About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What are those bur seeds that stick to my dog's fur?

Now that fall is almost here you'll notice a lot of plants are trying to spread their seed. Blue Jays carry acorns far from their parent trees. Goldfinches spread lots of flower seeds. Cedar Waxwings spread fruit seeds.

And if you take a walk in the woods you may pick up hitchikers on your socks. Those annoying burs that snag on almost anything including your best friends furry coat. But did you ever look at those burs under a microscope?

Walking through a patch of woods one day in 1948, a Swiss engineer named Georges de Mestral wondered what made burrs stick to his clothes. He took a close look at the seeds of burdock and discovered hundreds of "hooks" that caught on everything. Inspiration struck and de Mestral thought if he could figure out how to duplicate the hooks and make loops he could develop a nonmetallic, zipperlike fastener.

After a lot of trial and error Velcro was invented. Velcro, a combination of the words velvety soft and crochet hook, was submitted for patent in Switzerland in 1951. The newly invented nylon was perfect for making two strips of fabric, one with thousands of tiny hooks and another with thousands of tiny loops.

Velcro is now used all over from fastening kids shoes to astronauts space suits.

Related articles:
Colorful Bird Splats Contain Secrets http://bit.ly/obG0Kd
Birds Move Trees http://bit.ly/rj8fT5 
Attract More Goldfinches to My Yard? http://bit.ly/n9N8Wu

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velcro

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