One of the more interesting fields of science in today's world is the field of biomimetics.  This is the study of how to mimic or copy a design in nature and produce something that benefits mankind.  Most of us know that Velcro was designed in 1948 by George de Mestral by looking at cockleburs and how they clung to his dog's coat.  Numerous studies are ongoing because great success has been achieved in a variety of fields by studying and mimicking things in nature.

One of the more interesting studies that is going on is the study of the thorny devil lizard of Australia.  This lizard lives in the outback of Australia in incredibly dry conditions.  Dr. Andrew Parker has been studying how this lizard gets water in such an arid, hostile environment.  It turns out that the animal actually gets its water through its feet.

Using a micro-CT scanner, Parker has discovered that there are tiny capillaries between the scales of the lizard that wick the water to the animal's mouth by way of channels between its feet and its mouth.  If you stick the lizard's hind foot in a dish of water, very quickly its back will become covered with water, and shortly after that the lizard will be drinking the water that comes into its mouth.  The system is eloquently designed to allow the lizard to get water from moist sand and channel it into his mouth.

Parker is an evolutionary biologist and his comment on this design is "Why not learn from what evolution has wrought."  We would suggest that chance is a difficult model to use to try to explain this characteristic.  Design of this complexity and magnitude suggest an intelligence planned the system.

The applications of this system for man are huge.  We may be able to design systems to recover water from mud, dirt, and sand so that water supplies in dry areas can be preserved and industrial dehydration techniques can be improved.  The thorny devil lizard may offer a remarkable solution to some of man's greatest water problems.

Data from National Geographic, April 2008, page 68.

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