Earwig fan designing: Biomimetic and evolutionary biology applications

Kazuya Saito, Ricardo Pérez-De La Fuente, Kôichi Arimoto, Seong Young ah, Hitoshi Aonuma, Ryuma Niiyama, Zhong You

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Technologies to fold structures into compact shapes are required in multiple engineering applications. Earwigs (Dermaptera) fold their fanlike hind wings in a unique, highly sophisticated manner, granting them the most compact wing storage among all insects. The structural and material composition, in-flight reinforcement mechanisms, and bistable property of earwig wings have been previously studied. However, the geometrical rules required to reproduce their complex crease patterns have remained uncertain. Here we show the method to design an earwig-inspired fan by considering the flat foldability in the origami model, as informed by X-ray microcomputed tomography imaging. As our dedicated designing software shows, the earwig fan can be customized into artificial deployable structures of different sizes and configurations for use in architecture, aerospace, mechanical engineering, and daily use items. Moreover, the proposed method is able to reconstruct the wing-folding mechanism of an ancient earwig relative, the 280-million-year-old Protelytron permianum. This allows us to propose evolutionary patterns that explain how extant earwigs acquired their wing-folding mechanism and to project hypothetical, extinct transitional forms. Our findings can be used as the basic design guidelines in biomimetic research for harnessing the excellent engineering properties of earwig wings, and demonstrate how a geometrical designing method can reveal morphofunctional evolutionary constraints and predict plausible biological disparity in deep time.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17622-17626
    Number of pages5
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number30
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 28 2020

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • General


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