Great shares Kate Rushton ! Thanks for the info on spider webs. Crazy that this is going on and we are still yet to harness the power of these abundant biomaterials.
Another great biomaterial is Chitin - produced by shrimps, scorpions and butterflies! A great TED talk on it here: https://www.ted.com/talks/neri_oxman_design_at_the_intersection_of_technology_and_biology/transcript?language=en#t-438957
"The second-most abundant biopolymer on the planet is called chitin, and some 100 million tons of it are produced every year by organisms such as shrimps, crabs, scorpions and butterflies. We thought if we could tune its properties, we could generate structures that are multifunctional out of a single part. So that's what we did. We called Legal Seafood — we ordered a bunch of shrimp shells, we grinded them and we produced chitosan paste. By varying chemical concentrations, we were able to achieve a wide array of properties — from dark, stiff and opaque, to light, soft and transparent. In order to print the structures in large scale, we built a robotically controlled extrusion system with multiple nozzles. The robot would vary material properties on the fly and create these 12-foot-long structures made of a single material, 100 percent recyclable. When the parts are ready, they're left to dry and find a form naturally upon contact with air. So why are we still designing with plastics? The air bubbles that were a byproduct of the printing process were used to contain photosynthetic microorganisms that first appeared on our planet 3.5 billion year ago, as we learned yesterday. Together with our collaborators at Harvard and MIT, we embedded bacteria that were genetically engineered to rapidly capture carbon from the atmosphere and convert it into sugar. For the first time, we were able to generate structures that would seamlessly transition from beam to mesh, and if scaled even larger, to windows. A fruit-bearing fruit tree. Working with an ancient material, one of the first lifeforms on the planet, plenty of water and a little bit of synthetic biology, we were able to transform a structure made of shrimp shells into an architecture that behaves like a tree. And here's the best part: for objects designed to biodegrade, put them in the sea, and they will nourish marine life; place them in soil, and they will help grow a tree.'