If you have ever been in the tropics and seen a gecko crawl effortlessly across your ceiling, you may have asked yourself, how do they do that? Contrary to popular belief, gecko toes aren’t sticky, but in fact utilize electromagnetic attraction between microscopic toe hairs called setae, and the fine contours of the walls and ceilings. On the setae, there are even smaller bristles called spatulae that aid in adhesion but researchers have also found that geckos can activate their spatulae during locomotion in order to remove dirt from their toe pads!
Sketch and fact contributed by Karli Chudeau
Xu, Q., Wan, Y., Hu, T. S., Liu, T. X., Tao, D., Niewiarowski, P. H., … Xia, Z. (2015). Robust self-cleaning and micromanipulation capabilities of gecko spatulae and their bio-mimics. Nature Communications, 6, 8949. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms9949
Dickerson, K. (2014, August 12). Geckos’ Sticky Secret? They Hang by Toe Hairs. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/47307-how-geckos-stick-and-unstick-feet.html