How gecko's amazing sticky feet really work?


Up close photo of geckos sticky feet.

Its feet look like hands, but they perform feats no hands can.

It is another case of invention preceding human’s inventions by thousands of years—in this case the Velcro fabric fasteners so widely used today.

Many are amazed to see the little common gecko, Tarentola mauritanica, scurry up walls and across ceilings, and even scamper up glass windows.

Once it was thought that Mr. Gecko did it by suction cups on its feet or maybe even glue.

But nothing so crude as that!

The book The Grand Design says:

“Each of the gecko’s toes has a pad bearing ridge-like scales. Under a microscope it can be seen that each scale bears hundreds of tiny, hairlike protrusions called setae. As if this were not enough, a further magnification shows that the individual setae are tipped by ‘brushes’ of up to 2000 incredibly small branched filaments, bearing saucer-shaped tips. This provides a phenomenal total of about 100 million points of contact.”

Millions of microscopic hooklets fasten into the tiniest irregularities of a surface—even those present on glass.

The mechanism of release and reattachment of the hooks is incredible.

The gecko bends the ends of its toes upward, which draws the hooks out of the irregularities in the surface.

With toes still bent upward, it advances its foot to the next step and then presses its toes down.

The hooklets again interlock with the surface irregularities—somewhat as a cat alternately extends and withdraws its claws when climbing a tree.

Thus, the little gecko performs amazing feats with its amazing feet.