Tweezers Modeled After Crow’s Beak Are More Adept Than Regular Ones

[Click here to view the video in this article]

Image by Murakami et al / Digital Nature Group, featured with permission


Your go-to stationery and utensils haven’t changed much over the years. Now, here’s something you can truly crow about.

Takahito Murakami, a human-computer interaction programmer and product designer, and his team of student researchers at the University of Tsukaba’s Research and Development Center for Digital Nature have turned to nature’s tools and reinvented tweezers. Called ‘Kuchibashi’, these ones draw from the beak of the New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides) for an enhanced grip.


Murakami told ACM SIGGRAPH that a new pair of tweezers wasn’t part of the plan. Rather, the team had wanted to create a prosthetic finger adept at collecting small objects like peanuts.

However, they later learned about the New Caledonian crow, and saw that it has a beak that behaves similar to the way human hands grab objects. The bird is quite intelligent, too, and it can work simple tools with this bill. The ‘finger’ eventually evolved into beak-shaped tweezers.


Image by Murakami et al / Digital Nature Group, featured with permission


Ordinary tweezers are admittedly tricky to use at times. Kuchibashi picks up the pieces—literally.


To replicate the beak, the team 3D-printed a prototype based on CT scans and previous findings about the species. The flexible piece, made of two halves, has a 4.3-centimeter (1.7-inch) ‘beak’ like the average New Caledonian crow.


In a series of pinching tasks, nature seemed to have won. Kuchibashi was just as efficient as traditional tweezers at moving smaller three- and five-millimeter beads between dishes, but it was even quicker at transporting larger eight- and 14-millimeter spheres.

The crow-like tweezers didn’t perform as well with much tinier objects, however.

Users reported that the bioinspired tool was simple to use. Interestingly, they also ranked the tool high on “security” and “safeness” perceptions, probably because this version is soft to touch and, hence, safe for kids to use.


The researchers believe Kuchibashi has future implications as kitchenware, being able to deftly pick up food items like cherry tomatoes and chunks of tofu.






[via New Scientist and ACM SIGGRAPH, images by Takahito Murakami et al / Digital Nature Group, featured with permission]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Me

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.