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3D Printed Baby Tortoise Shells

Fin24 recently ran an adorable report concerning the preservation of baby tortoises.  Scientists in South Africa have been employing “3D printing to protect [vulnerable newborn tortoises] from predators.”

“Tortoise conservationists are experimenting with ways to save tortoises from predators by 3D printing shells to create mock tortoises, in an effort to study predator behavior and ultimately deter them from attacking the babies.”

This tortoise experiment “was developed by US desert biologist Tim Shields who co-founded Hardshell Labs.  Ravens were attacking baby tortoises in the California desert, whose shells had not been fully developed to withstand penetration from the raves and other predators.”

In order to combat this feeding frenzy, “Hardshell Labs got in touch with Autodesk, a design software company, and Think2Thing, a Canada-based company which develops 3D design, to turn the idea of a techno tortoise into a reality.”

Autodesk Trained Architect Tatjana Dzambazova explained this project “at the recently held Autodesk University South Africa 2017 Conference.”  Autodesk and the conservationists utilized photogrammy, which is the use of photography to map out and survey objects.  Then, “Autodesk developed 3D designs of the tortoise shell which were then printed by Think2Thing to make a plastic replica.”

“Phase one of the experiment involved testing to see if the replica would lure in the ravens, and this proved to be successful.”  The tortoises helped by this experiment were the South African Geometric Tortoise, which is heavily endangered, and the Desert Tortoise.

“Phase two of the project will involve exploring new ways to ‘rewire’ the ravens to stop them from attacking the baby tortoises.”  This involves the use of non-lethal sprays attached to the tortoise shells.

Autodesk printed 50 full-color tortoise shells for use in this project.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Fin24

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