Skip to main content

The Best Science Photos of 2017

Ecuadorian Rainfrog

ecuadorean-rainfrog-species

(Image credit: Jaime Culebras/Colorado State University)

This colorful fellow is a new species of Ecuadorian frog. The Ecuadorian rainfrog (Pristimantis ecuadorensis) lives in the country's misty cloud forests. It's considered endangered because of its small range and the threat of habitat loss. [New Striped Rain-Frog Species Discovered in Ecuador’s Cloud Forests]

Determined Badger

A badger rests on top of the grave of a cow that it buried. The badger was caught on camera interring the cow carcass over the course of five days.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Evan Buechley)

A badger relaxes after a job well done in Utah's Great Basin Desert. The job? Burying an entire cow… all by itself. Camera traps captured the badger's feat on video. It took the animal five days to dig the hole and cover up the cow. It then hung out around its food cache for weeks. [Little Badger Buries Entire Cow — on Camera]

Fanged Fish

(Image credit: Courtesy of Bryan Fry)

This fierce fish is nothing to mess with. Meiacanthus grammistes grows only to about 4 inches (10 centimeters) long, but its oversized fangs come equipped with a venom based on opioids — the same stuff that gives morphine or heroin its punch. The fish uses the venom defensively, researchers reported in March, making their attackers sluggish and slow so they can escape. [Fanged Fish Drugs Attackers with Heroin-Like Venom]

Giant Dino Tracks

Richard Hunter, the Goolarabooloo law boss, lies next to a giant sauropod dinosaur track.

(Image credit: Salisbury et al./Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (2017))

Richard Hunter, a law boss of the aboriginal Goolarabooloo culture in western Australia, stretches out next to an enormous dinosaur footprint. This footprint, which belonged to a long-necked sauropod, is about 5.5 feet (1.7 meters) long. [Crikey! Refrigerator-Size Dinosaur Footprints Discovered in Australia]

Antarctica in 3D

Scientists have created a 3D view of Antarctica by combining 250 million measurements taken by the European Space Agency's CryoSat mission between 2010 and 2016.

(Image credit: CPOM)

The beauty of the southernmost continent stands out in three dimensions in an ice map released in March. Made with six years of European Space Agency satellite data, the map combines 250 million individual measurements. [Rugged Antarctica Shows Its Ice in New 3D Map]

Within the Southern Lights

(Image credit: Stephen Voss/YouTube)

What would it look like to fly right through the aurora? One hundred thirty-four passengers on a charter flight from New Zealand to the Antarctic Circle got to find out in March. The first-of-its-kind flight was organized to take skywatchers right through the aurora australis, or Southern Lights. [Flying Through Auroras: Airline Carries Passengers into Southern Lights]

Dolphin Hat

Dolphins were observed shaking octopus onto the water’s surface, and tossing their prey several meters into the air multiple times to help break-down and tenderize the animal before eating it.

(Image credit: Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit)

The new spring trend in haberdashery? No, this is a dolphin tenderizing its dinner. In April, researchers observed bottlenose dolphins near Australia shaking and tossing octopuses in the air. Octopuses that aren't broken down might cling to the dolphin's throats with their suckers, even after death, the researchers explained in the journal Marine Mammal Science. [Shake Well Before Enjoying: Dolphins 'Tenderize' Octopus Prey]

Plankton Harpoon

plankton ballistics

(Image credit: Urban Tillmann)

Microscopic weaponry studs the side of a tiny piece of plankton. This spear-like projection is called a taeniocyst. When another species of plankton prey contacts this taeniocyst, the organ erupts, shooting out a capsule called a nematocyst, which projects a dagger-like projection called a stylet into the prey. The plankton then tows in its meal like a harpoon fisherman. [Plankton Go Ballistic: Teensy Organisms Wield Impressive Artillery]

Clueless Jumping Spider

(Image credit: UFL/IFAS)

A male jumping spider attempts to entice a female as both perch on a leaf. Research released in April found that male jumping spiders are clueless daters. They attempt to woo females even of the wrong species, a dangerous game considering that female jumping spiders have no qualms about cannibalism. ['Clueless' Male Jumping Spider Will Court a Female All Wrong for Him]

Pink Floyd Shrimp

(Image credit: Arthur Anker)

Just a lost soul swimming in a fishbowl? Not quite, but this newly discovered species of shrimp is named after the band Pink Floyd. Discovered this year off of Panama, the shrimp (Synalpheus pinkfloydi) has one oversized claw colored bright pink. The shrimp grows to be only 0.2 inches (5.5 mm) long, but its giant snapping claw can create sonic booms in the water that can stun prey. [Loud and Rosy-Clawed Pistol Shrimp Named for Rock Band Pink Floyd]