Amazing video shows microscopic vampire parasites that feed on a small crustacean from the inside
- An independent scientist makes award-winning images of a parasite attack
- The video shows a small crustacean called a copepod being attacked
- The parasite enters the host through a wound and feeds on its cytoplasm
- The images were honored in the Nikon Small World in Motion Competition
An amazing new video shows images of an aggressive microscopic parasite that consumes a small crustacean from within.
The images were recorded by Richard R. Kirby, an independent scientist, filmmaker and former fellow of the Royal Society University, who received a Nikon Small World in Motion prize for this work.
Kirby’s video shows a copepod infected with an aggressive microscopic parasite called vampyrophyra pelagica.
Copepods are a small and highly adaptable crustacean that can live in both fresh and salt water.
They are found on the seabed, in moss, under leaves in wet forests and in stream beds, among many other locations.
Older copepods usually measure a length of one to two millimeters and live on a diet of mostly phytoplankton.
Copepods are frequent targets of vampyrophyra pelagica, which attach to the outside of the crustacean and then enclose itself in a protective cyst.
The parasite remains inactive in these small cysts until the copepod of the host is injured or eaten by another, larger crustacean.
The stunning video was captured by independent scientist and filmmaker Richard R. Kirby and honored in the 2019 Small World in Motion Competition sponsored by Nikon
Kirby captured the images using a technique called darkfield microscopy, where a microscope slide is illuminated from below with a hollow cone of light that illuminates it while the background remains black
The images show a small parasite called vampyrophira pelagica that invades a crustacean and feeds itself from within with its cytoplasm
At this point, the vampyrophyra leave their cysts and enter the body of the copepod through the wound of the copepod and begin to feed on the cytoplasm, effectively eating the body from within.
Kirby was able to capture this incident using a photographic technique called darkfield microscopy, one of two ways to capture microscopic life on video.
The more common technique is called brightfield microscopy, where a light cone is placed under a slide and a special lens is used to record the ways in which the light is refracted by the sample.
Darkfield microscopy, on the other hand, uses a hollow light cone with a dark center to illuminate the bottom of the slide, framing the subject in a bright halo of light.
The parasites attacked a copepod (pictured above), a small crustacean that usually measures between one and two millimeters and lives off a diet of predominantly phytoplankton
Copepods are highly adaptable creatures that can live in both fresh water and salt water. They are found on seabeds, in moss, under leaves in wet forests, and more
It works in the same way as backlight in photography and makes it possible to take the microscopic subject against a black background to make it stand out.
The video was honored in the Small World in Motion Competition 2019, a competition originally founded by Nikon in 1975 to celebrate photographers who specialize in microscopic subjects.
The competition was expanded in 2011 with videos.
NIKON’S SMALL WORLD IN MOTION COMPETITION
The Nikon International Small World Competition launched in 1975 to celebrate photographers using a light microscope, also known as photo micrographs.
In 2011, Nikon announced that it would accept films taken through the microscope as a new category.
This category, called Small World in Motion, accepts any video or digital time-lapse photography taken through the microscope.
Photographers can use any type of light microscopy technique, including phase contrast, polarized light, fluorescence, interference contrast, dark field, confocal, deconvolution and mixed techniques, and record any subject.