School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

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Mystery Image

bougainvillea flower

Just couldn't wait to find out?
Image by CJ Kazilek

This image as taken using our Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM).  

The subject of the micrograph is the anther of a bougainvillea flower (Bougainvillea spectabilis Willd). Anthers contain the pollen needed to fertilize the the flower. In case you are wondering, the anther along with the filament (stalk) are called the stamen. You can take a better look at the parts of a flower using a virtual microscope at the following Ask A Biologist web page.

Virtual Microscope & Flower Anatomy

To take the picture of these anthers, we cut open the flower before it had blossomed. If you take a look at the color photograph below, you can see the anthers are yellow in color. 

 If you are curious, here are some numbers from our list of guesses.

  • 38% thought it looked like some part of a flower
  • 34% thought it looked like some part of an animal
  • 14% thought it looked like a brain
  • 7% thought it looked like a cell
  • 7% thought it looked like an organ

This was also a very good image for creative answers. Some of these answers are listed below.

  • I believe the image is the slow pumping heart of the jungle animal called the "sloth."
  • The eye of an insect
  • The weavings of a basket
  • An image of an alveoli (magnified) found in the human lung and responsible for the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide to the blood.
  • A nest of a bird constructed in a hollow stem of a tree. A snake's tongue.
  • A bee hive. A fly's tongue
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.