Microscopic Photos Show The Hidden Beauty Of An Invisible World

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We know that wildlife photos of large mammals and wide open vistas can be breathtaking, but you know what doesn’t get enough of a look in?

Close-up shots. As in microscopic, invisible-to-the-naked-eye kind of shots.


Enter the Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition, which celebrates images taken using microscopes and has today announced the winning photos for its 2020 contest. It comes weeks after announcing the winners of the video competition, which are equally stunning.

From orange microtubules inside a cell to the colourful tongue of a freshwater snail, and in no particular order, here are the top 20…

Hebe plant anther with pollen.


Hebe plant anther with pollen.

Image: Dr. Robert Markus & Zsuzsa Markus

Leaf roller weevil (Byctiscus betulae) lateral view.

Leaf roller weevil (Byctiscus betulae) lateral view.

Image: Özgür Kerem Bulur

Microtubules (orange) inside a cell. Nucleus is shown in cyan.

Microtubules (orange) inside a cell. Nucleus is shown in cyan.

Connections between hippocampal neurons (brain cells).

Connections between hippocampal neurons (brain cells).

Image: Jason Kirk & Quynh Nguyen

Crystals formed after heating an ethanol and water solution containing L-glutamine and beta-alanine.

Crystals formed after heating an ethanol and water solution containing L-glutamine and beta-alanine.

Atlas moth wing.

Atlas moth wing.

Daphnia magna (Phyllopoda).

Daphnia magna (Phyllopoda).

Bogong moth.

Bogong moth.

Multi-nucleate spores and hyphae of a soil fungus (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus).

Multi-nucleate spores and hyphae of a soil fungus (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus).

Image: Dr. Vasileios Kokkoris, Dr. Franck Stefani & Dr. Nicolas Corradi

Tongue (radula) of a freshwater snail.

Tongue (radula) of a freshwater snail.

Image: Dr. Igor Siwanowicz

Nylon stockings.

Nylon stockings.

Human hair.

Human hair.

Chameleon embryo (autofluorescence).

Chameleon embryo (autofluorescence).

Image: Dr. Allan Carrillo-Baltodano & David Salamanca

Dorsal view of bones and scales (blue) and lymphatic vessels (orange) in a juvenile zebrafish.

Dorsal view of bones and scales (blue) and lymphatic vessels (orange) in a juvenile zebrafish.

Image: Daniel Castranova, Dr. Brant Weinstein & Bakary Samasa

Red algae.

Red algae.

Image: Dr. Tagide deCarvalho

Ventral view of an immature water boatman.

Ventral view of an immature water boatman.

Silica cell wall of the marine diatom Arachnoidiscus sp.

Silica cell wall of the marine diatom Arachnoidiscus sp.

Embryonic development of a clownfish (Amphiprion percula) on days 1, 3 (morning and evening), 5, and 9

Embryonic development of a clownfish (Amphiprion percula) on days 1, 3 (morning and evening), 5, and 9

Chain of daughter individuals from the asexually reproducing annelid species Chaetogaster diaphanus.

Chain of daughter individuals from the asexually reproducing annelid species Chaetogaster diaphanus.

Image: Dr. Eduardo Zattara & Dr. Alexa Bely

Skeleton preparation of a short-tailed fruit bat embryo (Carollia perspicillata).

Skeleton preparation of a short-tailed fruit bat embryo (Carollia perspicillata).

Image: Dr. Dorit Hockman & Dr. Vanessa Chong-Morrison

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