|It’s Almost Certain We’re Not Alone.

The question is no longer, is there life beyond Earth? It’s a pretty sure bet there is. The question now is, how do we find it? Earth supports life in part because its terrain is rocky, and it doesn’t receive too much solar radiation. Its distance from the sun allows water to be in a liquid state. So far, 47 exoplanets have been found that fit that profile.

An illustration of a hypothetical exoplanet, lavender in color due to a pigment called retinal, which is able to convert light to metabolic energy.

The lavender hue of this hypothetical exoplanet, viewed from its icy moon, derives from a pigment called retinal, which is able to convert light to metabolic energy and may have preceded chlorophyll in Earth’s early history.

National Geographic

Order a subscription now!


|The Biggest, Most Mysterious Caves on Earth

Towering stalagmites. Colossal mushrooms of stone. Mammoth colonies of bats. In the often-obscure world of underground exploration, Borneo is singular. There is no place like it under the earth. The limestone underlying this region is riddled with some of the biggest holes, widest tunnels, and most mind-blowing voids anywhere, including one system with chambers so enormous a jetliner could fit easily within its walls with plenty of room to spare. More than any other sport, caving is about secrets and the things we endure to find them out. Sometimes all one can do is wait to see what the darkness reveals. Join now ›

A caver climbs the rocks inside the Credence cave system beneath Borneo’s rainforest.

Inside the Credence cave system, originally carved by subterranean rivers, and slowly pushed upward by tectonic forces which lifted it away from water and helped it dry out.


|The Mini-Monsters of the Rainforest

If there were a competition for the world’s weirdest insect, treehoppers would have a clear shot at first place. Many treehoppers flaunt outlandish outcroppings, such as helicopter-like orbs. Others mimic thorns, leaves or insect droppings. Still others impersonate ants or wasps. As their common name suggests, these tiny insects – none longer than a dime is wide – live on trees and plants worldwide, with nearly half the 3,200 described species inhabiting the New World tropics. Just one leaf in the Ecuadorian rainforest where this story was photographed could harbor more treehopper species than found in all of Europe. Join now ›

A bright green treehopper insect with thornlike barbs perches on a red leaf.

Alchisme grossa has thornlike barbs that may dissuade would-be predators. Perched on a red leaf after flying away from our photographer, members of this species are more commonly found on foliage matching their own hue.


|Behind The Masks

For some, Carnival season, especially Mardi Gras in New Orleans, means body-baring excess, bead throwing, and a raucous free-for-all where debauchery and excessive drinking are encouraged. But in parts of the Caribbean, Carnival – known as Carnaval in Brazil – is more than a glittery tourist draw. It’s an artistic space, a public bullhorn, an unapologetic expression of cultural identify and empowerment by descendants of enslaved Africans. Today, celebrations like Corpus Christi, Three Kings’ Day, and Day of the Dead take different forms across the African diaspora, but the festivities have common elements. Colorfully and wildly dressed characters blend Christianity, folklore, and indigenous perspectives in a ritual of spirited rebellion. Join now ›

In Guadeloupe, two young men stand in the sea, each with one side of their body painted, to represent both their indigenous ancestry and their Maroon ancestry.

The painted halves of these young Guadeloupean men represent their indigenous ancestry on one side and their Maroon ancestry on the other. They’re standing in the sea near Baie-Mahault to symbolize the more than 12 million Africans enslaved by Europeans and transported to the Americas across the Atlantic from the 16th to the 19th centuries.


Get a National Geographic Magazine membership today for as low as $19 a year.

Give a subscription now!