This strange alien-like creature is not a character from a science-fiction blockbuster but actually from far closer to home. The eerily beautiful image is of a water flea with a radiant green ‘crown of thorns’ to protect it from predators.
It took top prize in the 2009 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition, the world’s foremost forum for showcasing microscope photos and movies.
Dr Jan Michels, a zoologist at the University of Albrecht, Germany, took the honors for the photograph.
The image reveals not only the exoskeleton, but also interior detail down to the nuclei within its cells, seen as tiny, glowing blue dots.
The stunning and unusual depiction of a whole organism detailing both external and intracellular structures was selected from more than 2000 entries.
Any life science subject is eligible, and entries are judged based on the science they depict, their aesthetics (beauty and impact of the image), and their technical merit.