Our favorite Science  photos of 2017

The pictures that wowed us, and made us think

This year, our pictures told some powerful stories. Our digital media team collectively published more than 2800 images in 2017, showing us the impact science had on the world and our daily lives. Here are some of our favorites.

baby howler monkey
hand holding honeycomb
feathers on a bird
migrants on a boat
a mother holding her child
glacier moving across water
protesters holding a sign in front of the U.S. Capitol
a variety of eggs
two spiders
girls jumping rope
a cataract
a crocodile
a large device traveling through a small crowded town
a fly in a bubble
an erupting volcano with lightning

Howler monkeys give clues to yellow fever

Juan Carlos Munoz/NPL/Minden Pictures

A baby black-and-gold howler monkey held close by its mother. The howler monkey population can serve as an indicator of the spread of yellow fever. Brazil suffered from its largest outbreak in more than 70 years with 792 confirmed cases.

Seasons of the gut

Matthieu Paley/National Geographic Creative

In Tanzania, a Hadza gatherer holds out a piece of honeycomb. Scientists are learning how our seasonal diet can shape the bacteria in our intestines—collectively known as the microbiome—by comparing the guts of people like the Hadza to those who live in the industrialized world.

Where do feathers grow?

Bill Coster/FLPA/Minden Pictures

The feathers of a gold-laced orpington hen. A study published this year reveals how the body decides where to put feathers—or hair—on its skin.

Great migrations

© Massimo Sestini

African and Syrian migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Humans are more mobile than ever before, creating challenges for local communities and the migrants themselves. Scientists are among those who are the most traveled and displaced.


John Moore/Getty Images

In Monrovia a mother holds her child standing on top of their mattress. Scientists are learning more about how local community involvement and inequalities in health systems can change the course of infectious diseases.

Surging glaciers

Heïdi Sevestre

The Wahlenbergbreen glacier on the Svalbard archipelago in Norway moves up to 9 meters a day. Glacier mass and shape and climate change spark massive surges that shove walls of ice over lands, and even villages, in fatal and destructive events.

The March for Science

Bill Douthitt/AAAS

On 22 April, in the first ever March for Science, supporters of the scientific community took to the streets in more than 600 locations across the world. Even in the pouring rain, more than 100,000 participants turned out for the march in Washington, D.C.

Why so many egg shapes?

© Frans Lanting

A collection of eggs from the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology collection showing a variety of shapes, patterns, and colors. New research unravels the mystery of why bird eggs are shaped so differently.

A closer look at spiders

Tim Flach/Getty Images

A Goliath bird-eating spider (left) and brown recluse spider (right). In a special feature investigation, Science reporters dove into the world of spiders, revealing how they make their silk, where their venom comes from, and how this weird and wild group of arachnids evolved.

Crisis in Nigeria

Andrew Esiebo/AP Images for Science Magazine

Children play in a safe area at the Muna Garage camp in the state of Borno in Nigeria. Families fleeing from the militant group Boko Haram have suffered from severe malnutrition and infectious diseases such as measles, malaria, and polio, hitting children especially hard.

Juno trains its eye on Jupiter

NASA/SwRI/MSSS/JPL-Caltech/Betsy Asher Hall, Gervasio Robles, Candy Hansen, Koji Kuramura, Eric De Jong, Scott Bolton

Cyclones measuring more than 1000 kilometers across swirl around the south pole of Jupiter. It took NASA’s Juno spacecraft three different orbits to capture imagery like this.

Hope for cataracts

Paul Whitten/Science Source

A cataract clouding the lens of a human eye. About one in six Americans over the age of 40 develop cataracts, caused by clumping proteins. Researchers may have developed a new method of regenerating the lens from stem cells. The technique will be tested in clinical trials next year.

Macho crocs

Robert Blanken

On Costa Rica’s Tárcoles River, an American crocodile sits in water. At night in the muddy banks, researchers have been catching crocodiles to determine their sex. They suspect a synthetic steroid has been causing them to switch sexes.

A tight squeeze

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

The vacuum chamber of the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino device, designed to measure the mass of the elusive neutrino, clears the small town of Leopoldshafen, Germany, with only 5 centimeters to spare. The chamber traveled a long 8800 kilometers by sea from Deggendorf to Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.

Insect submarine


An alkali fly underwater in California’s Mono Lake. The fly’s hairs and waxy coat trap air to form a bubble—the only way it can survive in the otherwise inhospitable lake.


D. Basualto, Southern Andes Volcano Observatory (OVDAS), Sernageomin, Chile

A violent volcanic eruption in Cordon Caulle, Chile. Explosions like this are helping scientists understand how and why volcanoes erupt.