Was It Designed?
● To the eye, the skin of a shark appears smooth. But if you could feel it—safely, of course—you would discover that sharkskin actually has a texture like sandpaper when you move your hand from the tail toward the head.a
Consider: The tiny grooved scales that produce this effect help the shark in two ways. First, they channel the water, allowing the shark to swim with minimal resistance. Second, the scales flex as the shark swims, creating an unstable surface so that parasites cannot find a home there.
The properties of sharkskin have a wide range of applications. For instance, scientists have already produced a swimsuit that because of the shark-inspired texture of its outer surface increases the wearer’s swimming speed by about three percent. They believe that the same principles can be employed to develop cars and boats with less friction drag.
Researchers also hope to tap into the hygienic properties of sharkskin to manufacture a microbe-repellent coating for boats that would be more friendly to the environment than metal-based antifouling paints. Other applications include medical products and devices that will reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections.
What do you think? Did the shark’s skin—with its energy-efficient, hygienic properties—come about by chance? Or was it designed?
a The roughness of the skin is not noticeable when you move your hand from the head toward the tail.
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Magnified view of shark scales
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Scales: © Eye of Science/Photo Researchers, Inc.; shark: © Image Source/age fotostock