Before (and after!) the Wright brothers had figured out how to ride the air, people tried various ways of flapping and gliding to reach their dream of flight. Their efforts have provided us with some of the most spectacular crashes ever filmed!
By imitating the birds they saw flying about, these pioneers were applying (albeit poorly) the principles of biomimicry.
Nature provides us with an abundant database of solutions. However, we have been limited in our ability to derive answers from nature because we simply were not aware of the solutions nature had provided. Think of it as a trying to find a patent before the Patent Office was formed.
Well, suffer no more.
Designers, engineers, problem solvers, can now surf over to asknature.org and browse through their ever growing database of answers to the question: How did Nature do it?
Real innovation will start occurring when humans (who incidentally are part of nature- although we sometimes do a lousy job) start combining multiple solutions.