In Germany, the long arm of the law is taking to the wing. In an effort to sniff out hidden corpses more effectively, police there are training three vultures to act as detectives, hopefully to scan large, sometimes densely overgrown areas for the presence of dead bodies.
Appropriately named Sherlock, Miss Marple, and Columbo (what, no Jessica Fletcher?), the three vultures are being trained in a bird park in northern Germany, where investigators hope their sharp eyesight and super-sensitive senses of smell--highly tuned to the olfactory signatures of decaying flesh, of course--will prove them better than dogs for searching large swaths of territory for bodies. They also hope the newly deputized vulture detectives won't peck at the corpses after they're found.
Police are using three birds because vultures like to roam in groups--though reportedly Sherlock has a frustrating tendency to hunt on foot rather than on the wing. It’s an experiment for sure, but if it works vultures could join police ranks everywhere. Inquiries have already come in from Switzerland, Austria, and elsewhere in Germany.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.