Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Wellcome Image Awards 2017 Carrier Pigeon
10 June 2017

Carrier Pigeon

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

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