Nikon just announced the winning images featured in its 40th annual Small World Photomicrography contest.
These images showcase the minute structures, cells, and living creatures we might come across in our daily lives but never notice. When magnified, however, these tiny things are revealed in all their breathtaking beauty.
The contest is an annual competition that features the work of scientists and photographers from around the world.
First-time first-place winner Rogelio Moreno of Panama won for his image of a minuscule freshwater creature known as the rotifer. Moreno captured the tiny critter with its mouth open — a chance event.
“When you see that movement, you fall in love. I thought, ‘Wow, that is amazing. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. This is something very, very beautiful,'” Moreno said in a press release. “I hope now it can inspire others as much as it has inspired me — to learn about science, to look closely and notice something truly amazing.”
In addition to the top 20 award winners, we’ve included a selection of honorable mentions and images of distinction.
First-place winner Rogelio Moreno of Panama captured this image of a tiny heart-shaped freshwater creature known as a rotifer as it opens its mouth to sweep food inside. The name rotifer comes from a Latin word meaning 'wheel-bearer' -- when in motion, their open mouths resemble a spinning wheel (even though they are not in fact spinning). It has been magnified 40 times.
Noah Fram-Schwartz, an American from Greenwich, Conn. captured this shot of a pair of creepy-looking jumping spider eyes, magnified 20 times. Jumping spiders are known to have some of the highest-quality vision among arthropods. Awesome, yet terrifying.
Austrian Sabrina Kaul captured this rainbow-coloured image of an acorn worm in its larval stage. You can see everything from its cell borders to its muscles and eye spots in this image, thanks to the fact that it's been magnified 10 times.
This elegant image of a scarlet pimpernel -- a type of flower that only opens when the sun shines -- was taken by Jens H. Peterson of Denmark and blown up 80 times.
Nils Lindstrom of Scotland took this eery photo of three transgenic kidneys cultured together, showing the organs' colliding, branching, and collecting duct systems. This image was magnified 20 times.
Here's an up-close look at the veins coursing through a bright green mouse brain magnified twice, brought to you by Ali Erturk of Germany.
Caterpillars don't just have three pairs of regular legs. They also have extra appendages, called 'prolegs,' which help them scoot around by acting as tiny suction cups. Karin Panser of Austria took this image of a caterpillar proleg, magnified 20 times.
Wisconsinite Douglas Moore took this photo of a marbled type of rock called Montana Dryhead. Don't let its brightness fool you -- the rock in this image hasn't even been polished. It has, however, been magnified 50 times.
Italian Stefano Barone captured this image of a house cricket's creepy green tongue, blown up 25 times.
Paul Joseph Rigby of Australia took this shot of a daisy petal with pollen grains. Unfortunately for the daisy, this petal also has a fungal infection. This shot was magnified 10 times.
Dylan T. Burnette of Nashville, Tenn. took this photo of a rainbow-coloured crawling bone cancer cell. Protein filament bundles streak the inside of the cell, which has been magnified 8,000 times.
This image of a parsley ovary was taken by Meritxell Venrell of Spain and has been stained to show its nuclei, the command centres of the cell, in blue and its lectin proteins in red. It has been magnified 63 times.
Igor Robert Siwanowicz captured this shot of the long, delicate appendages of a common brine shrimp magnified 1,000 times. Doesn't look so 'common' here.
This image of circuitry in a DVD reader, magnified 100 times, was taken by Dennis Hinks of Cleveland, Ohio.
Douglas Brumley of Cambridge, Mass. took this image of the dynamic fluid flow around a coral polyp, magnified four times.
Charles Krebs of Washington captured this image of tiny sea-dwelling rotifers while they snack. The species forms a free-floating spherical colony. This image has been magnified 417 times.
Muthugapatti Kandasamy of Georgia snapped this image of the endothelial cells that line the inside of a cow's lung artery. The cells are stained pink for the protein actin, green for mitochondria (the cell's energy powerhouses), and yellow for DNA. Since it was taken using super resolution microscopy, this image was not magnified.
Italian Allessandro Da Mommio took this beautifully symmetric image of rhombohedral cleavage in calcite crystal, magnified 10 times. Calcite crystal is typically found in sedimentary rocks deep in the Earth's crust and as a vein mineral in hot spring deposits.
Honorable Mention: These cells live in the base of your brain. German Marco Dal Maschio snapped this shot of the transverse section of the brain showing its cell nuclei in turquoise. The deep red cells are Purkinje cells, some of the largest neurons in the brain. This image has been blown up 40 times.
Honorable Mention: Magdalena Turkzanska of Poland took this creepily majestic image of a leafy liverwort gametophyte with berberine staining. This image has been magnified 125 times.
Honorable Mention: Noah Fram-Schwartz of Greenwich, Conn. took this image of an ant eye in reflected light. This image has been magnified 20 times.
Image Of Distinction (IOD): Hungarian Chris Henstridge captured this image of immunoflorescent golden glia, magnified 20 times.
IOD: Russian Anatoly Mikhaltsov captured this kaleidoscope-like photo of a transverse section of beach oak twigs with scale leaves. This image has been magnified 125 times.
IOD: Philipp Keller of Virginia took this image of a live zebrafish embryo just 22 hours after it was fertilised. Since it was taken using light-sheet microscopy, this image has not been magnified.
IOD: Rogelio Moreno of Panama took this shot of a water flea glowing on a black background, magnified 20 times.
IOD: Another image of a rainbow-coloured jewel beetle carapace, near the eye region, captured by Charles Krebs of Washington and magnified 450 times.
IOD: Jerzy Gubernator of Poland took this colourful shot of Tradescantia zebrina leaf stomata, magnified 40 times.
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