Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Tokay gecko


Fabricated adhesives are demonstrated to support high loads while maintaining easy release on a variety of “real world” surfaces. These adhesives consist of simple elastomers and fabrics without nano or micron scale features, yet they surpass the adhesive force capacity of live Tokay geckos and can be scaled to large sizes.

Concepts: 2002 albums, Gecko, Polyurethane, Elastomer, Universe, Adhesion, Adhesive, Tokay gecko


Since the discovery of the mechanism of adhesion in geckos, many synthetic dry adhesives have been developed with desirable gecko-like properties such as reusability, directionality, self-cleaning ability, rough surface adhesion and high adhesive stress. However, fully exploiting these adhesives in practical applications at different length scales requires efficient scaling (i.e. with little loss in adhesion as area grows). Just as natural gecko adhesives have been used as a benchmark for synthetic materials, so can gecko adhesion systems provide a baseline for scaling efficiency. In the tokay gecko (Gekko gecko), a scaling power law has been reported relating the maximum shear stress σmax to the area A: σmax ∝ A(-¼). We present a mechanical concept which improves upon the gecko’s non-uniform load-sharing and results in a nearly even load distribution over multiple patches of gecko-inspired adhesive. We created a synthetic adhesion system incorporating this concept which shows efficient scaling across four orders of magnitude of area, yielding an improved scaling power law: σmax ∝ A(-1/50). Furthermore, we found that the synthetic adhesion system does not fail catastrophically when a simulated failure is induced on a portion of the adhesive. In a practical demonstration, the synthetic adhesion system enabled a 70 kg human to climb vertical glass with 140 cm(2) of adhesive per hand.

Concepts: Gecko, Shear stress, Scale, Adhesion, Adhesive, Gekkonidae, Invasive animal species, Tokay gecko


Many geckos use adhesive toe pads on the bottom of their digits to attach to surfaces with remarkable strength. Although gecko adhesion has been studied for hundreds of years, gaps exist in our understanding at the whole-animal level. It remains unclear whether the strength and maintenance of adhesion are determined by the animal or are passively intrinsic to the system. Here we show, for the first time, that strong adhesion is produced passively at the whole-animal level. Experiments on both live and recently euthanized tokay geckos (Gekko gecko) revealed that death does not affect the dynamic adhesive force or motion of a gecko foot when pulled along a vertical surface. Using a novel device that applied repeatable and steady-increasing pulling forces to the foot in shear, we found that the adhesive force was similarly high and variable when the animal was alive (mean ± s.d. = 5.4 ± 1.7 N) and within 30 min after death (5.4 ± 2.1 N). However, kinematic analyses showed that live geckos are able to control the degree of toe pad engagement and can rapidly stop strong adhesion by hyperextending the toes. This study offers the first assessment of whole-animal adhesive force under extremely controlled conditions. Our findings reveal that dead geckos maintain the ability to adhere with the same force as living animals, disproving that strong adhesion requires active control.

Concepts: Death, Animal, Foot, Gecko, Adhesion, Adhesive, Gekkonidae, Tokay gecko


The gecko adhesion system fascinates biologists and materials scientists alike for its strong, reversible, glue-free, dry adhesion. Understanding the adhesion system’s performance on various surfaces can give clues as to gecko behaviour, as well as towards designing synthetic adhesive mimics. Geckos encounter a variety of surfaces in their natural habitats; tropical geckos, such as Gekko gecko, encounter hard, rough tree trunks as well as soft, flexible leaves. While gecko adhesion on hard surfaces has been extensively studied, little work has been done on soft surfaces. Here, we investigate for the first time the influence of macroscale and nanoscale substrate modulus on whole animal adhesion on two different substrates (cellulose acetate and polydimethylsiloxane) in air and find that across 5 orders of magnitude in macroscale modulus, there is no change in adhesion. On the nanoscale, however, gecko adhesion is shown to depend on substrate modulus. This suggests that low surface-layer modulus may inhibit the gecko adhesion system, independent of other influencing factors such as macroscale composite modulus and surface energy. Understanding the limits of gecko adhesion is vital for clarifying adhesive mechanisms and in the design of synthetic adhesives for soft substrates (including for biomedical applications and wearable electronics).

Concepts: Materials science, Gecko, Cellulose acetate, Adhesion, Adhesive, Gekkonidae, Tokay gecko, Gekko


Deformations of particular setae of adhesive toe pad of the tokay gecko were investigated by atomic-force microscopy. The effective elastic modulus of the investigated setae varying within 0.34-19 GPa, a pronounced hysteresis was observed during reversible bending of setae. The hysteresis-related energy losses may be as high as 98% of the total bending work. The pronounced viscous features of the setae contradict the hypothesis of dynamic self-cleaning of the gecko adhesive cover, according to which the setae are considered as absolutely elastic cantilever beams.

Concepts: Gecko, Viscoelasticity, Young's modulus, Elasticity, Hooke's law, Gekkonidae, Tokay gecko


Traditionally, geckos have been conceived to exhibit paedomorphic features relative to other lizards (e.g., large eyes, less extensively ossified skulls, and amphicoelous and notochordal vertebrae). In contrast, peramorphosis has not been considered an important process in shaping their morphology. Here, we studied different sized specimens of Gekko gecko to document ontogenetic changes in cranial anatomy, especially near maturity. Comparison of this species with available descriptions of other geckos resulted in the identification of 14 cranial characteristics that are expressed more strongly with size increase. These characteristics become move evident in later stages of post-hatching development, especially near maturation, and are, therefore, attributed to peramorphosis (hyperossification). ACCTRAN and DELTRAN character optimizations were applied to these characters using a tree of 11 genera derived from a gekkotan molecular phylogeny. This analysis revealed that G. gecko expresses the majority of these putative peramorphic features near maturity, and that some of these features are also expressed in species closely related to G. gecko. The characters studied have the potential to be applied in future phylogenetic and taxonomic studies of this group of lizards. J. Morphol., 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Biology, Species, Skull, Phylogenetics, Gecko, Lizard, Gekkonidae, Tokay gecko


Post-cloacal bones of gekkotans may be present as a single (medial) pair, two pairs (medial and lateral), or may be lacking. We, herein, demonstrate that the presence of a single medial pair is the ancestral condition for the Gekkota, that the lateral pair is of sporadic occurrence within and between families, except for the Eublepharidae where it is universal, and that absence is also of sporadic occurrence except for the Sphaerodactylidae where it is the ancestral condition. Adult male Tokay geckos (Gekko gecko) possess only the medial pair of bones, and these exhibit a regionally-specific expression of woven, fibrolamellar, and lamellar bone, and an enclosed medullary cavity. Females and small juvenile males lack bony elements but exhibit a conspicuous band of dense connective tissue located about the anterior and lateral margins of the cloacal sacs. As males grow and attain sexual maturity, the medial post-cloacal bones condense in this band of dense connective tissue, and are thus shown to be dermal ossifications, similar to osteoderms but with muscular associations (although this is also known for crocodylians). Based upon ontogenetic data we set forth a scenario to explain the loss of the medial post-cloacal bones in various lineages. Differential staining of the cloacal sacs failed to reveal any specialized glandular structures. Investigation of the post-cloacal spurs shows them to be associated with cellular connective tissue of a type similar to that found in the vicinity of the medial post-cloacal bones. This suggests that the lateral post-cloacal bones may also be dermal bones, but histological evidence is needed to corroborate this. J. Morphol., 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Bone, Reproduction, Histology, Anatomy, Gecko, Connective tissue, Gekkonidae, Tokay gecko


Locomotion is an essential character of animals, and excellent moving ability results from the delicate sensing of the substrate reaction forces (SRF) acting on body and modulating the behavior to adapt the motion requirement. The inclined substrates present in habitats pose a number of functional challenges to locomotion. In order to effectively overcome these challenges, climbing geckos execute complex and accurate movements that involve both the front and hind limbs. Few studies have examined gecko’s SRF on steeper inclines of greater than 90°. To reveal how the SRFs acting on the front and hind limbs respond to angle incline changes, we obtained detailed measurements of the three-dimensional SRFs acting on the individual limbs of the tokay gecko while it climbed on an inclined angle of 0-180°. The fore-aft forces acting on the front and hind limbs show opposite trends on inverted inclines of greater than 120°, indicating propulsion mechanism changes in response to inclines. When the incline angles change, the forces exerted in the normal and fore-aft directions by gecko’s front and hind limbs are reassigned to take full advantage of limbs' different roles in overcoming resistance and in propelling locomotion. This also ensures that weight acts in the angle range between the forces generated by the front and hind limbs. The change in the distribution of SRF with a change in the incline angle is directly linked to the favorable trade-off between locomotive maneuverability and stability.

Concepts: Force, The Normal, Gecko, Classical mechanics, Newton's laws of motion, Gekkonidae, Tokay gecko, Incline


The adhesive systems of geckos have been widely studied and have been a great source of bioinspiration. Load-sharing (i.e. preventing stress concentrations through equal distribution of loads) is necessary to maximize the performance of an adhesive system, but it is not known to what extent load-sharing occurs in gecko toes. In this paper, we present in vivo measurements of the stress distribution and contact area on the toes of a tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) using a custom tactile sensor with 100 μm spatial resolution. We found that the stress distributions were nonuniform, with large variations in stress between and within lamellae, suggesting that load-sharing in the tokay gecko is uneven. These results may be relevant to the understanding of gecko morphology and the design of improved synthetic adhesive systems.

Concepts: Gecko, Gekkonidae, Tokay gecko


The role in adhesion of the toes and lamellae - intermediate sized structures - found on the gecko foot remains unclear. Insight into the function of these structures can lead to a more general understanding of the hierarchical nature of the gecko adhesive system, but in particular how environmental topology may relate to gecko foot morphology. We sought to discern the mechanics of the toes and lamellae by examining gecko adhesion on controlled, macroscopically rough surfaces. We used live Tokay geckos, Gekko gecko, to observe the maximum shear force a gecko foot can attain on an engineered substrate constructed with sinusoidal patterns of varying amplitudes and wavelengths in sizes similar to the dimensions of the toes and lamellae structures (0.5 to 6 mm). We found shear adhesion was significantly decreased on surfaces that had amplitudes and wavelengths approaching the lamella length and inter-lamella spacing, losing 95% of shear adhesion over the range tested. We discovered that the toes are capable of adhering to surfaces with amplitudes much larger than their dimensions even without engaging claws, maintaining 60% of shear adhesion on surfaces with amplitudes of 3 mm. Gecko adhesion can be predicted by the ratio of the lamella dimensions to surface feature dimensions. In addition to setae, remarkable macroscopic-scale features of gecko toes and lamellae that include compliance and passive conformation are necessary to maintain contact, and consequently, generate shear adhesion on macroscopically rough surfaces. Findings on the larger scale structures in the hierarchy of gecko foot function could provide the biological inspiration to drive the design of more effective and versatile synthetic fibrillar adhesives.

Concepts: Hierarchy, Ratio, Gecko, Shear stress, Adhesion, Adhesive, Gekkonidae, Tokay gecko