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This week's picks

Bayesian phylogenetic analysis supports an agricultural origin of Japonic languages
The Hadropithecus conundrum reconsidered, with implications for interpreting diet in fossil hominins

The perception of self-agency in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Explaining rapid reinfections in multiple-wave influenza outbreaks: Tristan da Cunha 1971 epidemic as a case study
The causes of epistasis
Recent Synchronous Radiation of a Living Fossil

Evolution of olfaction in non-avian theropod dinosaurs and birds
Intercontinental dispersal of giant thermophilic ants across the Arctic during early Eocene hyperthermals
Postglacial migration supplements climate in determining plant species ranges in Europe


This is only an anecdote, but related to the paper on influenza. I happened recently to go through a bunch of letters that my grandfather wrote in 1918. He had something that resembled influenza 4 times that year. The last round almost killed him - he had a fever of 106 and it took a month and a half to fully recover. I have assumed from other reading that antigens on the virus were changing rapidly - otherwise it's hard to see how anyone could get reinfected that many times.

Interesting. Could it have been three different colds and one flu?

That of course is the problem - there was no lab workup in those days. All I can say is that the timing of episodes matched what was recorded for the 3 waves of the epidemic - one in the late spring, one in late August and the most serious in Dec. He had an extra round in Oct. Of course one or more could have been some other virus. He wrote regular letters from 1914-1919 and he only mentions what he perceived as "the grippe" during 1918, although he had colds periodically in other years. Beginning in the fall of 1918 when the war was ending and censorship stopped he started calling it influenza. Of course that was when public events were banned and people became aware of it as a pandemic. He was working that year as a telegrapher in Los Angeles in the office of the Associated Press and from Sept in the L.A. & Salt Lake Railroad, so he had access both to the news and lots of opportunity for exposure to viruses. It would be interesting to know how many times he had influenza, but I don't suppose there is any way to figure it out.

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