These award-winning photos are guaranteed to make you laugh

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Focusing on gratitude has helped me through this year. And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to say that I’m so thankful for all of you in this feel-good edition of Wonder Theory.

Thank you for joining us on our exploratory adventures through the wonders of space and science. Thank you for taking the time to read Wonder Theory and share your thoughts – we love seeing what you have to say.

And thank you for being curious. I see curiosity as a gift. We all have it as children, but it seems to be one of the things that is easiest to lose as we age. It’s a true joy to stay curious with all of you each week.

In case you were wondering, astronauts also celebrate Thanksgiving, even when they are not on Earth. The International Space Station crew gathered Thursday for a special meal. They are used to breaking bread together, but one day, they may also be able to bake bread in space.

Fascinating stories like what’s on the menu in outer space are best when shared, and I’m never more inspired than when I can share what the CNN Space and Science team has learned with you.

Wild kingdom

Sometimes, tough love is needed. Chee Kee Teo won the Creatures Under the Water award for this photo of a mother otter teaching her baby to swim.

There isn’t much better than adorable animals captured on film during an opportune moment.

The winners of this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are in, and they are sure to make you giggle. The photos include a very uncomfortable monkey, singing fish and swing-dancing kangaroos.

In addition to giving you a good chuckle, and something to share with any holiday company staying with you, the awards support a great cause.

This year’s competition will donate 10% of its total net revenue to Save Wild Orangutans, which works to safeguard wild orangutans in Gunung Palung National Park, Borneo. Now that’s a good reason to feel warm and fuzzy.


Fossil finds in the Midwest may be hard to come by, but one dig site in Missouri is home to at least four rare dinosaurs – and there could be more.

Fossils from one of the Show-Me State’s dinosaurs, identified as the species Parrosaurus missouriensis, were uncovered in October.

The specimen of the duck-billed dinosaur was excavated after a years-long process that began in 2017.

The dig site could have more to offer about the ancient environment and exactly what lived there millions of years ago.

Other worlds

Our two favorite robot buddies on Mars, Perseverance and Ingenuity, took a selfie on April 6.

It’s the little chopper that could, and we’re so glad it’s still around. Let’s hear it for the Ingenuity helicopter, which keeps flying high on Mars and surpassing expectations.

We kicked off the Wonder Theory newsletter by sharing the excitement of Ingenuity’s first flight on the red planet in April.

Since then, the helicopter has aced 15 more flights, and it’s helping the Perseverance rover explore Mars in unprecedented ways.

Revisit the incredible journey of Ingenuity so far and revel in the collective joy we’ve experienced watching the chopper conquer the impossible to fly higher, further and longer.

Dig this

Sometimes, that intriguing find is really just a log in the lake. Other times, it’s a 1,200-year-old canoe. That’s what divers discovered and resurfaced at Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin.

The dugout canoe is one of the oldest intact vessels ever found in the state, which is extraordinary, considering that wood doesn’t typically survive in the historical record.

Those who built the dugout canoes in what’s now Dane County were ancestors of the Ho-Chunk Nation, often referred to as the “People of the Sacred Voice.”

For the next two years, researchers will work on preserving and protecting the canoe before it goes on display.

Going green

Christmas tree farms and markets are an annual tradition for many.

It’s coming on Christmas and for many, this weekend is all about the tree.

Some families savor picking out a fresh tree that will fill the house with the scent of pine, while others enjoy the dependability of a reusable artificial tree.

But if you want to be planet-friendly, which tree is the better option: real or artificial? The answer is more complicated than you might think.

Never fear: We’ve asked the experts to share the pros and cons of each to help you make a decision before picking out your perfect tree this year.

The wonder

A little more fun before you go:

– Australia’s Great Barrier Reef experienced a “magical,” colorful event this week that has given scientists new hope for its future as a haven for precious ocean life.

– A NASA spacecraft that will deliberately crash into a near-Earth asteroid successfully launched this week.

– Bidders are hoping to scoop up a rare manuscript written by Albert Einstein that offers a tantalizing glimpse inside his most popular theory.

Shopping for your friends and family this weekend? Don’t forget to follow the five rules for successful gift giving!

Like what you’ve read? Oh, but there’s more. Sign up here to receive in your inbox the next edition of Wonder Theory, brought to you by CNN Space and Science writer Ashley Strickland, who finds wonder in planets beyond our solar system and discoveries from the ancient world.