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  • Strategy

Fur and feathers get grip on ice: seals and penguins


Southern Elephant Seal / Butterfly vo.. / LicenseGFDL - Gnu Free Document License

Fur and feathers of seals and penguins help them get a grip to climb ice floes and snow thanks to their stiffness.

"For the seals of the icy seas and the penguins of the antarctic shore this gliding and braking mechanism is vital. When they leave the water to climb an ice floe, they get a grip with their stiff fur or feathers. They can scale 60° inclines in this manner. When they rush back into the water, they simply slide down on their stomachs. Numerous other animals that live in the snow have bristles on their running or creeping surfaces, for the same mechanical reasons." (Tributsch 1984:73)
About the inspiring organism

Learn more at
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Already implemented when using "skins" on mountaineering skis. Could be used on vehicles and footwear.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Transportation, manufacturing

Tributsch, H. 1984. How life learned to live. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 218 p.
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