Home Animals Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
Animals By Joe Burgett -

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Stefan Rotter/Shutterstock.com]

Wasps & Drills/Saws

The horntail wasp is kind of odd with its two giant, whip-like needles on its hindquarters. These are not stingers, but rather, drill bits. They can be as long as the wasp’s entire body and allow them to drill into trees where they deposit their young. Biologists have been fascinated by them for years because they do not work like traditional drills and can drill from any angle without much effort, with so little body weight. Scientists eventually realized that the two needles work their way into the wood, pushing off and then reinforcing the other…sort of like a zipper. University of Bath Astronomers realized drills like this can come in handy in space, due to the lack of gravity. That means a lack of pressure to drill into something. This led to the design of a saw with extra blades that work just like the wasp’s needles.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Karel Bartik/Shutterstock.com]

Sharks & Preventing Bacteria On Products

While Sharks are pretty amazing, you’d be surprised to learn that they are among the animals that inspired scientists to do something incredible. One issue the United States Navy’s ships & submarines dealt with was “fouling.” This is the accumulation of unwanted material on solid surfaces such as barnacles and algae for ships. This can reduce the efficiency of ships and other things. However, Dr. Anthony Brennan was brought in to fix this issue and he found that sharks were the only marine animal that does not foul. The skin of sharks is comprised of denticles that overlap in a diamond shape repeating pattern, which stops bacteria from growing. Brennan and his team realized they could replicate this to prevent bacteria on not just ships but numerous products. This led to the “Sharklet” tech being used on countless products.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Jordan Grinnell/Shutterstock.com]

Dolly The Sheep & Cloning

While it might be odd to think that a sheep was among the animals that inspired scientists more than once to do something incredible, it’s true. Technically, a sheep was used to offer future inspiration. In July 1996, a fuzzy little sheep came from the belly of one of her three mothers. She was the first mammal cloned from an adult cell. Dolly’s birth proved that somatic cell nuclear transfer could work. This is the process by which a cell nucleus from an adult cell is transferred into an unfertilized eff, blasted with electricity, then implanted into a surrogate. While Dolly passed away at just 6 years old, she helped to prove cloning was possible. Ever since then, we’ve cloned even larger animals from pigs to horses and bulls. We even have plans in place to try to clone a human being one day.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Breck P. Kent/Shutterstock.com]

Pygmy Rattlesnake & Antiplatelet Drugs

Pygmy Rattlesnakes possess a version of hemotoxic venom, which can spell disaster for their prey. When bitten, the venom will cause prey to bleed profusely and be unable to clot. This could end the life of small prey but also humans if we do not get help fast enough. Scientists have found that a molecule that causes this to occur in the snake’s venom can be used in the medical world. It is used for eptifibatide, an antiplatelet drug that binds to platelets in the blood for a short period of time, preventing them from sticking together. This drug can be used to treat advanced heart disease, blood clots, strokes, and help those at risk for sudden heart attacks.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via FamilyDoctor.org]

Mosquitoes & Syphilis

We’ve actually mentioned this in the past but it’s worthy of bringing up in this article on the animals that inspired scientists article. Most mosquitoes are capable of carrying malaria but the Marsh Mosquito is the most notable. There are 460 types of this mosquito on the planet but only around 100 carry malaria. Most of those tend to be in African & Asian territories. While malaria is a deadly disease, we’ve been able to control it for a while. Meanwhile, the rise of syphilis which could kill people a lot faster was hard to treat. Before antibiotics like penicillin came around, doctors had to find a way to rid someone of syphilis and they found that malaria-induced fevers could actually work. This concept was used from the 1920s to the 1950s, but many feel that inducing normal fevers would likely have done just as well as this treatment.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Big Life Foundation]

Elephants & Robotics

A lot of animals have inspired major inventions in the world of technology. However, one interested us quite a lot. There is a robotic arm that was designed to work similar to that of an elephant trunk. Created by the German engineering firm known as Festo, this relatively new biomechatronic handling system was designed to offer more flexible and pliable movement for numerous potential projects. Called the Bionic Handling Assistant, it is able to transport heavy loads smoothing, as it expands and contracts by inflating (or deflating) air sacs within each supposed vertebrae.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Craig Dingle/Shutterstock.com]

Bats & Helping The Blind

It is sort of ironic that we’ve used bats as the animals that inspired scientists to create technology for the blind. Considering bats themselves are basically blind, as their eyes are incredibly sensitive to light. Thus, they have to be in darker conditions to see properly. They actually get around using echolocation through ultrasonic echoes. This is what allows the bats to “see” around them, avoiding obstacles or possible predators. This same method was utilized in the Ultracane. Sensors are all over the cane to make it sensitive to the world around it. The cane allows blind people to sense objects higher than their own height and avoid far more possible dangers.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Giedriius/Shutterstock.com]

Deer Antlers & The Inspiration For Tough, Durable Materials

When bucks go at it during a duel in the wild, they go head-first into one another with their antlers in a violent fashion. The deer are usually fighting for superiority and while one would assume that their antlers are getting damaged during this, they are actually getting stronger. Scientists at the University of York in the UK found that during the duels, the deer antlers dry out. Usually, this would make something brittle and easily breakable. However, these deer antlers are actually 2.4 times stronger than wet bone! Engineers used this ideology when making materials and we’ve now made many durable industrial materials.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via National Audubon Society]

Bird Skulls & Stronger/Lighter Building Materials

In general, skulls are pretty impact-resistant and pretty light. Which seems kinda crazy when you realize it is supposed to protect one of the most important organs in the body. Yet this is exactly why what we get with skulls could be a major asset to structures and architectural designs. Architect Andres Harris said this, claiming that he wanted to design a highly efficient bio-inspired surface. While he is still working on this concept, he imagines how mimicking bird skulls and how they work can be useful for large pavilions and even cars. Essentially, birds are animals that inspired scientists often and Mr. Harris is among those who seem inspired by them right now.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Sang Woon/Shutterstock.com]

Kingfishers & Bullet Trains

Perhaps one of the most famous instances of animals that inspired scientists to do amazing things involves the bullet train. When bullet trains would go through tunnels and come out on the other side, they’d move so fast that coming out would result in a loud thunderclap sound, but it was often confused for gunshots. One genius engineer named Eiji Nakatsu, who happened to be a bird lover, realized this issue could be resolved by looking at the beak of a Kingfisher. The nose of the trains was designed improperly, creating a wall of wind. This wind made the loud thunderclap sound trains produced coming out of tunnels. Thus, by redesigning the nose of the train to be similar to Kingfisher beaks, the wind would no longer build up and trains even saved 20% more fuel too!

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via The Hill]

Brazilian Arrowhead Vipers & Medicine

The Brazilian Arrowhead Viper is a dangerous snake, yet also happens to be one of the most important to scientists due to its venom. During tests on its venom, scientists found a molecule they called the “bradykinin” potentiating factor from the venom and found that it was related to a class of molecules that stop angiotensin-converting enzymes from blocking bradykinin. Of course, bradykinins are proteins that cause blood vessels to dilate and lower blood pressure. In the wild, it would be useful for a snake to have venom like this as it could slow down the animal. In our case, this venom helped to develop one of the first ACE inhibitors, which treats hypertension and congestive heart failure.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Syed F Abbas/Shutterstock.com]

Blister Beetles & Viral Skin Infections

Folk medicine isn’t always known for getting stuff right. However, a lot of the things we still utilize today in some form trace back to folk medicinal ideology. One of those concepts is the use of blister beetles. They have been used for a variety of ailments over the years. One area they have been actually successful in helping is skin infections, such as the Molluscum contagiosum virus or MCV. The viral skin infection is part of the poxvirus family, and results in several bumps appearing on the body. Blister beetles can treat this quite well. On top of that, they are also quite helpful in treating warts. Apparently, it’s the cantharidin blistering toxin that seems to help so much.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Patjo/Shutterstock.com]

Sheep/Lamb & Blood Transfusions

It was June 1667 when French physician Jean-Baptiste Denys performed the first documented blood transfusion to a human. Denys was helping a 15-year-old boy who had been treated by bloodletting which caused him to suffer blood loss. To save him, Denys used sheep’s blood. The teen remarkably survived but it was by luck alone. Denys then tried “cure” a mentally ill man named Antoine Mauroy as Denys & his colleagues felt replacing his “bad blood” with “good blood” would help him. Keep in mind, during this time doctors were still ignorant about many things, including mental health. Sadly, Mauroy died mostly because humans struggle to handle even other human blood, let alone blood from animals. However, he did survive the first & even second transfusions. He’d technically die truly by arsenic poisoning from surgeons.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[image via Ian Fletcher/Shutterstock.com]

Spiders & Flexible Tape/Homes/And More

If there is one species that should be among the animals that inspired scientists to do something great, spiders deserve to be near the top of the list. Spider silk we’ve found to be incredibly strong, up to 5 times stronger than steel by weight. Silk is stretchy, but also lightweight, making it possible to use in many places. One area is in a medical tape that can be peeled off of a wound without damaging the tissue underneath. It can be used to attach tubes or sensors to newborns too, just showing how useful the tape can be. Spider Webbing/Silk has also been proven to be great as a potential material for homes due to how strong it is and even how it stacks up against the elements.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Andanatb/Shutterstock.com]

Maggot Therapy & Wound Treatment

While you might not think that maggots could be among the animals that inspired scientists, they have been pretty critical. Maggot Therapy has been used for thousands of years in some form. We know that Native Americans, even the Mayans, utilized it to help clean wounds. Maggots were a major asset during the American Civil War as well as both World War I & World War II. In fact, in 2004 the American FDA cleared maggots from the common green bottle fly as a “medicinal device.” Used for treating things such as various types of ulcers, and non-healing traumatic post-surgical wounds. Basically, maggots are inserted into non-healing skin or soft-tissue wounds to clean out necrotic (or dead) tissue within the wound. They also essentially help to disinfect the area, resulting in far fewer amputations or long-term issues.


Where Do We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)

National Institutes of Health

United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

University of Illinois

University of Edinburgh

Yale University

University of California – Berkeley

University of Bath

Penn State University

University of York

University of California – San Diego

West Chester University

Smithsonian Magazine