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Nikon Small World 2013

See a worm gone wild, a twisty piece of plankton and other top-20 photos from the 2013 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition.

The Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition has been celebrating the wonders of microscopic realms since 1974. The judges for the 2013 contest sifted through more than 2,000 entries to come up with their top 20. This 20th-place entry was submitted by James Burchfield of Australia's Garvan Institute. It shows the explosive dynamics of sugar transport in fat cells. Browse through our slideshow to count down to the top-rated image.

Imaris X64 6.1.4 [Jul 31 2008]

This 19th-place image by David Ward of Oakdale, Calif., shows a thin section of nerve and muscle cells at 40x magnification.

David G. Ward

This darkfield image by Christian Sardet of France's National Center for Scientific Research shows the larva of an annelid, or segmented worm, at 100x magnification. In darkfield microscopy, contrast is created by a bright specimen on a dark background. The image won 18th place in the Nikon Small World competition.

This 17th-place image by Alexandre William Moreau of University College London shows pyramidal neurons and their dendrites in the visual cortex of a mouse brain, seen at 40x magnification.

This 16th-place image by Geir Drange of Asker, Norway, shows a parasitic wasp larva on the abdomen of a sheet weaver spider (Pityohyphantes phrygianus) at 5x magnification.

The Nikon Small World contest's 15th-place image was captured by Christian Q. Scheckhuber of Germany's Goethe University. It shows the filamentous tip cells of a type of fungus known as Podospora anserina at 630x magnification.

This 14th-place image by Zhong Hua of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine shows peripheral nerves in a mouse embryo at 5x magnification. Stains were used to highlight the different tissue types.

This image by Michael Paul Nelson and Samantha Smith of the University of Alabama at Birmingham shows a vertebra section of a mouse at 200x.

This brightfield image by Pedro Barrios-Perez of the National Research Council of Canada shows silicon dioxide on polydimethylglutarimide-based resist at 200x magnification. The picture won 12th place in the Nikon Small World contest.

Vitoria Tobias Santos of Brazil's Federal University of Rio de Janeiro captured this photo of the eye of a ghost shrimp (Macrobrachium) at 140x magnification. It won 11th place in the Nikon Small World contest.

This 10th-place image by Ted Kinsman of the Rochester Institute of Technology shows a thin section of a dinosaur bone preserved in clear agate at 10x magnification.

Photographer:ted Kinsman

This ninth-place image by Mark A. Sanders of the University of Minnesota shows an insect wrapped in a spider web at 85x magnification.

This eighth-place image by Magdalena Turzańska of Poland's University of Wrocław shows a leafy liverwort, bryophyte plant and cyanobacteria at 50x magnification.

This seventh-place image by Jan Michels of Germany's University of Kiel shows the adhesive pad on the foreleg of a ladybird beetle (Coccinella septempunctata) at 20x magnification.

This sixth-place image by Dorit Hockman of the University of Cambridge shows the embryo of a veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus). Cartilage is seen in blue, and bone in red.

Kieran Boyle of the University of Glasgow, Scotland, captured this image of a hippocampal neuron receiving excitatory contacts at 63x magnification. The image came in fifth in the Nikon Small World contest.

This fourth-place image by Rogelio Moreno Gill of Panama City, Panama, shows a paramecium, including the nucleus, mouth and water expulsion vacuoles at 40x magnification.

Rogelio Moreno Gill

This third-place image by Alvaro Esteves Migotto of the University of Sao Paulo shows a marine worm at 20x magnification.

Alvaro Migotto

This second-place image by Joseph Corbo of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows the retina of a painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) at 400x magnification.

Top honors in the 2013 Nikon Small World contest go to this image by Wim van Egmond of the Micropolitan Museum in the Netherlands. The image shows a marine diatom (Chaetoceros debilis), a colonial plankton organism, at 250x magnification.