This mind-bendingly cute thorny devil lizard is one of the most sought-after creatures in the engineering world because it has a special talent: drinking through its foot. Using cracks in its scales, this little guy can wick water up through its foot into its body. Materials scientists hope that by studying how the lizard does this, they can invent substances that absorb water in a similar fashion. And bioengineers might go further.
Genetic engineers could create a way for humans to absorb water through their skin, so we could drink fog. That would be a more efficient way to use the water available on Earth.
National Geographic has a terrific photo feature on "biomemetics" which includes this lizard, as well as several other life forms whose features engineers hope to emulate.
This magnified image of a sharkskin reveals why sharks can move so quickly through the water. Their skin is made of interlaced scales that channel water rapidly, allowing them to move much more quickly than they would if their skin had a different texture. Scientists want to recreate sharkskin in materials that would allow seaborne ships or people to move rapidly through water.
Sign me up for gills, sharkskin, and foot drinking. I mean, if it's reversible. Top photo by Robert Clark/National Geographic and bottom photo by Eye of Science/Photo Researchers.
Biomimetics [National Geographic] (Thanks, Marilyn!)