Sep. 25, 2012 at 8:34 PM ET
An Austrian artist has coerced some hermit crabs into adopting shells created by a 3-D printer — shells in the shape of the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Hermit crabs don't actually make their own shells, but rather find ones that once belonged to snails and other creatures. But population imbalances and other ecological troubles have led to a shortage of shells, and consequently hermit crabs have moved into things like beer cans and other trash.
A project started in 2011 called Project Shellter aimed to use Makerbot printers to create perfect little 3-D printed shells, and has successfully made a number of homes for stricken crabs. Austrian art student Peter Moosgaard decided to take things a step further and use the shell as a platform for expression. His crabs get shells that look like the Guggenheim.
He created the aquarium installation as part of his program at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, and it's an ongoing work because the crabs constantly grow out of their "shells." New ones must be printed, and in the meantime the crabs in the tank compete over the existing ones.
You can see one crab living happily in its Guggenheim below, but be sure to check out the more artfully composed videos Moosgaard has up on his Vimeo channel.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.