Incredible Photos of Tiny Animal Body Parts

Slate’s animal blog.
Feb. 28 2014 12:17 PM

Incredible Photos of Tiny Animal Body Parts

Inventions like the microscope and the camera have allowed us to discover parts of the natural world that had remained hidden for the majority of the history of humankind. The Nikon Small World competition, which was founded in 1974, showcases the best examples of photomicrography—images taken under a microscope—from around the world, and year after year they continue to delight and amaze. In 2013, the competition received more than 2,000 entries from 80-plus countries around the world. These images happen at scales so small the recognizable becomes distorted, abstract, and revelatory. Whether it’s a shrimp’s eye, a turtle’s retina, or a mouse’s inner ear, below is a selection of images that details the inner world of animals, their body parts, their inner organs, and the internal structures that allow them to perceive the world and function in it.

Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) seminal vesicle, 600X.
Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) seminal vesicle, 600X.

Courtesy of Barbara Laurinyecz/University of Szeged/Department of Genetics/Nikon Small World

Marine worm, 20X.
Marine worm, 20X.

Courtesy of Alvaro Esteves Migotto/Universidade de São Paulo/Centro de Biologia Marinha/Nikon Small World

Annulobalcis maculatus (parasitic snails) on Comanthus wahlbergi (echinoderm featherstar), 10X.
Annulobalcis maculatus (parasitic snails) on Comanthus wahlbergi (echinoderm featherstar), 10X.

Courtesy of Greg Rouse/Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UCSD/Nikon Small World

Abdominal segments of Diptera blephariceridae larvae, 40X.
Abdominal segments of Diptera blephariceridae larvae, 40X.

Courtesy of Fabrice Parais/DREAL de Basse-Normandie/Nikon Small World

Detail of Trichoptera nymph (caddisfly), 25X.
Detail of Trichoptera nymph (caddisfly), 25X.

Courtesy of Fabrice Parais/DREAL de Basse-Normandie/Nikon Small World

Rhaphigaster nebulosa (stink bug).
Rhaphigaster nebulosa (stink bug).

Courtesy of Kurt Wirz/Nikon Small World

Macrobrachium shrimp (ghost shrimp) eye, 140X.
Macrobrachium shrimp (ghost shrimp) eye, 140X.

Courtesy of Vitoria Tobias Santos/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro/Rodrigo Evo Devo Group/Nikon Small World

Enteric valve of Patawatermes nigripunctatus, a humivore termite belonging to the Apicotermitinae subfamily, 20X.
Enteric valve of Patawatermes nigripunctatus, a humivore termite belonging to the Apicotermitinae subfamily, 20X.

Courtesy of Laure Twyffels and Benoît Host/Université Libre de Bruxelles/Center for Microscopy and Molecular Imaging/Nikon Small World

Mouse inner ear from a Claudin 11-null mouse reveals the distribution of tight junctions (blue), 65X.
Mouse inner ear from a Claudin 11-null mouse reveals the distribution of tight junctions (blue), 65X.

Courtesy of Alexander Gow and Cherie Southwood/Wayne State University/Department of Genetics/Nikon Small World

Male Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) spiral-shaped testis, 150X.
Male Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) spiral-shaped testis, 150X.

Courtesy of Barbara Laurinyecz/University of Szeged/Department of Genetics/Nikon Small World

Butterfly tongue, 60X.
Butterfly tongue, 60X.

Courtesy of Kata Kenesei and Barbara Orsolits/Institute of Experimental Medicine/Hungarian Academy of Sciences/Nikon Small World

Radula (rasping organ) of the mollusc Buccinum undatum (common whelk), 200X.
Radula (rasping organ) of the mollusc Buccinum undatum (common whelk), 200X.

Courtesy of David Maitland/Nikon Small World

Pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor) eggs on stem of host plant, Aristolochia fimbriata, 5X.
Pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor) eggs on stem of host plant, Aristolochia fimbriata, 5X.

Courtesy of David Millard/Nikon Small World

Benthic fish egg cluster, 6.6X.
Benthic fish egg cluster, 6.6X.

Courtesy of Jaime Gomez-Gutierrez/Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas/Nikon Small World

Chrysemys picta (painted turtle) retina, 400X.
Chrysemys picta (painted turtle) retina, 400X.

Courtesy of Joseph Corbo/Washington University School of Medicine/Nikon Small World

Insect wrapped in spider web, 85X.
Insect wrapped in spider web, 85X.

Courtesy of Mark A. Sanders/University Imaging Centers/University of Minnesota/Nikon Small World

Juliana Jiménez Jaramillo is a photo editor at Slate. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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