VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gecko's foot. Underside of the foot of a gecko (family Gekkonidae) walking on glass. Geckos are nocturnal lizards found in warm climates. They are able to climb on vertical walls and upside-down on ceilings due to the gripping ability of their toes. Each toe is lined with microscopic hairs (setae) and each hair is further branched into finer structures (spatulae). The hairs create weak intermolecular forces, known as van der Waals forces, which are strong enough to grip on any surface. Geckos walk by first uncurling their toes before making contact. To take another step, the gecko must peel off its toe. This uncurling and peeling action can be produced up to 15 times per second, enabling the gecko to move rapidly.
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