X-Rays of Fish Reveal Diversity

Scientists in the Division of Fishes at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History use X-ray imaging to study the complex bone structure and diversity of fish. This image gallery showcases X-ray images of sharks, their relatives, and bony fish, revealing how some fish have skeletons built from cartilage while others are built from bone.

In 2012, the National Museum of Natural History displayed "X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out," a temporary exhibit that showcased fish evolution and diversity through 40 black and white X-ray images prepared for research purposes. Each X-ray is paired with a photograph of the preserved fish specimen, demostrating the value of radiography as a means of study that does not damage or destroy the specimen. See the touring schedule to find out where this exhibit will be shown next, through 2015.

To see even more photos from the exhibit, visit Encyclopedia of Life's X-Ray Vision Collection.

The distinctive form of a winghead shark, Eusphyra blochii, is revealed in an X-ray image. The shark's eyes are spread far apart, giving it superb binocular vision.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Just an fyi - on the page that links to this one, it says that "showcasing beautiful fish X-rays from the Department of Invertebrate Zoology." It should say Vertebrate Zoology - fish are vertebrates, not invertebrates!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

this is amazing because i never thort that a sting ray would look like that

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

like!!!!!!! :)

Submitted by The Ocean Portal Team on


We're happy to hear you like the images! There aren't plans to sell prints, but you can download the high resolution images and print them yourself from Flickr. Please check out our album to see, and download, each image that is in the exhibit gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nmnh/sets/72157628928831747/with/6721869409/.

Thanks for your interest!
The Ocean Portal Team

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Do you know if they will be selling poster renditions of these images? I'd love to get a few to frame for my home.