To highlight our rich and wild world, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released its favorite images of 2018 taken by scientists working around the world as part of the organization's Global Conservation Program. The photos take us from the remote reaches of the Amazonian rainforest to the urban hub of New York City, across to Asia and south to Africa, for a window into how some of the most well-known and bizarre creatures interact with the Earth.
In an effort to save wildlife and wild places, WCS contributes to conservation and science through its Global Conservation Program present in nearly 60 nations, all the world's oceans, and five wildlife parks in New York City.
So kick back, take a deep breath, and give yourself a few scroll-worthy moments to relish in all the amazing creatures our planet is home to.
Marine scientists with WCS were surveying for marine mammals and other species off the coast of New York City when they found a group of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) feeding. Although they can grow to the size of a school bus and are one of the ocean's largest animals, humpback whales feed on some of the smallest marine organisms, including plankton, krill, and small fish.
It's not a worm and no, it's not a snake either. Pictured is a worm-like amphibian known as the Fisher's caecilian (Boulengarula fischeri). Earlier this year, a study found that this rare animal, which is only found in Rwanda, and nearly 50 percent of the mammals, birds, plants, and other species found in Africa's Albertine Rift could go extinct in the next century due to climate change.
Happy Birthday, Kingo
In June, the world celebrated the 40th birthday (give or take a few years) of a silverback western lowland gorilla (gorilla gorilla gorilla) named Kingo, who calls the Republic of Congo home. A few months before, we all watched as Kingo's baby-momma bounced their newborn baby in the air as the two seemingly played a very impressive game of airplane.
New To Science
The whiptail lizard (genus Kentropyx) is one of 124 potentially new species discovered during a 2.5-year expedition across 15 remote sites in Bolivia's Madidi National Park.
Puff The Magic Elephant
Captured in India, this one-of-a-kind photo shows an Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) picking up ash with its trunk, closing its mouth, and blowing it back out in a cloud of smoke. According to the organization, charcoal may provide medicinal value and can also serve as a laxative – but really, this just looks like a game of smoke rings.
Stork Brings More Storks
Last spring, Cambodian officials announced that since 2002, they have protected almost 4,000 nests of 11 threatened bird species, leading to the fledging of more than 6,800 birds, including black-necked storks (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus).
The enigmatic and seemingly mythical pink river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) is one of just seven freshwater dolphin species. Blind and solitary, their pink hue still mystifies scientists.
Two Trunks Are Better Than One
A rare pair of twin elephant calves were born last April in Tanzania's Tarangire National Park.
Hammer-Headed Fruit Bat
With the second worst Ebola outbreak sweeping across the Democratic Republic of Congo this year, researchers have teamed up to understand how the deadly virus is transmitted by placing GPS collars on bats, which are thought to be asymptomatic reservoirs, including the hammer-headed fruit bat (Hypsignathus monstrosus).