These toads are impostors, They're the latest example of using 3D-printing to study animal behavior.
With the first rains, neotropical yellow toads begin an intense breeding season that can last little more than a day.
For this brief period, the male toads switch their normal drab brown to a vibrant lemon-yellow.
This year they will be joined by a handful of impersonators, as scientists try to find out more about the toads' mating behavior The researchers will place a female into an arena with two 3D-printed male Robo-toads, one more brightly colored than the other.
3D printed toads on servos.
By recording which model the female prefers, they hope to find out how the intensity of yellow affects the female's choice-- something previously difficult to accomplish with hand-made replicas.
The 3D printed toads only vary in yellow
Researchers have also used 3D-printing to look at the mating preferences of the northern map turtle.
The males are known to breed with females up to 10 times their mass.
But is size something these males are looking for?
3D printed female turtles only varying in size.
Scientists printed two models of female turtles, identical except for their size, and placed them at the bottom of a lake.
The wild male turtles attempted to mate with the larger of the two females more often, suggesting that size is an important consideration for these turtles.
3D printed cowbird eggs to see how robins deal with the parasitic cowbird eggs.
Ornithologists have used 3D printed eggs-- to study how robins deal with eggs from parasitic cowbirds that are laid in their nests.
With 3D printing, researchers can create cowbird eggs that vary subtly in size and shape-- and their research can now be reproduced by others using the same 3D model.
Once any of these models have been created, it can easily be mass-produced.
Despite these advantages -- 3D-printed animals are still rare in research.
But as 3D printers get more common and less complex you might want to keep an eye out for wildlife imposters.
Here’s what happens when you replace toads and turtles with 3D printed replicas in the wild