Image of the Month

Image of the Month

Easter Eggs Live!

Researchers at the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI) have embarked on a rather unique ‘Easter egg hunt’ and have been scanning chicken eggs for a new Channel 4 programme: Easter Eggs Live! CABI scientists have used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to peer beneath the shell of a developing chicken egg to visualise the growth and position of the chick as it prepares to hatch.

 “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 using an MRI scanner.” – Prof Mark Lythgoe


The egg was secured in a bed of cotton wool to keep it safe and warm, before scanning commenced.  This was also a rare opportunity for the camera crew to film in close proximity to the MRI scanner to capture footage of the egg entering the magnet.

The MR images revealed the developing organs of the chick:


“The egg was scanned several times over the course of the gestation. 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.” - Holly Holmes

Video 1The MRI data was used to generate this 3D moving video of the chick inside the egg.

The CABI chick was born on Friday 15th April, and is safe and well. One of the researchers who worked on the project, Dr. Bernard Siow, grew rather attached to her and has decided to give her a new home in Wembley!

Video 2CABI exclusive: A behind-the-scenes glimpse of Mark Lythgoe, Bernard Siow and Holly Holmes in the lab, capturing footage of the egg entering the scanner.

This work was carried out in partnership with Jamie Lochhead and Kelly Neaves at Windfall Films and Jon Heras at Equinox Graphics Ltd.

Page last modified on 02 apr 13 12:02