Desert Beetle Harvests Water

Description:  Certain species of darkling beetles that live in the Namib Desert are able to harvest water vapor using an ingenious series of tips and bumps on their wing scales. The water droplets start to form on the tips and then flow off the waxy bumps to be collected by the beetle. This structure allows the beetle to survive in an incredibly arid environment. It could also be used by engineers to develop a similar system for collecting water for humans. Students should use this and other plants and animal phenomenon to start designing their own solutions to human problems.

Web Resource: Water Vapor Harvesting - Ask Nature, Darkling Beetles  


Crown Shyness

Description:  In this phenomenon the crowns of certain trees do not touch. The physiological mechanism and cause of this phenomenon is not clearly understood. Since it appears in several species of trees that are not directly related it may be an example of convergent evolution. Students could speculate on why this occurs and in the upper levels may attempt to determine the mechanism of crown shyness.

Web Resource:  Crown shyness - Wikipedia


Gecko Feet

Description:  The foot of a gecko has folds upon folds upon folds. This increases the surface area between the foot of the gecko and the surface it is climbing on. Intermolecular forces between the two surfaces allows the gecko to scale vertical surfaces. This phenomenon can be used as an introduction to biomimicry or as an application of intermolecular forces.

Web Resources: Gecko Feet Inspire Climbing Space Robots, How Do Geckos’ Feet Work?