Memorable Moments in National Geographic's 125 Years
From the farthest reaches of the globe to groundbreaking encounters with chimpanzees, NG explores our world.
In 1937, the National Geographic Society flag unfurls aboard a prewar Noah’s ark: The M.S. Silverash carried the Society-supported Mann Expedition to the East Indies to collect exotic animals for the National Zoo. Pictured are Dr. William M. Mann, Capt. Hilton Rowe, and Mrs. Mann.
Photograph by J. Baylor Roberts, National Geographic
In his favorite picture, legendary National Geographic photojournalist Maynard Owen Williams marveled how, in this Herat, Afghanistan, bazaar, no one blinked during the three seconds required to make the exposure.
Photograph by Maynard Owen Williams, National Geographic
Beginning in 1938, Matthew Stirling, chief of the Smithsonian Bureau of American Ethnology, led eight National Geographic-sponsored expeditions to Tabasco and Veracruz in Mexico. He uncovered 11 colossal stone heads, evidence of the ancient Olmec civilization that had lain buried for 15 centuries.
Photograph by Richard Hewitt Stewart, National Geographic
National Geographic magazine’s “Australia man,” photojournalist Howell Walker, types away in his “office” at Inyalark Hill, where he spent a week with Charles Mountford, leader of the Arnhem Land 1948 expedition.
Photograph by Howell Walker, National Geographic
National Geographic magazine’s Thomas Abercrombie, first correspondent to reach the South Pole, flies the Society’s flag from the Pole while reporting on the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58.
Photograph by Thomas J. Abercrombie, National Geographic
In the early 1960s, paleontologist and National Geographic grantee Louis Leakey and his family inspected the campsite of an early hominid at Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge.
Photograph by Robert Sisson, National Geographic
A touching moment between primatologist and National Geographic grantee Jane Goodall and young chimpanzee Flint at Tanzania’s Gombe Stream Reserve in 1965.
Photograph by Hugo van Lawick
Steve McCurry’s iconic photograph of a young Afghan girl in a Pakistan refugee camp appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine’s June 1985 issue and became the most famous cover image in the magazine’s history.
Photograph by Steve McCurry, National Geographic
In 1994, renowned wildlife filmmakers and National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert photographed an elephant at extremely close range in Botswana’s Savuti region, one of Africa’s last unspoiled wildernesses.
Photograph by Beverly Joubert, National Geographic
The “Ice Maiden” is the 500-year-old mummy of a young Inca girl found on a Peruvian mountaintop in 1995 by archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Johan Reinhard.
Photograph by Stephen Alvarez, National Geographic
Archaeologist and National Geographic grantee Richard Adams examined pre-Columbian Maya wall murals in Tomb One at Rio Azul in 1984.
Photograph by George F. Mobley, National Geographic
Sunset falls on Gifford Pinchot National Forest, named for the founder of the U.S. Forest Service and National Geographic Society board member.
Photograph by Scottyboipdx Weber/National Geographic My Shot
Research scientist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Albert Lin gallops across the steppes of northern Mongolia as he searches for Genghis Khan’s tomb and other archaeological sites.
Photograph by Mike Hennig
Marine biologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala dives with a green turtle off Cocos Island, Costa Rica. Sala leads National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project, which aims to find, survey, and help protect the last healthy and undisturbed places in the ocean.
Photograph by Octavio Aburto