Rosellinis 1737 Mechanical Pig: Sophisticated automaton designed and built by veterinarian/engineer Guillermo Rosellini of Venice that convincingly and accurately walked, blinked, swam, snorted, rooted, ate, digested, and even defecated through an anatomically-correct and fully-functional anus. Drew crowds when exhibited in major European cities through the 1740s, fueling both religious outrage and intellectual debates about artificial life. About one meter long, the pig was operated by a complex and largely invisible system of hand cranks, gears, pulleys, and clock mechanisms said to comprise 147 moving parts. Unfortunately, the exact design remains somewhat of a mystery; later roboticists have been able to study only a handful of descriptions by contemporaneous scholars and historical eyewitnesses, because Rosellinis mechanical pig -- along with Rosellinis drawings and notebooks, and indeed Rosellini himself -- was apparently destroyed in a 1752 Rome hotel fire. Persistent rumors that the pig escaped the fire and has been held ever since by private collectors were seemingly verified by an uncannily similar automaton shown at the 1889 Paris Exhibition, later alleged to be a forgery crafted in 1884 by brilliant Dutch puppeteer Gilbert van Gelderschott.
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