Why Do Animals Outrun Robots?

Over decades of research and development, engineers have been working on designing and building robots that can walk and run as well as animals and have built many devices capable of independent movement. Max Donelan of Simon Fraser University, Canada and colleagues from various USA universities carried out an extensive study of running robots comparing […]

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Sound of Silent Flight

Owls are well known for their almost silent flight. Previous studies of their flight feathers have revealed they have fringes on their trailing edge that suppress noise, but the way the fringes actually suppressed sound was not known, so a research team at scientists and engineers at Center for Aerial Intelligent Vehicles at Chiba University, […]

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Fossil Robot

Fossil robot built by engineers at Carnegie Mellon University, who worked with palaeontologists to design and build a robot based on an extinct fossil creature known as a Pleurocystidid, which were a type of echinoderm. They had a flattened oval body, a long segmented stem at one end, and two smaller appendages, believed to be […]

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Cicada Wings Clean Up Bacteria. 

Cicada and dragonfly wings are known to have a surface layer that kills bacteria by tearing them apart and then removing the dead bacteria.  Getting rid of dead bacteria is an important property as it prevents other bacteria from colonising the surface and feeding on the debris of the shredded bacteria.  It was thought that […]

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Self Planting Seeds Inspired by Natural Seeds

A team of scientists and engineers have developed a simple device enables seeds to bury themselves in soil.  They were inspired by the seeds of a plant Erodium cicutarium aka stork’s bill geranium.  These seeds have a corkscrew shaped tail that coils and uncoils with changing moisture levels and this movement drills the seeds into […]

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Snake Lover Demands Reverse Evolution

Alan Pan, an engineer based in Los Angeles, USA, has designed and built a device that enables snakes to walk on four legs. The device consists of a long tube open at both ends that a snake can crawl into. Attached to this are four robotic legs, each fitted with servomotors. The walking pattern is […]

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Hummingbirds Have Most Colours

A team of scientists at Yale University have carried out an extensive study of the wavelengths of light reflected by feathers of from 114 species of hummingbirds.  They then compared these with feathers of 111 other bird species, including penguins and parrots.  They found the range of colours in hummingbirds exceeded to range of colours […]

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No Blue Colour in Bluest Berries

The fruits of a shrub named Lantana strigocamara have a distinct blue colour with a metallic sheen.  Scientists at University of Colorado, Boulder, have studied these to find out where the blue colour comes from and found it is not from any blue pigment.  The berry-like fruits have a complex structure of lipid droplets in […]

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Trilobite Eyes Inspire Bifocal Lenses

Researchers from China and the USA have studied the eyes of a trilobite named Dalmanitina socialis.  These creatures had ‘bifocal’ eyes consisting of two lenses that bent light at different angles, enabling them to see both close up and far away objects at the same time. The researchers were “inspired by the optical structure of […]

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Tiny insects flying

How Featherwing Beetles Fly

Featherwing beetles are the world’s smallest beetles – less than 0.4mm long.  They are named featherwing because their wings consist of bristles rather than a solid sheet of tissue as in other flying insects.  The individual bristles have outgrowths giving them a brushlike appearance and their wings are folded under a pair of wing cases, […]

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