Thorn bugs

One fascinating research focus are the systematics and morphology of the bizarre and often tiny thorn bugs (Membracidae) with their fantastic protuberances.

Some specimens identified at the ZSM are photographed in a Scanning Electron Microscope (see or even x-rayed in micro computed tomography (micro CT). The latter is a high-tech method that allows three-dimensional representation of the external and internal structures of objects, including very small ones, without damaging or altering these specimens.

The following video demonstrates some of the viewing methods offered by the micro-CT method. The first part of the sequence shows with the thorn bug being rotated in space in digitally reconstructed external view, then slightly enlarged and scanned layer for layer. The final 15 seconds of the video present a transparent display as in classical X-ray images.