How Does A Gecko Stick?

The first time I spoke in Hawaii, I got up to speak and glanced up at the trusses of the building in which we were meeting amd saw them literally covered with geckos. These small lizards climb walls as if they were flat and can hang upside down on ceilings as if totally oblivious to gravity. They have no suction cups, no glue, and no velcro-like structures. As it turns out, the structures of the hair that the gecko possesses and even its walk contribute to their ability to climb walls and ceilings.

Gecko stuck to window looking in at us Recent scientific studies of the gecko have shown that the gecko has toe hairs which measure only a 10 millionth of an inch in diameter, and they have around 1,000 pads that conduct an electrodynamics force between molecules of the two surfaces--the hair and the surface over which the hair is moving. A set of toe hairs the size of a dime can lift 45 pounds. This is why a gecko can hang from the ceiling by a single toe.

Gecko The force produced by the hairs is amazing enough, but when the gecko runs, he has to attach and detach his feet 15 times a second. The gecko walks in such a way that they roll their toe hairs onto the surface and peel them off again--just like duct tape--only much better. Scientists are still studying this system for practical uses by man.

It is amazing enough that the force is there, but for the animal to have a walking style that allows it to attach and detach itself from the surface over which it is walking requires a variety of muscular and locomotion techniques that could hardly be the result of trial and error. The whole system is designed to make the animal able to survive and control insect populations in a dynamic way. They are very popular in Hawaii, but their method of walking upside down on the ceiling is still a wonder and a testimony to the designer who created them.

--Reference: National Wildlife, October/November, 2000, page 8.

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, NovDec01.