Their method is data-driven rather than staff picks:
Our methods are the same as always: We performed a Google search for “top science stories” lists, selecting only those from go-to RCS sources. Points were awarded to each story based on its ranking. For example, on a typical “top ten” list the #1 story earned ten points, #2 earned nine, #3 earned eight, and so on. Lists that had fewer than ten rankings were normalized to a 10-point scale. For the lists that did not rank the stories, each story earned 5.5 points, which is the average score if you add together all the digits from 1 to 10 and divide by ten.
From Ross Pomeroy at RealClearScience:
4. Modern Humans Emerged 100,000 Years Earlier Than Thought (31.5 points).
Within our genus Homo, humans are relative youngsters. Gathered evidence suggests that we sapiens emerged roughly 200,000 years ago in Africa. That pales in comparison to our sibling species erectus or habilis, who were present two million years ago and persisted much longer. But this past summer, fossils and tools dug out of the Jebel Irhoud archaeological cave site in Morocco revealed that humans may have been alive over 300,000 years ago. If joined by additional supporting evidence, this finding could rewrite our origin story. More.
Well, the supporting evidence will certainly be something to watch for. The question so often comes down to, what evidence will be accepted?
See also: See also: Frogs that fluoresce and brainless animals that sleep? Apparently, the frogs’ social life is more complex than one might expect. It would be interesting to know whether they are the only fluorescent frogs and whether, if so, they are among the last or the first of a type. Or a ramble down a byway in the history of life. … As Quintanilla goes on to say, jellyfish are about 600 million years old and most of the explanations for why humans sleep probably do not apply to them.
Cosmos Magazine’s Top Ten includes: Universe’s underlying symmetry still baffling and human evolution timeline drastically stretched. Re human evolution, we hope no one’s career got wrecked in the past few decades, doubting whatever “ding dong Darwin” was the bumf of the day. It’s becoming increasingly clear that most of the certainty has been ideological, not scientific.
Millennial classic edition: Science writer Michael Shermer make Scientific American’s Top Ten stories list In general, Scientific American is getting pretty self-absorbed when this is a top story. … Overwhelmed by 2017 events? Eh? Gawrylewski apparently isn’t old enough to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis, the moon walks, the fall of the Soviet Union, mapping the human genome… to throw out just a few. She sounds so, well, “millennial,” fronting perennial and often petty gripes as if they were historic changes. Of course, millennials could always grow up. The world out here is actually pretty interesting, provided they can stand it.
A top anthropology finding of year show humans cognitively closer to dogs than chimps
American Council for Science and Health’s 10 biggest junk stories for 2017 include… Stephen Hawking