Engineering in Nature

A time-lapse video of Erodium coiling (not mine). It responds to changes in humidity…

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Yes! plants with built-in, spring-loaded :cyclone:“screws” are really mind boggling :face_with_spiral_eyes:

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All aphids have range of hosts, there’re species with pretty wide assortment of trees or weeds they use (and different generations will use different ones), but it’s not uncommon for them to use one family, genus or species. You can check those relationships on real examples here: https://bladmineerders.nl/parasites/animalia/arthropoda/insecta/hemiptera/sternorrhyncha/aphidoidea/aphididae/

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what distinguishes engineering / architecture from the structures that are created within an organism or an organism itself? is it intention?

for example:

  • is a coral reef architecture?
  • when ants use their bodies to make bridges and rafts, is that engineering?
  • is a banyan colony architecture?
  • is a mycorrhizal network engineering?
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For that matter, the perfect hexagons of a honeycomb.

What I find really amazing are yellowjacket nests. Essentially cardboard, but made preformed in the shape required – no need for folding or cutting. In order for us to do that (as with cardboard egg cartons), we need to use a mold, but the yellowjackets do it “freehand.” And how does it not disintegrate in the rain like our paper does? Does the shape or composition shed water so that it doesn’t get soaked? Is that how they keep the brood dry? The brood cells in the center look just like a Polistes nest, but unlike Polistes who build under overhangs to keep their brood dry, yellowjackets can build in the open, using the cardboard sphere to keep the brood dry.

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Ecballium elaterium waterjet

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Impatiens noli-tangere

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Another great example of landscape-level patterns: the surales, South American wetlands with a repeating mound-and-ditch pattern https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154269.g001 are the result of giant earthworms (juveniles can be up to 3 feet long). The earthworms eat dirt from the edges of their ranges and eject the castings in a central location, creating lower and higher areas.

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the monsters from Dune live on our blue planet?

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Wow! How long does it take them to create one mound?
It actually reminded me of this video https://youtu.be/8Jvnxvg9rj4?t=268 about different types of swamps/marshes in Karelia, can’t ignore a structure similar to this:


In the end what is not an engineering in nature? A single tree is a wonder of engineering.

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What about something that can be seen from space? Like 200 million, 30ft diameter termite mounds covering an area equal to that of Great Britain?

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True. Or a single cell in that tree.

A self-replicating protein, even.

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Birds who have trained humans to - come here - and open up that wild beehive for me - thank you. Species name is Indicator indicator

https://theconversation.com/why-its-crucial-to-safeguard-the-ancient-practice-of-finding-wild-honey-with-birds-184601

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There is an ever-growing body of evidence which suggests that certain plants such as those in the Lobeliaceae actually have structures on the flower that are designed to scrape the pollen off of ‘promiscuous’ pollinators which have just arrived from visiting another species, in order for them to receive a fresh ‘dose’ from the incumbent

This is next level engineering if true! :star_struck:

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I am often impressed by the nests of Pacific/Pale Legged Hornero nests I find, I just love the design, it’s almost like there’s a little door on the front :]

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Do you have a specific article/source in mind? That sounds really cool!

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I attended a Webinar where one of the presenters spoke about this, I think he’s actually busy with his Master’s or Doctoral thesis on the subject

Will try find for you :smiley:

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