Another year has flown by (thankfully with less pandemic-related turbulence) and we find ourselves reflecting on all of the heart-racing, eye-opening, brain-melting stories from the natural world that emerged in 2022. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights from the year:


Earlier this year, hiker Dutch Faro showed impressive resolve when he found himself in a one-on-one confrontation with a mountain lion while on a trek near California’s Pyramid Lake.

Faro was filming views of the lake and its surrounding landscapes while jogging along a trail when a young mountain lion burst from the bushes and made a beeline in his direction. Initially uncertain of what was bounding his way, Faro explained, he continued at pace down the path before switching tactics and turning to face the big cat, shouting loudly in an effort to halt the puma's charge. The plan worked and the mountain lion retreated to the safety of a nearby bush. Faro wisely kept an eye on the cat as he slowly backed away.


Deep-sea biologist Autun Purser and his team were not expecting to make a significant scientific discovery when they dropped their specially designed camera rig into the icy waters of Antarctica's Weddell Sea. They were in the area studying ocean currents and carbon cycles and weren't really scanning the depths for icefish nests. But, boy, did they find them.

The Researchers discovered around 60 million icefish nests dotted over an area of ocean floor spanning 240km². Although the discovery was made in February 2021, it was only recorded in the scientific literature at the beginning of this year.


This is what you call being stuck between a rock and toothy place ... footage captured earlier this year in South Africa's MalaMala Game Reserve shows a trio of klipspringers staying firm on a large boulder while a pack of African painted dogs nip at the antelope from a tantalisingly close position on the top of the rock. 

Klipspringers – a species of African antelope with a mountain goat-like ability to navigate steep precipices – are no easy target for predators. Their nimbleness over rocky terrain tests even the most accomplished and determined hunters. After cornering three klipspringers on the edge of a boulder the younger dogs in the pack tried desperately to reach the agile antelope. But the bucks stayed firm and the dogs eventually abandoned the hunt, instead moving on to more common prey: an impala.


The sight of two American bison locked in a head-clashing battle for dominance is enough to stop just about any tourist in their tracks – especially when the skirmish takes places in the middle of a snow-covered road in the white haze of winter. In March this year, John Clark was travelling through Yellowstone National Park when he came across a pair of bison throwing down and stopped to film the brief brawl:

Bison bulls are polygynous, so they will mate with multiple females during the rut. The action usually kicks off in June or July when mature males start mingling in mixed-sex herds in search of mating opportunities. Much of the bulls' behaviour during the rut is just for show and actual, significant fights are rare, though they do occur if intimidation tactics fail. In the case of this snowy showdown, it's likely that the fight ended without serious injury.


Giant squid usually dwell in the deep ocean so sightings of these fabled creatures almost always make the news. In May of this year, a live giant squid (Architeuthis dux) was found washed up on a shore at Ugu beach in Obama, Japan. The little giant, measuring just over 3 metres (9 feet) in length, is considered small for its kind compared to some of its bigger tentacled relatives who have been known to reach a whopping 18 metres (59 feet) in length.

Being far from its ocean abyss, this giant squid’s chances of surviving in the shallow waters are slim. Authorities transported it to a local aquarium.


Get a load of this spotty character. Recreational divers exploring waters off the coast of Honduras earlier this year came across a particularly unusual-looking nurse shark. Instead of the uniform brown typical of the species, this individual looked more like a speckled egg. It was later determined that the shark was exhibiting signs of piebaldism – a genetic condition that results in a partial lack of body pigmentation.

Skin pigmentation deficiencies are particularly rare in marine animals. According to researchers from Beneath The Waves (BTW) who – together with members of the Caribbean Shark Coalition – wrote a research paper on the oddly coloured nurse shark, this is the first time piebaldism has been documented in the species


For lions that live in Botswana's Okavango Delta, water crossings are a necessity. But things don't always go to plan. While attempting to wade across a deep waterway earlier this year a lion found himself in a high-stakes tussle with a territorial hippo.

The action was filmed by Jon Leman – a guest at Great Plains Conservation's Selinda Camp situated in a private 130,000-hectare reserve sandwiched between the water systems of the Okavango Delta and Linyanti River  – and shows a trio of male lions attempting to wade across the water when a hippo spots the cats and motors in to see them off.

As the hippo charges in, one of the lions abandons the crossing and turns tail leaving the other two to deal with the belligerent beast. Mouth agape, the hippo thrusts itself at one of the lions forcing the cat to porpoise its way out of the water, growling all the while in discontent. Luckily for the lion the hippo seemed happy to simply see off the threat and did not chomp down on the cat allowing it to escape uninjured.   

snot-eating Lemur

For the first time ever, an aye-aye – a species of endangered lemur from Madagascar that looks a bit like the koala’s meth-addicted cousin – was recorded this year slipping a spindly middle finger into its nose and gobbling up the slimy rewards (be warned: this cannot be unseen).

Filmed by University of Bern biologist Anne-Claire Fabre, the culprit in the clip is an aye-aye named Kali who lives at the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina and now goes down in history as the first of her species busted with a finger in her schnoz. A CT scan revealed that the aye-aye's finger could reach through its nose almost to the back of its throat! That’s some next-level nose mining. 

Nose picking has been recorded in 12 primate species (including humans), but the reasons for the behaviour are not fully understood. Relieving a blockage, gaining nutrition and supporting the immune system have all been suggested as possible explanations, but none of these theories have been conclusively proven.

Top header image: Angell Williams, Flickr