10 Photos That Will Make You Appreciate the Stunning Diversity of Nature

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This 'innerspace' look at a flying fish captures its speed, movement and beauty. (Photo: Michael Patrick O’Neill/Natural History Museum)

For 54 years, London's Natural History Museum has sought out the best in nature photography with its Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, and 2018 was no exception. More then 45,000 entries from 95 countries were submitted, and the winners were announced Oct. 16.

One of those entries, and the winner in the competition's underwater category, is pictured above. Taken by Michael Patrick O’Neill in Florida, the image shows a flying fish in various stages of motion at night.

This photo and 99 others will be on lightbox display in at the museum before going on tour to countries around the world, including Germany, Canada, the United States, Spain and Australia.

'The Golden Couple'

A male Qinling golden snub-nosed monkey (left) sits next to a smaller female in the temperate forest of China's Qinling Mountains. (Photo: Marsel van Oosten/Natural History Museum)

The Grand Title Winner of 2018 was Marsel van Oosten. The Dutch photographer captured this image of two Qinling golden snub-nosed monkeys in the Qingling Mountains. The two monkeys are observing an altercation between two males from different groups in a valley below. Van Oosten worked hard to capture the image, studying the group's dynamics for quite some time before getting the winning shot.

'Lounging Leopard'

Mathoja the leopard lounges in a nyala tree in Botswana's Mashatu Game Reserve. (Photo: Skye Meaker/Natural History Museum)

People of all ages are allowed to enter the competition, and there are specific categories for certain age groups. In the case of this photo of a sleepy leopard, it was the title winner in the 15- to 17-year-old category. Taken by 16-year-old Skye Meaker of South Africa, the photograph is of Mathoja, a calm 8-year-old leopard. Like many of the photographers in the competition, Meaker had to wait until conditions were just right — in this case when Mathoja opens her eyes and the wind rustled the leaves to let in just enough sunlight — to snap the winning shot.

'Pipe Owls'

These two owls in Kapurthala, India, have adapted to urban life. (Photo: Arshdeep Singh/Natural History Museum)

And when we say "all ages," we really do mean all ages. This photo of two owlets nesting in a pipe, taken by Arshdeep Singh, won the 10-year-old and under category. Singh had to beg his father to allow him to use his telephoto lens-equipped camera to take the picture. Singh balanced the camera using the rolled down window of the car and a shallow depth of field to bring the two birds into focus.

'Crossing Paths'

A Marsican brown bear explores a village in Italy's Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park. (Photo: Marco Colombo/Natural History Museum)

Those owlets aren't the only critters that have adapted to urban life. Winning the urban wildlife category, Marco Colombo snapped this photo of a Marsican brown bear, a critically endangered subspecies of around 50 individuals, looking for food in an Italian village. Colombo had only moments to turn off his car's lights and change lenses to capture this intersection of wilderness and urban living before the bear ventured deeper into the shadows.

'Mud-rolling mud-dauber'

Mud-dauber wasps hard at work making egg chambers in Australia's Walyormouring Nature Reserve. (Photo: Georgina Steytler/Natural History Museum)

Sometimes you have to get dirty to get the winning shot, and that's exactly what Georgina Steytler of Australia did to snag this image of two mud-dauber wasps near a waterhole. Steytler laid in the mud to take this shot, clicking away any time a wasp entered the frame. It took hundreds of attempts to get this winning shot for the "Behavior: Invertebrates" category.

'The Ice Pool'

Crabeater seals circle an iceberg near the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. (Photo: Cristobal Serrano/Natural History Museum London)

From the mud to the skies, photographers did what was necessary to capture nature at its most compelling. This shot of an iceberg located along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula was taken by Cristobal Serrano using a low-noise drone. The iceberg was about 130 feet (40 meters) long and 46 feet tall. Warm air had carved out the heart-shaped pool, giving the crabeater seals a place to swim and rest as they looked for food.

'Mother Defender'

A large Alchisme treehopper guards her young while they feed on a nightshade plant. (Photo: Javier Aznar González de Rueda/Natural History Museum London)

Nature can be dangerous for all its inhabitants, so some parents are extra vigilant, like this Alchisme treehopper. Mothers of the species will look after their young, pictured here feasting on a nightshade plant, until they become adults themselves. Javier Aznar González de Rueda snapped this photo in Ecuador's El Jardín de los Sueños reserve. It was part of a winning portfolio that de Rueda assembled for the competition.


A hellbender takes a northern water snake as a snack in Tennessee's Tellico River. (Photo: David Herasimtschuk/Natural History Museum London)

Of course, vigilance sometimes doesn't pay off, and the circle of life rears its ugly head. David Herasimtschuk caught one such moment while on Tennessee's Tellico River, as a hellbender struggles to make a meal out of a northern water snake. The hellbender is North America's largest aquatic salamander, often growing to 29 inches (75 centimeters) long. This image, the winner in the "Behavior: Amphibians and Reptiles" category, is just a moment of the struggle. According to Herasimtschuk, the snake managed to free itself and live another day.

'Signature Tree'

A jaguar sharpens its claws on a tree in Mexico, a clear warning to others not to trespass on its territory. (Photo: Alejandro Prieto/Natural History Museum)

Like humans, other animals like to leave a mark of some kind on the world. This jaguar in the Mexican state of Nayarit is doing just that. While the tree is sturdy enough to sharpen its claws, it's also soft enough to allow for deep, visible gashes. These gashes, plus a pungent scent, tell other animals to stay clear. The image was taken by a camera trap set up by Alejandro Prieto for part of a photojournalism story titled "Gunning for the Jaguar" and was part of the winning portfolio for photojournalism.

If you have a particularly vivid image of nature at its most captivating, you can enter it for the 2019 competition. Entries will be accepted from Oct. 22 to Dec. 18, 2018 and can be submitted via the competition's website.

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