Up-Close Zebrafish Embryo Wins Microphoto Contest

Shimmering wildflowers and human skin cells are also top-10 winners in Nikon's "Small World" awards for photography on a microscopic scale.

Nikon has announced the winners of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. From zebrafish to coffee crystals to human skin cells, the top entries did not disappoint.

First place went to Oscar Ruiz for his microscopic view of the facial development of a four-day-old zebrafish embryo. Ruiz works in the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He uses zebrafish to study genetic mutations that lead to facial abnormalities such as cleft lip and palate in humans. The zebrafish selfie (below) was tops among 70 other winning snaps, those works besting some 2,000 worldwide entries.

Second place went to a veteran of the competition: Douglas Moore, of Stevens Point, Wisc. He took silver for his image of a polished slab of agate from South Dakota's Teepee Canyon:

Rebecca Nutbrown of Oxford, U.K., depicted a culture of neurons derived from human skin cells, and her microphotograph was good for overall third prize:

This fourth-place image of the proboscis of a butterfly in Thailand was captured by Jochen Schroeder:

Fifth place was awarded to Igor Siwanowicz, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Va. The colorful 100X snap is of the front foot (tarsus) of a male diving beetle:

Marek Mis, owner of Marek Mis Photography in Poland, snared 6th place for this polarized-light image of air bubbles formed from melted ascorbic acid crystals:

Seventh-place honors in Nikon's competition went to the Feltwell, U.K.'s David Maitland for these leaves of Selaginella (lesser club moss):

In eighth place was Samuel Silberman, of Yehud-Monosson, Israel. His winner was this striking shot of wildflower stamens:

Fans of a morning wake-me-up might enjoy this microphotograph of espresso coffee crystals. It was created by Japan's Vin Kitayama and Sanae Kitayama and took 9th place:

Rounding out the top 10 was this 200X differential interference contrast shot from Panama's Rogelio Moreno Gill. It depicts the unicellular organism Frontonia, including food it has ingested: