What do Velcro, Michael Phelps' sharkskin swimsuit and the world's largest passenger aircraft - the Airbus A380 - have in common? The answer rests in a growing field of scientific study through which modern engineers, scientists and architects are looking not at what we can extract from the natural world but what we can learn from it.
This is known as 'biomimicry' or biologically inspired engineering. Simply put, it's the study and imitation of nature's best ideas to help solve human challenges. It's why that now famous swimsuit was able to replicate a shark's ability to reduce friction and stay clean, properties that not only made Phelps even slicker in the water but also protect bacteria sensitive surfaces in hospitals.
A growing number of aeronautical innovations are inspired by an array of natural structures, organs and materials - and these tried and tested patterns of the natural world will continue to be a powerful source of inspiration in the future.