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Darwin, Reviewed

In the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Christopher Benfey reviews two new books on Charles Darwin. According to Benfey, Adrian Desmond and James Moore say in Darwin's Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin's Views on Human Evolution that Darwin argued "for the unitary origin and hence 'brotherhood' of all human beings." In Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life, Adam Gopnik compares the two men (born on the same day) and how "their seemingly unpoetic backgrounds in legal argument and natural history, invented 'a new kind of eloquence' that we still use for 'the way we live now and the way we talk at home and in public.'"

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.