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Rotating CT scan inside a California condor egg

San Diego Zoo

A scan of a California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) egg has revealed a hardly ever seen embryonic world. The chick is the 250th condor hatched at a facility serving to to carry again the threatened birds from the brink of extinction.

Like every condor egg laid within the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s breeding program, this one was intently monitored by veterinary employees to make sure it was rising usually. As a part of these common check-ups, specialists “candle” the creating eggs by putting a lightweight in opposition to the shell to examine the place of the chick inside.


All eggs have an air pocket inside, however this one was in an uncommon place, which instructed the chick was contorted. Such a place can hurt its likelihood of hatching efficiently. The crew determined to do a computed tomography (CT) scan to peek contained in the shell – one thing they’ve needed to do for earlier eggs, too.

“We will see the skeleton and air pockets within the egg,” says Nora Willis on the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “I’m nonetheless blown away by it.”

To their aid, the scan revealed that the chick inside was doing simply wonderful. The condor chick even began “pipping” – one of many early phases of breaking via the shell. The crew returned the egg to its nest, the place its dad and mom helped the younger hen hatch on the morning of March 16. The crew named the chick Emaay (pronounced “eh-my”), a phrase for “sky” from the language of the Kumeyaay, an Indigenous folks of California.

The hatch of the brand new chick, whose intercourse is just not but decided, marks a notable milestone for the species, which narrowly evaded extinction. The chick’s father, Xol-Xol (pronounced “hole-hole”), was considered one of simply 22 condors surviving within the Eighties that was introduced into the breeding program. “It’s type of like a full circle second,” says Willis.

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