It takes some time for a viewer to make sense of Michael Frank's photograph of a mare's uterus. In it, a fetus is removed from the mother's womb, and yet still attached by ethereal membranes and a twisted umbilical cord. The fetus' hind legs are the only things to suggest it's a horse.
The ghostly—and perhaps ghastly—image is among this year's winners of the Wellcome Image Awards. The 19 other winning images, including a goat stomach, a cat tongue, the compound eye of a greenfly and an elderly woman's curved spine, highlight some of the most stunning micrographs, illustrations and MRI scans in biomedical research and healthcare today.
Since 1997, a panel of judges has selected the "most informative, striking and technically excellent" images acquired that year by the Wellcome Library for its medical collection. For this installment of the contest, the nine scientists, photo editors and science writers on the panel will name an overall winner on March 18. The entire group of 20 images will be displayed at the Wellcome Trust headquarters in London, as well as 10 other museums, universities and galleries around the world. In the United States, the exhibitions will be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
"The breathtaking riches of the imagery that science generates are so important in telling stories about research and helping us to understand often abstract concepts," scientist and broadcaster Adam Rutherford, a member of the judging panel, said in a press release. "It's not just about imaging the very small either, it's about understanding life, death, sex and disease: the cornerstones of drama and art."