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Scientists create a see-through artificial eggshell for lab-raised embryos

This video shows the top view of the embryo in the transparent eggshell. (Video: Science China Press)

Want to see a bird embryo mid-development without chowing down on Balut? Look no further: Researchers have developed transparent artificial eggshells for use in the lab. The point is to create a small, easily regulated medium to grow and test avian embryos in. But the above video of a chicken embryo in action is a fun bonus.

Scientists often use chicken embryos as models for development, and they need to be able to peek at them as they grow and change. Labs usually accomplish this by "windowing" the egg -- otherwise known as punching a hole in it and covering it up as needed -- but new research published in Science China Technological Sciences presents an alternative.

The "egg-on-a-chip" would allow scientists to better organize growing birds in the lab and observe them from all sides. The researchers didn't "hatch" living chickens from these artificial eggs (which usually happens after around 20 days of incubation), but they did successfully grow them for over 17 days.