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With a head like a fighter-plane cockpit, a Pacific barreleye fish shows off its highly sensitive, barrel-like eyes--topped by green, orblike lenses
With a head like a fighter-plane cockpit, a Pacific barreleye fish shows off its highly sensitive, barrel-like eyes--topped by green, orblike lenses--in a 2004 picture.

Photograph courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

December 2, 2009

National Geographic News's most popular coverage of 2009 scientific finds is swarming with megamouth sharks, giant snakes, a transparent-headed fish, and rare species rescued from obscurity—then eaten.

10. 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.

9. Ancient Gem-Studded Teeth Show Skill of
Early Dentists


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.

8. Alien 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.
See pictures

7. Biggest 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 climate change.
See pictures

6. Gold 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.

5. Oldest 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 everything."
See pictures

4. "Extinct" 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 Type Discovered?


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.
Watch video

1. "Missing 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.



NEXT: Top Ten Photo Galleries of 2009—Nat Geo News's Most Viewed >>

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