Why can geckos walk on walls or even upside down on ceilings?
To find the riddle‘s solution the animals have to be observed in their natural environment and examined by state-of-the-art technology, such as the scanning electron microscope.
Flies for example secrete an adhesive on “the soles of their feet“ that enables them to even “stick“ on wind-screens at a speed of 30 km/h. Geckos, which as tropical small reptiles are much bigger and heavier, adhere to smooth walls without any secretion. The assumption that geckos cling is wrong.
Geckos are little masters as far as adhesion is concerned; they seem to even easily annul defined gravitational laws. Why are they able to do that?
The answer: Tiny nanohair on their feet help geckos to build up mechanical grip on extremely smooth surfaces and to defy gravity. Nature often uses this technique of adhesive power; insects too make use of it. Geckos, however, are the champions in their class!
Lamellae geckos even run headlong on glass panes thanks to the perfect adhesion of billions of fine hair (spatulae; ca. 200 nanometer wide and long) on their footpads, thus making use of the Van der Waals forces.
Amongst all animal species which have been examined so far, geckos have the highest number of spatulae per unit area. However, compared to flies or other insects, they are relatively heavy animals.
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