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Animals By Joe Burgett -

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