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Natural Genius

By Peter Lloyd

While we think of ourselves as the planet's only inventors, we can't help but marvel at the variety and innovation of form and behavior we find among other living and even non-living things. The fact that brilliant adaptations are driven by blind, random mutation doesn't diminish the value of the solutions nature offers.

Zoos, aquariums, and nature programs extol the natural, innovative genius of animals and plants. But few take this information to the next level.

Jeff Corwin holding a baby orangutangAnimal Planet's Jeff Corwin is one of the world's nature experts who understands that humans can learn important life lessons from members of the animal kingdom. Instead of leaving us with, "isn't it amazing?" Corwin has done what more animal-loving advocates ought to do.

In an article for the National Wildlife Federation, he identifies his five favorite lessons from the animal world to writer Doug Donaldson.

From African wild dogs, Jeff draws a lesson in the use of social packs. He explains what lions can teach us about running, eagles about child rearing, other birds about dressing, and brown bears about nutrition.

The nature lovers at the Biomimicry Institute also have taken a giant step in this direction. Their Ask Nature feature not only catalogs the amazing feats of the natural world, it organizes and presents them with stunning photography and detailed descriptions as inspiration for solving specific problems.

On Ask Nature you'll learn how Qualcomm mimicked the coloring attributes of the butterfly's wings to invent the new IMOD technology behind its mirasol display system.

You might want to check out how Daimler AG looked to the highly aerodynamic boxfish to help design their Bionic Car.

Then, peering into the future, Ask Nature suggests that the spikes on the back and body of the thorny devil lizard might have something to teach an inventor about collecting and delivering water from dew and rain.

In Corwin's words, "I wouldn’t trade being human for any fur or feathers, but other animals can teach us a few things."

Peter Lloyd is co-creator with Stephen Grossman of Animal Crackers, the breakthrough problem-solving tool designed to crack your toughest business problems.

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