This image of the fearsome poison fangs of a centipede, magnified so that we can see every hair and battle scar, is one of the finalists in the annual Nikon Small World competition. Now in its 42nd year, the contest recognises excellence in photography taken under a microscope.

2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Walter Piorkowski, South Beloit, Illinois, USA: Poison fangs of a centipede (Lithobius erythrocephalus) – Fibre Optic Illumination/Image Stacking, 16xWalter Piorkowski

More than 2,000 photomicrography images from all over the world were entered into this year's competition. The judges have evaluated them on originality, informational content, technical proficiency and visual impact, and have narrowed the field down to 95 finalists.

Many of the images reveal the hidden beauty that can be found in the most unlikely of places – such as this picture of delicate fungi growing on cow dung.

2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Michael Crutchley, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, United Kingdom: Fungi on cow dung – Darkfield, 30xMichael Crutchley

This year, the public will select the winner of the Popular Vote category. You have until 25 October to choose your favourite image.

We've published 20 of our favourites in this gallery. You can see the other 75 finalists and vote for your winner at the Nikon Small World site.

2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Yousef Al Habshi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Eyes of a jumping spider (Hasarius adansoni) – Reflected Light, 9xYousef Al Habshi
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Dr Igor Siwanowicz, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Janelia Research Campus, Ashburn, Virginia, USA: Front foot (tarsus) of a male diving beetle – Confocal, 100xDr Igor Siwanowicz
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Jochen Schroeder, Chiang Mai, Thailand: Butterfly proboscis – Image Stacking, 6.3xJochen Schroeder
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Dr David Maitland, Feltwell, United Kingdom: Analgesic compound (salicin) extracted from Willow tree bark – Polarised Light, 50xDr David Maitland
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Dr Oscar Ruiz, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Houston, Texas, USA: Four-day-old zebrafish embryo – Confocal, 10xDr Oscar Ruiz
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Matt Inman, Cremorne, New South Wales, Australia: Beta-alanine and taurine crystals – Transmitted Polarized Light/Focus Stacking, 10xMatt Inman
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Dr Alvaro Roura, Instituto de Investigacións Mariñas,Ecology and Marine Biodiversity, Vigo, Spain: Viperfish (Chauliodus sloani) – Reflected Light/Darkfield, 20xDr Alvaro Roura
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Marek Mis, Suwalki, Podlaskie, Poland: Leg of a water boatman (Corixidae) – Polarized Light, Darkfield, 25xMarek Mis
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Dr Csaba Pintér, Keszthely, Zala, Hungary: Goatsbeard flower (Tragopogon orientalis) seeds – Focus Stacking, 1.4xDr Csaba Pintér
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Douglas L Moore, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point Museum of Natural History, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, USA: Polished slab of Teepee Canyon agate – Stereomicroscopy, 90xDouglas L Moore
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
David Millard, Austin, Texas, USA: Curvepod Fumewort (Corydalis curvisiliqua) seed – Image Stacking, 4.5xDavid Millard
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Rogelio Moreno Gill, Panama, Panama: Frontonia (single-celled organism) showing ingested food, cilia, mouth and trichocysts – Differential Interference Contrast, 200xRogelio Moreno Gill
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Laurie Knight, Tonbridge, Kent, United Kingdom: Black elder tree flower stamen (Sambucus nigra) – Focus Stacking, 10xLaurie Knight
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Karl Gaff, Dublin Institute of Technology, School of Physics, Dublin, Ireland: Caption​Mullein flower (Verbascum nigrum) – Reflected Light, 5xKarl Gaff
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Geir Drange, Asker, Norway: Head section of an orange ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata) – Reflected Light/Focus Stacking, 10xGeir Drange
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Stefano Barone, Diatom Shop, Palazzo Pignano, Italy: 65 fossil Radiolarians (zooplankton) carefully arranged by hand in Victorian style – Darkfield, 100xStefano Barone
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Jose Almodovar, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, Biology Department, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico: Slime mould (Mixomicete) – Image Stacking/Reflected Light, 5xJose Almodovar
2016 Nikon Small World Finalists
Geir Drange, Asker, Norway: Ant pupae (Myrmica sp.) – Reflected Light/Focus Stacking, 5xGeir Drange