The second BioMed Central Ecology and Evolution Image Competition has just announced its winners, and they are both incredible and terrifying.
The winning image shows the fruiting bodies of a parasitic fungus erupting from the body of a fly in the Tambopata National Reserve, Peru and was taken by Roberto García-Roa from the University of Valencia, Spain.
“The image depicts a conquest that has been shaped by thousands of years of evolution. The spores of the so-called ‘zombie’ fungus have infiltrated the exoskeleton and mind of the fly and compelled it to migrate to a location more favourable for the fungus’s growth,” says García-Roa.
“The fruiting bodies have then erupted from the fly’s body and will be jettisoned in order to infect more victims.”
You can see that winning image above.
Read more: Ebola’s molecular landscape wins award
In addition to the winning image, the judges selected winners and runner ups in four categories: Relationships in Nature, Biodiversity Under Threat, Life Close Up, and Research in Action, as well as three highly commended entries.
Alwin Hardenbol from the University of Eastern Finland took the winning image for the Relationships in Nature category. The photograph depicts a Bohemian Waxwing feasting on fermented rowan berries, showing the strong relationship between the species.
Rowan berries influence the migration of waxwings which can eat several hundred berries a day and have evolved larger livers to process ethanol produced by fermenting berries.
The runners up are also something to behold. In the category of Relationships in Nature, Alexander T. Baugh, a behavioural biologist at Swarthmore College, snapped a photo of a bat, mid-meal, devouring a frog.
The Biodiversity Under Threat runner up was taken by Lindsey Swierk, an Assistant Research Professor at Binghamton University. It depicts a wood frog with its eggs. Sadly, a ‘false spring’ meant these eggs were not to be taddies.
“Wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) are early spring breeders in temperate North America and congregate in vernal pools soon after the ice melts, to mate and produce egg masses. Lately, wood frogs are breeding earlier in the year as climate change unseasonably warms early spring in the Northeastern USA,” says Swierk.
“Unfortunately, winter storms can still catch frogs unexpectedly and trap them under the ice. Here, a male wood frog clings to an egg mass produced before a freeze; both the egg mass and the frog were recently trapped under ice. The frog survived, but many of the eggs did not.”
You can see all the winning images here.
Originally published by Cosmos as Science image award goes to zombie fungus-infected fly
Jacinta Bowler is a science journalist at Cosmos. They have a undergraduate degree in genetics and journalism from the University of Queensland and have been published in the Best Australian Science Writing 2022.
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