Geckos Can Run On Water

Posted: Dec 8 2018, 8:28am CST | by , Updated: Dec 8 2018, 8:32am CST, in Latest Science News


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Geckos can Run on Water
Credit: UC Berkeley

Researchers have found that the mid-sized reptile actually use four distinct strategies to stay atop the water surface.

Geckos are well known for effortlessly climbing up walls and other flat surfaces and this ability has fascinated researchers for many years. Now, a team of researchers from multiple institutes has found that this reptile can also run across the water's surface at impressive speeds. The new study also describes the strategies that geckos use to accomplish this feat.

"They can run up a wall at a meter per second, they can glide, they can right themselves in midair with a twist of their tail and rapidly invert under a leaf running at full speed. And now they can run at a meter per second over water. Nothing else can do that; geckos are superheroes.” Robert Full, a UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology said in a statement.

Some organisms such as spiders and basilisk lizard have evolved different techniques to keep most of their body above the water's surface. Until now, the behavior was never observed in geckos. Researcher Adrian Jusufi first spotted galloping geckos in the forests of Southeast Asia as they were trying to avoid predators. Geckos sprinting across puddles were so fast that they can exceed swimming speeds of many larger aquatic animals including ducks, minks and juvenile alligators.

Researchers already know that smalls animals depend on water's surface tension to stay afloat while larger animals use their strength and slapping motion to keep above the water. It was assumed that a mid-sized animal like gecko is not capable of this kind of maneuver.

Intrigued, researchers acquired some geckos and replicated the same behavior in lab conditions. In experiments, researchers discovered that flat-tailed house geckos (Hemidactylus platyurus) actually use a combination of around four distinct strategies to run atop the water surface.

"When they hit the water they actually create an air bubble, which generates extra force and helps their body stay above the surface," said lead author Jasmine Nirody, a biophysicist at the University of Oxford and Rockefeller University.

"Geckos have this amazing superhydrophobic skin that repels water and enhances their ability to stay above the surface. So in addition to surface tension and slapping, they have their own special trick."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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