Professor David Macmillan of the University of Melbourne has done a lot of research on crayfish (or ‘yabbies’, as they are known Down Under) and NASA has been applying some of his results to the design of autonomous space exploration robots. This article explains some of his more recent progress in the field of crayfish sense and intelligence.
This has a particularly wry appeal to myself, and I expect to many other Science Fiction readers, because ever since the concept of ‘space squid’ was used by Stephen Baxter in his novel ‘Time’ (pub. 1999) the trope of aquatic critters exploring the galaxy has been a popular one. Though not always treated with the same degree of seriousness – most notable to my mind is Charles Stross‘s tongue-in-cheek ‘uploaded lobsters’ in his novel ‘Accelerando’.
So, which will be the next creature to inform real-world space-exploration, or Science Fiction for that matter? How about a vacuum-hardened coelacanth of monstrous proportions, fitted with a hyperspace engine…[mumbles to self incoherently]