10 Incredible Images Celebrating Science Photography
To conserve the natural world, I think drawing attention to the beauty of these ordinary moments in our own neighbourhoods, including our own backyards, is particularly important
“Clear water is hard to come across in the part of Belgium where I live, as a consequence of eutrophication. Algae grows from the nutrients flushed down the drains in detergents and sewage, clouding the waters and suffocating other oxygen-dependent life. When I noticed these common toad tadpoles in the crystal clear canal I wanted to capture the chance encounter from their perspective,” said winner Bert Willaert, who is a biologist of amphibian evolution and an environmental advisor.
Runner up in the Behaviour category, taken by Luca Antonio Marino.
“An adult wild bearded capuchin monkey (Sapajus libidinosus) uses a stone tool to crack a very resistant palm nut in Fazenda Boa Vista in Piauì, Brazil. These monkeys habitually crack open very resistant palm nuts on hard surfaces using stones as percussive tools. This behaviour is considered one of the most complex forms of tool use by nonhuman species seen in nature,” explained Marino.
“The alpha male, weighing 4.2 kg, picked up a big stone (3.5 kg) and lifted that above his head to crack a piassava nut. Capuchins’ actions are very fast so it is hard to capture the decisive moment. In a matter of milliseconds I shot and took the photo that I wanted: the representation of capuchin monkeys’ strength and beauty.”
Sand has scales
Runner up in the Evolutionary Biology category, taken by Fabio Pupin.
“Bitis peringueyi is an endemic adder from the Namib desert. It’s an ambush predator, highly equipped for the job. Many snakes are disguise masters but few completely burrow their entire body beneath the surface, and fewer have their eyes located on the top of their head,” said Pupin.
“Actually, if I hadn’t blown off the sand to better show its scaly pattern, this adder would have been completely invisible.”
Caribbean brain coral
Special commendation in the Proceedings B publisher’s choice category, taken by Evan D’Alessandro.
“The deep and abundant mysteries of reef building corals – their systematics, genetics, and phenotypic plasticity (variability in form possible within a single genetic individual) are only just now yielding their secrets to modern science. This image of what appears to be a single colony of the giant Caribbean brain coral (Colpophyllia natans) hints at the virtuoso abilities of corals to assume a wide range of different forms and appearances,” explained D’Alessandro.
“This photo raises many important questions regarding this species of coral. Are the four distinct zones in this photograph really genetically identical? What spurred the colony to grow in this strange and beautiful manner?”
Ancestry. Dominance. Endangered
Runner up in the Ecology and Environmental Science category, taken by Martha M. Robbins.
“This photo shows the strength and power of gorillas, one of our closest living relatives, yet also shows their vulnerability due to the pressures put on their world by humans. Taken in Rwanda, I observed the gorillas walking to the eucalyptus trees outside of the Volcanoes National Park and watched them strip the bark with their teeth,” said Robbins.
“Within a few minutes, the silverback of the group sat down to eat bark and faced out towards the farmland – almost as if he was contemplating the human society that lives next to the gorillas’ habitat.”
This false coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) received special commendation and was taken by Steve Gschmeissner.
“Lice lineages began to split and diversify during the late Cretaceous era, when dinosaurs, birds and early mammals probably were on the resilient parasites’ menus. Argulus is a species of fish lice that has been shown to be a well-adapted parasite, exhibiting unique hunting and breeding strategies that enable it to live in the harsh and variable climates of Europe, East Asia and Siberia, wreaking havoc on the profitability of any freshwater fishery it inhabits and infests,” said Gschmeissner.
Going with the flow: schooling to avoid a predator
Winner of the competition’s Behaviour category, taken by Claudia Pogoreutz.
“A school of tropical clupeid fish exhibit synchronised behaviour to keep a healthy distance from a teenage black-tip reef shark,” Pogoreutz said.
“Sharks would cruise placidly for hours without so much as looking at the smaller fish, until, all of a sudden, they would strike and gobble up a mouthful of clupeids. The picture was taken on a shallow reef flat on Kuramathi Island in the Rasdhoo Atoll, Republic of Maldives.”
Runs at dawn
This photo received special commendation in the Biology Letters publisher’s choice category and was taken by Jose Juan Hernandez Martinez.
“In the Canary Islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, after every winter rains, Canarian houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) males begin their impressive courtship displays. From dawn onwards these males display at their favourite places and from there scamper around showing their plumage in all its glory,” said Martinez.
Fern with a drysuit
Winner of the Evolutionary Biology category, taken by Ulrike Bauer.
“Plants have evolved elaborate surface structures to modify the wettability of their leaves. The leaves of the water fern Salvinia molesta are covered with whisk-like hairs. The leaf surface and all but the very tip of the whisks is extremely water-repellent, keeping the leaf perfectly dry even when it is submerged for several weeks,” explained Bauer.
“The hydrophilic tips of the whisks ‘pin’ droplets in place. This further helps to prevent the water from entering the space in between the whisks. In recent years, plant surfaces have repeatedly inspired the design of biomimetic – nature-mimicking – applications for human use, most famously the self-cleaning paints based on the lotus leaf. The photograph was taken in Bonn Botanic Garden, Germany.”
A baboon gets lost in his thoughts
This photo received special commendation and was taken by Davide Gaglio.
“This image was taken at Cape Point Reserve, South Africa. I was taking photos of a group of baboons, trying to capture some interesting action shots. The baboons were not very active as the Sun was up and most of them were just resting,” explained Gaglio.
“I noted this baboon sitting and facing the Sun with his eyes closed, once I got close enough, without distracting him, he put one hand under his face, posing as though he was lost in his thoughts.”
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