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Nikon competition reveals the ant's terrifying face up close

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This is not a good look.

The astonishing photo of an ant’s face magnified five times under a microscope is popping up on social media – but it barely deserves a mention in the Nikon Small World Photomicrography Contest.

Lithuanian wildlife photographer Dr. Eugenijus Kavaliauskas, “The Ant (camponotus),” with a wild growl and flame-like whiskers, gives a nightmarish glimpse of beady-eyed everyday vermin.

Kavaliauskas, formerly a renowned photographer of birds of prey, has recently turned his focus to insects, according to his portfolio.

This year marks the 48th iteration of the annual Nikon competition, which focuses on microscope photography that reveals details normally invisible to the human eye. Kavaliauskas’ photo failed to enter the Top 20 and Honorable Mention categories, but it was among the 57 “Distinguished Images”.

Eugenijus Kavaliauskas, “Ant (Camponotus)
Eugenijus Kavaliauskas presented the “Ant (Camponotus)” award to the Nikon competition.
Eugenijus Kavaliauskas/Nikon Sma

Speaking to Insider this week, Kavaliauskas said he appreciates how microphotography has enabled him to find newer and more interesting aspects to his subjects.

“I’m always looking for details, shadows and unseen corners. The main purpose of photography is to be an explorer,” he said. “I am fascinated by the Creator’s masterpieces and the opportunity to see God’s designs.”

When asked about the ant’s frightening face, Kavaliauskas replied, “There is no terror in nature.”

Not everyone agrees.

USC film professor Rebekah McKendry sparked a minor firestorm Monday when she shared the image of Kavaliauskas on Twitter.

“An image from a horror movie?” McKendry gave a statement to the photo. “No. That’s the true face of an ant.”

“Now you have to think about it all night,” he joked.

Commenters quickly joined in with their own reactions.

Someone said, “Why are you doing this to me?” she asked.

Another replied, “And now I have 12-15 hours to get that image out of my head.”

Some have managed to downplay their fears when one person wrote, “Wait until Disney’s photorealistic remake of A Bug’s Life.”

The top prize was awarded to the embryonic hand of the “Madagascar giant day gecko (Phelsuma grandis).
The top prize went to the “embryonic hand of the Madagascar giant day lizard (Phelsuma grandis)”.
Grigorii Timin and Michel Milink

Even Kavaliauskas once admitted that he was afraid of everything he saw under the microscope.

“When I first started microphotography, I thought all bugs looked a little bit monstrous,” he told Insider. “But now I’m used to it and I’m surprised that there are so many interesting, beautiful and unknown miracles under our feet.”

Adding to some viral impact, Kavaliauskas has stepped away from the competition with a Nikon product that retails for $35. Out of 1,300 entries, the top prize – including a cash prize of $3,000 – went to the “embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko”.Phelsuma grandis)” by Grigorii Timin and Michel Milinkovitch.

Affiliates of the Department of Genetics and Evolution at the University of Geneva. Timin and Milinkovitch captured the giant diurnal gecko’s front paw in fluorescent detail at 6X magnification.

“This particular image is beautiful and informative as an overview and also sheds light on how structures are organized at the cellular level when you zoom in on a specific region,” Timin said in a Nikon press release.

The 2023 Small World Photomicrography Competition is open to applications, which are welcomed by anyone interested in photography and microscopy. There’s also a video section titled Small World in Motion.

Kavaliauskas did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.