Top Science Pictures of the Year

Earlier this week, we posted our "Year in Shots," a collection of all of the ScienceShots images we've run this year. Here are a few of our favorites. Got one of your own? Let us know in the comments section! Also check out "The Top 10 ScienceNOWs of 2012."

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/G. Cassam-Chenaï, J.Hughes et al.; Radio: NRAO/AUI/NSF/GBT/VLA/Dyer, Maddalena & Cornwell; Optical: Middlebury College/F. Winkler, NOAO/AURA/NSF/CTIO Schmidt & DSS

No Star Left Behind. The celestial wreckage of the brightest supernova in recorded history, which left no star in its wake.

Credit: Christopher C. Austin/Louisiana State University

Smaller Than a Dime, Frog Is World's Tiniest Vertebrate. Paedophryne amauensis has taken the top spot as the world's smallest vertebrate, with an average adult size of 7.7 millimeters in length, less than half the diameter of a U.S. dime.

Nanoflower Isn't Just for Looks. Tiny floral objects may improve the stability and efficiency of protein catalysts.

Credit: Adeen Flinker/UC Berkeley

A Brain Wave Worth a Thousand Words. A network of electrodes connects to the brain’s hearing centers, allowing scientists to record activity while patients listen to different words. Each word generated its own unique pattern in the brain, allowing them to reconstruct what a patient heard just by analyzing brain activity.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Bingo! Ancient Rushing Water on Mars. Curiosity rover finds a textbook example of rocks deposited by lots of flowing water.

Credit: Guek Hock Ping

New Species Discovered, Thanks to Flickr. The images of the new lacewing, which has a 30-millimeter wingspan, were taken in a forested park north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by an amateur photographer and then posted online. An entomologist randomly viewing the images noted the distinct pattern of veins in the insect’s wings, which sport black markings and two white spots (see image above), and suspected the creature was an undescribed species.

Credit: Heidi Halbwirth

The Secret of the Black Dahlia. Rare black dahlia get their color from high levels of anthocyanins, the pigments that—at lower levels—also give orange and red dahlias their colors.

Credit: David Ainley/H. T. Harvey & Associates

Killer Whales Working Harder for Lunch?. Mysterious disappearances may be due to fishing vessels that are targeting the same large Antarctic toothfish that the whales eat, forcing the animals to hunt across wider areas.

Credit: (Molecule, Left) Silvia Vignolini; (Plant, Right) Paula Rudall

The Bluest Fruit. Although it doesn’t contain any pigments, the tiny fruit Pollia condensata produces the brightest blue found in nature.

Credit: Griswold et al., ZooKeys

Giant-Clawed Spider Is a 'Cave Robber.' The newly discovered Trogloraptor, or "cave robber" spider is so unusual it belongs to an entirely new lineage. The creepy-crawly derives its name from both its home home habitat and remarkable claws!

Credit: Illustration by Carl Buell

Lizard Named After Obama Died in Dinosaur Apocalypse. President Barack Obama survived a tough reelection battle this year—but Obamadon's successors got a postextinction bounce.

Credit: Roy Caldwell

How the Blue-Ringed Octopus Flashes Its Bling. One of the most venomous animals on the planet, the blue-ringed octopus flashes a warning before it bites, releasing toxic saliva through its beak.