Crested Geckos Have Sticky Tail Pads That Can Support 5X Their Mass, Study Says

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Crested Geckos Have Sticky Tail Pads That Can Support 5X Their Mass, Study Says

Geckos are known for their sticky toe pads. In fact, researchers have studied the stickiness of toe pads of geckos and have found that some species ca

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Geckos are known for their sticky toe pads. In fact, researchers have studied the stickiness of toe pads of geckos and have found that some species can support weights of up to 132 kilograms with their sticky toes. A study lead by a Marquette University graduate student has determined that crested geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) have developed adhesive pads on their tails that enables the species to use the tail as a fifth leg.

Researcher Aaron Griffingand his team studied hundreds of crested gecko embryos and found that the sticky tail pads of these reptiles have a similar timing and pattern in the development of their sticky toe pads. The researchers looked at other non adhesive-tailed geckos with toe pads and found that they didn’t exhibit the same patterns as the crested gecko.

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It was previously hypothesized that the sticky tail pads of geckos were duplicate structures of the sticky toe pads.

“These findings provide an important foundation into understanding how adhesive structures grow in lizards,” Griffing said in a statement released to the media. “Further work, though, is needed to see whether similar genes are being expressed during the development of adhesive pads on the toes and tail.”


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The tail pads of the crested gecko can support up to five times the mass of the weight of the lizard itself, the study says. This is more than the adhesive strength of the entire hand in certain lizard species.

“Toe pads have fascinated naturalists for millennia, but very little attention has been paid to the tail pads of some geckos,” Griffing said in a statement released to the media. “We wanted to compare the structure of crested geckos’ adhesive tails with other sticky-tailed geckos, see just how (functionally) sticky they are, and determine if they develop in a similar pattern to sticky toes.”

An abstract of the study “And thereby hangs a tail: morphology, developmental patterns and biomechanics of the adhesive tails of crested geckos (Correlophus ciliatus)” can be read on the Proceedings of the Royal Society B website.

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