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"There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough."
- Jerry Pournelle

Alien Tarantula  
  Interesting illustration of an animal with gecko-like manipulative capabilities.  

This alien creature is an interesting implementation of the idea of a "bush robot," a concept developed by Hans Moravec and Robert Forward.

Considered objectively, it's quite beautiful. Like a golden-furred tarantula, with tiny splayed hands at the ends of seven of its eight legs. Tiny eight-fingered hands, each a miniature of itself, as becomes evident when it skitters up the glass and walks upside down across the underside of the clamped-down glass slab on top. Matt gropes for a hand lens, peers through it as the animal repeats the manoeuvre. The brief flickering glimpse leaves no doubt. At the end of each appendage's eight fingers there are tinier appendages, eight of them, and these fingers' fingerlets are what open out to grasp the microscopic frictions of the pane.

"Holy shit," says Matt. "A natural bush robot."

From Engine City, by Ken MacLeod.
Published by Tor Books in 2003
Additional resources -

It turns out that Robert Heinlein had a similar idea, but not quite as "fractal", in his 1941 novel Methuselah's Children.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Engine City
  More Ideas and Technology by Ken MacLeod
  Tech news articles related to Engine City
  Tech news articles related to works by Ken MacLeod

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