Gecko Feet Inspire Wall-Climbing Gloves

I love it when nature inspires technology. A group of researchers has developed a glove that will allow humans to stick to and scale walls. This bit of amazingness is being modeled on the feet of geckos.

4481220352_7e88697cb1_b

Unlike tree frogs, whose sticky toe pads give these amphibians the ability to cling to surfaces, gecko toes instead use friction created by microscopic hair-like structures called setae that hold up the animal's body weight.

This adaptation has been studied before, but so far physics and gravity have prevented any practical application for human use. We're simply too large and heavy. That has all changed now based on the work of Michael Elliot Hawks of Stanford University, who has developed a synthetic nano-fiber "setae" that can hold the weight of a human.

If and when these become available to the public, I'm definitely adding them to my wish list!

Songs for Unusual Creatures: The Jesus Christ Lizard!

UnusualCreaturesCoverMichael Hearst launched his Songs For Unusual Creatures series on PBS Digital with an episode about the Jesus Christ Lizard. To accompany the story of this unusual creature, Michael wrote a tune for toy piano virtuoso Margaret Leng Tan! Michael says upcoming episodes will feature giant anteaters, magnapinna squids, tardigrades, glass frogs and sea pigs. For more of Michael's quirky brand of animal education, check out his book Unusual Creatures!

"Dragon" found in toilet

A shopper fled from an Asda supermarket in Edinburgh, Scotland, after being confronted by a "dragon" in the toilet—a creature that turned out to be a harmless monitor lizard. The lizard was rescued by animal welfare officers, who have named it Lulu. [The Scottish Sun]

Re-grown lizard tails are cheap knock-offs of the original

A new study suggests that the "miracle" of re-growing a lost tail is less awesome than it might first appear. Sure, growing a new tail is cool and all. But the new tails have completely different anatomy — a tube of cartilage in place of vertebra, for instance — and are likely less flexible than the original model. (Via Brian Switek)