Can You Tell What This Is?

By Jamie Condliffe on at

This may look like finely crafted sculpture, but you're actually looking at an award-winning photograph of a biological sample. The question is: can you work out exactly what it depicts?

The winner of the 2015 Wellcome Image Awards, the image is a shot of a specimen held at the Royal Veterinary College in London, captured by Michael Frank. Give up? In fact, it's the preserved uterus of a New Forest pony, around five months into the pregnancy. You can make out the developing foetus at the top of the image, its hind legs protruding from the sample.

The sample sits preserved in formalin and was in fact captured through the side of the Perspex container in which it resides. The reflections and scratches were cleaned up digitally after the image was taken. Frank explains:

"[W]e were able to rejuvenate these special dissections and make them available to a whole new audience of students, academics and the public. I like to think that this digital format is a fitting tribute to all the skill of past generations of anatomists in creating these resources and the many generations of vets who have benefited from studying them."

This specimen, along with many more, are on public display at the Lanyon Anatomy Museum of the Royal Veterinary College. [Wellcome Trust via New Scientist]