A broad diversity of biological organisms and systems interact with soil in ways that facilitate their growth and survival. These interactions are made possible by strategies that enable organisms to accomplish functions that can be analogous to those required in geotechnical engineering systems. Examples include anchorage in soft and weak ground, penetration into hard and stiff subsurface materials and movement in loose sand. Since the biological strategies have been “vetted” by the process of natural selection, and the functions they accomplish are governed by the same physical laws in both the natural and engineered environments, they represent a unique source of principles and design ideas for addressing geotechnical challenges. However, prior to implementation as engineering solutions, the differences in spatial and temporal scales and material properties between the biological environment and engineered system must be addressed. Bio-inspired geotechnics research is addressing topics such as soil excavation and penetration, soil–structure interface shearing, load transfer between foundation and anchorage elements and soils, and mass and thermal transport, having gained inspiration from organisms such as worms, clams, ants, termites, fishes, snakes and plant roots. This work highlights the potential benefits to both geotechnical engineering through new or improved solutions and biology through understanding of mechanisms as a result of cross-disciplinary interactions and collaborations.