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Illustrations of biomimicry inspired inventions.

Wild Ideas, Wild Inventions

by Mary Hoff

Wild plants and animals have inspired some of the world's great inventions.

Have you ever gone for a hike and come back with burrs stuck to your clothes? George de Mestral did. Picking the burrs off one day in the 1940s, the Swiss inventor started wondering how they might be put to good use. He looked at the burrs under a microscope and discovered they have tiny hooks that grab onto clothing. He began experimenting with ways to make fabric with burrlike hooks that could stick to other fabric. Eventually he was able to manufacture tiny nylon hooks that could both hold tight to fabric and let go when needed. And so he invented Velcro.

From powerful glues to vivid hues, living things have traits any human might envy. Since the earliest times, inventors have watched how nature solves challenges, then used the lessons nature taught them to make things that are useful to people.

To read this entire Young Naturalists story, download the PDF below

Teachers Resources

Full color PDF of Wild Ideas, Wild Inventions. Teacher's guide for Wild Ideas, Wild Inventions. photo of wild engineers.

Many other critters have inspired humans to create tools and find solutions to problems. Read "Wild Engineers" Nov.–Dec. 2006 to see more examples of fascinating adaptations.

Full-color PDF of
Wild Ideas,
Wild Inventions
This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.

Teachers Guide for
Wild Ideas,
Wild Inventions
This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.

   

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