Lennart Nilsson (1922-2017), the Swedish photographer, made a mixture of his two passions. He combined science and photography by taking pictures of the baby’s development stages with a cystoscope. In 1957 he took the first photos, but they were black and white and blurred.
Because Lennart Nilsson wasn’t satisfied with the images, he waited for ten years, and then in 1967, he repeated the process. This time the photos weren’t wasted, and LIFE magazine published them due to their clarity and depth into how precisely life begins.
The magazine issue became very popular, so it sold out within a few days. The title of the essay of Nilsson’s photos was “Drama of Life Before Birth.” From the images, we can see the chaos and fragility of conception.
The images started a discussion about the point where life begins, and multiple antiabortion activists reference used them to support their aim.
Below, you can see the photos and the baby’s development stages inside the mother.
- Sperm is moving toward an egg. We can see how the sperm approaches the egg in the fallopian tube from the image.
2. Spermatozoon continues to swim towards the egg in the fallopian tube.
3. Where life begins! The sperm is colliding with the egg.
4. The fusion moves on. Only the lucky sperm reached the egg.
5. Close shot of a spermatozoon. The head holds the DNA that will mix with the egg to create the baby’s genetic makeup.
6. Baby in the womb. Only one week should pass so the embryo to change its position from the fallopian tube to the womb.
7. Implantation. After the week has passed, the embryo is attached to the womb’s wall.
8. Day 18. Heart beating. The heart of the baby starts beating on the 18th day of its conceiving.
8. Day 28.
10. The development of facial features. We can see the cervices in the face after five weeks in the picture.
11. The constant embryo’s development. Here you can see how the embryo looks like in its eighth week. It reminds us of an alien, right?
12. Hands movement. The fetus, with his fingers, is examining the environment.
13. You can see what we can find under the skin.
14. Week 18. Now the fetus starts hearing the world’s sounds outside the mother’s womb.
15. Week 20. Now the baby should be around 20 cm. Here it develops hair, lanugo, and the head.
16. Week 26. The baby is seven months old. Only two months remain until the birth day.
One of the most precious things in the world is life development. If we weren’t here, our Earth would be just as Mars or Jupiter is, a dull, cold place.
Humans and all other creatures on the planet must be valued.
Which photo grasped your attention the longest?
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