Worldchanger Dan Cooney writes in with an excellent recommendation: the paper Bionics: Nature as a Tool for Product Development (PDF). In it, Motorola's Franco Lodato discusses ways in which using natural systems as design models (he calls it bionics, though we prefer biomimicry) can help designers do much more with less (dematerialization). His discussion of how he designed an ice axe based on the biomechanics of a woodpecker is alone worth the read.
"Bionics, could be classified in five main categories as shown bellow:
1.- Total mimicry - an object, material or chemical structure that is
indistinguishable from the natural product e.g. early attempts
to construct flying machines
2.- Partial mimicry - a modified version of the natural product e.g. artificial wood
3.- Non-biological analogy - functional mimicry e.g. modern planes and use of airfoils
4.- Abstraction - the use of an isolated mechanism e.g. fiber reinforcement of
5.- Inspiration - trigger for creativity e.g. design for Crystal Palace via South
American Water Lily"
But then, continuing on with Dan's suggestions, I come to Bionics in Action, a whole 50-page PDF booklet on Lodato's work, which looks riveting, but which I haven't actually read yet.
(Note, too, please that I restrained myself from mentioning $6,000,000 or the phrase "we have the technology" in the title of this recommendation.)
I tried to find the Dan Cooney paper, but the link was 404 - did a quick search but could not find it - could you please forward a new link or url, Thanks, David