Animal Mechanics

Water-speed–record geckos

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Science  11 Jan 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6423, pp. 138-139
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6423.138-e

House geckos' agility, gait, and anatomy allow them to run on water just as fast as they do on ceilings.

PHOTO: FOTOTRIPS/SHUTTERSTOCK

House geckos are most commonly observed in acrobatic hunting chases across ceilings of buildings. They are not normally thought of as aquatic. But Nirody et al. have discovered that geckos are adept at hydroplaning across the surface of ponds in Singapore. This lizard's quadrupedal slapping gait creates air cavities under its feet that serve to keep its head above water while leaving its tail underwater. If soap is added to water, the geckos struggle, because they also exploit surface tension. Plus, they can undulate their bodies and tails in the style of alligators. Thus, a complete range of acrobatic and anatomical talent is put to good effect in the gecko's unimpeded scampering across water, all of which might inform future robot design.

Curr. Biol. 28, 4046 (2018).

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