New gecko climbing secret revealed

New gecko climbing secret revealed
PHOTO: University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Geckos are famed for their extraordinary ability to scale walls, run across ceilings and even hang upside down from apparently smooth materials like glass.

Microscopic hairs allow the lizards to employ dry adhesion - meaning they can stick to surfaces without the use of liquids or surface tension - through the creation of so-called van der Waals forces which draw materials together.

Their amazing climbing skills have long been a source of fascination for scientists, and have even led to the invention of adhesive tape that mimics the properties of their specialised toe pads to easily attach and detach.

But some elements of their abilities have remained a mystery, including how some of the heavier species (weighing up to 250g) can still stick to things so effectively. The assumption was that their adhesive ability was related to the size of their toe pads, allowing larger geckos to climb just as well as the smaller ones (which weigh as little as 2g).

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