Weekly Photo Challenge: Sticky Gecko Toes


Weekly Photo Challenge is Texture

Last night two geckos were outside clinging to my kitchen window mating. This may be the best gecko porn I have ever photographed! I wondered how they pulled off their gravity-defying feat.

A little research led to the discovery that geckos can stick to surfaces because their bulbous toes are covered in hundreds of microscopic hairs called setae. Each setae branches into even smaller hairs called spatulae.

When the tiny hairs contact a wall, ceiling, or glass surface the van der Waals force kicks in. This physical bond happens when electrons in the molecules of the tiny gecko toe hairs interact with the molecules in the surface, like the glass. They create an electronic attraction. Who knew?

The balance of the forces and the angle of the hairs allow them to scurry across surfaces quickly. So, they really don’t have a sticky substance in their toes, it is all due to the physical forces of nature. Isn’t Physics amazing?

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