SCIENCE
10/30/2014 09:20 am ET Updated Oct 31, 2014

Our World Is Mesmerizing On The Micro Level, And These Award-Winning Photos Are Proof

You've never seen a spider, a caterpillar, or even a DVD reader quite like this before.

The winning photos this year in Nikon's annual Small World Photomicrography Competition offer a very up-close look at these three things and many others--and they're absolutely beautiful.

The annual competition, which is celebrating its 40th year, showcases some of the best microphotography from around the world. This year, more than 1,200 entries from at least 79 countries were vying for top honors. The entries were judged by biologist Dr. Paul Maddox, Slate science editor Laura Helmuth, and Popular Science's online director Dave Mosher.

Which photo took first place? Panama resident Rogelio Moreno's image of a rotifer's open mouth. Rotifers are sometimes called microscopic "wheel" animals and are commonly found in freshwater.

Check out the top 20 winning photos below.

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Nikon Small World 2012 Winners
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