, 94:613 | Cite as

Biomimetics and the case of the remarkable ragworms

  • Thomas Hesselberg


Biomimetics is a rapidly growing field both as an academic and as an applied discipline. This paper gives a short introduction to the current status of the discipline before it describes three approaches to biomimetics: the mechanism-driven, which is based on the study of a specific mechanism; the focused organism-driven, which is based on the study of one function in a model organism; and the integrative organism-driven approach, where multiple functions of a model organism provide inspiration. The first two are established approaches and include many modern studies and the famous biomimetic discoveries of Velcro and the Lotus-Effect, whereas the last approach is not yet well recognized. The advantages of the integrative organism-driven approach are discussed using the ragworms as a case study. A morphological and locomotory study of these marine polychaetes reveals their biomimetic potential, which includes using their ability to move in slippery substrates as inspiration for novel endoscopes, using their compound setae as models for passive friction structures and using their three gaits, slow crawling, fast crawling, and swimming as well as their rapid burrowing technique to provide inspiration for the design of displacement pumps and multifunctional robots.


Biomimetics Bionics Ragworms Nereis Locomotion 



The original work underlying this paper was done while the author was a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Prof. Julian Vincent and was financially supported by the European Commission, in the framework of the BIOLOCH Project (IST FET Program, IST-2001-34181). The author would like to thank three anonymous referees for suggestions in improving the original manuscript of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Biomimetic and Natural Technologies, Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of BathBathUK
  2. 2.Department of NeurobiologyUniversity of UlmUlmGermany

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