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Freaky Wind-Powered 'Beach Animals' Invade Exploratorium

Made entirely of polyvinyl chloride and zip ties

Ambling, 40-foot long, wind-powered Dutch monstrosities are in town, and they're not to be missed.

These wind-blown weirdoes are presently restricted to the Exploratorium. And despite their alarming appearance, Strandbeests, as they’re known ( it's Dutch for "beach animals"), are actually quite cool, provided one of them doesn’t take you by surprise.

The offspring of Netherlands-based sculptor Theo Jansen‘s imagination, the beests are made almost entirely of simple PVC pipe, zip ties, and a little repurposed plastic detritus.

With the aid of a steady breeze, they will automatically and, indeed, irresistibly scramble off in any direction on their many articulated limbs, continuing until the wind dies down or they just tip over. (They can be ungainly lot, depending on the design.)

Take a look, if you dare:

Jansen began designing them 25 years ago as an attempt to create earth-moving devices that would be cheap to build and utilize simple renewable wind energy. As time went by, he drifted away from the beest’s pragmatic applications and became fascinated with making their eerily lifelike movements and anatomies even more expansive and organic.

Six of the ambulatory apparatuses are on display at the Exploratorium, starting today. The specimens include Animaris Ordis, a beest that can be combined with others of its kind to create even larger contraptions or can shed parts and shrink down to a hamster-sized version of itself, and Animaris Suspendisse, a 43-foot-long beest that stores air in bottles and powers itself when the wind dies.