A Goat’s Stomach Never Looked So Good

Eleven venues worldwide will exhibit these 20 striking micrographs, MRI scans and illustrations—all winners of this year’s Wellcome Image Awards

Distribution of metabolites (small molecules produced while chemical reactions take place in a cell to provide energy) in cells in a mouse kidney. Visible blocks of color in the image may represent a single cell or a group of neighboring cells with a similar metabolic state. Jefferson R. Brown, Robert E. Marc, Bryan W. Jones, Glen Prusky & Nazia Alam
This anatomical model was about to be discarded when the photographer decided to rescue it and take one last photograph to honor the service it provided to medical students at Trinity College Dublin. Anthony Edwards
An interactive multi-sensory unit designed to provide a distraction for anxious children undergoing painful hospital procedures. The unit is approximately five feet tall and includes a bubble tube, fiber optic lights, mirrors, a solar projector and sound. Geraldine Thompson, CMFT.
An elderly lady with Kyphosis (curvature of the spine). Kyphosis is a condition causing curvature of the dorsal spine or "rounding" of the back and shoulders. A patient with Kyphosis (also known as dowager's hump) may experience intense back pain and have difficulty breathing. Mark Bartley, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Confocal micrograph of whole mouse lungs loaded with drug carrying microparticles (red/pink). The microparticles were also loaded with a fluorescent tracking dye so that they could be visualized one week after administration. Cell nuclei (blue) and cell membrane sugars (green) are also visible. Gregory Szeto, Adelaide Tovar, Jeffrey Wyckoff, Koch Institute, copyright MIT
Sagittal view of a healthy adult, living human brain, virtually sliced down a vertical axis dividing it into left and right halves. The front of the head is facing towards the left side of the image. Information on neural tracts in the brain were collected by a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that tracks the movement of water molecules within tissue. This method is being used to teach neuroanatomy. Dr. Flavio Dell'Acqua
Reconstruction of part of the nervous system in a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) larva. A single axon from a sensory neuron that senses vibration is visible in yellow. The points of contact between two neurons, the synapses, are shown in solid blue and solid red. The orange spheres represent points of interest on the neurons, such as the presence of mitochondria. Albert Cardona, HHMI Janelia Research Campus
Scanning electron micrograph of a greenfly eye. Greenflies (aphid) have a pair of compound eyes. The small protrusion coming from the side of the eye is called an ocular tubercle, and it is made up of three lenses. Kevin Mackenzie, University of Aberdeen
Differential interference contrast (DIC) micrograph of a minute parasitoid wasp, Wallaceaphytis kikiae, viewed from above. It belongs to the family Aphelinidae, one of the most effective groups of biological pest control agents. Its close relatives in the genus Aphytis successfully control populations of insects that attack oranges and other citrus fruits. Andrew Polaszek, Natural History Museum
False-colored scanning electron microscope of a brain astrocyte cell (green) in the process of taking up carbon nanotubes (brown). Part of the cell is cut longitudinally so that the nanotubes are seen interacting with the plasma membrane. Khuloud T. Al-Jamal, Serene Tay & Michael Cicirko
Reticulum (stomach chamber), goat. The reticulum, one of four stomach chamber in a goat, is lined with a honeycomb pattern. Bacteria present here cause fermentation of the food material. Michael Frank, Royal Veterinary College
Scanning electron micrograph of the dendritic tree of a purkinje neuron in the cerebellar cortex of a rat brain. This purkinje cell was filled with a visual marker. Prof. M. Hausser, Sarah Rieubland & Arnd Roth, UCL
Coronal view of a section of mouse brain that has been sliced down a vertical axis to divide it into front and back. To create this image, brain tissue was first rendered optically transparent in order to be able to look deep into the tissue. Neurons are color-coded by depth, from red (top) to orange, yellow, purple, blue and green (bottom), as you look into the image. Luis de la Torre-Ubieta, Geschwind Laboratory, UCLA
A 3D reconstruction of the skull and front legs of a tuatara. Tuataras are rare reptiles that once shared the Earth with dinosaurs but are now only found in New Zealand. Some refer to them as "living fossils" as they are the last member of an ancient group of reptiles. Sophie Regnault
A polarized light micrograph of a cross section of a cat tongue. This sample is from a vintage slide prepared sometime between 1870 and 1905. Blood vessels were injected with dye before fixing and sectioning the tissue in order to visualize the capillaries in the tissue. The rounded papillae (raised protrusions or bumps on the tongue) at the edge of the tongue can be clearly seen. David Linstead
A composite image of the head of a boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis). The boll weevil is a beetle which feeds on and lays its eggs in the cotton plant. They develop from egg to adult in 20 days. These agricultural pests have long beaks or snouts and can destroy entire cotton crops. Daniel Kariko
Pollen grains, Asteraceae, Artwork. Illustration of pollen grains being released from the anther of a flower in the Asteraceae family of flowering plants. Asteraceae are one of the largest families of flowering plants and are commonly referred to as the aster, daisy, sunflower, or composite family. Maurizio De Angelis
Human lungs in ribcage, Hodgkin lymphoma patient, 3D printed nylon. In this image, the lungs and ribcage are viewed from the back with the vertebrae of the spine clearly visible in the center. The 2D data contained in the patient's CT scans were converted into 3D renders by the artist, who was then able to print them. Dave Farnham
A 3D-structured illumination micrograph (3D-SIM) of a natural killer (NK) cell (left) attacking a susceptible target cell (less bright, slightly rounder cell on the right). NK cells are key players of the innate mammalian immune system and are capable of recognizing and destroying infected cells. NK cells produce toxic substances, which when delivered to a susceptible target cell cause it to self-destruct. N. Dieckmann & N. Lawrence, University of Cambridge
Pregnant uterus, equine. This photograph of a mare's (female horse) uterus shows the fetus removed but still attached by the fetal membranes and umbilical cord. The vast blood supply can be seen on the inner surface of the uterus. Michael Frank, Royal Veterinary College

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."

Get the latest Science stories in your inbox.