St. Bernard dogs are famous for saving lives and Barry, a St. Bernard from the early 19th century, is the most famous. Since the early 18th century, monks living in the snowy, dangerous St. Bernard Pass—a route through the Alps between Italy and Switzerland—kept the canines to help them on their rescue missions after bad snowstorms. Over a span of nearly 200 years, about 2,000 people, from lost children to Napoleon’s soldiers, were rescued because of the heroic dogs’ uncanny sense of direction and resistance to cold.
At the turn of the 18th century, servants called marroniers were assigned to accompany travelers between the hospice and Bourg-Saint-Pierre, a municipality on the Swiss side. By 1750, marroniers were routinely accompanied by St. Bernard dogs, whose broad chests helped to clear paths for travelers. The marroniers soon discovered the dogs’ tremendous sense of smell and ability to discover people buried deep in the snow, and sent them out in packs of two or three alone to seek lost or injured travelers.
In 1815, Barry’s taxidermied body was put on exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Berne, Switzerland, where it has stood for the last 200 years and remains today, standing proudly in the lobby of the museum.
The legend surrounding Barry was that he was killed while attempting a rescue; however, this is untrue. Barry retired to Bern, Switzerland and after his death, his body was passed into the care of the Natural History Museum of Bern. His story and name have been used in literary works, and a monument to him stands in the Cimetière des Chiens, a well-known pet cemetery near Paris.
At the hospice, one dog has always been named Barry in his honor and, since 2004, the Foundation Barry du Grand Saint Bernard has been set up to take over the responsibility for breeding dogs from the hospice.
Some look confused, others startled, but all of these incredibly cute dogs look just plain adorable. Wet Dogs is a series of portraits of dogs caught mid-bath. Bath time for dogs can be a vulnerable and messy experience as the expressions on their faces clearly communicate. These pooches are being photographed seconds before they shake the water off their fur.
Photographer Sophie Gamand’s Wet Dog series reveals another layer of the human-animal bond — one with shampoo mohawks and wet fur. The photographer wanted to capture the complex relationship between humans and their pets. Their is a lot of codependence between the two and Gamand wants others to see dogs for what they are: more than just animals, they are life companions.
A young Kenyan woman holds her pet deer in Mombasa, Africa; March, 1909.
Photograph by Underwood and Underwood
Womb with a View — Animals in the Womb
They may grow to be very different beasts, but these breathtaking images reveal how surprisingly similar the beginning of life is for all of us in the animal kingdom. These pictures were captured using a revolutionary four-dimensional imaging technology and anatomically accurate models. Scientists have managed to shed light on the magical world of mammals inside their mothers’ womb.
The animals above are easy to identify — elephant, dolphin, dog and penguin and are all shown by their similar stages of development. The Asian elephant fetus above is shown at 12 months in the womb, catching some shut eye before she takes her first heavy steps in the world in another year. The gestation period for an elephant is 22 months. The unborn puppy looks ready set to pounce as he will reach his full gestation period at around nine weeks. For dolphins, the gestation period varies with species; for the small Tucuxi dolphin, the period is around 11 to 12 months, while for the orca, the gestation period is around 17 months.
Scientists captured the images for a National Geographic documentary called Animals in the Womb. They were created using a combination of ultrasound scans, computer graphics and small cameras, as well as some carefully created models, to document the animals’ development from conception to birth. They provide an unparalleled glimpse into a world that few of us would ever expect to see — and what a miraculous sight it is.
Amazing Vintage Photos of a Traveling Circus
Appearing in the October 1931 issue of National Geographic, “The Land of Sawdust and Spangles—A World in Miniature” explores the whimsical world of the traveling circus. The circus, Francis Beverly Kelley writes, is “a complete world in miniature, exhibiting its geographical wonders within the confines of a vacant lot, loading itself upon its own railroad caravan, and building a new home in a new town every day.” Chronicling this “nomadic melting pot,” Kelley gives readers a vivid look into the life of circus performers, both human and animal. Click on each picture to read its descriptions. (via National Geographic)
A Real-Life Teddy Bear — The Adorable Baby Olinguito
Scientists trekking deep in Colombia‘s La Mesenia Reserve Forest recently spotted a young olinguito, a mammal that was just confirmed as a new species in August. Scientists say it is the first new carnivore found in the Western Hemisphere in more than three decades.
The new found baby olinguito, discovered by members of the conservation group SavingSpecies, is about the size of a kitten, so small that it can be grasped in one hand. Photographs of the young creature reveal tiny, curved claws that are useful for climbing trees and textured foot pads that help it grip branches.
While only recently designated as a new species, olinguitos have been hiding in plain sight for a long time. Specimens of the orange-brown creature have been housed in museums for more than a century, mistakenly identified as members of a related group of tree-dwelling mammals known as olingos.
An olinguito misidentified as an olingo even lived in U.S. zoos in the 1960s and 1970s, moving frequently because—not surprisingly—the animal wouldn’t breed with olingos.
It wasn’t until 2006 that a team got their first glimpse of live olinguitos in western Ecuador‘s Otanga Cloud Forest Preserve.
Later genetic analysis revealed that olinguitos are not only different from olingos, but also that there are actually four subspecies of olinguitos in existence. Unlike some other newly discovered species, the olinguito does not appear to be at risk of extinction any time soon.
Scientists estimate that there are probably thousands of the incredibly cute creatures living in the protected mountain habitats of Colombia and Ecuador. (via National Geographic)
The Best Wildlife Photography of 2013
The results of the 2013 Wildlife Photographer of the Year were announced October 17th and a number of phenomenal images made the shortlist of 100 photographs. The annual competition, now in its 49th year, is led by two United Kingdom institutions, the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide, who collectively received 43,000 photos from 96 countries this year. The photos will begin an international tour in the UK starting in November and you can find exhibition times and dates here.
The second and tenth images shown above, Mother by Udayan Rao Pawar of India and Essence of elephants by Greg du Toit of South Africa are the two grand title winners. The rest of the photographs are a mix of both winners and runner-up selections. You can read much more about each photograph at Wildlife Photographer of the Year. (via Colossal)
- Snow moment. Jasper Doest, The Netherlands.
- Mother. Udayan Rao Pawar, India. Grand Title Winner Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year (11-14 years), 2013.
- Fish-eye view. Theo Bosboom, The Netherlands.
- Freeze frame. Etienne Francey, Switzerland.
- Lionfish Bait. Alex Tattersall, United Kingdom.
- The flight path. Connor Steganison, Canada.
- The water bear. Paul Souders, United States.
- Feeding of the five thousand. Yossi Eshbol, Israel.
- Dive Buddy. Luis Javier Sandoval, Mexico.
- Essence of elephants. Greg du Toit, South Africa. Grand Title Winner Wildlife Photographer of the Year, 2013.