News’s most popular coverage of 2009 scientific finds is swarming with megamouth
sharks, giant snakes, a transparent-headed fish, “Jacques Cousteau” clouds , and
rare species rescued from obscurity—then eaten.
National Geographic Discoveries of
Ultra-Rare Megamouth Shark Found, Eaten
In March, the 41st megamouth shark ever found went from
swimming in Philippine waters to simmering in coconut milk.
Gem-Studded Teeth Show Skill of
The glittering “grills” of some hip-hop stars aren’t
exactly unprecedented. Sophisticated dentistry allowed Native Americans to add
bling to their teeth as far back as 2,500 years ago, a May study said.
Giant Snakes Threaten to Invade Up to
1/3 of U.S.
Nine giant snakes could be on the verge of causing
ecological catastrophe if they establish themselves in the U.S. wild—at least
two have already set up shop in Florida—according to an October report.
Snake Discovered; Was Longer Than a Bus
The 60-million-year-old reptile was also heavier than a
car, scientists said in February, adding that the fossil could shed light on
Rush-Era “Ghost Ship” Wreck Found
With boots thrown hastily on deck and cooking utensils
scattered, the last moments of the crew aboard the gold rush-era paddleboat A.J.
Goddard are preserved in the ship’s recently found wreck, archaeologists
announced in November.
Skeleton of Human Ancestor Found
There was never a chimp-like missing link between
humans and today’s apes, according to an October fossil-skeleton study that
could rewrite human evolutionary history. Said one scientist, “It changes
Bird Seen, Eaten
Long believed to be extinct, a rare quail from the
Philippines was photographed for the first time ever—then sold at a poultry
market, experts said in February.
3. New Cloud
Nicknamed “Jacques Cousteau” clouds, these “turbulent”
seas in the sky could be examples of the first official new cloud type since
1951, experts said in June.
2. Fish With
Transparent Head Seen Alive for First Time
Perhaps the most bizarre nature discovery of the
year—though Stephen Colbert put it a bit less delicately—a Pacific barreleye
fish shows off its transparent head and barrel-like eyes in pictures released on
February of the first specimen ever found alive.
Link” Found: Fossil Connects Humans, Lemurs?
The 47-million-year-old, exceptionally preserved
primate fossil “Ida,” unveiled on May 20, was hailed by some as a major
discovery in human evolution.
The publicity frenzy made National Geographic
News’s brief coverage our most viewed page of the year—and inspired a backlash
as some experts, including one here at Nat Geo HQ, suggested Ida was more media
event than milestone.