pp 330-332)

[8] Positive darwinian selection at the imprinted MEDEA locus in plants (pp 349-352)

[9] Two distinct modes of guidance signalling during collective migration of border cells (pp 362-365)

[10] A bacterial E3 ubiquitin ligase targets a host protein kinase to disrupt plant immunity (pp 370-374)


***These papers will be published electronically on Nature's website on 18 July at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern time (which is also when the embargo lifts) as part of our AOP (ahead of print) programme. Although we have included them on this release to avoid multiple mailings they will not appear in print on 19 July, but at a later date.***

[11] JAZ repressor proteins are targets of the SCFCOI1 complex during jasmonate signalling

DOI: 10.1038/nature05960

[12] The JAZ family of repressors is the missing link in jasmonate signalling

DOI: 10.1038/nature06006

[13] Common effector processing mediates cell-specific responses to stimuli

DOI: 10.1038/nature06001

[14] Structural insight into filament formation by mammalian septins

DOI: 10.1038/nature06052


The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. For example, London: 4 - this means that on paper number four, there will be at least one author affiliated to an institute or company in London. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.


Dortmund: 14

Gatersleben: 8

Goettingen: 14

Heidelberg: 9

Jena: 8


Cork: 8

Dublin: 8


Rehovot: 4


Saga: 2


Pusan: 4


Singapore: 9


Bratislava: 14


Elche: 12

Madrid: 3, 12

Salamanca: 12

Seville: 9

Valencia: 3


Zurich: 8


Cambridge: 2

London: 1, 3

Taunton: 1



Albany: 11


Evanston: 5


Boston: 7, 9, 13

Cambridge: 13


East Lansing: 11

New York

Ithaca: 10


Philadelphia: 6


Charlottesville: 14


Pullman: 11


Madison: 5


For North America and Canada

Katie McGoldrick, Nature Washington

Tel: +1 202 737 2355; E-mail:

For Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan

Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo

Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail:

For the UK/Europe/other countries not listed above

Helen Jamison, Nature London

Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail

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Keywords associated to this article: Earth sciences, Evolution, Ageing, Quantum physics, Materials
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