27 Jaw-Dropping Science Images From 2020 That You May Have Missed

Published December 29, 2020
Updated January 4, 2021

The best science photos of the year will take you from the Siberian permafrost to a radish garden in space.

Venus And The Moon
Growing Radishes In Space
Rare Black Leopard
Mona Lisa Hidden Drawing
27 Jaw-Dropping Science Images From 2020 That You May Have Missed
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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

Nodosaur Stomach Fossil

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

Male Ostracod With Claspers

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.


Now that you've taken a good look at some of the best science pictures of 2020, check out more remarkable news from the scientific world. Then, step in the time machine and take a peek at the biggest science news stories from 2019.

Natasha Ishak
A former staff writer for All That's Interesting, Natasha Ishak holds a Master's in journalism from Emerson College and her work has appeared in VICE, Insider, Vox, and Harvard's Nieman Lab.
Bernadette Giacomazzo
Bernadette Giacomazzo is a New York City-based editor, writer, photographer, and publicist whose work has been featured in People, Teen Vogue, BET, HipHopDX, XXL Magazine, The Source, Vibe, The Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere.