By Dr Jonathan Sarfati CREATION.COM
With their amazing clinging prowess enabling them to run across ceilings, geckos have inspired engineers to develop biomimetic technologies ranging from dry adhesive bandages to climbing robots. However, as we have earlier reported (Creation 26(1):22-23, creation.com/geckoman), the human-engineered 'gecko tape' designs are still substantially inferior to the lizard original—testifying to the greater intelligence of the gecko's Designer (Romans 1:20).
Now evolutionary researchers are saying that geckos independently evolved their sticky feet as many as 11 times—as if it weren't hard enough already for evolution to explain how such an amazing ability could possibly even have come about once.
"To discover that geckos evolved sticky toepads again and again is amazing," said University of Minnesota researcher Tony Gamble, one of the authors of the study. He acknowledges that while scientists have a good understanding of how geckos stick at the microscopic level (through a combination of van der Waals forces and frictional adhesion), there is much yet to learn from geckos if robotic technologies are ever to match them. "It's one thing to stick and unstick a piece of 'gecko tape' to a smooth surface in a lab, but something else altogether to get a robotic gecko to move across a complicated landscape in the real world and stick to all the different shapes and textures it will encounter," he said.
How sticky toepads evolved in geckos and what that means for adhesive technologies, Physorg.com, 27 June 2012.
Repeated origin and loss of adhesive toepads in geckos, PLoS ONE 7(6):e39429, 27 June 2012.