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.
above shows 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.