This Sandgrouse Just Took the Royal Society to Design School
Today’s ID the Future takes a look at how scientists from MIT and Johns Hopkins University are picking up clever engineering tricks by studying the feather design of the Namaqua sandgrouse. Ordinary bird feathers are already a master class in ingenious design, but as Jochen Mueller and Lorna Gibson show in a recent Royal Society Interface paper, the males of this desert-dwelling sandgrouse from southwestern Africa “have specially adapted feathers on their bellies that hold water, even during flight, allowing the birds to transport water back to the chicks at the nest.” Episode guest Brian Miller details the ingenious design of these feathers and tells how they are inspiring human inventions, one of which could help desert communities collect water from the air more efficiently. From there Miller takes listeners through a flyover of other inventions inspired by ingenious designs in biology and discusses how this invention strategy is proving so fruitful that it’s now treated as an interdisciplinary subdiscipline known as biomimetics. For more from Miller about this exciting field and how it repeatedly highlights evidence of intelligent design in biology, see his chapter in the new book Science and Faith in Dialogue, available as a free digital download.