In the past decade, scientists have looked to animals to find new
devices to assist man in daily living. Velcro, for example, came
into existence by the study of certain materials in the natural
world. If you have ever watched a tree frog move about on a leaf,
you have to be impressed with the fact that it can stick to the
surface it is walking on, even when it is upside down.
Researchers at the
University of Glasgow in Scotland, have been studying a tree frog
species called Litoria caerulea.
These small tree frogs stick to the leaf they are walking on by the
use of a mucus. When the frog walks on a dusty leaf the mucus
secreted through its feet picks up the dust making the frog lose its
grip. The mucus has a chemical make-up that causes the dust to clump
together, so immediately the frog secretes more mucus which allows
it to again stick to the leaf. The dust comes off then with each
step the frog takes so the frog’s feet are self-cleaning.
Researchers are excited about this discovery, because they believe
it may lead to self-cleaning, long-lasting adhesives. Like Velcro we
have a design seen in the natural world that we can copy to improve
our lives. The intelligence built into every nook and cranny of the
world in which we live is incredible, and our knowledge of that fact
grows every day as new discoveries are made. Wherever man looks — up
or down — a wonder-working hand has gone before.
Source: Science News,
August 27, 2011, page 4.
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