Alligator gets new 3D printed prosthetic tail

Experts say tail of alligator probably bitten off by another gator, leaving him at quite a disadvantage.

Matanel Roth,

Happy alligator
Happy alligator
iStock

Not only pizza can be printed. An alligator that lost its tail in battle with another alligator lived for eight years with great difficulty with no tail. With help of new technology, they succeeded in printing an artificial tail and joining it.

You could say that for the alligator, the tail is the most important organ (except the head of course). Evidence of this could be the Arizona alligator who lost his tail and since then has had difficulty functioning.

Authorities found the alligator (already known as Mr. Stubbs) about 8 years ago with illegal hunters and rushed him to treatment. The researchers assume the alligator lost its tail when another alligator bit it off, which is probably why the alligator was easy prey to hunters who came to catch him.

Dr. Justin Georgi explains in a video that since most of the alligator's walk depends on the tail, Stubbs can only walk slowly and the other alligators take his food regularly.

In addition, the tail is vital for the alligator to swim in the water, and without it they may drown in deep water. Because a major part of alligator function depends on its ability to swim, a new tail must be obtained quickly.

But producing the prosthetic tail was not that simple. It needed to be affixed strongly enough not to fall off when moving sideways, and heavy enough to balance the alligator's weight when swimming in water.

Finally, after 8 years of experiments, researchers were able to use a 3D printer to create a new tail for Mr.Stubbs and allow him to return to normal life. The tail was attached with a special harness that can withstand the pressure exerted by the alligator on the tail yet on the other hand give it the ability to move comfortably.

And how many more years before it's possible to print artificial organs for humans as well? In the meantime it's still hard to know but we seem to be in the right direction.

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