This pigeon is carrying a bright red dye that shows off its blood vessels. Developed as part of The Grey Parrot Anatomy Project, the dye was first used to investigate thermoregulation – how animals use blood flow near the skin to control their temperature. But piping the dye into human cadavers sheds light on our own anatomy. Computerised tomography uses X-rays to take virtual slices of a human brain – or pigeon’s head – while the scarlet dye as a contrast agent, a chemical that shows up brighter than the surrounding flesh. The scans can then be assembled in 3D. The technique has given teachers, students and researchers insight into how blood vessels are arranged in human tissues, and how these patterns might change with age and disease.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.