Rat brains, bugs with gears and more in the winning images of Olympus’ BioScapes competition

by Gannon Burgett

posted Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 7:17 PM EDT


Olympus has officially announced the winners of its 2014 BioScapes photo competition. From rat brains to the birth of a fruit fly, the microscopic images captured reveal a strange, beautiful world to us that we could never see with our own two eyes.

First place in the competition went to a video of a fruit fly growing (still pictured below). The recording was done in 30-second intervals over the course of 24 hours. In it, we catch a glimpse of how cells divide and differentiate within development.

Development of a fruit fly larvae

Second place went to a colorful image of a rat cerebellum, glowing green, purple and blue. The image was taken at roughly 300x magnification using multiphoton photography, giving us a literal look into the mind of a rodent.

2nd // Mr. Thomas Deerinck // Rat brain cerebellum

From there, the images range in capture method and subject matter. The images were captured by scientists, hobbyists and even students. All of whom wanted to try their hand at getting first prize, collection of new Olympus gear.

9th // Dr. Igor Siwanowicz // Green coneheaded planthopper (Acanalonia conica) nymph with its gears.

One of our personal favorites from the winners was the ninth place image (pictured above). In it are the ‘gears’ which allow the hind legs of the green boneheaded plant hopper to take off synchronized at roughly 500 times the force of gravity.

Below are the top ten images from the competition:

3rd // Dr. Igor Siwanowicz // Barnacle appendages that sweep plankton and other food into the barnacle's shell for consumption.
4th // Dr. Csaba Pintér // Phyllobius roboretanus weevils.
5th // Miss Madelyn May // Rat brain cerebral cortex depicting cell nuclei (cyan), astrocytes (GFAP, yellow), and blood vessels (EBA, red).
6th // Dr. David Johnston // Magelonid polychaete worm larva from a plankton sample.
7th // Mr. Oleksandr Holovachov // Butter daisy at 2x magnification
8th // Dr. Matthew S. Lehnert // Proboscis (mouthparts) of a vampire moth (Calyptra thalictri).
10th // Dr. Philipp Keller // Neural activity in an entire zebrafish brain.

If you’d like to see the winners in person, you might be in luck. The gallery will be making appearances at three museums across the country. To find out more and see where they’re headed, you can head on over to the BioScapes competition page, here.