Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Geckos Lose Sticking Power With Wet Feet

Geckos are famously adept at sticking to vertical surfaces. Their toes are packed with hundreds of microscopic hairs that get close enough to the nooks and crannies of a wall to bring the forces of attraction between atoms into play. With these specialized feet, a gecko's traction is so strong it can hold more than 100 times its weight and even scurry upside-down across a ceiling.

But despite their sticking superpowers, researchers observed that geckos slide down a vertical piece of wet glass after just a few steps. To test the limits of geckos' ability to cling, biology doctoral student Alyssa Stark and her team at the University of Akron in Ohio watched how the lizards' feet reacted under various conditions of moisture.

"We know they are in tropical environments that probably have a lot of rain, and it's not like the geckos fall out of the trees when it's wet," Stark said in a statement from the Journal of Experimental Biology, which published the study.

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