Whenever I got a cut that bleed when I was a kid, I would ask my dad how long it would be until my cut would heal. He would almost always answer “soon, the human body does a fantastic job at healing itself.” This quote echoes the principle that “nature heals itself better than anything else.” The concept of permaculture reminds me of how mimicking “the patterns and relationships found in nature” creates useful products for people because nature truly does it better. This concept is known as biomimicry.
Velcro came from copying what the structure of a bur. A bur is seed or dry fruit that hooks or teeth. These types of seed easily latch on to animal fur so that the seeds can be carried and dispersed across long distances. Inventors realized that we can use multiple sets of these hooks and create a strong attachable fabric product. Qualcomm, a semiconductor and telecommunications equipment company, used the reflective properties of the Morpho butterflies’ wing to make a new display technology. This type of butterfly creates its colors because of microstructures in the wing that use the process of structural coloration instead of pigmentation. Qualcomm was able to create a display that reflects light so only the desired color is visible in each individual pixel.
The shark is my personal favorite animal used in Biomimicry. The shark is one the most incredible animals in the animal kingdom. The United States Navy has been trying to unlock the secret of sharks’ hydrodynamic body shape so theirs ships hauls can glide through the water easier. These same scientists are also interested in finding out how shark’s skin never has barnacles on it because barnacles cost the military millions in increased drag (ships requires more fuel to go a distance) and cleaning costs. Medical scientists study the sharks skin and immune systems. Shark’s skin is able to grow back faster than almost any animal because of how quickly denticles are replaced. The sharks immune system is able to fight off cancer & arthritis, as well as detoxify bacterial, fungal, anthropogenic and environmental toxins.