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Rare Occultation Between Venus And The Moon
Over the summer, observers around the northeastern U.S. witnessed a rare celestial event: the moon and Venus appearing in the sky closely together. Venus was hidden behind the moon — known as an "occultation" — moments before this image was captured by a photographer in Boston. Venus is considered the third brightest object that can be viewed from Earth after the sun and the moon. natgeotravel/Instagram
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A Crop Of Radishes Grown On The ISS In Space
Astronaut Kathleen Rubins poses next to a crop of radishes being cultivated in microgravity on the International Space Station. These radishes are the latest agricultural experiment taking place inside the ISS's Advanced Plant Habitat. So far, the astronauts have learned that plants respond best to red and blue lighting which is why the inside of the Columbus module currently has a "disco feel" not seen here.ESA/NASA
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Rare Black Leopard Spotted Again In India's National Park
An incredibly rare black leopard was spotted roaming through Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, one of the oldest and largest national parks in India. Its black coat is caused by melanism, a genetic mutation which causes the animal's skin and hair to produce an excess of black pigment. The park's elusive black leopard has become a primary draw for visitors.bbcearth/Instagram
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The Hidden Sketch Underneath Da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa'
Scientist Pascal Cotte scoured through 1,650 high-tech camera images over the last 15 years to uncover a drawing underneath the Mona Lisa. To perform the analysis, he used his own high-tech tool, the Lumiere Technology camera, which utilizes the common LAM method and previous infrared photography technology to detect the tiniest details hidden beneath a painting. The study proved the long-held theory that Leonardo Da Vinci had made an earlier sketch before creating his famous masterpiece.Pascal Cotte
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Colorful Prehistoric Bugs Trapped In Amber
In July, scientists found a swarm of colorful prehistoric insects stuck inside amber dating back 99 million years. Despite living so long ago, the insect corpses — which included wholly-intact beetles, cuckoo wasps and a soldier fly — remained eye-catching in their coloration. An analysis of the colorful dead bugs showed that the preservation of their iridescent hues was due to the nanostructure of their exoskeletons.
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A Rare Half Male, Half Female Bird
Bird researchers at the Powdermill Nature Reserve in Pennsylvania came upon a "once-in-a-lifetime" encounter when they found a rare half male, half female rose-breasted grosbeak. The animal is a gynandromorph bird, meaning it is part male and part female. It had ruby wing pits
and a ruby breast spot along with black wing feathers on its right, which are typical male traits of grosbeaks, and possessed yellow wing pits and a brownish wing on the left, which are common female grosbeak traits. Annie Lindsay/Powdermill Nature Reserve
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The Best Wildlife Photographs In 2020
Thousands of images were submitted by photographers of all levels across Europe to the Nature Photographer of the Year competition held under Gesellschaft für Naturfotografie or the German Society for Nature Photography (GDT). More than 300 society members voted for the winning image in an internet poll, the first-ever in the contest's 20-year history due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This stunning photograph of a crocodile peeking out from underneath its muddy hideout was captured by Jens Cullmann. The image was one of the finalists in the "Other Animals" category.Jens Cullmann/2020 GDT Nature Photographer of the Year
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The Best Wildlife Photographs In 2020
The contest entries were narrowed down to the top 10 photographs chosen by a three-jury panel across seven categories. The overall winning photograph was an ethereal photograph of a wild hare captured by Peter Lindel in the northern parts Germany's Dortmund city. Although the other finalists lost the top prize, the images they produced were nothing short of remarkable like this exquisite image of a Mandarin duck by Christoph Kaula. This science image was a finalist in the "Birds" category.Christoph Kaula/2020 GDT Nature Photographer of the Year
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Biscuits And Gravy: The Kitten Born With Two Faces
In May 2020, a family in Oregon stunned the internet after they shared a photo of their two-faced kitten named Biscuits and Gravy. Cats born with two faces are known as Janus cats, a reference to the Roman god with two faces. Janus cats do not have an identifiable sex and don't typically survive for long due to health problems brought on by their congenital defect. The family hoped to keep little Biscuits for as long as they could, but it died three days after it was born.BJ King
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Previously Unknown Organs Found Inside The Human Head
In October, a group of researchers in the Netherlands uncovered a pair of previously unknown organs inside our heads. The scientists named these hidden organs, shown by the highlighted area in this high-tech scan, "tubarial glands." The organs are a set of salivary glands located at the rear end of the nasopharynx, which is the upper part of the throat behind the nose. The discovery marked the first time new organs have been found inside the human body in the last 300 years.The Netherlands Cancer Institute
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The Mysterious Pink Water Of India's Lonar Crater Lake
The normally green water of India's Lonar Crater Lake shocked residents when it suddenly turned pink in June. The lake formed 50,000 years ago when a meteorite that crash landed inside the Deccan Plateau 300 miles away from Mumbai. Scientists believe the lake's water, which was normally a transparent green hue, turned pink due to a number of reasons. One working theory was that its salinity levels changed, spurring a bloom of red algae inside the lake.
Santosh Jadhav/AFP via Getty Images
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A 46,000-Year-Old Bird Found With Feathers And Talons Intact
Among the most remarkable science discoveries this year was the recovery of a 46,000-year-old bird. The bird, which had been buried in the Siberian permafrost since the Ice Age, was so well preserved by the cold environment that its feathers and talons were still intact. It was identified as a horned lark or Eremophila alpestris and is suspected to be the ancestor of two subspecies of modern larks still alive now.Love Dalén
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Researchers Discover A Skinless and Toothless Shark
Marine researchers exploring the Sea of Sardinia were shocked to find a shark without skin or teeth. But the skinless, toothless catshark seemed to thrive in its habitat 1,640 feet below the surface. In fact, researchers found the remains of at least 14 prey that the shark had eaten, likely by swallowing them whole. The scientists suspect the shark's abnormalities were either a birth defect or a tragic effect of sea pollution and climate change.University of Cagliari
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A Musician Plays Her Violin As She Undergoes Brain Surgery
Dagmar Turner captured hearts and minds after footage of her peacefully playing her violin during brain surgery went viral. She underwent a procedure to remove a brain tumor in the right frontal lobe, which is close to an area that controls the movements of the left hand. Musicians sometimes stay awake during these procedures to test their cognitive ability. Doctors at the King's College Hospital removed 90 percent of Turner's tumor during the surgery.King’s College Hospital/YouTube
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Frozen Methane Gas Bubbles Beneath Canadian Lake
This stunning science picture captured by photographer Kahli Hindmarsh shows frozen methane gas bubbles underneath Vermillion Lakes in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. The water is cold enough to freeze the gas before it reaches the lake's surface. The gas comes from bacteria inside the water that consumes dead organic matter.natgeotravel/Instagram
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Dymka, The Bionic Cat With Titanium Paws
Meet Dymka, the second cat in the world with titanium paws. Her prosthetic paws were made out of titanium with textured bottoms which allow her to run and jump without hurting herself. The implants were installed by Russian veterinarian Sergei Gorshkov after the stray cat lost her real paws to frostbite. And this story has a happy ending for Dymka, who was adopted by the woman who rescued her from the Siberian cold.
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The 'E.T. Sponge' At The Bottom Of The Pacific
Researcher Cristiana Castello Branco identified an extraterrestrial-looking sponge species named Advhena magnifica which literally translates as "magnificent alien." The peculiar sponge, which was dubbed the "E.T. sponge" by Branco and her colleagues, inhabits the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean. The sponge was first found during a five-hour deep-sea expedition in 2016 which took place in an unusual seascape near the Mariana Trench known as "the forest of weird." NOAA
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Crisp Images Of Saturn's Disintegrating Rings
This crystal clear image of Saturn was taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescrope over the summer when the planet was positioned 839 million miles from Earth. Looking at its breathtaking rings, one would never suspect that they are actually slowly disintegrating. Scientists predict this "lord of the rings" planet will be completely ring-less after 100 million years.NASA/ESA/A. Simon/M.H. Wong/OPAL Team
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The Intricate Underground Formations Inside Lechuguilla Cave
The natural and delicate rimstone formations inside the Lake Castrovalva area of Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico have been untouched for millions of years. The Lechuguilla Cave is part of the Carlsbad Caverns National Park and is famous for its underground passages which stretch over 120 miles at a depth of 1,604 feet. It is the deepest limestone cave in the U.S. natgeo/Instagram
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A Tiny Skull Found Trapped Inside Amber
In March, researchers revealed the discovery of what they thought was a tiny dinosaur skull that had been encased inside amber for 100 million years. The skull was about the size of your thumbnail. However, in July the study was retracted after new evidence suggested that it may not have been a dinosaur after all. Lida Xing/Nature
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A Mysterious Fungi That Mummified A Twinkie
Internet users were drawn into the odd saga of an eight-year-old Twinkie that turned into a mummy. The deformed wrapper appeared crinkled inward suggesting that whatever fungi took over the snack had occupied it before it was packaged. The two young researchers who took up the fungi experiment were unable to identify the Twinkie fungus due to lack of living spores. But they did get a fun science experiment out of it.Matt Kasson
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A Black Hole In The Midst Of Shredding A Star Apart
This slightly blurry image might look like a glowing speck against a dark backdrop but it is actually zoomed-in footage of a black hole tearing a star apart. The rare stellar phenomenon, dubbed the AT2019qiz tidal disruption event, was captured by astronomers at the European Southern Observatory. We might not hear about them often but these type of events in deep space are continuously being studied by ESO telescopes.N. Risinger/ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2
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An Albino Yellow-Colored Indian Flapshell Turtle
In July, locals in India discovered a rare bright yellow-colored flapshell turtle in the territory of Odisha. These animals, known by their scientific name Lissemys punctata, are typically a dark green and brownish color. The yellow coloring on this turtle was caused by albinism, a condition spurred by a complete or partial absence of tyrosine pigment. The mustard-colored turtle is believed to be the second albino turtle recorded in the country. Twitter
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A Mother Humpback Whale 'Craddling' Her Calf
This stunning image of a mother humpback whale and her calf was taken by wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen near Tonga. These giants of the ocean are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the U.S. The number of humpback whales declined severely during the 1950s, but their populations have made a steady comeback thanks to tighter regulations by governments around the world. There are an estimated 80,000 humpback whales inhabiting our oceans today. sealegacy/Instagram
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Launch Of SpaceX's Crew Dragon, The First Op Mission From U.S. Soil In A Decade
NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker alongside JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center for their mission aboard the International Space Station. The launch of the SpaceX aircraft Crew Dragon, nicknamed "Resilience," marked the first operational spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in over a decade.natgeointhefield/Instagram
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Air Pollution From The Burning Forests Of Australia
The Australian wildfires earlier this year ravaged large swaths of the country's natural habitats. In total, roughly 12 million acres of natural land went up in flames during the travesty. At least 300 million animals were killed during these bushfires, marking one of the country's worst bushfire seasons on record.Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images
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Sea Otters Return To The Waters Of British Columbia
This year, conservationists celebrated the return of sea otters to the coast of British Columbia, Canada. The animals were all but wiped out by fur traders during the 19th century. The Canadian government reintroduced the species to the region during the 1970s and enacted the Species At Risk Act, which gave the animals legal protections. The sea otter's return has been an economic boon for residents as the rehabilitated ecosystem has grown abundant with fish.sealegacy/Instagram
27 Jaw-Dropping Science Images From 2020 That You May Have Missed
2020 has been a remarkable year for science. From fascinating discoveries in nature to amazing laboratory breakthroughs, these science images show off the year's most remarkable findings. Let's dive inside this year's best science pictures.
Stunning Science Images Showcasing New Discoveries
Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology A closer look at the stomach contents of a well-preserved nodosaur that lived between the Late Jurassic to the Late Cretaceous period.
Some of these images speak to the natural wonders uncovered by researchers. For example, let's take a look at the rare rose-breasted grosbeak bird that had gynandromorphism, meaning both male and female characteristics. The bird was found while researchers were banding birds at the Powdermill Nature Reserve in Pennsylvania.
Gynandromorphs are not to be confused with hermaphrodites, which have genitals of both sexes. Instead, gynandromorphs are completely male on one side and female on the other side.
The half-male, half-female grosbeak stood out thanks to its unusual coloring: on its right side, it had ruby wing pits and a ruby breast spot along with black wing feathers, which are typical traits of male grosbeaks. However, on its left side, the bird possessed yellow wing pits and a brownish wing, like female grosbeaks do.
Because it is half-male and half-female, it's unclear whether the bird will be able to reproduce. Less than 10 bilateral gynandromorph birds have been documented in the reserve's 64-year history, and the last rose-breasted grosbeak gynandromorph was found at the reserve 15 years ago.
Of course, there were also man-made breakthroughs, as shown in the remarkable science images above. In one of the most mind-boggling bits of science news this year, a group of researchers in the Netherlands uncovered what they believe to be a previously unknown pair of organs inside the human head.
That's right — scientists found something new inside our bodies. According to the study published in the journal Radiotherapy and Oncology this year, the group discovered a hidden set of salivary glands located at the rear end of the nasopharynx, which is the upper part of the throat behind the nose. Prior to this discovery, scientists believed that humans only had three pairs of salivary glands.
But how could scientists have missed these organs for the last 300 years? Apparently, these "new" salivary glands — dubbed "tubarial glands" by researchers — are tucked away in a part of the head that is difficult to access without advanced medical tools.
During the study, the hidden salivary glands were uncovered in 100 living patients and two cadavers. Scientists were only able to identify the organs due to the advanced screening capabilities of the PSMA PET/CT tool that was used to examine the patients.
New Human Achievements In 2020
Renate Matzke-Karasz Scientists uncovered the oldest known animal sperm from a 100 million-year-old female ostracod trapped in amber.
One of the best science images of 2020 is the photograph of astronaut Kathleen Rubins next to what appears to be a crop of healthy plants — in space. Indeed, in the latest agricultural experiment by NASA, a crop of radishes was successfully grown in microgravity aboard the International Space Station.
Dubbed the Plant Habitat-02 (PH-02) experiment, the crop of radishes grew inside the station's Advanced Plant Habitat for 27 days. The space plants sprouted inside a chamber outfitted with LED lights, a porous clay material, and a controlled watering and fertilizing system.
According to a statement from NASA, the plants required little physical attention from the astronauts. But their moisture levels, chamber temperature, and water distribution still needed to be monitored carefully. They're hoping for a successful harvest of the radishes, which will then be sent back to Earth for further study.
These science images are just a small sampling of the advances made in the field this year. But if you take a look at these science photos, it's enough to give you a deeper appreciation for our astounding world.