A Delicate Chameleon Displays Vivid Colors Under The Microscope

One of 10 award-winning visualizations from the 2015 Vizzies

Photographer Elizabeth Marchiondo doesn’t often have the opportunity to handle organisms as delicate as this chameleon. “I’m used to photographing live aquarium scum through a microscope or wading through a lagoon to capture specimens,” she says. So Marchiondo was delighted when zoologist Andrew Gillis donated the deceased creature to the lab where she was a micro­scopy intern. The chameleon had been prepped with stains that dye bones and cartilage, an enzyme that digests flesh, and chemicals that render skin and muscles transparent. Because she was working with a three-dimensional subject, Marchiondo focused her camera on different planes of its body and then stitched 32 images together to create a single, crisp picture.

"Alcian Blue And Alizarin Red Chameleon" won the People's Choice award for Photography at the 2015 Vizzies. See all 10 of the winners here.

This article was originally published in the March 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title "The 2015 Vizzies"

Alcian Blue And Alizarin Red Chameleon

Elizabeth Marchiondo and Andrew Gillis