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2001, January-February

2001, January-February Mystery Image

January & February 2001 Mystery Image
Image by William Sharp & CJ Kazilek

The new year brought a whole new batch of new guesses for our mystery image. From fossils to bones and even the intestines of a sea creature. What was the mystery image?

We have to confess that we were tricky this time. This is handmade paper. What does paper have to do with biology? That is a good question. Most paper is made from plant material. We usually see paper that is made from tree pulp. Before pulp-based paper, most paper was made from cotton rags.

OK, so this must be paper, but what kind?

This is an scanning electron picture of a handmade paper made from barrel cactus. The curly tube-like things are called xylem. Remember there are two ways plants move (transport materials around the plant).

  • Xylem - is the transport system for water and minerals from the
    roots to the rest of the plant. The xylem is a non-living part of
    the plant. 
  • Phloem - is made of living cells that transport sugar and other
    nutrients throughout the plant.  

If you want to see more images of paper visit the galleries of the Paper Project.


For those of you that are curious, here are some numbers from our list of guesses. We had several people get close to the correct answer and one person that got the exact answer. Congratulations Chris, you are the only one that guessed a plant xylem tubes. We give you full credit even if you did not know it was from handmade paper.

  • 89% guessed this was an animal or part of an animal
  • 10% guessed this was part of a plant

A further break down of the guesses revealed the following:

  • 26% guessed it was either bones or microscopic parts of bones
  • 10% guessed it was a picture of fossils
  • 10% guessed it was snake skin

Some of the creative single answers are listed below.

  • Kidney tissue - nephrons, Loop of Henle and convoluted tubules
  • The intestines of a sea creature
  • Damaged bone marrow cells
  • Chromatin
ant, photo by Alex Wild

It's like having your own microscope! Visit our Zoom Gallery to explore and have fun zooming in and moving around each image.

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.

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ant, photo by Alex Wild

It's like having your own microscope! Visit our Zoom Gallery to explore and have fun zooming in and moving around each image.

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.