Tardigrades — also known as ‘water bears’ — are eight-legged microscopic organisms that have developed a cult following over the years.
Their popularity stems from the fact that they are almost humorously difficult to kill. They can survive in temperatures over 200 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as 450 degrees below zero.
When threatened, they curl their bodies into a pill shape and essentially mummify themselves in a protective shell.
In short, they are about as badass as organisms get.
And now, thanks to biologist Tagide deCarvalho, we can take a look inside their guts.
“I’m able to produce so much color in my images by using multiple fluorescent stains and capitalizing on the natural fluorescence of the samples,” deCarvalho said in a statement. “I’m excited about this image because the fluorescent dyes I used allow you to see the tardigrade digestive tract, including the mouthparts and stomach filled with food.”
Her image won first place in the Olympus Global Life Science Light Microscopy contest, which aims to bridge the gap between the science and art of microscopic images.