Shortlisted entries 2013

Metamorphosis revealed: time-lapse three-dimensional imaging inside a living chrysalis

Metamorphosis revealed: time-lapse three-dimensional imaging inside a living chrysalisMetamorphosis revealed: time-lapse three-dimensional imaging inside a living chrysalis
Tristan Lowe

X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) is an exciting technique where X-ray radiographs of a specimen are combined to recreate an object in 3D. Because the extent to which X-rays pass through a specimen is dependent upon the absorption of the specimen, this technique can be used to observe internal features. This is why doctors use X-rays to take images of broken bones. The attached image shows how a butterfly is cocooned within a chrysalis during metamorphosis. The image reveals how the main body, legs and wings are positioned while internal features such as the gut (shown in red), airways and circulatory systems (shown in blue) can also be identified and measured without the need of dissection that would kill the specimen. Because it is non-destructive, by taking successive 3D pictures (it can be used to collect time lapse sequences showing for example how a caterpillar metamorphoses into a Painted Lady butterfly.

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