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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.
The cytoskeleton is the structural framework that supports cellular form and function. More than a static structure, the cytoskeleton is a true nanomachine used for mechanical tasks across the biological scale, from organelles to organisms. The protozoan Giardia lamblia, is an intriguing single-celled parasite that depends on its cytoskeleton to latch onto the host intestine and maintain parasitism. Either due to its ancient origins or the selective pressure of its life as a parasite, Giardia lacks many cytoskeletal proteins once thought to be conserved in all eukaryotes.
Characterizing the visual system of predators and prey is key to understanding some sensory/cognitive mechanisms involved in predator-prey interactions of visually-oriented animals (e.g., visual search, detection, attack). Most of the knowledge on the visual system of predators and prey comes from non-Passerine birds. However, recent research on Passeriformes provides new insights into the anatomical and behavioral specializations of the prey and the predator sensory systems to enhance detection in different ecological conditions.