The microscopic world is filled with as much terror and delight as the one visible to our pedestrian eyes. And for 47 years, Nikon’s Small World Photomicrography Competition has celebrated the tiny by showcasing some of the most memorable images taken under an optical microscope using a variety of different methods. Their latest annual selections were released this week.
The top winner is an incredibly detailed hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko in its embryonic stage of life—a feat that took many hundreds of photos to accomplish. Other images include the beginnings of a heart cell, a grotesquely beautiful slime mold, and an artfully posed daddy long legs.
Here are some of the top entries, along with honorable mentions.