Nature can be undoubtedly beautiful. From hatching turtles experiencing sunlight on their skin for the first time as they emerge on a Mexican beach to the ethereal glow of the blue grotto in Capri that looks entirely otherworldly, the planet we live on can create some seriously stunning vistas.
But make no mistake, nature can also be utterly brutal. This doesn't mean it can't also be beautiful at the same time, so take a look at some of the most morbid but stunning images of nature we've found.
Every year, around 260,000 zebra, 470,000 gazelles, and an astonishing 1.6 million wildebeest chase the rain and the sweet new shoots it brings in East Africa. But with this vitality, comes death. And when there are over 2 million animals on the move, closely followed by a hoard of hungry predators, there is plenty of both. This image by Simon Stafford of a pile of dead wildebeest being devoured by hungry hyenas won the "mammal" category in Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2016.
Fox On Ice
This unlucky fox tried to cross the frozen Danube in Germany at a period when the water was just starting to warm, according to hunter Franz Stehle, who found the poor creature. After falling through the ice, the temperature plunged once more, making the fox into a popsicle, which the hunter used to warn people about the dangers of thin ice.
Bogged Down Sheep
If you've ever wondered how thousand-year-old human bodies found in the peat bogs of northern Europe still have perfectly preserved hair, skin, and even tattoos, then this image tells you all. The half-submerged sheep has had its back picked clean by birds, while the rest is laying in water that is so anoxic (meaning it holds very little oxygen) that any microorganisms that might feed off the carcass can't actually survive, preserving the body.
In northeastern Tanzania, there is a lake that is not like most. Rather than being filled with thirst-quenching freshwater, Lake Natron is filled with highly alkaline water (think 10.5 pH) that can burn the skin and eyes of some animals that touch it. For animals that die in the lake, their bodies can become coated in calcium carbonate, giving the impression they have been turned to stone. Photographer Nick Brandt recorded the morbid beauty of these animals.
Fox Eat Fox
For this one, we take another trip back to the Wildlife Photographer of The Year, this time with the overall winner from 2015, shot by Don Gutoski. He was recording how climate change is forcing the red and arctic fox to come into ever-increasing contact with each other, an event that usually only ends one way: the arctic foxes become the meals for the larger reds.
Rhino In A CT Scanner
Unfortunately some rhinos that are shot by poachers and get their horns hacked off survive the horrific ordeal, with truly gruesome results. But when this happens, vets in South Africa want to know the best way to treat them to ensure their survival. For this, they asked researchers to conduct CT scans of a rhino head so they can understand the inner working of their nasal cavity.