The Hunt: An award-winning microscopic murder

14 Dec 2015

A weirdly hypnotic video of a predator hunting, catching and eating its prey has won Nikon’s latest ‘Small World’ competition, a celebration of all things microscopic.

Wim van Egmond’s video shows a ciliate predator devouring its prey, which he discovered when looking through a pond in his back garden.

The video zooms in on the large predator closing in on its victim, before engulfing the poor sod as it struggles. In this way, Nikon’s Small World in Motion Photomicrography Competition resembles BBC’s The Hunt, but only if you squint your eyes.

It’s a combination of gross and thrilling, with van Egmond only spotting the event as he tried to encourage a pal to use her microscope more.

“Wildlife is so close to us, yet most of us never look close enough to see it,” said van Egmond.

“A pool in your garden is actually a miniature underwater jungle teeming with life. If you want to see the world, your backyard is a great place to start.”

Close, but no cigar

Second place is a bit more disgusting, but only if you read the caption. The gut contents of a termite roll by your eyeline, with “dramatic lighting effects” and a “bold colour palate” helping Danielle Parsons catch the judges’ attention.

The gut contents portrayed in Parsons’ video include the organisms that help break down wood for their termite hosts

What is this monstrosity?

Third is the grossest of them all, the moment a parasitic wasp larva breaks out of its host and spins up its cocoon. This process is usually quite slow, but Gonzalo Avila’s video is sped up x64.

“Grim as this parasitism process appears, these wasps play a critical role in controlling the population of the aptly named Gum-Leaf Skeletoniser moth – a pest causing serious damage to Eucalyptus in Australia and New Zealand.”

A bunch of equally cool honourable mentions are included below, with the entire Nikon Small World in Motion Photomicrography Competition showcased here.

Main slide plate under magnification, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic