Back on the highway with his 1,600-pound camera in tow, Tim Samaras hunts for the elusive shot. China—On his way to second place in a bee-wearing contest in Hunan Province, a contestant disappears beneath a carpet of insects lured by a queen bee in a cage.
Spiritual WaysWith the reverence afforded a sacred being, Oglala men fell a specially chosen cottonwood tree and carry it to the center of a Sun Dance circle.
Faces shielded from the sun, digging tools in hand, Tibetan families can search all day for the larvae, called yartsa gunbu. Guided by the laptop weather map reflected in his window, Tim Samaras rushes to catch up to a dying thunderstorm.
India—Trees infused with sunlight dwarf an early morning visitor to the rain forest on Havelock Island. A ten-year-old girl's gloved hand holds the tiny, dirt-covered biological curiosity: Yartsa gunbu is a combination of moth larva (caterpillar) and parasitic fungus.
A ground fire ignited by a lightning storm near Elephant Butte, New Mexico, paints the horizon with brown smoke. Days before the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, rays slant into the Holtún cenote.
SODAThings go better with bubbles—or so it was thought by spa-goers, who often drank sparkling mineral water as part of the cure for what ailed them. On a photo excursion to Costa Rica, Lorenz wanted desperately to photograph red-eyed tree frogs. C-Boy (front) and Hildur lie side by side during an afternoon rain shower in Serengeti National Park. Guide Angel Canul is the last man out of Las Cala­veras cave, having made sure every tourist has emerged safely at the entrance some 60 feet above the water. Infrared light illuminates Hildur and a lioness from the Vumbi pride as they rest after mating. Archaeologist Guillermo de Anda descends into the Holtún cenote minutes before the moment on July 19 when the sun is directly overhead. CUPCAKEThe downsized cake made its American cookbook debut in 1826, says food historian Andrew Smith.
Older cubs like these Vumbi youngsters are raised together as a crèche, or nursery group. Their backs to the Pacific, 15 restored moai stand watch at Ahu Tongariki, the largest of Easter Island's ceremonial stone platforms.
While completing his master's degree in conservation biology in New Zealand, Goshgarian, 32, and a friend explored South Island in a camper van.
Tourists diving on Easter Island's reef encounter a fake moai, made for a 1994 Hollywood movie and then sunk offshore. On a clear evening the main crater of the volcano is quiet, exuding just a few puffs of steam.
Inside the ice caves the volcano's warm, wet air freezes into frost crystals that grow into different shapes, depending on how the air currents flow. United States—Though more than a century old, these bird eggs retain a fresh palette at the University of Nebraska State Museum. United Kingdom—A lone mute swan stretches its wings upon a brook as the mists of dawn filter through London's Richmond Park. The wall built by Roman emperor Hadrian runs along the top of a cliff at a place known as Peel Crags.
Elephants have miles of unbroken savanna to roam inside Uganda's Queen Elizabeth Park, where their numbers total 2,500, a dramatic rise after heavy poaching in the 1980s. The treasure's flashy ornaments announced the status of men like this aristocrat riding to war.
In a region bursting with people, a few big open spaces remain—like the Rift floor in Queen Elizabeth Park, pocked with crater lakes formed by volcanic explosions. Hadrian's Wall, named for the second-century Roman emperor who built it, stretches 73 miles across Britain. Mexico—Surfacing in warm winter waters off the Baja California coast, a gray whale flashes its baleen plates by a boat. Exhaling clouds of gas, a cauldron of lava boils in the mile-wide crater of Nyiragongo, an active volcano in the Congo that threatens two million people. African buffalo create tracks in the salty mud at the edge of a crater lake in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Alert to human visitors, a young mountain gorilla and its mother sit tight in Bwindi Impenetrable Park. Allagash RiverMoonlight bathes a birchbark canoe on Maine's Allagash River, a tranquil spot for paddlers. In a surprising interaction at sea, colossal whale sharks home in on fishing nets near the island of New Guinea—and fishermen dole out snacks to the pilfering beasts. United States—In windswept Iowa, ears of mature corn dry ahead of the autumn harvest. An ocean of green, Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world, with just under three million people in a landmass larger than Alaska.
Today in the arid Bighorn, rust red bands of oxidized soil mark the sudden warming that occurred there 56 million years ago—which dried up the swamps that had been home to reptiles similar to the Okefenokee alligator pictured here. Veteran guide John Robens (at far left) leads a soggy team through a moss-covered passage in Claustral Canyon, a few hours' hike from their exit point. Indonesia—A tender moment transpires between mother and infant orangutans in Borneo's Tanjung Puting National Park. Looking as if it fell from the sky, a 40-ton erratic stands on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State. In winter young whale sharks come to feed on plankton in the nutrient-rich waters of the Gulf of Tadjoura, off the arid coast of Djibouti.

Uganda—On a lodge terrace in Queen Elizabeth National Park, a photographer's butter and roll prove irresistible to the local lunchtime crowd. Rarely visited, the reefs off Saudi Arabia in the northern Red Sea are some of the most undisturbed in the region. Yeager Rock (at right), in north central Washington State, helped geologists map how far south the ice sheet pushed—and provided a surface where local graduates could paint important dates. A relic of the Iran-Iraq war, this oil tanker was scuttled near the Kuwait-Iraq border on Saddam Hussein's orders, to block access by sea to southern Iraq.
The erratic in the foreground tumbled from a mountainside onto Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska.
The ordeal of nesting over for another year, a loggerhead turtle paddles into the surf of Oman's Masira Island. Blindfolded and tranquilized, a black rhino is airlifted in a ten-minute helicopter ride from South Africa's Eastern Cape Province to a waiting truck that will deliver it to a new home some 900 miles away. United States—With aquatic tails plus full sets of legs, western spadefoot tadpoles display the magic of metamorphosis. A melting iceberg, calved from the snout of Alaska's Mendenhall Glacier, carries a passenger just a bit farther.
A rare view of the epic ridge on the Chinese side of K2—so remote and difficult that most climbers tackle the Karakoram Range peak from the Pakistani side. A lone chimney is all that remains of a sugar plantation in Frechal, which was partially deeded to former slaves in 1925. United States—On Fourth lake in new york's adirondacks, a crush of 1,902 canoes and kayaks attempts to break a "largest raft" world record.
When chicks are a few weeks old, parents leave them in a crèche and go in search of food, taking turns returning day and night to feed them.
A tiny pinprick of light emanates from the tent of the successful summit team (on the peak at center left), signaling their return to the bivouac site at 8,300 meters after 15 hours of climbing. It took dozens of camels and eight Kyrgyz drivers to haul 2.2 tons of gear across the bed of the Shaksgam River to Chinese Base Camp.
Roused before dawn and herded into an enclosure to be banded, young flamingos huddle in Mexico's Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. Greenland—Snow-covered ice saturated with winter twilight sets the stage for recreational soccer in the village of Aappilattoq. Pigments in brine shrimp, abundant in the Yucatán where these flamingos were photographed, lend the birds' feathers their coral hue. After Brazil's coastal forests were leveled for sugarcane plantations in the 16th century, millions of slaves were imported from Portuguese Africa. Kaltenbrunner (in red), Zaluski (orange), and Zhumayev follow Vassiliy Pivtsov up a snow slope below Camp II. Spain—A poppy's ardent color provides the perfect complement to a brilliantly hued Psilothrixbeetle. Hennessy, 58, has "a passion for photographing wildlife, and anything strange and unusual." A two-headed albino Honduran milk snake filled both bills. The constellation of skyscrapers in Canary Wharf's financial district is a world within that world, built from docklands abandoned in the 1960s, when shipping moved downriver to deeper water. He hopes to be the first to photograph the split-second event that triggers a lightning strike. Rajan, an Asian elephant retired from logging, takes the stroll as part of his daily routine and occasionally swims in the Andaman Sea.
Tim Samaras and his crew chased the slow-moving storm cell until they ran out of road, and now can only watch as it moves on.
The 18th-century discovery that carbon dioxide put the fizz in fizzy water led to systems for producing soda water, then to sweet drinks like root beer, ginger ale, and cola. This once powerful city was built in about the ninth century, likely aligned with four sacred cenotes and with the sun’s seasonal movements. C-Boy feasts on a zebra while the Vumbi females and cubs wait nearby, warned off by his low growls. Vumbi females, stressed and fiercely protective of their young, get cross with C-Boy, though he’s one of the resident fathers. Cupcake gentrification spread in 2000 when Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw nibbled one topped with pink buttercream. Pride females, united in the cause of rearing a generation, nurse and groom their own and others’ offspring.
Local Maya got their drinking water here until about 30 years ago, when divers found bones. The inside of the crater looks like an exotic cheese, layers of ice alternating with layers of dark volcanic rocks, soils, and clays. At Milford Sound, "one of the most breathtaking places on Earth," he waited several hours for winds calm enough to shoot. This is one of the biggest on Erebus, but the flux of heat and moisture from below has collapsed its side.
The specimens, whose contents were emptied via shell holes, include a large one from a white-necked raven (far right) and five blue wood thrush eggs (far left). By tradition, the British monarch has the right to claim ownership of unmarked birds of this species in open water.
Outside the preserve villagers kill elephants that trample and eat crops, though attacks have diminished with the digging of trenches to protect fields from wild trespassers.
At the battlefield he would have dismounted and joined the rest of the warriors as they formed a defensive wall with their shields.
If protected areas hadn't been set aside in the Albertine Rift from the 1920s to the 1960s, conservationists doubt any large wilderness areas would exist today. It separated the civilized realm of Rome from the "barbarians"—restless Picts in the north.

The area's lagoons and bays provide breeding and calving grounds for the giants, which migrate from as far north as the Bering Sea. Eruptions have blistered the region for millions of years, since the African tectonic plate began to split apart to create the Albertine Rift.
When the park opened in 1991, villagers resented losing access to forest where they had gathered honey and wood. That’s what his home, near the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island, would have looked like 56 million years ago, when summer water temperatures at the North Pole hit 74°F. Canyoneers say even a relatively easy rappel like this one can feel like drowning in midair.
Typically an adult shark might cruise night and day at a sedate one to three miles an hour, sucking in enough seawater to feed itself. The arboreal species has one of the longest intervals between births among mammals, typically around eight years.
The Mediterranean metropolis of more than 850,000 is home to 100,000 foreigners from Algeria, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, and beyond.
East Africa is home to many species of weaverbirds, known for their skill in building nests. Sunlight penetrates deep into the clear waters, enabling lush gardens of corals to flourish along these wave-washed coasts. Kuwaiti authorities are reluctant to remove the vessel for fear of damaging the wetlands of nearby Bubiyan Island, an important fish nursery and seabird breeding ground. Sliding downhill, sometimes two feet a day, the ice will eventually crumble, dumping its rider into Mendenhall Lake.
Designed to extricate the animals gently from difficult terrain, the airlifts are part of an effort to relocate endangered black rhinos to areas better suited to increasing their numbers as well as their range. Just days away from terrestrial life, these pollywogs will not eat until their tails are completely reabsorbed into their bodies.
This rock tumbled onto the glacier back in the mountains and rode the escalator down to Mendenhall Lake. Here, members of the 2011 expedition ferry equipment to the base of the 28,251-foot summit. Rules dictate that the mega­ structure float freely for at least 30 seconds, held together only by hands. Though watched by a few adults, babies are vulnerable to predators such as dogs and jaguars.
Photographer Tommy Heinrich's 14-minute exposure was made from Advanced Base Camp, more than two miles away. On Ikaria island, he set his camera on a tripod and took repeated 20-second exposures, then combined 70 of them into a single frame. Athletic moves in bundles of warm clothing can prove more challenging than maneuvering on the frozen surface. Today farms like this one in the northeast near Rio Formoso produce sugarcane for ethanol, a major export.
Springtime foraging is common for the insect in the semidesert Bardenas Reales, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Because good territory is a precious resource, fighting and displacing competitors are part of the natural struggle. De Anda believes the ancient Maya built a structure at the surface that caught the rays the same way.
In the current TV series Cupcake Wars, dueling recipes feature ingredients like sweet tea and chocolate seltzer. Archaeologists have recorded the remains of more than a hundred people, usually shrouded by the water’s primordial darkness. By the 19th century all of Easter's moai had been toppled—by whom or what is unclear.
The power of nature is strong here: thin air and fierce cold plus the elemental force of an active volcano.
Beyond, a dreamscape of sea ice and ocean stretches to the mountains and dry valleys of the Antarctic mainland. In the distance, beyond another ice tower, the Hut Point Peninsula extends like a finger toward Mount Discovery. At the moment this picture was taken, the volcano was quiet, but it frequently erupts, hurling lava bombs high in the air. Today she's a post office manager, and her friends' kids enjoy playing with the dolls, dressed here in vintage clothing for a beach excursion. In the distance, sea ice, open ocean, and the mountains and dry valleys of the Antarctic mainland.
Today the park shares the fees from gorilla-watching tours with the locals, a small victory in the Rift's unending clashes for livable space. This group likely spends a lot of time in Papua's Cenderawasih Bay, making it one of a few places where the species gathers year-round. Oceans and forests absorb atmospheric CO2 but can’t keep up with emissions from stacks like this one (at center) at a coal-fired power plant in England—the country where the industrial revolution began. Far easier to navigate are the tight grids of farm roads crisscrossing the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles.
Packaged as a whole-grain health food in the late 1800s, cereal began to evolve in the 1920s into sugar-coated flakes, pops, and puffs.

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