Every year, Nikon asks photographers and scientists to enter their most magnificent microscopic photos into the Small World photomicography competition, and every year, they dazzle. Here are three of the coolest photos from among this year’s winners.
Jennifer Peters and Michael Taylor, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/Nikon Small World
First Place: This winning photo depicts the blood-brain barrier, the seal between capillaries and the brain, of a live zebrafish embryo. To produce the image, researchers genetically engineered components of the barrier to fluoresce under a confocal microscope, took a series of photos at 20x magnification, then combined the images to create this one. This is believed to be the first time the developing blood-brain barrier of a live animal has been captured on film.
Dr. Peter Jäger, an arachnologist from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, was just taking a break from a TV shoot in a cave in Laos—like you do—when he came across this gigantic harvestman, or daddy longlegs. A pair of its legs spans 33 cm, over a foot, from end to end, making it one of the largest-known members of its order, the opiliones.
Don’t take this the wrong way, arachnophobes, but it missed the record for longest-legged daddy longlegs by a centimeter. That distinction went to a harvestman from South America, whose legs spanned 34 cm.
Harvestman photo via Senckenberg Research Institute