30 riveting pictures from the Nat Geo photo archives

In past trips through the National Geographic archives, I’ve looked for photos that show some of the ways we celebrate events or that draw parallels between the past and present. For this month’s curation, I didn’t focus on one specific theme—rather, I chose images that provoke a sense of wonder and discovery.

Take Sisse Brimberg’s profound image of the 17,000-year-old animal paintings of Lascaux Cave in southwest France, which were found by accident in 1940. Or Maria Stenzel’s photo of two biologists suspended over Antarctic ice, searching for rare life-forms, which gave me a chill to see. And in Michael “Nick” Nichols’s 15-year-old image of Tai Shan—the first giant panda born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. to survive infancy—I still get a sense of hope for endangered species.

Whatever feelings these images provoke, I hope they resonate with you as much as they did with me.

Breann Birkenbuel is the editor for Photo of the Day. Melody Rowell writes and researches the captions.