Question Sheet: How a Gecko Defies Gravity
- What kind of animal is a gecko?
- If you could walk on ceilings, what sorts of places would you want to visit?
- What is a possible benefit of the research being done on how geckos stick to surfaces?
- How was it proved that geckos do not produce a gummy substance in order to walk upside-down?
- What are setae? Why are they so important for geckos?
- If setae are not sticky by themselves, how do geckos stick to surfaces?
- What could “gecko-inspired” tape be used for?
- Of all the animals with setae, why have scientists focused on geckos?
- Which one has smaller setae: a beetle or a gecko? Why?
- To understand how geckos stick, Kellar Autumn claims that “the secret is
mechanical.” What discovery led him to believe this?
- What qualities do setae have that would make them excellent tools to perform
- Based on the explanation in the article, try to draw what a group of setae would look like under a microscope. Then, write a description of how they are moved to allow animals to stick to or remove themselves from surfaces.
- You’ve read about gecko-inspired tape and other possible innovations that studying geckos might produce. What are some other uses that you can imagine? Make a list of all of the things you see yourself doing if you had the skills of a gecko.
- You have to give a report to your class on the current status of gecko research. Write a brief paper describing the advances that have been made, including what new information scientists have discovered, as well as what they are still trying to learn.
A beetle’s hairs are a tenth of the width of a human hair, and a gecko’s hairs are one-fiftieth. Suppose a typical human hair is 50 micrometers in diameter. How wide is a beetle’s hair? A gecko’s hair?