Animal Superpower Challenge


Biology, Engineering, Physics

Among the most fascinating aspects of biology are the superlative and unusual traits animals have evolved to adapt to their ecological niches. From the ultra-sensitive vision of nocturnal bees to the astonishing sticky feet of geckos, these “superpowers” have tremendous potential to teach us about general principles, and to lead to unexpected applications.

The Projects

Browse the participating projects

Gila monster genomics: conservation, venom, and treatments for Type-II diabetes

The Gila monster, with its distinctive black and orange pattern, is one of Arizona’s most iconic animals...

The Development of Non-iridescent Structurally Colored Material Inspired by Tarantula Hairs.

Many vibrant colors in nature are produced by nanostructures rather than pigments. But their application...

How Can We Use the Snapping Shrimp’s Hunting Ability in Everyday Engineering Applications?

Alpheus heterochaelis, better known as the Pistol Shrimp, possesses an over-sized claw that creates a cavitation...

How the dragon glides: the biomechanics of a flying lizard

Gliding animals are not paper planes - and yet many studies have modeled them so. Flying lizards are agile...

Little hungry warriors: Examining trade-offs between fighting and feeding in hummingbirds

Flying at incredible speeds, often upside down and backwards, hummingbirds truly have superpowers! These...

Building a bat: Effects of synchronizing wing beat and sonar emission on the respiratory tract

Many flying bats carry out two energetically expensive behaviors: wing beat and sonar emission. To economize...

The cost of being super-fly: The effects of Vespa Amino Acid Mixture on cellular repair mechanisms

The aim of this project is to discover how Vespa Amino Acid Mixture (VAAM), a metabolic accelerant, impacts...

The Red Devil squid: Oxygen deprived, cold, and under pressure

At night the Red Devil (Humboldt) squid rises to the ocean’s surface to feed, but come morning, it begins...

More About This Challenge

The sciency details

Challenge Amount:
Submission Deadline:
Mar 21, 2016
Campaign Launch:
Mar 29, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions

How do challenge grants work?

This grant is for projects that launch crowdfunding campaigns by Mar 29, 2016. The project that with the most backers by the third week of the campaign will receive an additional $1,500 grant. The two runners-up will receive $250 each. Eligible projects must be approved before the launch deadline.

When will the grant be awarded?

On April 27th at 5PM PT, the prizes will be awarded according to the posted schedule.

Can I still submit a project?

We are no longer accepting projects for this grant, however we will be launching many more challenge grant opportunities. Sign up for our mailing list for up-to-date community news.

Please Note:

If we see suspicious acitivity of researchers or backers potentially cheating during the challenge, the project will be completely disqualified from winning the grant.

Challenge Aims

Krogh’s principle:
“For a large number of problems there will be some animal of choice, or a few such animals, on which it can be most conveniently studied.”
– August Krogh

We invite proposals for projects that investigate, or are inspired by, animal abilities with extreme performance and/or extraordinary design. Or colloquially, Animal Superpowers. These may come from (but are not limited to) the following fields:

* Sensory systems and signaling

* Locomotion

* Biomimetics

* Bioenergetics

* Adaptations to extreme environments

* Regeneration

* Predation and anti-predator strategies

* Navigation

* Hibernation

Project Eligilibity

Researchers must be based at a US institution, or if international, receive approval ahead of time to submit. Projects submitted before the deadline will be eligible for the grant.

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