New Imaging Technology Shows Animal Insides, Python Digesting a Rat

By Bonnie Biess, via

Science is inherently cool, but gross science is even better.

Using a combination of computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), scientists Kasper Hansen and Henrik Lauridsen of Aarhus University in Denmark were able to visualize the entire internal organ structures and vascular systems (aka "guts") of a Burmese Python digesting a rat.

By choosing the right settings for contrast and light intensity during the scanning process, the scientists were able to highlight specific organs and make them appear in different colors. The non-invasive CT and MRI scans could let scientists look at animal anatomy without the need for other invasive methods such as dissections.

We had the scientists send us some exclusive step-by-step images of the process. While some might call them gruesome, we remind you that knifing your way through frog guts during high school anatomy wasn't exactly pretty either. Keep reading to see the gradual, 132-hour disappearance of one rat from the python stomach.

This is a Burmese Python scanned before ingesting a rat and then at two, 16, 24, 32, 48, 72 and 132 hours after dinner. The succession of images reveals a gradual disappearance of the rat's body, accompanied by an overall expansion of the snake's intestine, shrinking of the gallbladder and a 25 percent increase in heart volume. 

Below, check out a pic of the full snake, mid-rat-digestion: