The 3D-printed eggs that could save vultures from extinction

File under: 'eggstraordinary' science.

It's hard to drum up sympathy for vultures. They do, after all, feast on the carcasses of dead (and diseased) animals. But at the International Centre for Birds of Prey in the UK, conservationists are hoping to keep extinction at bay for one African species by 3D printing vulture eggs. The replicas, which are made to simulate the same shape, weight and feel of actual vulture eggs, pack sensors inside (kinda like a Kinder surprise egg, except not at all) to gather data on the complicated incubation process. Wired reports that researchers at the ICBP have already begun testing these faux eggs on captive vultures to cull temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, carbon dioxide, light and rotation data -- all transmitted wirelessly -- for its captive breeding program.

The effort, while beneficial to the selected African species, could also be extended to help maintain other vulture populations living in different geographic climates, as well as other egg-laying species. The project's also open source. So if you have a soft spot for vultures (there have to be some of you out there, right?), you can check out the eggduino site for instructions on how to 3D print the smart eggs, build the sensor and do some good.