How Does Nature... Excavate, Protect Against Biotic Factors, and Protect Against Toxins?
Randall's famous "The Crazy Nastya** Honey Badger" video launched a thousand memes but why did this particular organism capture the internet's attention? Let the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute's Megan Schuknecht explain exactly what makes the honey badger such a, for lack of a better description, badass.
AskNature Nuggets | Episode 12
If you haven't heard of the honey badger, you haven't been watching enough wacky animal videos on YouTube or following American college football. But honey badgers have a lot more to offer us than pure entertainment value.
Also known as ratels, honey badgers are weasel-like animals that are found throughout Africa, India, and the Middle East. They are relative loners and are known for their ferociousness and fearlessness.
Honey badgers are stocky and tough. They can be up to 12 inches tall and about 40 inches long, including their tail. They have a number of fascinating adaptations that have contributed to their almost mythic status.
Their front feet are wide and padded, and very strong. They have with long, curved sharp claws--up to an inch and a half long--making them excellent diggers. These adaptations also make a wide variety of food sources available to honey badgers, including burrowing rodents, bee larvae found in crevices of rocks, and even turtles.
Honey badgers have very thick, loose skin, especially around their necks, allowing them to turn their heads up to 180 degrees and bite any attacker back! This loose skin is also very resistant to bee stings, bites, and even machete blows.
One of the most interesting adaptations of honey badgers is their resistance to snake bite (venom). Snake meat is a favorite snack of honey badgers. Honey badgers that have been bitten by king cobras or puff adders, for example, have been known to go into a coma-like state, only to wake up a few hours later to finish their meal and carry on with their day.
By learning from the honey badger, could we come up with better excavation equipment or better protective skins for our buildings? Maybe honey badgers can teach us how to manufacture better anti-venoms for snakebites or even better ways to store those anti-venoms.
In this episode, AskNature Nugget creator Andrea steps from behind the camera to talk about the adaptive properties of the saguaro and barrel cacti. How can humans better adapt to extreme heat and dry conditions? Let's look to nature's experts to find out.
Today we’re in the Arizona desert to talk about the adaptive properties of the saguaro cactus and the barrel cactus. Where humans use sunglasses and clothing to protect themselves from the sun, these particular cacti use special ridges and an accordion-like surface to survive the desert heat.
The saguaro uses the ridges to its advantage as a shading mechanism. You can see that this area of the saguaro that’s currently exposed to sunlight will be shaded by the next ridge over. As the sun moves throughout the day, the ridges cast shadows, reducing the amount of surface area exposed to direct sunlight.
The barrel cactus shades itself similarly but it also uses these ridges to expand and contract depending on the amount of moisture that it needs to hold. During the wetter seasons, these ridges allow the barrel cactus to actually expand and absorb more moisture in anticipation of the long, dry summers.
So what can humans learn from the saguaro or the barrel cactus? Can we create self-cooling buildings based on the surface design? Or can we create packaging that expands and contracts without the use of any additional materials? Let’s ask ‘em.
In this special AskNature Nugget episode, biologist Sherry Ritter takes you through the design process and talks about the three organisms that inspired the 2012-2013 Biomimicry Student Design Challenge winning designs. When faced with certain water problems, these three winning student design teams approached nature with a problem and looked to three special organisms to inspire a solution.
Read more about the winning Biomimicry Student Design Challenge winners and all entries by visiting BiomimicryDesignChallenge.com
In this episode, Sherry's back to discuss the hooded pitohui bird, one of the first poisonous birds to be documented.
AskNature Nuggets | Episode 16
Do you ever get something really awful in your mouth and you feel like going, "Patooey!" Well, there's a bird in New Guinea with that exact name: the pitohui bird. The reason it's called that is because it has these alkaloids on its skin and feathers and it gets that from the food it eats. Scientists think that the reason it has this alkaloid on it --which is the same chemical found in poison dart frogs-- is because it (the alkaloids) protect it from ectoparasites like lice. So maybe we can learn from the pitohui bird how to protect ourselves from lice, bedbugs, and other parasites.