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Organisms have developed remarkable specializations to sense and navigate their environments. Fish are able to detect predators and prey using a network of mechanosensory hair cells, called the lateral line, that are located on the surface of the skin. These cells detect disruptions in their surrounding fluid and convert mechanical information to electrical impulses that are relayed to the brain. The mechanosensory hair cells of the lateral line are both structurally and functionally similar to those of the inner ear that mediate hearing and balance.
Nature-inspired solutions have spawned such products as potential cancer cures from animal and plants, novel antibiotics, and gecko-inspired adhesives. This “bio-inspired” approach applies integrative methods from anatomy, animal function, evolution, and biomechanics to inspire novel synthetic materials. Further, new methods for visualizing animals has opened new doors into understanding the diversity of life. This lecture will discuss how studies of gecko form and functions have contributed to a broader understanding of bio-inspiration.