Brazil’s Amazon waterways are home to the feared piranha. The razor-like teeth of these aggressive fish make quick work of most prey. However, large Arapaima fish share space with piranha, even in crowded ponds. Arapaima are one of the largest freshwater fish, reaching 300 pounds and a length of 8 feet (2.5 meters).
Piranhas have learned that the Arapaima’s armor-like protective scales cannot be overcome. These scales have a hard, mineralized shell-like surface which is anchored to underlying flexible muscle.
body construction, flexible ceramic
Continue reading airtight and flexible, the Arampaima skin
Many of us remember the misfortune of stepping on a thumbtack, sitting on a tack (!), or reaching into a box of thumbtacks and getting pricked. New York design engineer Toshi Fukaya has now found a simple solution to the painful problem.
spike, tires, grip applications, climbing, grippers
Continue reading Cat’s Claw – Safety Thumbtack
Chameleons display many design features including changing skin color and stereoscopic eyesight. Another feature is their ability to capture insects with an extended tongue. Upon sighting fresh prey, the chameleon quickly extends its tongue to twice its body length. The tongue moves outward at ten meters per second (33 ft/sec). Once released, the tongue is in free flight and unguided, so it must be launched with precision. In addition, the tongue must exert very little force to make a sticky capture without pushing the target insect away.
Continue reading mimic the chameleons tongue will offer new robot arms
In 1935, inventor Paul Sperry sought a solution to a problem encountered in his hobby of sailing off the shore of New England. Whenever the boat deck became wet, it was slippery and dangerous. One winter day during a walk, he noticed that his cocker spaniel remained surefooted, even on slippery sidewalks. Sperry later examined the dog’s paws closely and noticed wave-like grooves on the pads.
grip on slippery surfaces
Continue reading dog paw inspires for shoes
Electronic circuits typically constructed on very thin silicon surfaces. Now, suppose that we want to transfer such a circuit unto a non-flat surface such as cloth or leather. Circuits are fragile and any surface contact during movement can be destructive. Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois turned to the gecko lizard for the solution. Geckos are masters at sticking and then freeing their feet as they walk across a ceiling. The gecko foot has countless micro-size filaments which adhere to most surfaces by flexible, reversible molecular adhesion.
climb, stick to walls or on street
Continue reading gecko feet sticks by the force of electricity
Lizards are some of the most versatile animals on the planet. Geckoes for example can climb straight up walls, even across glass ceilings upside down. Their feet have been studied to learn how to make better adhesives. Now, lizards are the subject of a new investigation which includes the dinosaurs. Researchers are looking at how lizards use their tails for balance, resulting in similar mechanical “tails” for robots.
Continue reading lizard tail for stabilizers
A species of North African scorpion does not mind getting sand blasted or whipped by desert winds. While other desert creatures burrow downward for protection, the scorpion scurries in the open and withstands abrasion. Studies reveal that its surface is covered with many hardened, dome-shaped bumps just a few microns in size. This armor coating deflects nearby air flow and reduces the force of wind and sand.
Continue reading scorpion “skin” for more abrasion resistance
Snakes have scales on their belly skin which help them move about. On a flat surface, the body weight is continuously redistributed for maximum friction, and the scales provide grip. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have made detailed studies of the movement of the milk snake. The result, which they call terrestrial lateral undulation, reveals complex motion.
Continue reading the mystical movement of snakes
Thousands of wind turbines have been installed worldwide in recent years for the production of clean electric energy. Efforts continue to make the large turbines efficient and quiet. One successful modification of existing turbine blades is inspired by the stegosaur.
Continue reading stegosaurus plates for innovative wind-turbines
Here is an activity to try with a length of adhesive tape. Press the tape against a dusty surface several times. As expected, the tape quickly loses its holding strength as dust particles collect and coat the sticky side. In contrast, consider tree frogs which thrive in dusty, wet, or muddy surroundings. Yet they cling securely to branches and leaves, even hanging upside down. How are they able to hold on without falling?
Continue reading tree frog climb wet and dirty surfaces as well as upside down surfaces without falling