The beauty of microphotography is seeing the universe in an incredibly small space. There are strange creatures and startling vistas — like this 20x portrait of green lacewig larva, taken by Igor Siwanowicz of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology.

Nikon announced the winners of its Small World Photomicrography Competition earlier today. There were a total of 20 awardees, but here are some of our favorites (be sure to click to embiggen).

Head over to MSNBC for high-res versions of all 20 winners, and be sure to check out Nikon's competition page for over thirty years' worth of Small World galleries.

A 200x view of a blade of grass by University of Pittsburgh's Donna Stolz


"Micro-monster" — A 10x view of a marine copepod (Temora longicornis) by Jan Michels of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel in Germany

"Ant attack!" — A 10x view of an ant's head, also by Jan Michels


"Pick your poison" — A 45x image of a cross sectional view of a curare vine, the source for the poison used on South American arrows. By Stephen S. Nagy of Montana Diatoms

"Inside a leaf" — A 4x picture of a quaking aspen leaf (Populus tremuloides) taken by Benjamin Blonder and David Elliott of the University of Arizona


"Groovy grains" — A 4x picture of grains of sand by the Beijing Planetarium's Yanping Wang.