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From an image of a puma hunting down a guanaco to a capturing of a mysterious deep-sea colony of garden eels, here are the best wildlife photos of the year, from the UK's Natural History Museum's annual contest.

All of the winning photos of the contest have seized upon moments that are both arresting and rarely seen by humans. Take, for instance, this surreal image from David Doubilet of garden eels popping up from their burrows in the sand that won the prize for best "underwater" photo. The photo, according to Doubilet, took him several days to shoot, as the eels would quickly disappear once they detected his presence:

© David Doubilet. All rights reserved.

Or this stunning shot from photographer Shangzhen Fan of a herd of chiru antelopes making their way through China's Kumukuli Desert:

© Shangzhen Fan. All rights reserved.

And this image of a a golden eagle in flight by photographer Audun Rikardson. According to Rikardson, it took three years for the eagle to become used to the presence of a camera.

© Audun Rikardson. All rights reserved.

Or this striking image of a puma attempting to hunt down a guanaco. According to photographer Ingo Arndt, the guanaco in this image was able to escape from its predator.

© Ingo Arndt. All rights reserved.

And then there are the winning photos that focus on the tinier beings in our ecosystem, such as this image from Daniel Kronauer of an ant colony in a Costa Rican forest.

© Daniel Kronauer. All rights reserved.

And this photo of a cypress tree in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, California that's covered in lichen and algae. The photo by Zorica Kovacevic won in the "plants and fungi" category of the contest.

© Zorica Kovacevic. All rights reserved.

For a more urban taste of wildlife, here's this incredible photo from Jasper Doest of Riku, a Japanese monkey that has been performing comedic routines in a theater in Tokyo for the past 17 years. Doest took this photo in part to shed light on the level of exploitation that has occurred with these once revered Japanese macaques. 

© Jasper Doest. All rights reserved.

And here's a sight that will be all too familiar to New Yorkers — Charlie Hamilton James' shot of rats in New York City. After spending a period of time photographing these rodents, Hamilton James says, "I started to respect them. I'd never say I love them, but I do quite like them."

© Charlie Hamilton James. All rights reserved.

And finally, here's the photo from photographer Yongqing Bao that won the honor of Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The image is aptly titled "The Moment" and captures a fight between a Tibetan fox and a marmot on China's Tibetan Plateau.

© Yongqing Bao. All rights reserved.

[See more of the winning photos here]

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