Nikon has revealed its latest batch of photomicrography winners, with microscopic larva, predatory ciliates and beautiful fungi taking the top prizes.
William Gilpin’s video depicting an eight-week-old starfish larva, churning the water around its body as it searches for food, won this year’s Nikon Small World in Motion Photomicrography Competition.
Gilpin’s video arose from studying the starfish larva as a model system for how physics shapes evolution.
He and his colleagues were surprised that a common organism like a starfish could create such an intricate and unexpected pattern in the water. They recorded it, and Nikon loved it.
The water pulls particles towards the animal’s body, but it comes at a price: reducing the larva’s ability to swim and escape predators, while also broadcasting its current location.
“The beauty of this time-lapse video and the science behind it epitomises how video is not only essential to scientific researchers, but to inspire future scientists to explore life around them,” said Eric Flem, communications manager at Nikon Instruments.
“It is one thing to see a still image captured under the microscope, but to see this life in motion truly puts the intricacy and beauty of the world into perspective.”
Gilpin’s video saw off efforts from Charles Krebs and Wim van Egmond, who completed the top three. There were several honourable mentions too, with a selection featured below.
Gilpin hopes competitions like this will help focus scientists on the tiny matters at hand, giving researchers “a chance to share and explain scientific discoveries that we hope will appeal to many other scientists, as well as the public at large”.
“For us, it’s incredible and exciting that something as widely known as a starfish can exhibit an unexpected and beautiful behaviour, and we hope to share our excitement with others.”