Metamorphosis uncovered with micro-CT scans

Share this on social media:

Scientists have captured the structural changes that occur inside a chrysalis as a caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly. The images were recorded using micro-CT scans as part of a BBC documentary called ‘Metamorphosis: The Science of Change’.

The team studied the blue morphos butterfly (Morpho menelaus), scanning a caterpillar one day before metamorphosis, a week-old chrysalis, and a chrysalis one day before the butterfly was due to emerge.

The micro-CT scans were then digitally manipulated to reveal the respiratory tract and stitched together to create a film. Dr Mark Greco from the University of Bath, who was part of the research team, used a method called Diagnostic Radioentomology (DR) to generate the film and visualise the internal organs in 3D.

‘The fact that it is non-invasive means that we can dissect an insect without touching it,’ Dr Greco told the BBC. ‘All other methods are either destructive, take too long or they are not sensitive enough. DR can be done on live, valuable or rare insects without harming them.’

According to the BBC, the transformation in the respiratory apparatus was extremely quick, most of the changes happening before the second scan. Dr Greco told the BBC that he hopes to perform further studies scanning the chrysalis every day to get a clearer picture of the process.

Metamorphosis: The Science of Change broadcasts on BBC Four, 13 March at 21.00 GMT.

Recent News

29 July 2020

The Perseverance rover contains 19 cameras, including seven scientific instruments. It will analyse the climate and geology of Mars, looking for signs of past life, as well as monitoring the Martian atmosphere

02 July 2020

Norwegian seafood firm, Lerøy, has installed hyperspectral cameras on processing lines to sort fish. The system is able to measure the amount of blood in white fish, which gives a grade of quality

09 June 2020

Hyperspectral imaging is being used in a research programme at hospitals in Maryland and New York to investigate the prognostic value of skin findings associated with Covid-19 infection

27 May 2020

The composite picture of The Night Watch, made of 528 exposures stitched together digitally, makes it possible to zoom in on individual brushstrokes and even particles of pigment in the painting