The Digesting Duck
A mechanical duck, created by Jacques de Vaucanson, which gave the impression of eating kernels of grain, digesting and then defecating them. Vaucanson hoped that it would be possible to create a future automaton that actually performed these actions rather than the sleight of hand he used.
The Digesting Duck is a great example of technology harnessed for an entirely pointless purpose, although it did elevate the normally unpleasant process of digestion to something that became widely known across France and the western world.
Even though it may lack a practical purpose at first glance, the Digesting Duck pioneered flexible rubber tubing, something that would quickly become useful for later inventions and industries.
You can see a replica of the duck in the Museum of Automatons in Grenoble, France.
Relation to Automatons:
Have you seen M. Vaucanson’s duck? They say it eats grains and…well, let’s say that it clearly enjoys them! M. Arouet believes it to be one of the finest creations in France!
Read more about the Digesting Duck on Wikipedia.