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Swimming starfish, a departing dinosaur and a lot of ice

The sharpest science shots from December and January, selected by Nature’s photo team.

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After spending December producing our pictures of the year, Nature’s images of the month returns with a bumper round up of the best images and videos from the past two months.

Dippy departure

  1. For decades, a replica Diplodocus skeleton has hung in the main entrance hall of London’s Natural History Museum. Now, ‘Dippy’ is leaving to head out on a tour of other UK institutions.

    Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

  2. The Natural History Museum’s Diplodocus is not a real fossil, but rather a series of plaster-of-Paris casts of a set of original remains — shown here being put together in London — presented to the museum by industrialist Andrew Carnegie.

    Carnegie Museum of Natural History

  3. Dippy arrived in London more than 100 years ago, in 1905. Its first day on display is shown here, although the skeleton did not make it to its iconic position in the museum’s entrance hall until 1979.

    Carnegie Museum of Natural History

  4. The museum is hoping that a blue whale can fill the sizeable space that Dippy will leave behind, both in the hall and in the hearts of the many museum-goers who are mourning its loss.

    Trustees of the NHM, London

Aerial arctic

  1. Opening next month at Bonhams Gallery in London, photographer Timo Lieber’s THAW exhibition showcases his time on the Greenland ice, and the blue lakes that are dotting the white as global warming increases melting.

  2. This image shows scientists from the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, UK. Lieber says of his work, “THAW is more than just a photography project – it is a collaboration between science, nature and our ability to discuss it through photographs.”

  3. Greenland is currently losing around 200 billion tonnes of ice per year. Some studies suggest that Greenland might have lost nearly all its ice in the past, an event that would raise sea levels by at least six metres if it were to occur in the near future.

Shifting sheds

Stuart Holroyd @outdoorstu

The British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI Research Station sits on the Antarctic ice and was designed to be movable. It is being relocated 23 kilometres away from its previous site because of a growing crack in the shelf on which it rests. But the survey announced on 16 January that it will evacuate all its staff from the base over winter owing to concerns over another crack that has opened nearby; the survey is taking measures to ensure that this will not harm planned scientific data collection.

Starfish swirls

Nikon Small World in Motion

William Gilpin/Nikon Small World in Motion

This video of water movements around an eight-week-old starfish larva won William Gilpin of Stanford University, California, and his colleagues first place in the Nikon Small World in Motion Photomicrography Competition, announced in December. Also in December, Gilpin and his colleagues reported in a paper in Nature Physics1 how these observations can offer insight into these animals’ lives and explain how starfish balance swimming and feeding.

Ant code

Beatrice de Gea/The New York Times/eyevine

Ant researchers struggle to distinguish their experimental animals, and so sometimes resort to colour-coding them with paints. These insects at the Rockefeller University in New York City are part of a project that aims to unpick the behaviour of ants.



Pictures of fiery rocket launches are common, but this one is unusual. It’s a rare shot of SpaceX successfully landing one of its reusable rockets on a ship in the Pacific. The vessel is named ‘Just Read the Instructions’, after an intelligent spaceship in a novel by Iain Banks.

Cold snap

Oksana Toskic/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

Severe weather in Serbia this month froze the Danube river in Belgrade.

Ultraviolet flowers

  1. Photographer Craig Burrows of Southern California creates ‘alternative-light’ images of plants — in this case, of a silk floss tree flower under ultraviolet light, which he put online this month.

    Craig Burrows

  2. Plains Coreopsis.

    Craig Burrows

  3. Blanketflower/Dragon’s Nest.

    Craig Burrows

Blooming marvellous

Blooms II - John Edmark

John Edmark

Artist John Edmark creates 3D-printed sculptures, which create strange animations when spun. This work is based on the ‘golden ratio’, a mathematical pattern seen in many natural systems, such as plant branching and some shell spirals.

Journal name:


  1. Gilpin, W., Prakash, V. N. & Prakash, M. Nature Phys. (2016).

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