Ole’ blue eyes: scallops and clams have unique ‘mirrored’ eyes

It may seem alien, but think about this the next time you enjoy a scallop or a clam: they might be looking back at you. Some species have tens of tiny eyes which line the edges of their characteristic shells. Unlike almost all other adult bivalves, scallops and clams can grow eyes which use a unique…

Water molecule tracking reveals intricate muscle patterns in a tiny heart

The fibres of a mouse heart resemble a neat bird’s nest structure, but their specific orientations and interactions come together to drive blood around the body. The individual muscle strands were visualised using diffusion tensor imaging, which essentially tracks the movement of water molecules through single cells, revealing their position, size and shape. The pattern of…

Photographer captures turtle skeleton and discovers a clutch of eggs

Ted Kinsman, professor of photographic sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology, found this unfortunate expired snapping turtle at the roadside and made it the subject of his next project. What he didn’t expect was to discover a clutch of eggs within, revealed by X-ray. Turtles may have carry up to 30 fertilised eggs from…

Sections through tough wombat femur show possible adaptation to digging.

Wombats are marsupial mammals that are only found in Australia. They are fossorial and dig out extensive networks of burrows. Wombats have a variety of adaptations to this lifestyle, which is energetically demanding and unusual in marsupials, including a  unique backwards-facing pouch to prevent young being smothered with dirt while digging. This lovely section, which represents a…

Dragonfly eyes detect up to 30 different ‘colours’

Our retinas contain four different types of light-sensing photoreceptor cells: rods, which detect low levels of light, and three cone cell types which detect red, blue and green wavelengths of light. These allow us to see in (relative) black and white when it’s dark, and in vibrant colour when it’s lighter. The wavelengths that different animals…

Section through a mouse vertebra

Section through the centre of a mouse vertebra, image courtesy of Michael Paul Nelson and Samantha Smith
 from the Nikon Small World competition.