Biologists have created a veritable robot menagerie -- complete with reptiles, birds and mammals -- to study unsuspecting predators without the added challenges that come from working with a live test subject. However, while the declining cost of robotic components and computer chips have made it more attractive for researchers, not everyone is convinced that these experiments, some of which are federally funded, are an appropriate use of public dollars. "These projects truly are representative of a broader problem, which is Washington's inability to set priorities. It's clearly unusual to spend taxpayer dollars on a robot squirrel," says John Hart, a spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

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