a1 Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, GA 30332, U.S.A.
a2 Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, U.S.A.
a3 School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, U.S.A.
a4 Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332 U.S.A.
Remoras (echeneid fish) reversibly attach and detach to marine hosts, almost instantaneously, to “hitchhike” and feed. The adhesion mechanisms that they use are remarkably insensitive to substrate topology and quite different from the latching and suction cup-based systems associated with other species at similar length scales. Remora adhesion is also anisotropic; drag forces induced by the swimming host increase adhesive strength, while rapid detachment occurs when the remora reverses this shear load. In this work, an investigation of the adhesive system’s functional morphology and tissue properties was carried out initially through dissection and x-ray microtomographic analyses. Resulting finite element models of these components have provided new insights into the adaptive, hierarchical nature of the mechanisms and a path toward a wide range of engineering applications.