Ralph Grimm, a teacher from Australia, filmed the tiny animals’ madly beating cilia, or small hairs, to win $5,000 worth of Olympus equipment. The rotifers use their cilia to create water currents that draw in food.
Branching red algae (brown) show off their reproductive spores (red), while golden diatoms—another kind of microscopic algae—cluster together like brightly colored leaves. This picture, taken by Arlene Wechezak of Washington, won second place. (Related: “Source of Half of Earth’s Oxygen Gets Little Credit.”)
Image courtesy Arlene Wechezak, Olympus BioScapes
A psychedelic image captures the reproductive structures, or spores, of a common U.S. East Coast fern, Polypodium virginianum. This photo took third place, adding to the record number of prizes won by photographer Igor Siwanowicz of Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His four other entries are honorable mentions, for a total of five awards. (Related: “Ferns of Rocky Mountain National Park.”)
Image courtesy Igor Siwanowicz, Olympus BioScapes
Despite its fearsome appearance, this wicked-looking claw belongs to a group of tiny crustaceans called amphipods. Female members of the genus Phronima attack gelatinous ocean creatures called salps, eating their flesh and leaving a barrel-shaped outer structure. The female amphipods then crawl inside and lay their eggs.
Image courtesy Christian Sardet and Sharif Mirshak, Olympus BioScapes
This single-celled green diatom won Rogelio Moreno Gill of Panama fifth place in the BioScapes Imaging Competition. Although many diatoms are found in the oceans, they inhabit freshwater too. Specimens for this composite image came from a lake.
This is what a mushroom coral looks like as it says “ah.” Known to prey on jellies, many mushroom coral species live solitary lives, unlike their colonial brethren. James Nicholson of South Carolina took sixth place with this extreme closeup of the coral’s mouth as it opened. (See more coral photos.)
Image courtesy James Nicholson, Olympus BioScapes
Researchers Christian Klämbt and Imke Schmidt of Germany won seventh place with an image of a fruit fly larva’s brain. Eye imaginal discs—clusters of cells that will form the eyes in the adult—are visible at the top of the picture. (Related: “Fruit Flies Highlight Aerodynamics of Insect Flight.”)
Image courtesy Christian Klämbt and Imke Schmidt, Olympus BioScapes
Edwin Lee of Texas took eighth place with an image of the male reproductive organs—stamens, anthers, and filaments—of an annual plant called henbit deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule). This member of the mint family is native to Europe and the Mediterranean and is considered an invasive species in the U.S.
Image courtesy Edwin Lee, Olympus BioScapes
This composite image of a Delphinium seed won Sahar Khodaverdi of Iran ninth place in the BioScapes Imaging Competition. Otherwise known as larkspur, these plants are highly toxic and are responsible for many livestock losses in the U.S.
The scales covering the wings of this prola beauty butterfly (Panacea prola) reflect the light, producing this dazzling display of color. Charles Krebs of Washington State won tenth place in the BioScapes Imaging Competition with this image. (See more pictures of butterflies.)