Lego contraption allows scientists to safely handle insects

Benjamin Price

Lego contraption allows scientists to safely handle insects

Handling insect specimens can be more precarious than lassoing a fly. Delicate antennae, legs, and wings break with the slightest blunder. Now, researchers have found a solution, and it's built from Legos. Their contraption (several versions of which are shown above) can move and rotate insects every which way while keeping them stable and positioned under a microscope. The design improves on previous insect manipulators because it's cheap, customizable, and easy to build, the researchers report online this week in ZooKeys. As natural history museums work on digitizing their voluminous collections—taking high-resolution photographs of each precious beetle, bee, and dragonfly in their possession—they have to handle insects repeatedly. Now the job will be easier on the entomologists, and more insect specimens will be able to hang on to their wings—all thanks to Legos.

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