Sharks, Bigfoot Lead Our Top News Stories of 2003

Ryan Mitchell
National Geographic News
Updated December 31, 2003

View a Photo Gallery of the Top Ten Stories of 2003: Go >>

Sharks and mysteries of the universe captured the imaginations of National Geographic News readers in 2003. The ocean's most feared predator and more unusual subjects accounted for half of the top ten news stories of the year and vied for the number one slot.

Our stories about Bigfoot, an alleged hominid believers say roams the forests of the Pacific Northwest, and the effects of the full moon on the behavior of animals and criminals alike, held commanding leads until late in the game. The search for extraterrestrial life using radio transmissions from space also made the list.

In December, however, sharks that ply the waters off the coast of South Africa leapt to the top of the most-read list. A Q&A with husband-and-wife photographic team Chris and Monique Fallows and two accompanying photo galleries surpassed nature's novelties with over a million page visits.

Plants and animals, space, archaeology, and paleontology are perennial favorites with News readers and rounded out the top ten stories of the year. America Online featured many of these stories on its welcome screen—and millions of AOL members clicked through to read the full reports on

Here, in ascending order of popularity, as measured by total number of visitors to each one of them, are National Geographic's hottest online stories for 2003:

10. Search for ETs Focuses on 166 "Promising" Signals
John Roach
March 27, 2003

Astronomers searching for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life wrapped up their mission in Puerto Rico to home in on some of the more exciting radio transmission to reach Earth. They collected data on 166 sources, exceeding their original goal of 150. Go >>

9. Weird Plants Taking Root in Everyday Gardens
John Roach
August 28, 2003

Some smell like putrefied meat, others have stalks reminiscent of male anatomy, and others are outrageously big, or black, or carnivorous, or explosive. The world is full of weird plants and more and more people are encouraging them to take root in their gardens. Full story and photo gallery: Go >>

8. Four-Winged Dinosaurs Found in China, Experts Announce
Hillary Mayell
January 22, 2003

Paleontologists in China have discovered the fossil of a four-winged dinosaur with fully developed feathers on all its limbs. The new species provides more evidence that birds evolved from dinosaurs, and could help answer the question of how a group of ground-dwelling flightless dinosaurs evolved to a feathered animal capable of flying. Full story and photo gallery: Go >>

7. Underwater Photographer On Swimming With Sharks
David Braun
July 7, 2003

Charles Maxwell is an underwater cinematographer based in Cape Town, South Africa. A keen diver and lover of the marine environment for 35 years, Maxwell has made documentaries for the National Geographic Society and the BBC. He talks about his life's work and shares some of his favorite underwater images. Full story and two photo galleries: Go >>

6. April Fools' Special: History's Hoaxes
John Roach
April 1, 2003

At first glance, the headlines sound plausible: Shark leaps from ocean to attack a hovering helicopter. Alabama legislature votes to change the value of the mathematical constant pi. But they are lies. Happy April Fools' Day. In celebration of the day, National Geographic News has compiled a listing of some of the greatest hoaxes in history. Go >>

Continued on Next Page >>




NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.