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100 Best Science Photos of 2018

Sneezing deer

white deer sneezing

(Image credit: Oban van Shie)

Ah-choo! Hobbyist nature photographer Oban van Shie caught quite a sight while strolling strolling through Bradgate park in Leicestershire, England in September: a snow-white buck resting in the tall, green grass. He started snapping picture after picture of the buck from afar. When he got home, he realized he'd captured a treasure: an image of this glorious deer — eyes clenched, mouth cracked, tongue lolling — mid-sneeze.

Blue buttons

Blue button

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

With tentacles that look more like a finely beaded necklace for royalty than stingers, jellyfish-like creatures called blue buttons (Porpita porpita), surprised residents when they began washing ashore on New Jersey beaches in the fall. Turns out, Hurricane Florence carried the tropical animals out of the Gulf Stream, pushing and them northward up the East Coast.

Quintuple rainbow

John Entwistle captured this gorgeous supernumerary rainbow while shooting a sunset in New Jersey.

(Image credit: John Entwistle)

While shooting a sunset in New Jersey this fall, photographer John Entwistle was greeted by a sky painted with what looked like a set of five rainbows. Supernumerary rainbows like this one consist of a primary rainbow (the brightest of the bunch) along with at least two other rainbows that are generally less vivid. In Entwistle's case, five supernumerary rainbows were visible.

NIkon small world

Metapocyrtus subquadrulifer beetle eye

(Image credit: Courtesy of Nikon Small World)

Photographer Yousef Al Habshi of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates snagged first prize in the annual Nikon Small World microphotography challenge, in which photographers captured amazing shots of objects too small to be seen without a microscope. In Habshi's case, he captured the pitch-black compound eye of an Asian red palm weevil (Metapocyrtus subquadrulifer), ringed by tiny yellow hairs and a valley of emerald-green scales that seem to glow.

Freakishly square iceberg

NASA's IceBridge project captured this view of a strange rectangular-shaped iceberg in Antarctica in October 2018.

(Image credit: NASA IceBridge)

Look at this amazingly rectangular iceberg. An object of near geometric perfection jutting into a polar sea of the usual squiggly, chaotic randomness of the natural world. NASA tweeted an image of the incredible iceberg on Oct. 17, and it left Live Science wondering: How the heck did this even happen? It turns out that the iceberg formed by a process that's fairly common along the edges of icebergs. The rectangular sheet of ice is what's known as a "tabular iceberg," a wide, flat sheetcake-like block of ice that splits from the edge of an ice shelf.

Baby octopus

(Image credit: Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park Hawaii)

If this tiny baby octopus doesn't make you squee, what will? This pea-size cephalopod was spotted hitching a ride on a piece of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean in August, according to researchers at Hawaii's Kaloko-Honokokau National Historical Park, who posted photos on Facebook. The babies (there were two) were likely either day octopuses (Octopus cyanae) or night octopuses (Callistoctopus ornatus), Sallie Beavers, a marine ecologist with the park, told the Associated Press. Either way, they won't be small for long: Day octopuses can grow to have an armspan measuring 3 feet, and night octopuses can have an armspan measuring up to 7 feet.

Headless chicken monster

(Image credit: Australian Antarctic Program)

Earlier this year, researchers spotted what, to some, appeared to be a headless chicken monster floating through the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. Of course, it's neither chicken nor monster, but instead a colorful swimming sea cucumber (Enypniastes eximia). Scientists spotted the swimmer using new camera technology that could plumb the depths of the ocean floor; previously, E. eximia had only been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico. While most sea cucumbers are spend the majority of their time on the sea bed, the swimming sea cucumber only lands to feed.

Glacial flour

glacier flour, greenland, glacial flour

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

Gesundheit? No, these NASA satellite images don't show a Greenland glacier sneezing. Instead, they capture a what's known as "glacial flour," a fine dust created when glaciers pulverize rocks. NASA spotted this glacial flour dust storm drifting over Greenland in September.

Roach kicks

(Image credit: Catania Lab, Vanderbilt University )

Hi-ya! If only this cockroach had vocal cords, that might be the sound it makes when a would-be zombie-maker (a wasp) tries to sting it in the brain. Until this year, scientists thought that cockroaches were all but defenseless against emerald jewel wasps, which turn cockroaches into mind-controlled zombies. Not so fast: They discovered this year these cockroaches lash out with a karate-like kick, something that doesn't kill their attackers but tends to send them looking for easier victims.

Deadliest cat

Black-footed cat, super cats nature pbs

(Image credit: Paul Williams/Copyright BBC)

The deadliest cat on Earth is also the most adorable. And no, it's not a lion, a tiger or a leopard, but instead a wee feline you've probably never heard of: the black-footed cat. Native to the grasslands of southern Africa, the black-footed cat has an endearingly round face and a light brown, black-spotted body that is small even compared to domestic cats, according to the PBS Nature miniseries "Super Cats," which aired this year. In one night, the adorable killers snag between 10 and 14 rodents or small birds, averaging a kill about every 50 minutes, experts told Live Science. With a 60 percent success rate, black-footed cats are about three times as successful as lions, which average a successful kill about 20 to 25 percent of the time.