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Scientists Show How Water Bounces Off Gecko Skin Like Popcorn

Did you know that certain geckos have skin that naturally repels water? Scientists have determined that the box-patterned gecko (Diplodactylus steinda

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Did you know that certain geckos have skin that naturally repels water? Scientists have determined that the box-patterned gecko (Diplodactylus steindachneri), like certain insects and man made surfaces can naturally shed water. The scientists have dubbed the phenomenon geckovescence, and have captured slow motion video footage showing water droplets bouncing off the lizard’s skin like popcorn.


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Scientists are not sure why this occurs but they do speculate that the gecko skin is constructed in this way to prevent water-loving microbes from colonizing on the skin of the lizards, or perhaps it is just a self cleaning mechanism. Any water droplets that don’t fall far enough away and returns to the skin’s surface pools together with other droplets and then self-propels off the gecko’s skin due to energy changes as the water accumulates on the skin.

The video was captured at 1200 frames per second at the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility at the Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis, The University of Queensland. Scientists involved with the study include Gregory S. Watson of the School of Science and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia; Lin Schwarzkopf, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University in Australia;  Bronwen W. Cribb, Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis and School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland;  Sverre Myhra, The University of Oxford, Begbroke Science Park in the UK,  Marty Gellender, Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection; and Jolanta A. Watson, School of Science and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast.

The full paper can be read on the Royal Society Publishing website.

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John B. Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata