UCL’s MRI Easter Egg Hunt

A baby snake hatching from an egg. Image © Channel 4

Image © Channel 4

UCL scientists contribute to ground-breaking TV show, Easter Eggs Live.

Over the Easter weekend, millions of UK viewers watched as baby penguins, crocodiles, praying mantises and other animals hatched from their eggs live on Channel 4.

Easter Eggs Live was a first for TV. Researchers from UCL’s Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI) helped with the cutting-edge science behind the programme.

CABI researchers scanned a developing chicken egg using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology.

“The egg was scanned several times over the course of the gestation,” said Holly Holmes, a CABI researcher. “The images were used to generate a 3D animation of the chick breaking into the air sac and breathing for the first time, before the hatching process began.”

3D imaging graphic of a chick in an egg

Image © Equinox Graphics

Professor Mark Lythgoe, Director of CABI at UCL, said:

“This collaboration builds on previous work in CABI, where we have used high resolution MRI to image embryos and search for genes involved with hole in the heart in babies.

“Here, we have captured a unique view of the chick’s final movements after it has ruptured the air sac and prepares to hatch”:

Presenters Mark Evans, Jimmy Doherty and Lucy Cooke hosted Easter Eggs Live shows throughout the weekend on Channel 4.

Live streams showed birds, fish, reptiles and invertebrates in the Easter Eggs Live hatchery, 24 hours a day. If you’re in the UK you can watch the highlights online.

UCL is a multidisciplinary university with an international reputation for the quality of its teaching and academic research.

The Sunday Times described it as “an intellectual powerhouse with a world-class reputation”, it’s consistently ranked as one of the top UK universities, and features in the top five universities worldwide.

In case you’re wondering, the chick from the CABI video was born on Friday 15 March, is safe and well – and now lives with CABI researcher, Dr Bernard Siow.

Read more about CABI’s work on the programme.

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