Many lizards are capable of detaching their tails when a predator strikes, but one group of geckos has evolved a particularly gruesome escape strategy: unusually large scales that tear off when a predator tries to take hold, allowing the tiny animals to break free.
The island of Giraglia is a windswept pile of rocks that sits within eyeshot of the northern tip of Corsica in the Mediterranean sea. Humans never lived here, but two types of geckos do. One runs free; the other’s a prisoner—and their story may help unravel a longstanding evolutionary mystery.
Flowers usually expend their energy on making themselves bright and colorful. They bleach themselves white to stand out against dark leaves, or they deck themselves out in colorful patterns, but the overwhelming majority keep the nectar they offer clear. So, where did this flower’s red nectar come from?
We know that geckos stick to walls because of the van der Waals force, but these are the first videos that let us see the power of a single “hair” on a gecko’s foot. We can see the fiber stick on, increase its grip, and drag an object.
Look, I don't like rain as much as the next person. I'm sure my mom wasn't a big fan either, and the rest of my ancestors probably weren't wild about water falling from the sky. But nowhere along the line did any of them develop skin that forces water droplets to explosively launch off.
Geckos, being master of the van der Waals force, climb up glass walls like it's no big thing. But can they do it when they're dead? Scientists have found out that they can, and that has important implications for technology.
Geckos are, objectively, way better at climbing stuff than people. Our big sweaty meathooks are no match for the wall-scaling optimized toe pads of a small lizard. That's why a team at Stanford University is busy making gloves that simulate the sticky grip of the gecko.
Did you know that some animals are pretty much designed to be able to re-enact the plot of Gerald's Game? You can't un-know it now. Learn how "fragile skin" allows animals to flay themselves alive.
Quite correctly, John Oliver was devastated by the loss of Russia's space sex geckos. So he and A Great Big World performed "Say Something" as a tribute. Complete with a sex gecko mascot.
After being lost and then found again, the capsule containing the infamous space geckos have returned to Earth. Alas, the heating system failed, so instead of getting it on, the geckos froze to death.
Animals in space just can't get a break. First, everything from kittens to snakes were sent on the vomit comet to confusedly tumble around in zero-gravity. Then, mice were recruited to live aboard the International Space Station. Now, Russia sent a harem of geckos to get lucky in orbit.
To honor the geckos in the mating experiment aboard the Foton-M4 satellite, which the Russian space agency lost contact with for a few days last week, artist Fernando Reza has made this fanciful poster imagining those geckos floating about their weightless sex den.
Humans have many scientific achievements, but when it comes to the van der Waals force, we have been bested by geckos.
Ah, geckos. So cute. So harmless. So unassuming. Or maybe that's just what they want us to think.
Apple thought they were so smart when they started making computers that came in different colors. Now, inspired by the noble gecko, scientists may have found a way to print electronics on leather. Count down to the iWhip.