This 30‑part podcast features stories about amazing things humans have learned from the animal kingdom.

Objectives

  • Listeners will learn the science behind 30 of animals' strategies.
  • Listeners will identify some of the challenges that designers and engineers have solved by looking to nature for inspiration.
  • Listeners will learn the process scientists, designers, and engineers use to translate animals’ strategies into human designs.

In 2019, the BBC World Service launched a 30-part podcast about amazing animals and what we have learned from them. BBC’s 30 Animals That Made Us Smarter brings together the wonders of the animal kingdom with innovation and technology.

Each episode, hosted by biologist Patrick Aryee, lasts between 11 and 17 minutes and tells the story of a technological or scientific breakthrough that has come about as a result of humans learning from animals. Some of these are familiar examples of , such as the story of how the designers of the bullet train took inspiration from the kingfisher. Others reveal some lesser known stories such as how the dazzling colors in the peacock tail caught the eye of scientists, who want to mimic it to develop high-resolution reflective color displays that use less energy.  Each episode can be streamed or downloaded from the program website. Six of the episodes additionally have short animated video clips.

This program is useful for illustrating the science behind nature’s strategies and the process scientists, designers, and engineers use to translate those strategies into human designs. Examples like these help students learning about biomimicry by revealing the range of strategies, the depth of the research that’s needed to understand them, and the possibilities to learn from them for human designs.