Biological flying machine? Terrifying monster of the deep? Nope - this is just a scanning electron microscopy image of a Lamnacarus ornatus, or common mite.
Industrial microscopy company FEI sells a variety of imaging rigs, including the one that produced this image. To show what their SEM machines can do, FEI created an incredible image gallery of shots taken with their equipment. Here is just a tiny subset of what you can see if you visit their site.
Click to embiggen! See more at the FEI image site, which is organized both by subject matter and by type of imaging device.
In the image:
1. A worm found in hydrothermal vents - its mouth can turn inside-out.
2. Here is the same worm with its mouth tucked back inside. Very Alien-esque.
3. Gah! What is that? Oh, only hibiscus pollen
4. Here are the mouthparts of a caterpillar, showing the sensory organs.
5. FEI says this is an “image of sperm tails tangled up in a seminiferous tubule.” The sperm mature inside this tubule before thrusting into the world.
6. This is a coccolithophorid, or tiny marine organism. Yes, it looks completely amazing.