Sunday, 17 December 2017

World of Intricate Muscles Revealed Inside Velvet Worm's Wee Leg

By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | December 12, 2017 07:04am ET

When viewed under powerful magnification, tiny organisms whose smallest body parts are too minute to be seen with the naked eye are revealed in breathtaking complexity. And now, scientists have developed a method for peering inside structures that measure fractions of a millimeter, and can even image them in three dimensions — a feat that previously had been impossible.

For decades, X-ray computer tomography (CT) scanning has enabled scientists to noninvasively examine the insides of organisms and objects, and model them in 3D. But the technology only worked on subjects that were larger than 500 nanometers (a nanometer is 1-billionth of a meter, or 400-billionths of an inch).  

Recently, scientists developed a tabletop Nano-CT system capable of capturing images in 3D at an unprecedentedly small scale — 100 nanometers. Its limits were recently tested on a velvet worm’s minuscule legs, which measure a mere 0.02 inches (0.4 millimeters) long, and this novel technology successfully visualized individual muscle fibers inside the worm's leg, the researchers reported in a new study. [Images: Tiny Life Revealed in Stunning Microscope Photos]

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