The Top 25 ‘Pictures of the Day’ for 2012

At the end of last year, the Sifter posted the Top 50 Pictures of the Day for 2011. It went on to become one of our most popular posts of the year. For 2012, we will be highlighting the top 25 ‘Pictures of the Day’ at the end of every quarter. By the end of the year we will then publish a mega Top 100 ‘Pictures of the Day’ post.

It’s hard to believe 2012 is already 1/4 of the way complete. Let’s look back at the most amazing featured images from the first three months of this year. Be sure to click the title or image to be taken to the individual post for more information.

The Top 25 ‘Pictures of the Day’ for 2012 (chronological order)

Photograph via loki010 on Reddit

Photograph via Reddit


Photograph via

Photograph via Paean on Reddit

For more information click any title or image

Photograph via timz45 on Reddit


Photograph by HO-YEOL RYU

Photograph by BRET WEBSTER

The wish for a clear day

Photograph by T.-C on Flickr

For more information click any title or image

Photograph courtesy of Jónína Óskarsdóttir for NASA

MIT Wins SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod Competition – And Elon Musk Made A Surprise Appearance

A team of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has won SpaceXs inaugural Hyperloop pod design competition. They defeated more than 100 other university teams with their concept, which can be seen on theirwebsite.

The competition took place atTexas A&M University, and saw teams present their designs for pods to be used on SpaceXs upcoming Hyperloop test track, which will bebuilt in Los Angelesthis year. The pods were judged on their originality, scalability, feasibility, and other criteria.

In second place was Delft University of Technology from the Netherlands. The University of Wisconsin came in third, followed by Virginia Tech and the University of California, Irvine. Twenty-twoof the top teams will now be invited to actually build their pods to be used on the test track, including a Reddit-based effort calledrLoop, while 10 more may also be picked. A full list of winners was reported byThe Verge.

“The public wants something new,” said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk,originator of the Hyperloop idea, who made a surprise visit at the event. “And you’re going to give it to them.”

A video of Musk’s talk is above. YouTube

Talking to the crowd, Musk suggested that this might be the first of many such competitions, and he also described how the testing would work. Taking place in Los Angeles, he is hoping that large crowds will come and watch as the various different pod designs try to reach top speed and brake again before the end of the 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) track. Of course, you have to stop before the end, he joked. So you might recover some pieces of your pod.

He also hinted at his next crazy idea electric jets but didnt elaborate further.

Hyperloop is a proposal for pods in tubes at a near-vacuumto travel at hundreds of miles per hour, letting people commute between cities in a matter of minutes, rather than hours. Although very much just a concept for now, this competition is the latest in a string of exciting news surrounding Hyperloop in recent months.

For example, two separate companies Hyperloop TechnologiesandHyperloop Transportation Technologies are both building test tracks of their own, in Nevada and California respectively, alongside the effort from SpaceX.

And thanks to this competition, there are now a number of potentially successful ideas that could be used in upcoming Hyperloop tubes. Who knows when, or if, it will really become viable for the public. Were just happy to be along for the ride.

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2016 iPhone Photography Award Winners Prove Again Amazing Photos Can Be Taken Without Expensive Camera

Think that you need a fancy camera to take a good picture? EHHH WRONG! Turns out an iPhone is enough to shock people with your sick photography skills, and the winners from the 2016 iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS) can prove so.

Just recently, the 9th Annual IPPAWARDS ended, and the winners have been announced. From simple landscape photos to photos of adorable animals – all of them are absolutely amazing. Take a look for yourselves below.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to see more great photos taken with an iPhone, check out the winners of the 2014 IPPAWARDS.

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“Dance Your Ph.D.” 2015 Contest Winners Announced

Would you get down and boogie to present your research in a more light-hearted and accessible way? These scientists did, and they’ve now scooped monetary prizes for their efforts.

First place in this year’s Dance Your Ph.D. contest was won by University of Bern student Florence Metz for her study of how scientists, industry lobbyists, farmers, and environmental activists shape policy on water use and conservation. Metz has experience in many styles of dance and put these to use representing the different interests that shape debate on scarce water resources.

Metz was awarded $1,000 (660) and a trip to Stanford University next year after overcoming 31 rival entrants. Sadly, the costumes and equipment required suggest that even if her fellow dancers, camera operators, and production crew donated their services, this is not a solution to the perennial problem of insufficient scholarships for doctoral students.

Metz is the eighth winner of the contest, sponsored by theAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science. She is the first social scientist to win the prize, which seeks to promote public awareness and understanding of science. Already it seems there has been some success in this regard, with Metz saying in a statement:Family and friends watched the video and became a little [more] familiar with my research work, she explained. I feel that the video contributed to making [my] research accessible to a larger crowd of people.”

Among other things, Dance Your Ph.D. breaks down the lingering perception that scientists are narrowly focused people lacking external interests or skills.

Metz also won the social science prize. Winners of the physics, chemistry and biology sections each take home $500 (330). This year these include a tango on the entanglementof photon pairs by the University of Oxford’s Merritt Moore. Pearl Lee of the University of Sydney demonstrated just how much elasticity the molecule tropoelastingives to skin and arteries. And Jyaysi Desai of LudwigMaximilian University drew on traditionalIndian dance to explainhow immune cells called neutrophils protect us from bacteria.

Winning first place can be a ticket to plenty of recognition, with past winners having racked up tens of thousands of views on YouTube. Other entrants might get a tenth of that, which is sadbecause the depth of talent can be extraordinary. Check out this stunning shadow dance from Stockholm Environment Institute’s Tahia Devisscheron the threat of fire to the Amazon as just one example.

The contest is judged by four scientists from diverse fields who, unlike most academic assessors, are keen for more work. Contest organizer John Bohannon said:I want to send a shout out to all IFLScience fans: If you’re working on a Ph.D. (or already have one), dance your Ph.D. next year!

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The Winners of the 50th Annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The top awards for the 50th Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition were announced earlier this week at a ceremony held at London’s Natural History Museum. The winners received their awards from the Museum Patron, The Duchess of Cambridge, Sir David Attenborough, wildlife presenter Liz Bonnin and renowned wildlife photographer Frans Lanting.

American photographer Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols was named Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 by a panel of international judges for his serene black-and-white image of lions resting with their cubs in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Eight-year-old Carlos Perez Naval was awarded Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 for his image of a scorpion soaking up the Sun near his hometown in Spain.

These two images will be on show at the Museum with other shortlisted images from Friday 24 October until Sunday 30 August 2015. The exhibition will embark on an international tour across six continents, giving millions of people the chance to see some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife photography.

Nichols’ photograph beat more than 42,000 entries from 96 countries to the grand title award. Following the pride for nearly six months meant they were used to his presence as he photographed them in infra-red, which he explains, ‘transforms the light and turns the moment into something primal, biblical almost’. Nichols set out to create an archetypal image that would express both the essence of lions and how we visualise them, a picture of a time past, before lions were under such threat.

The last great picture – Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols (USA)
Overall Winner – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Lions MM7947

Nick set out to create an archetypal image that would express both the essence of lions and how we visualize them – a picture of a time past, before lions were under such threat. Here, the five females of the Vumbi pride – a ‘formidable and spectacularly cooperative team’ – lie at rest with their cubs on a kopje (a rocky outcrop), in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Shortly before he took the shot, they had attacked and driven off one of the two pride males. Now they were lying close together, calmly sleeping. They were used to Nick’s presence – he’d been following them for nearly six months – which meant he could position his vehicle close to the kopje. Making use of a specially made hole in the roof, he slowly stood up to frame the vista, with the Serengeti plains beyond and the dramatic late-afternoon sky above. He photographed them in infrared, which he says, ‘cuts through the dust and haze, transforms the light and turns the moment into something primal, biblical almost’. The chosen picture – and Nick believes that the creation of a picture is as much in the choice as the taking – speaks about lions in Africa, part flashback, part fantasy. Nick got to know and love the Vumbi pride. A few months later, he heard that it had ventured into land beyond the park and that three females had been killed.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 24–70mm f2.8 lens at 32mm; 1/250 sec at f8; ISO 200

Apocalypse – Francisco Negroni (Chile)
Winner – Earth’s Environments

wildlife photographer of the year 2014 winners (6)

Straight after the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex began erupting, Francisco travelled to Puyehue National Park in southern Chile, anticipating a spectacular light show. But what he witnessed was more like an apocalypse. From his viewpoint – a hill quite a distance to the west of the volcano – he watched, awestruck, as flashes of lightning lacerated the sky and the glow from the molten lava lit up the smoke billowing upwards and illuminated the landscape. ‘It was the most incredible thing I have seen in my life.’ Volcanic lightning (also known as a ‘dirty thunderstorm’) is a rare, short‑lived phenomenon probably caused by the static electrical charges resulting from the crashing together of fragments of red‑hot rock, ash and vapour high in the volcanic plume. The Cordón Caulle eruption spewed 100 million tonnes of ash high into the atmosphere, causing widespread disruption to air travel in the southern hemisphere. Volcanic activity continued at a lesser level for a year, spreading a layer of ash over the region.
Nikon D300 + Sigma 70–200mm f2.8 lens; 1/541 sec at f2.8; ISO 200; tripod; remote control

The price they pay – Bruno D’Amicis (Italy)
Winner – The World in Our Hands

wildlife photographer of the year 2014 winners (8)

A teenager from a village in southern Tunisia offers to sell a three-month-old fennec fox, one of a litter of pups he dug out of their den in the Sahara Desert. Catching or killing wild fennec foxes is illegal in Tunisia but widespread, which Bruno discovered as part of a long-term project to investigate the issues facing endangered species in the Sahara. He gained the confidence of villagers in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco and discovered widespread wildlife exploitation, including hunting and capture for commercial trade and traditional medicine. He also discovered that the causes and therefore the solutions are complex and include high unemployment, poor education, lack of enforcement of conservation laws, ignorant tourists and tour companies, habitat destruction and the socio-political legacy of the ‘Arab Spring’ revolts. But Bruno is convinced that change is possible – that tourism has a part to play and that thought‑provoking images can help raise awareness among tourists as well as highlight what’s happening to the fragile Sahara Desert environment.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II + 17–40mm f4 lens at 38mm; 1/160 sec at f4; ISO 400

Stinger in the sun – Carlos Perez Naval (Spain)
Overall Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year

wildlife photographer of the year 2014 winners (1)

Aware of Carlos’s presence, the common yellow scorpion is flourishing its sting as a warning. Carlos had found it basking on a flat stone in a rocky area near his home in Torralba de los Sisones, northeast Spain – also a place that he goes to look for reptiles. The late afternoon sun was casting such a lovely glow over the scene that Carlos decided to experiment with a double exposure (his first ever) so he could include the sun. He started with the background, using a fast speed so as not to overexpose the sun, and then shot the scorpion, using a low flash. But he had to change lenses (he used his zoom for the sun), which is when the scorpion noticed the movement and raised its tail. Carlos then had to wait for it to settle before taking his close-up, with the last rays of the sun lighting up its body.
Nikon D300 + 105mm f2.8 lens (28–300mm lens for the background); 1/320 sec at f10; ISO 320; flash

The long embrace – Anton Lilja (Sweden)
Winner – 15-17 Years

Common Frogs (Rana temporaria) breeding in a waterpuddle surroun

The moment her eggs make contact with water, the jelly around them will begin to swell. So a female frog needs to have a male nearby, ready to fertilize the eggs the instant they leave her body. And a male needs to hold on to her to make sure he’s the one doing the fertilizing. So he grasps her in a tight embrace, known as amplexus, often for days, until she has laid her eggs. Hearing that masses of common frogs were gathering in a flooded gravel pit near his home in Västerbotten, Sweden, Anton set out to photograph the mating spectacle. Lying down on the bank at eye level with the water, he became fascinated by the light bouncing off the spawn and the water, which by now was vibrating with the activity of the frogs. Experimenting with his flash, he achieved the effect he wanted just as a pair of frogs in amplexus popped up right in front of the camera, the male revealing his throat to be flushed with blue. They stayed posed amid the glossy wobbliness, allowing Anton time to compose his shot.
Nikon D2X + 70–200mm f2.8 lens + 1.4x teleconverter; 1/500 sec at f6.3; ISO 200; Nikon SB-800 Speedlight flash

Touché – Jan van der Greef (The Netherlands)
Finalist – Birds


A focus of Jan’s trip to Ecuador was the astonishing sword-billed hummingbird – the only bird with a bill longer than its body (excluding its tail). Its 11-centimetre (4.3-inch) bill is designed to reach nectar at the base of equally long tube-shaped flowers, but Jan discovered that it can have another use. One particular bird had a regular circuit through the forest, mapped out by its favourite red angel trumpet flowers and bird-feeders near Jan’s lodge. To get to the bird-feeders, it had to cross the territory of a fiercely territorial collared inca. Rather than being scared off, once or twice a day ‘it used its bill to make a statement’. To capture one of these stand-offs, Jan set up multiple flashes to freeze the hummingbirds’ wing-beats – more than 60 a second – and finally captured the precise colourful moment.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV + 300mm f2.8 lens; 1/250 sec at f16; ISO 400; Canon Speedlite 580EX flash + six Nikon Speedlight SB-26 flashes; Gitzo tripod + Wimberley head

Little squid – Fabien Michenet (France)
Finalist – Underwater Species

wildlife photographer of the year 2014 winners (5)

Planktonic animals are usually photographed under controlled situations, after they’ve been caught, but Fabien is fascinated by the beauty of their living forms and aims to photograph their natural behaviour in the wild. Night-diving in deep water off the coast of Tahiti, in complete silence apart from the occasional sound of dolphins, and surrounded by a mass of tiny planktonic animals, he became fascinated by this juvenile sharpear enope squid. Just 3 centimetres (an inch) long, it was floating motionless about 20 metres (66 feet) below the surface, probably hunting even smaller creatures that had migrated up to feed under cover of darkness. Its transparent body was covered with polka dots of pigment-filled cells, and below its eyes were bioluminescent organs. Knowing it would be sensitive to light and movement, Fabien gradually manoeuvred in front of it, trying to hang as motionless as his subject. Using as little light as possible to get the autofocus working, he finally triggered the strobes and took the squid’s portrait before it disappeared into the deep.
Nikon D800 + 105mm f2.8 lens; 1/320 sec at f16; ISO 200; Nauticam housing; two Inon Z-240 strobes

8. The longline lottery – Rodrigo Friscione Wyssmann (Mexico)
Finalist – The World in Our Hands

long life the king

© Rodrigo Friscione Wyssmann / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

It had clearly been a monumental struggle: the young great white shark’s jaw jutted out at an ugly angle, evidence of how it had fought to escape from the hook before finally suffocating. Rodrigo came upon the grim sight off Magdalena Bay on the Pacific coast of Baja California, Mexico, after noticing that a fisherman’s buoy had been dragged below the surface by a considerable weight. The hook was on a long line of hooks, set to catch blue and mako sharks. ‘I was deeply shocked. Great whites are amazing, graceful and highly intelligent creatures. It was such a sad scene that I changed the image to black and white, which felt more dignified.’ Such surface‑baited longlines may stretch for miles and are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of animals every year, many of them endangered.
Nikon D300 + Sigma 15mm lens; 1/125 sec at f8; ISO 200; two Inon Z-220 strobes

9. Marc Montes (Spain)
Finalist – 11-14 years

culebra de collar

Marc was trekking through the forest in the Val d’Aran, near his home in northern Spain – as usual, carrying his camera and keeping a lookout for animals – when he was thrilled to come across a large grass snake. ‘I have a great passion for reptiles, especially snakes,’ he says, ‘and it is rare to see this kind where I live.’ The grass snake, just over a metre (3 feet) long, was very alert and started moving, and the light was very poor. So Marc had to use a wide aperture, giving him only a very narrow depth of field (the depth that would be in focus). But though he had only a moment to compose the picture, he had the skill to take a portrait with the focus on the key part of the snake – its eyes.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV + 100mm f2.8 lens; 1/250 sec at f4.5; ISO 800

Snowbird – Edwin Sahlin (Sweden)
Finalist – 15-17 Years

wildlife photographer of the year 2014 winners (3)

Cheese and sausage are what Siberian jays like – so Edwin discovered on a skiing holiday with his family in northern Sweden. Whenever they stopped for lunch, he would photograph the birds that gathered in hope of scraps. On this occasion, while his family ate their sandwiches, Edwin dug a pit in the snow deep enough to climb into. He scattered titbits of food around the edge and then waited. To his delight, the jays flew right over him, allowing him to photograph them from below and capture the full rusty colours of their undersides more clearly than he had dared hope.
Nikon D7000 + 35mm f1.8 lens; 1/2000 sec at f7.1 (-0.7 e/v); ISO 320; pop-up flash

The 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest (15 Highlights)

National Geographic invites photographers to submit photos for the opportunity to be named the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year.

The grand-prize award winner will earn the prestigious title and also receive a seven-day Polar Bear Photo Safari for two at Churchill Wild–Seal River Heritage Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. The contest, which is open now, ends May 27, 2016, at 12 pm EDT.

Eligible contestants can visit to submit photographs in any or all of three categories: Nature, People and Cities. The entry fee is $15 (USD) per photo, and there is no limit to the number of submissions per entrant.

Our friends at National Geographic have let us share some highlights from this year’s Nature category. Visit the official contest page for more information.

Balanced Rock, Utah


Balanced Rock and lone tree in Arches National Park. Location: Moab, Utah

Terraces Village in the Mist


Captured this image early morning waiting for one week until I get the right mood of light and fog. Location: Guizhou, China

Mystic shed


A cold night on the top of this hill in Lapland, near the Russian border waiting for the dancing lights in the sky. All around, snow ghost are watching, standstill. Location: Lapland, Finland

The Spaceship


Last December i sailed to Antarctica on a 54 feet long-haul steel vessel. As we entered the Polar Zone this was one of the first icebergs we saw. Sculpted by the wind and waves, majestic in scale and with a dazzling white colour with layers of deep blue. The sun makes a quick appearance through a hole in the clouds, just in time for this shot. Location: Antarctica



Cherry blossoms like a Japanese painting. The smoke of the bonfire of old paper charms has brought a fantastic effect. Location: Minobu, Yamanashi, Japan

Moment of Impact


Two lions fighting in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. I photographed the lions with back-light to have the dust illuminated and show the action in this scene. The lions were actually play-fighting and gave some opportunity to photograph interaction. Location: the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

The Wave


Long drive and long hike but it was truly worth to see this scenery. The shutter sound was echoing around. It was my pleasure to frame this moment. Location: Utah

La Fournaise volcano


The last eruption of La Fournaise Volcano. Réunion Island. Location: Saint-Denis, Reunion, Reunion



I took this photo in July 2014 at Trollstigen in Norway. Standing there alone in the fog, I was waiting for the view to become clear. And then it happened, the fog disappeared and though it was 1 am already, one car came slowly up the steep serpentines. It was my dream for a long time to take a photo of lighttrails like this in Norway – and it was just an awesome feeling that it worked out on the most beautiful and famous street. A few minutes later the fog returned, even thicker than before. Location: Bø, More og Romsdal, Norway

Powered sight


I had heard a lot about how beautiful Uluru should look like when it rains. But I never believed that I would see it with my own eyes because the red center of Australia is a very arid area. That’s one of the reasons why Uluru is such a special place for the Anangu – the local aboriginal clan. If it rains, the water fills up the reservoirs around the rock, the only water source for several kilometers. This makes the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park to special place for lots of rare animals as well. Location: Yulara, Northern Territory, Australia



Amazing supercell produces over the town of Blackhawk, South Dakota back on June 1st 2015. Flash flooding would occur near Rapid City. Location: Blackhawk, South Dakota, United States

Namibian Desert


Springbok in front of a dune of Namibian desert. Location: Swakopmund, Erongo, Namibia

Star Dune


This photo is shot shortly after sunrise at mesquite dunes. George Lucas has chosen this location for some scenes of Star Wars. The blue background is not the sky. These are mountains in the distance. Location: Death Valley, California

On Guard


This picture was taken during Mt. Bromo eruption. The horse seems a little agitated due to the sound of the eruption. Location: Probolinggo, East Java, Indonesia

The Snow Tree


During a snow storm I decided to head over to Bryce Canyon NP and enjoy the freshly fallen snow. Visibility was down to almost zero, but then I found this single tree right next to a snow drift and knew this would be my shot. Location: Bryce Canyon, Utah, United States

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The Top 75 ‘Pictures of the Day’ for 2013


At the end of every quarter the Sifter highlights the top 25 ‘ ‘, culminating in an epic Top 100 at the end of the year (check out the ‘Top 100 POTDs for 2012‘).

It’s hard to believe we’re already in the last quarter of 2013. Below you will find the third installment of this quarterly compilation. All credit goes to the individual photographers and their inspiring visions of our beautiful planet.

For more information on any individual photograph, click the title or image to be taken to the original post.

*Please note the photographs themselves were not necessarily taken in 2013, they just happened to be featured as a on TwistedSifter. The pictures are also listed in reverse chronological order. There is no ranking amongst the photos :)



Photograph by HALEY LUNA
Tumblr | Website | Flickr | Instagram | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter

exploded view volkswagen golf MK2

Photograph by HANS HANSEN


Photograph by Capt. Andreas M. van der Wurff via EPOD


For more info, click any title or image to see the original post



Photograph by LAURA WILLIAMS
Facebook | Flickr | Blog | deviantART | Prints available

Japanese Maple, Portland, OR

Flickr | Facebook | Google+ | 500px | Instagram



Photograph by ROLF MAEDER
Website | Blog | Twitter | Prints available


Photograph by RADO GADOCZI
Website | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter


Photograph by Peter Rivera

Polar stratospheric clouds nacreous clouds antarctica by deven stross (1)

Photograph by DEVEN STROSS
Website | 500px | Facebook

A baby Musk Ox just a few weeks old.

Photograph by Randy Kokesch
Flickr | 500px | Google+


For more info, click any title or image to see the original post



Photograph by SPRENG BEN
Website | Flickr | Facebook | Tumblr

Waitomo Glowworm Caves north island new zealand

Photograph via



Photograph by JENNIFER HANNUX/Northeast Kingdom Photography
Website | Facebook | Prints available


Photograph by GREG SUTTER | Posters Available


Sovereign of the Sun



Photograph of KAWIKA SINGSON | Taken by Chris Hirata


Photograph by David Yu


Photograph by Lauren Manning



Photograph by (nz)dave on Flickr

street art by Nuxuno Xan Fort De France Martinique

Artwork by Nuxuno Xän | Photograph by Rosali Rodrigues


Photograph by ERVIN BOER

Ponthus' Beech



Photograph by PHILLIP CALAIS


Photograph by SARAH LEE
Website | Flickr | Facebook

cambrian infinity pool view swiss alps adelboden switzerland

Photograph by The Cambrian Hotel

For more info, click any title or image to see the original post


Website | 500px | Flickr | Twitter | Google+ | Facebook




Photograph by Øyvind Tangen

just room enough island Thousand Islands


Petite Ceinture de Paris #12


Photograph by Kendisan Seruyan

20070218   The Wave, Coyote Buttes North, Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona  026

ancient-banyan-big-island-hawaii-james brandon

For more info, click any title or image to see the original post

SS Ayrfield



Melting Ice Cap


Photograph by BERTRAND KULIK

Photograph courtesy of NASA/JSC/JOE ACABA

For more info, click any title or image to see the original post

Photograph by CHELL HILL

Photograph via ubomw on Reddit

For more info, click any title or image to see the original post

Artwork by Takahiro Iwasaki | Photograph by Owen Houhoulis

Photograph by Simo Räsänen

Photograph by Willyyz on Reddit

Photograph by NASA

Photograph by MARTIN RYCZEK


Photograph by PIERRE LESAGE

Animal Highlights from the 2013 Nat Geo Traveler Photo Contest

National Geographic invites photographers from around the world to enter the 2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. The grand-prize winner will receive a 10-day National Geographic Expedition to the Galápagos for two aboard the National Geographic Endeavour. The contest, which is open now, ends Sunday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. Coordinated Universal Time (UCT) (6:59 p.m. ET, US).

Eligible contestants can visit to submit photographs in any or all four categories: Travel Portraits; Outdoor Scenes; Sense of Place; and Spontaneous Moments. The entry fee is $15 (USD) per photo, and there is no limit to the number of submissions per entrant. For details and official contest rules, visit

“Our photo contest turns 25 this year, making it, we believe, the longest-running travel photo contest in the world,” said Keith Bellows, National Geographic Traveler magazine editor in chief. “In the last few years it seems as if the quality of shots has taken a quantum leap forward. The pictures increasingly reflect a more sophisticated way of seeing and interpreting the world, making the judging process more difficult. We encourage photographers to enter their work and compete against the best.”

Judging consists of two rounds of evaluation based on creativity and photographic quality. The second-prize winner will receive a seven-day National Geographic Photography Workshop for one in Santa Fe, N.M.; the third-prize winner will receive a six-day cruise for two on a Maine windjammer schooner. Seven merit prize winners will receive a print of their photo, matted and framed by the National Geographic Imaging Lab, and a $200 gift certificate to B&H Photo.

National Geographic Traveler photo editors will showcase their favorite entries every week at Visitors to the site can view all entries and share them with family and friends through Twitter and Facebook as well as download wallpapers and complete jigsaw puzzles featuring contest entries.

The Galápagos Expedition, in which the grand-prize winner will participate, is a unique experience to join National Geographic aboard the National Geographic Endeavour or National Geographic Islander and experience up close encounters with unique species such as flightless cormorants, marine iguanas and domed giant tortoises. The trip is part of National Geographic Expeditions, the travel program of the National Geographic Society, which provides guided trips spanning all seven continents and more than 60 destinations.

Below you will find a gallery of some of the National Geographic Editors’ favorite animal images to date. Enjoy!

Morning Game Drive


Our first morning game drive on Safari in South Africa brought us this magnificent leopard. He was bathed in the orange hues of the sunrise and it was breathtaking.

Curious Whaleshark


Whale shark encounter in the Bohol Sea, Philippines.

Osprey Launching


I clicked this photo as the Osprey was taking off from his perch.

Hidden Treasure


A surprise companion, the Pacific Tree Frog, lurking in the lichen.



A family of snow monkeys cuddling up together for security and warmth. They appeared very protective of one another and seemed unsure of my presence.

Ruffled Feather Inspection


A cafe outside of Aquas Calientes in the Cuzco region of Peru has perches for wild parrots that come and feed on seed and fruit left out for them. This curious little fella was peeking out from behind a leaf to get a better look at me. Apparently he was entertained by the odd human with the camera because he let me get only a few inches away, where my ring light could better illuminate his beautiful feathers.

Unexpected Alliance


I have seen alligators and turtles together in ponds before, but never like this! I was at Bluebill Pond in Harris Neck NWR when I saw what I thought was an alligator sunning itself on a stump. As I got closer I realized that it was actually perched on the back of a turtle! I wish I had been there to witness how this surprising esprit de corps had come to pass!

Look Into My Eyes


This picture was taken on a game drive in the Addo Elephant National Park, the third largest national park in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The park contains a wide diversity of fauna, flora and landscapes and incorporates semi arid landscapes all the way to a marine reserve. These zebra were so calm and you just got the feeling they wanted to be photographed!



Two vultures in action from Massai Mara in Kenya while they are fighting.

In The Rain


This photograph was taken while I was on vacation in South Carolina. It was a rainy miserable day until I happened upon this alligator hanging out in a local pond.

The hummingbird and the flower


Picture took on March 27 with a Nikon D90 + zoom 80-400 mm – 400 mm – ISO 800 – 1/3200 sec – f 7.1.

Oregon Lion


Sea Lion on Pacific Coast of Oregon

Who Needs to Fly?


This is one of the Big Major Cay’s pigs swimming in the clear, turquoise waters of the Bahamas. Pigs are great swimmers!

Gentoo Chicks


Two newly hatched Gentoo Penguin chicks get their first glimpse at the Antarctic wilderness.

Hanging Around


A two-year old Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) of the Sabinyo family, plays in the bamboo forest of Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. In 1981, this population fell to 240 because of rampent poaching and habitat loss. Today the population is estimated to be around 800 and rising and this photograph represents the exciting turn around and hope for the next generation. Thank you to the conservationists, rangers and educators working to protect these magnificent cousins of ours and their habitat in the Virunga massif.

Animals Fight Bacteria Using Stolen Defense Systems

Humans aren’t the only ones on the planet to be engaging in a battle against bacteria; these organisms are also constantly fighting each other over scarce resources. They’re some of the oldest inhabitants of Earth, so they’ve had a while to evolve the sophisticated antibacterial weaponry used to kill the competition. Some bacteria, for example, inject deadly enzymes into rival cells that rapidly degrade their protective walls, causing the contents of the cell to spill out.

While it can take millions of years for such sophisticated defense mechanisms to evolve, it doesn’t take them long to spread in bacterial communities. That’s because they can play pass-the-parcel with their genes in a process called horizontal gene transfer. Now, new research has suggested that some animals have joined in on this gene swapping party, and have acquired their own set of antibacterial weaponry from certain microbes. This, the researchers say, could be helping the animals kill off unwanted pathogens growing in or on them. The work has been published in Nature.

Scientists from the University of Washington happened upon this intriguing and unexpected discovery while scouring existing archives for potential antibacterial toxins.

“When we started digging into genome databases, we were surprised to find that toxin genes we thought were present only in bacteria were also in several animals,” study author Matt Daughterty said in a news-release. “We immediately started wondering why they were there.”

More specifically, they found that genes for a group of bacterial cell wall-degrading toxins, tae genes, had been transferred to animals on at least six occasions. Furthermore, the resulting genes have been preserved in the recipients for hundreds of millions of years. This was particularly surprising since, despite being common among bacteria, horizontal gene transfer between bacteria and more complex organisms is a rare occurrence.

The organisms possessing this set of stolen genes were diverse, but one particular species caught their eye- the deer tick Ixodes scapularis. That’s because these arthropods are known to transmit the bacterium responsible for Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdoferi. Ticks can harbor pathogens such as this in their guts, which are then transmitted through their saliva when they take a blood meal from a susceptible animal.

Interestingly, they found that the toxins from these acquired genes were present in both the saliva and the guts of the ticks, and that the toxins limit the proliferation of B. burgdoferi. When they used genetic manipulation to reduce toxin production in the ticks, the bacteria significantly increased in abundance.

The researchers are now continuing their work by examining how these toxins might influence the transmission of Lyme disease. They would also like to investigate the functions of the toxins in animals other than ticks, and whether other bacterial defense systems have been also been transferred to other organisms.

[Via University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Madison and Nature]

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