From insects to plants and even the human eye, these images capture the illuminating and fascinating details of living objects.
The 44th annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition received nearly 2,500 submissions from 89 countries and selected the top 20 images.
This year's first-place winner is Emirati photographer Yousef Al Habshi for his photo of an Asian red palm weevil. This type of beetle is usually less than 11 millimeters long and is found in the Philippines. Al Habshi captured the image by stacking 128 micrographs on top of each other. "The main challenge was to show the black body against the black background without overexposing the skin and scales," Al Habshi told the judges.
"Because of the variety of coloring and the lines that
display in the eyes of insects, I feel like I'm photographing a collection of
jewelry," said Al Habshi. "Not all people appreciate small species,
particularly insects. Through photomicrography we can find a whole new,
beautiful world which hasn't been seen before. It's like discovering what lies
under the Ocean's surface."
Take a look at the other 19 images below and see if you can guess what the photo is before reading the caption. You may be surprised by what you learn.
Fern sorus — the structure that produces and contains spores.
(Photo: Rogelio Moreno/Nikon Small World)
Spittlebug nymph in its bubble house
(Photo: Saulius Gugis/Nikon Small World)
Peacock feather section
(Photo: Can Tunçer/Nikon Small World)
Parasteatoda tepidariorum (spider embryo) stained for embryo surface (pink), nuclei (blue) and microtubules (green)
(Photo: Dr. Tessa Montague, Harvard University, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology/Nikon Small World)
Primate foveola (central region of the retina)
(Photo: Hanen Khabou, Vision Institute, Department of Therapeutics/Nikon Small World)
Human tear drop
(Photo: Norm Barker, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Pathology & Art as Applied to Medicine/Nikon Small World)
Portrait of Sternochetus mangiferae (mango seed weevil)
(Photo: Pia Scanlon, Government of Western Australia, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development/Nikon Small World)
(Photo: Dr. Haris Antonopoulos/Nikon Small World)
Stalks with pollen grains
(Photo: Dr. Csaba Pintér, University of Pannonia, Georgikon Faculty, Department of Plant Protection/Nikon Small World)
Human fibroblast undergoing cell division, showing actin (gray), myosin II (green) and DNA (magenta)
(Photo: Nilay Taneja & Dr. Dylan Burnette, Vanderbilt University, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology/Nikon Small World)
Urania ripheus (butterfly) wing scales
(Photo: Luciano Andres Richino, Punto NEF Photography/Nikon Small World)
Balanus glandula (acorn barnacle)
(Photo: Charles Krebs, Charles Krebs Photography/Nikon Small World)
African green monkey cell (COS-7) stained for actin and microtubules
(Photo: Andrew Moore & Dr. Erika Holzbaur, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Physiology/Nikon Small World)
Varroa destructor (mite) on the back of Apis mellifera (honeybee)
(Photo: Antoine Franck, CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development/Nikon Small World)
Mouse oviduct vasculature
(Photo: Dr. Amanda D. Phillips Yzaguirre, Salk Institute for Biological Studies/Nikon Small World)
Breast tissue in lactation: Milk filled spheres (red) surrounded by tiny muscle cells that squeeze out milk (yellow) and immune cells that monitor for infection (blue)
(Photo: Caleb Dawson, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Department of Stem Cells and Cancer/Nikon Small World)
Amino acid crystals (L-glutamine and beta-alanine)
(Photo: Justin Zoll, Justin Zoll Photography/Nikon Small World)
Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) with venom on its stinger
(Photo: Pierre Anquet/Nikon Small World)
(Photo: Dr. Nicolás Cuenca & Isabel Ortuño-Lizarán, University of Alicante, Department of Physiology, Genetics and Microbiology/Nikon Small World)