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First Place Photograph: Biomineral CrystalsPupa U. P. A. Gilbert and Christopher E. Killian; University of Wisconsin, Madison
"These beautiful structures are the microscopic crystals that make up a sea urchin's tooth. Each shade of blue, aqua, green, and purple--superimposed on a scanning electron micrograph using Photoshop--highlights an individual crystal of calcite, the abundant carbonate mineral found in limestone, marble, and shells.
Instead of flat sides and sharp edges, the sea urchin produces complex, intertwined curved plates and fibers that interlock and fill space in the tooth as they grow, according to the National Science Foundation. Though made of a substance normally as soft as chalk, the teeth are hard enough to grind rock, and sea urchins use them to gnaw holes where they can take shelter from rough seas and predators."