When the researchers began studying the way salts crystallize on such surfaces, they found that the precipitating salt would initially form a partial spherical shell around a droplet. Unexpectedly, this shell would then suddenly rise on a set of spindly leg-like extensions grown during evaporation. The process repeatedly produced multilegged shapes, resembling elephants and other animals, and even sci-fi droids. The researchers dubbed these formations “crystal critters” in the title of their paper.
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