Skip to main content

Wild Animal Selfies: Creatures Get Hip with Word of the Year

A Gentoo penguin poses for a camera that it snatched from the Canadian cruise ship M/S Expedition during a trip around Antarctica. (Image credit: Alex Cowan, G Adventures' M/S Expedition)

As humans clamber to grab smartphones, pose at arm's length, and snap well-framed pictures of themselves throughout their daily lives, the animal world goes about snapping selfies a little less earnestly, relying on humans to spread the images across the Internet.

The wildlife pictures may not officially fit Oxford Dictionaries' definition of their recently announced 2013 Word of the Year as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or a webcam and uploaded to a social media website," since animals don't use smartphones or social media. However, the shots still have the in-the-moment and up-close-and-personal feel of authentic selfies. [Images: Best Wild Animal Selfies on the Internet]

Last week, an Antarctic penguin delighted twitter users by taking hold of a camera from the Canadian cruise ship M/S Expedition and triggering a spellbinding shot of the inside of its mouth. Earlier this month, an Australian sea eagle flew off with a video camera that wildlife rangers had set up in Western Australia to study crocodiles. The bird flapped with the camera for 70 miles (110 kilometers) before landing, pecking and staring into the lens for a selfie, according to the Sydney Associated Press.

Many other wild animal selfies have been captured by camera traps, or remotely activated cameras that ecologists and other scientists use to observe animals in their natural environments and in the absence of human disturbance. The cameras are heat- or motion-activated, and they indiscriminately snap shots when something passes by their field of view.

Researchers often try to camouflage and disguise camera traps, but the man-made-objects still do attract curious animals, the hippest of which stare straight into the camera. 

Follow Laura Poppick on Twitter. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+Original article on LiveScience.

Laura Poppick
Laura Poppick
Laura Poppick is a contributing writer for Live Science, with a focus on earth and environmental news. Laura has a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Laura has a good eye for finding fossils in unlikely places, will pull over to examine sedimentary layers in highway roadcuts, and has gone swimming in the Arctic Ocean.