20 December 2019 Vol 366, Issue 6472
By Elizabeth Pennisi, Elizabeth Culotta, Kai Kupferschmidt, Adrian Cho, Paul Voosen, Jennifer Couzin-Frankel
Science20 Dec 2019 : 1436-1441 Full Access
The runners up for Science’s 2019 Breakthrough of the Year include discoveries in different areas of evolution. The culturing and sequencing of an elusive microbe sheds light on the early evolution of life on Earth; the discovery that a fossilized jaw belongs to a group of ancient humans called Denisovans and the reconstruction of the face of a Denisovan girl from genetic data bring these mysterious people into focus; several studies documented the devastation and subsequent recovery of life around the planet following the asteroid impact that wiped out the big dinosaurs; and a close-up look at an object in the outer Solar System supports a new notion of planetary formation and evolution. Other advances named by Science are the attainment of a milestone in quantum computing called quantum supremacy, the approval of a drug that combats most cases of cystic fibrosis, research on gut microbes that has led to the development of supplements to treat severe childhood malnutrition, the testing of two drugs that dramatically increase Ebola patients’ chances of survival, and the development of an artificial intelligence program that beat some of the world’s best poker experts in games involving multiple players.