Top stories: The archaeology of slavery, superproductive corn, and how NOT to train your dog


Caribbean excavation offers intimate look at the lives of enslaved Africans

To an outsider, the archaeological finds from Estate Little Princess in the U.S. Virgin Islands—fish and pig bones from centuries-old meals, buttons that fell off clothing, bits of coarse local pottery—might not look like much. But to archaeologists, they are treasures that offer an intimate look into some of the most enigmatic lives in modern history: those of the enslaved Africans who once lived there.

New genetically modified corn produces up to 10% more than similar types

Genetic engineering proponents have long promised the technology will help meet the world’s growing demand for food. But despite the success of genetically modified pest -resistant crops, scientists haven’t had much success with boosting crop growth. Now, researchers have shown for the first time that they can increase corn yields up to 10% by changing a gene for plant growth.

Bad dog? Think twice before yelling, experts say

Few things are more adorable—or destructive—than a new puppy. When they pee on rugs, chew furniture, and get aggressive with other pups, their stressed-out owners usually turn to dog training. Now, a novel study suggests programs that use even relatively mild punishments like yelling and leash-jerking can stress dogs out, making them more “pessimistic” than dogs that experience reward-based training.

What do you see when you look at these photos—animals or humanmade objects?

Live in the urban jungle long enough, and you might start to see things—in particular, humanmade objects like cars and furniture. That’s what researchers found when they melded photos of artificial items with images of animals and asked 20 volunteers what they saw. The people, all of whom lived in cities, overwhelmingly noticed the manufactured objects as the animals faded into the background.

Colombian woman’s genes offer new clues to staving off Alzheimer’s

In 2016, a 73-year-old woman from Medellín, Colombia, flew to Boston so researchers could scan her brain, analyze her blood, and pore over her genome. She carried a genetic mutation that had caused many in her family to develop dementia in middle age. But for decades, she had avoided the disease. The researchers now report that another rare mutation—this one in the well-known Alzheimer’s disease risk gene APOE—may have protected her.