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Reptile Roundup

April 4, 2008

Researchers invent a material that mimics the stickiness of gecko feet.


Engineering sticky feet. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For over a decade, gecko feet have been driving engineers up the wall. That’s because even after discovering how geckos can scamper easily up the smoothest surfaces, scientists have been unable to copy the little lizards. Now Berkeley scientist Ron Fearing and his colleagues have a material with tiny hard fibers, similar to those on gecko toes; when dragged along a smooth surface, the material grips tight, yet lets go as soon as it’s pulled outward.

In other science news, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control have found that doxycycline, an antibiotic used to prevent malaria, may also prevent Lyme disease. Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks, and is especially common in the northeast. The treatment was effective in mice; and the team is now working on a formulation to be tested in people. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.