Geckos are the champion of all lizards when it comes to climbing walls and walking on ceilings. I’ve watched geckos run fast straight up a wall painted with a semi-gloss paint and then keep running at full speed upside down across the ceiling.
When scientists started looking at the gecko’s feet under the microscope, they discovered that the toes are covered by millions of microscopic hairs called setae. At the end of each setae there are from 400 to 1000 branches, each of which end in a tiny flattened spatula like structure. These flattened ends are less than 1/50,000 of an inch in size. Their ability to grip flat and smooth surfaces takes place via the attraction between atoms of the gecko foot and the surface. This attraction is known as the van der Waals forces.
Amazing as the geckos foot is, what good is it to have all of these microscopic hairs that allows the gecko’s feet to stick to walls and glass, if it can’t unstuck itself from the walls? Further study showed that the geckos uncurl their toes when they want them to stick to a wall or glass and then peel them off the wall by curling them back up again. What’s more, the gecko can curl and uncurl their toes as fast as needed to allow them to run at full speed across the ceiling or along a wall.
But what happens when the gecko encounters a wet surface or their feet get wet? Many geckos live in the branches of rain forests where the surfaces are often wet with rain and dew. Do they still have the amazing ability to cling to the surface they are on?
Alyssa Stark and a team of researchers, from the University of Akron set out to find out just how water affects the gripping ability of geckos. They placed geckos on dry glass, where they observed and then measured the gripping strength of the gecko. The geckos were fitted with a tiny harness which was then attached to a small motor that gradually pulled the lizard away from the glass. In most of the tests, it took a force equal to nearly 20 times the weight of the gecko to pull it free from the dry glass.
They repeated the experiment with wet glass. In the first set of tests, they misted the glass with water. They observed that the gecko had a more difficult time keeping its grip on the misted glass. Every time the gecko took a step, the van der Waals force varied and in some instance was very weak. When they immersed the gecko in a shallow tank of water with a glass bottom, they observed that the feet retained an air bubble that surrounded them. The air bubble kept the feet from being able to make a tight van der Waals contact with the glass, preventing the gecko from being able gain any hold whatsoever.
This has led to the conclusion that the intricate structure of the gecko’s foot makes them superhydrophobic or extremely water repellent. It also means that the gecko’s grip is the strongest on dry surfaces and weakest when their feet get wet.
The importance of this discovery could affect the research that is being conducted by numerous industries into creating items with the same gripping abilities as the gecko’s feet. A number of scientists have been working on trying to duplicate the gecko’s amazing feet in hopes of developing some kind of shoes and gloves that would allow people to climb up walls like a gecko or Spiderman. Think of all the things these special shoes and gloves could be used for. It would make rescuing people trapped in high rise buildings easier when ladders can’t reach them. Window washers and high rise construction workers could also benefit from having these tools unless those gloves and shoes get soaking wet and lose their gripping ability like what happens to the geckos. Scientists have admitted that their structure is beyond the limits of human technology. However, no one has yet been able to duplicate the marvelously designed gripping feet of the gecko.
Now I want to ask you how do you think all of these microscopic setae each with nearly a 1000 branches ending in a spatula shaped structure could have evolved? If they evolved slowly as most evolutionists believe, what purpose would a partially evolved setae have to the gecko before they became fully functional? Then realize that the gecko would have to have known when to curl and uncurl his toes to make it all work.
There really isn’t a good evolutionary explanation for the amazing gecko’s complex toes and its ability to crawl up walls and walk across ceilings. The only explanation that makes any sense is to realize that when God created all of the land animals, including those animals that creep along the ground, on Day 6 of Creation, that He gave the geckos their special toes and natural ability to use them. He truly is an amazing Creator God.
How Do Geckos Deal With Wet Feet, Red Orbit, Aug. 16, 2012.
By Dr. Jonathan Sarfati
Today, the ID (intelligent design) movement is capturing headlines (and igniting controversy) around the world. But in the process, many are coming to think that a credible challenge to the dominant Darwinian naturalism of our time means backing away from a clear stand for the truth of the Bible.
Now creationist heavyweight Jonathan Sarfati, whose Refuting Evolution has the most copies in print of any creation book ever, challenges this mindset head on. In the process, By Design is set to become a classic of the creation movementin the same vein as Dr Sarfatis comprehensive Refuting Compromise, which is arguably the most powerful biblical and scientific defense of straightforward Genesis in existence.
Paperback, 150 pages