The Etruscan pygmy shrew is a contender for the smallest mammal in the world. But its diminutive size does not detract from its amazing design. Since this little critter is blind, it must rely on its whiskers to navigate and find food. The whiskers of this tiny shrew are highly sensitive and extremely efficient. In fact, the shrew’s whiskers work so well that researchers have been studying them in an attempt to equip robots with similar technology.

Robotics experts from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in England have been working on a new machine they call Shrewbot. Shrewbot is a small robot fitted with synthetic whiskers that mimic those of the Etruscan shew (Moon, 2012). The primary advantage of this “touchy” technology is that the bot does not rely on vision. Researchers suggest that the sense of touch will enable the bot to explore “dark, dangerous or smoke filled environments” (2012).

When scientists copy designs in nature, it is called biomimicry. At Apologetics Press, we have written several articles about this field of research (see Biomimicry). Each new instance of this practice underscores the intelligent design within the natural world….

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