An electron micrograph reveals sharkskin’s secret to speed: tooth-like scales called dermal denticles. Water “races through the microgrooves without tumbling,” says shark researcher George Burgess, reducing friction. “It’s like a fast-moving river current versus the gurgling turbulence of a shallow stream.” The scales also discourage barnacles and algae from glomming on—an inspiration for synthetic coatings that may soon be applied to Navy ship hulls to reduce such biofouling.
What has fins like a whale, skin like a lizard, and eyes like a moth? The future of engineering.via> National Geographic (April 2008)