Michael AW/Wild Planet
Wildlife lovers everywhere, get excited: the Natural History Museum in London is running an exhibition displaying 80 of the best Wildlife Photographer of the Year pictures from its archives this summer.
Wild Planet is free to attend, and the 80 pictures have been chosen by zoologist and TV presenter Chris Packham from thousands of winning entries submitted to the Wildlife of the Year competition over the last two decades.
Chris, a former judge of the contest, said he made sure to include a "broad spectrum" when he picked his 80 favourites.
Wild Planet showcases a special selection of the past award-winning images captioned with the story of how they were taken plus insights into the species featured.
It will run from Friday 23 March to Sunday 30 September, from 10am to 17.50 (last admission 17.15).
Below are just seven highlights from the awe-inspiring collection. Enjoy...
Young horned katydid
Taken by: Brian Kenney
In: Costa Rica
Brian Kenney/Wild Planet
Brian found this horned katydid one night in the rainforest. "From the side, this insect looked like a simple leaf imitator," he said. "Its bizarre appearance only became clear on close examination." When he caught the katydid, there wasn't enough light to take a close- up, so Brian photographed it in the morning light the next day, then released it back into the wild. Katydid is the American name for bush-cricket. They can be distinguished from grasshoppers by their very long antennae.
Taken by: Manfred Danegger
Manfred Danegger/Wild Planet
Manfred has been photographing hares for 20 years. Sadly, opportunities to get shots like this one are rarer today as the hare population in Germany has diminished significantly. "During March and April, I spend long periods of time at a number of favourite sites," he said, "hoping to capture the courtship behaviour of this shy creature." The female, on the right, is letting the male know it is not ready to mate yet by fighting off its advances.
Mount Bromo, Java
Taken by: Dan Brooks
Dan Brooks/Wild Planet
Mount Bromo, in the centre of the picture, is sacred to the small population of Tenggerese Hindus who live in the region and make offerings to the god of the volcano in annual ceremonies. To the right is the more complete Mount Batok and in the background is Mount Sumeru, Java's highest mountain, which erupts with a great belch of smoke every 30 minutes. Although volcanic eruptions can be destructive, they benefit soil by adding minerals and nutrients.
Taken by: Peter Chadwick
In: South Africa
Peter Chadwick/Wild Planet
The leopard is the most widely distributed of the world's wild cats. It is found nearly all over Africa and in some areas there are so many they're seen as a pest. In others, numbers are very low, and in north Africa leopards are almost extinct due to habitat loss and hunting. "This cub was very bold," said Peter. "I often watched it at the entrance to its lair in the Mala Mala Game Reserve, amusing itself by chasing its tail or tumbling in the leaves."
The great mimic
Taken by: Michael AW
Michael AW/Wild Planet
The Indo-Malayan mimic octopus takes intelligence to a new level. In this picture it is showing its normal brown-and-white colouring. But it can impersonate the physical likeness and movement of dangerous or poisonous animals, such as lionfish, sole and sea snakes. It decides which dangerous sea creature to imitate depending on the predator it's confronted with. Michael swam with this one for an hour, watching as it changed shape.
Taken by: Jeff Yonover
In: Andaman Islands, India
Jeff Yonover/Wild Planet
This Asian elephant takes a daily dip with a handler and Jeff captured the moment it ducked its huge head under water, using its trunk as a snorkel. "Swimming underwater with such a massive land animal was unforgettable," he said. An elephant's trunk is an elongated nose, but it uses it for more than just breathing. It can pick leaves from trees, use it to put water in its mouth or to greet other elephants.
Taken by: Piotr Naskrecki
Piotr Naskrecki/Wild Planet
Armoured ants, as their name suggests, have incredibly hard exoskeletons and sharp spines. To smooth out the reflections from its shiny armour, Piotr put a diffusion box over this queen. "The ant soon made its feelings clear by bending its abdomen forwards, ready to spray me with formic acid," he said. "So I quickly released it." Once a year, each ant nest produces many queens and males. A new queen mates with one or more males before flying off to begin a colony of its own.
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