Sperm developing in an octopus testis

The flower-like structures drive the sperms’ swimming motion making it able to get to the egg, which will be fertilized by the one successful sperm. These nanoscale structures are an essential element in reproduction and therefore in maintaining the continuity of the species.

Each ‘flower’ is 38 nanometres in diameter (1 nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre).

Image: Greg Rouse

Shark eye – adjustable mirrors

Light is collected by rod cells at the back of the retina, seen here in the lower left corner. Above that are arrays of white guanine crystals that act as a reflective mirror. Light bounces off these crystals and allows the retinal rod cells to capture any light not absorbed on the first pass. In this species of shark, when they are in bright light conditions, the round black light absorbing pigment granules can move in front of the mirror-like crystals. This improves visual resolution and stops spurious light bouncing around inside the eye. In dim light, the granules can migrate away to expose the reflective plates and improve visual sensitivity. This ability is an effective adaptation to the huge range of light conditions encountered by sharks in their environment.

The area in this image is 41 micrometres wide (1 micrometre is one thousandth of a millimetre).

Image: Shaun Collin

Iron reinforcing for chiton teeth

The dark granules inside the chiton cells are tiny balls of iron. These get incorporated into the chiton’s teeth to make them extremely strong and tough. These teeth enable this intertidal creature to feed by constantly scraping algae off the rocks. Chitons are eaten as a bush food in some parts of Northern Australia.

The largest black dots are 1.3micrometres in diameter (1 micrometre is one thousandth of a millimetre).

Image: Jeremy Shaw

This work is based on the Big Wet Season that comes every year to the tropics here in Far North Queensland, Tablelands and the Great Barrier Reef. Its rain pours from the tablelands to the estuaries and floods the nursery of the ocean and begins the life journey of so many of the seasonal eggs, in particular the Irukandji jellyfish, signalling the turtle season as this is their favourite food. This work is about creativity, sperm design, location, shark eye and chiton – all have a major importance in the cycle of fertility and life.

Artist: Arone Meeks