Five animals that have inspired modern technology

Last updated at 14:54
A coiled California king snakeScience Photo Library
Learning how snakes slither could help scientists develop new, tougher paints.

Scientists who worked out how snakes slither on their bellies are hoping this discovery could help them come up with new, hard-wearing paints and surfaces.

They think they'll be able copy snakes' greasy layer on their bellies to create tough new materials.

But it's not the first time humans have copied animals to create new tech.

Here are Newsround's top five.

1. Kingfishers

KingfisherGetty Images
Kingfishers' streamlined beaks inspired almost silent, super-fast train travel.

A bird-watching engineer at a Japanese rail company took inspiration from a kingfisher's beak to solve a problem with high speed trains.

When they first were invented, high-speed trains had a real problem with noise, especially in tunnels.

As they drive through, the air pressure builds up in waves and as the nose exits the tunnel there's a loud noise. But an engineer re-designed the nose to be long and pointy like the kingfisher so the airwaves were gradually released instead.

2. Whales

humpback whaleAP
Humpback whales have ridges on their fins to help them swim - similar tech is used in wind turbines.

Humpback whales might be heavy, but they're actually very good swimmers.

This is down to a row of warty ridges, called tubercles, on the front edge of their fins. These bumps help the whale to swim faster and change direction more easily.

A scientist called Frank Fish spotted this and worked out a way of adding similar bumps to wind turbine blades.

He found it made the turbines go faster when the wind changed direction, creating more power.

3. Geckos

GeckoGetty Images
Geckos use their toe pads to stick to almost any surface - scientists have developed this technology for humans.

Geckos have specially adapted feet that mean they can stick to surfaces, and recently, scientists discovered they can do this because their feet are covered in thousand of tiny elastic hairs.

A team in the US has copied the geckos and developed amazing gloves that help climbers scale vertical walls.

They're hoping that the military will be able to use them in the future to climb over tough, steep or uneven land, high buildings or steep walls.

4. Dogs

Swiss engineer George de Mestral was inspired to create Velcro after walking his dog in the Alps.AP

Velcro was invented when Swiss engineer George de Mestral went for a walk with his dog in the Alps.

When they got back, George found his dog was covered in fuzzy thistle-like seeds called burrs.

Mestral studied how these burrs and hairs attached to each other with tiny hooks.

It was this that inspired him to create Velcro as a way to easily fasten things together.

5. Sharks

Great white sharkScience Photo Library
Sharks have skin that is covered in a special pattern to make sure nothing clings to them in the water.

Sharks have amazing skin, which works to keep them clean of algae and other hitch-hiking sea creatures.

Their skin has a special pattern on it called 'dentricles' which reduces drag and means they can glide through the sea easily.

The shark skin caught the eyes of scientists at Nasa, who copied the patterns to create a special coating.

They used it on American sailing boats in the Olympics to help them move faster through the water.