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On the Wild Side: Strange news from the World of Wildlife!

The Gecko's Secret Glue

Perhaps you've seen one in your house, scurrying along a wall or even across the ceiling. A smallish lizard -- a gecko, to be sure -- it must have suction cups on the bottoms of its feet that prevent it from falling. Either suction cups or its feet must be coated with gecko glue.

The truth, it turns out, may be neither. According to a report recently published in the journal Nature, researchers believe that it's a type of electrical attraction that allows geckos to defy gravity.

Look closely, very closely, at the bottom of a gecko's foot, and you'll see thousands and thousands of microscopic hairs. When these densely packed hairs come into contact with another surface -- a window, for example -- an attraction develops at the intermolecular level. Scientists call the phenomenon van der Waals forces, and in the case of geckos, it appears to work like tape. In fact, the researches who conducted the gecko study hope to use the information they've gathered to create a new adhesive.

Click here to learn more about North America's most common gecko.

 

 

 

 

 

2007 eNature.com