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Getting to grips with sticky frogs

Tree frog feet may provide a design for self-cleaning sticky surfaces, Scottish scientists have revealed.

Although it has been known that tree frogs have sticky feet covered in mucus, the secret of how they keep them sticky has only just been discovered in the laboratory.

Tree frog feet may provide a design for self-cleaning sticky surfaces, Scottish scientists have revealed. Credit: AP

Researchers at the University of Glasgow placed the frogs on a tilting, rotatable platform to measure the angles at which the frogs lost their grip. Adding dust caused them to slip sooner, but the frogs would take a few steps and regain their footing.

This ability to clean their feet so quickly, which scientists now understand, could lead to new self-cleaning surfaces and adhesives.

“When the frogs did not move, the adhesive forces recovered much more slowly,” said researcher Niall Crawford. “Interestingly 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.”

If this can be translated into a man-made design it could provide a re-useable adhesive. – Daily Mail

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