Archive
2013
January
February
March
2012
January
February
May
June
July
August
September
October
2011
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2010
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2009
January
March
April
July
August
September
November
December
2008
July
August
September
November
Jul. 05, 2011

A Sticky Situation

by April Garbuz

Click to enlarge images

By April Garbuz, Wilton High School

The sticky surfaces found on tree frog feet are self-cleaning, according to Niall Crawford, a researcher at the University of Glasgow, who shared his findings on Sunday at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow.

White's Tree Frog

The sticky pads on tree frog toes are used to cling to surfaces, however, how these pads stayed clean from dirt was a mystery until now. Crawford explained in Science Daily:

The same factors that allow tree frogs to cling on also provide a self cleaning service. To make their feet sticky tree frogs secrete mucus, they can then increase their adhesion by moving their feet against the surface to create friction. We have now shown that the mucus combined with this movement allows the frogs to clean their feet as they walk.

Crawford and his colleagues placed the White's tree frogs on a rotating platform and documented the angles at which the frog lost its grip. Frogs with clean feet remained adhered to the platform. The experiment was then repeated with frogs whose feet were covered in dust. When these frogs lost their grip they were able to re-adhere after taking a few steps. This showed that taking a step enables a frog to clean its feet and restores its ability to adhere.

White's Tree Frogs have small hexagonal patterns on the pads of their feet, allowing parts of the pad to create friction with the surface they are standing on, while the raised parts allow the mucus to spread. This mucus is what causes the frog to stick to the surface they are attached to, and when the frog moves, it is the mucus that carries away any dirt.

If a man-made design of this could be produced, it would provide a re-useable, clean adhesive. The self-cleaning, sticky surfaces found on tree frog feet may provide a design for products such as such as medical bandages, tires, and adhesives -- especially those used in unsanitary environments.

__________

April Garbuz is a TalkingScience summer intern and a junior at Wilton High School. She loves science, debating, acting, and swimming. Ultimately, she'd like to be a research scientist.

 

About April Garbuz

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Science Friday® and SciFri® are registered service marks of Science Friday, Inc. Site design by Pentagram; engineering by Mediapolis.

 

topics