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The First “Bionic Bird” – New Foot for “Mia” the Bearded Vulture


Manwon Lender
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Life-saving bionic reconstruction

In the case of “Mia” the bearded vulture from the Owl and Bird of Prey Sanctuary in Haringsee (Lower Austria) run by Dr. Hans Frey, Sarah Hochgeschurz from Vienna University of Veterinary Medicine turned to Oskar Aszmann’s team for help. Bearded vultures are the largest flying birds in Europe with a wingspan of up to 2.6 m and this particular bird had injured its foot so badly that it had to be amputated. “However, feet are vital tools for a vulture, not only for landing and walking but also for holding their prey, so that their feet have to withstand various loads,” explains the researcher from Vetmeduni Vienna.

This new technique is known as osseointegration and Aszmann’s working group recently used it for the first time in Austria on a patient who had lost an arm – however, it had never previously been attempted on a bird. In osseointegration, external parts of the prosthesis are directly connected to a bone anchor to guarantee a solid skeletal attachment. Aszmann explains: “This concept offers a high degree of embodiment, since osseoperception provides direct intuitive feedback, thereby allowing natural use of the extremity for walking and feeding. For the first time we have now successfully bionically reconstructed the limb of a vulture.”

The First “Bionic Bird” – New Foot for “Mia” the Bearded Vulture (scitechdaily.com)

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