Apparently this is an internet sensation that I missed, but even late to the game it is very cool. The ibex has hooves perfectly adapted to climbing in the steep and rocky terrain of the Alps. It enables them to scale steep faces like this dam in Italy, where they are searching for mineral deposits.
As Core 77 says, biomimetic designers take note! Of course, the features of their hooves that make them great for climbing are nothing new to footwear designers working on climbing or approach shoes, but I’ll bet climbing shoes are not due to biomimetic design, but “convergent evolution” you might say. Climbers and those designing their shoes simply figured out the best way to make climbing soles and it happens to be the same way that nature designed the ibex’s hooves. The design world is paying much more attention to biomimetics now though, and we are sure to see some cool things from this trend, such as this “gecko” tape.
Thanks to National Geographic for the photos.