Biosensors inspired by turkeys

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UC Berkeley researchers took inspiration from a turkey's color-changing wattle to design a biosensor that detects toxins or pathogens. Turkey wattles change between blue and red as the blood vessels between the collagen fibers swell or contract. The researchers used benign viruses to self-assemble into collagen fiber-like structures that change colors as they expand and contract when exposed to chemicals like hexane, methanol, and even TNT.

“In our lab, we study how light is generated and changes in nature, and then we use what we learn to engineer novel devices,” said professor Seung-Wuk Lee who co-led the research.

"Turkeys inspire smartphone-capable early warning system for toxins"

How turkeys fly

Turkeys do fly. But they're built more for running, with powerful legs. Those legs, though, come in handy when the birds do take to the air. Unlike other large birds that need a relatively long runway to launch themselves skyward, turkeys can basically just jump up and take off — sort of the helicopter to other birds' 747.