The last survivors on Earth

The world’s most indestructible species, the tardigrade, an eight-legged micro-animal, also known as the water bear, will survive until the Sun dies, according to a new Oxford University collaboration.

Doubts about whether internet filters protect teenagers online

Internet filters are widely used in homes, schools and libraries throughout the UK to protect young people from unpleasant online experiences. However, a new study by Oxford casts doubt on whether such technologies shield young teenagers after finding no link between homes with internet filters and the likelihood of the teenagers in those households being better protected. 

New doubts on whether early humans were forced to start farming

The development of agriculture is universally believed to underpin some of the most significant advances made by humans worldwide. In New Guinea, where one of the earliest human experiments with tropical forest agriculture occurred, researchers have cast doubt on two views about the origins of agriculture.

Measuring the 'true social cost' of carbon dioxide emissions

The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has proposed a new framework for US agencies to use to estimate the 'social cost of carbon dioxide' emissions. Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science at the Environmental Change Institute, helped compile the report which will strengthen the scientific basis and provide greater transparency for US climate policy. 

Retroviruses 'almost half a billion years old'

Retroviruses – the family of viruses that includes HIV – are almost half a billion years old, according to new research by scientists at Oxford University. That's several hundred million years older than previously thought and suggests retroviruses have ancient marine origins, having been with their animal hosts through the evolutionary transition from sea to land.

Non-toxic solvent removes barrier to commercialisation of perovskite solar cells

Scientists at Oxford University have developed a solvent system with reduced toxicity that can be used in the manufacture of perovskite solar cells, clearing one of the barriers to the commercialisation of a technology that promises to revolutionise the solar industry.Perovskites – a family of materials with the crystal structure of calcium titanate – have been described as a 'wonder material' and shown to be almost as efficient as silicon in harnessing solar energy, as well as being significantly cheaper to produce.

First evidence of deep-sea animals ingesting microplastics

Following the news that the UK government is to ban plastic microbeads by the end of 2017, a team of scientists led by the University of Oxford has discovered the first evidence of microplastics being ingested by deep-sea animals.Researchers working on the Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Cook at two sites in the mid-Atlantic and south-west Indian Ocean found plastic microfibres inside creatures including hermit crabs, squat lobsters and sea cucumbers at depths of between 300m and 1800m.

Greenland shark revealed to have longest life expectancy of all vertebrates

An international team of scientists led by the University of Copenhagen and including the University of Oxford has found that the Greenland shark has a life expectancy of at least 272 years. This discovery shows it is the longest living vertebrate known to science, exceeding even bowhead whales, turtles and tortoises. The findings are published in latest issue of the journal, Science. 

Monkeys in Brazil have used stone tools for hundreds of years at least

New archaeological evidence suggests that Brazilian capuchins have been using stone tools to crack open cashew nuts for at least 700 years, and the new research paper asks whether human behaviour was influenced through watching the monkeys. Researchers say, to date, they have found the earliest archaeological examples of monkey tool use outside of Africa. In their paper, published in Current Biology, they suggest it raises questions about the origins and spread of tool use in New World monkeys and, controversially perhaps, prompts us to look at whether early human behaviour was influenced by their observations of monkeys using stones as tools. The research was led by Dr Michael Haslam of the University of Oxford, who in previous papers presents archaeological evidence showing that wild macaques in coastal Thailand used stone tools for decades at least to open shellfish and nuts.

Commercial leases go green

New opportunities to fight climate change in these properties are coming from an unlikely source: the commercial property lease. A new study finds that in 2009, only 15% of all leases signed in Sydney’s central business district contained green clauses; by 2013, this had risen to over 60%.