Frog feet could solve a sticky problem

Jul 03, 2011
White's tree frogs (Litoria caerulea) show extraordinary abilities to cling to surfaces. They achieve this through specialized toe pads that can self-clean. Credit: Diana Samuel

Tree frogs have specially adapted self-cleaning feet which could have practical applications for the medical industry.

" feet may provide a design for self-cleaning sticky surfaces, which could be useful for a wide range of products especially in contaminating environments - medical bandages, tyre performance, and even long lasting ," says researcher, Niall Crawford at the University of Glasgow who will be presenting this work at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow on 3rd of July, 2011.

Tree frogs have sticky pads on their toes that they use to cling on in difficult situations, but until now it was unclear how they prevent these pads from picking up dirt.

"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," says Mr. Crawford.

The researchers placed the White's tree frogs on a rotatable platform and measured the angles at which the frog lost its grip. When the experiment was repeated with frogs whose feet were contaminated with dust they initially lost grip but if they took a few steps their adhesive forces were recovered. "When the frogs did not move the adhesive forces recovered much more slowly," says Mr. Crawford. "This shows that just taking a step enables frogs to clean their feet and restore their adhesion ability."

White's tree have tiny hexagonal patterns on their , which allow some parts of the pad to remain in contact with the surface and create , whilst the channels between allow the mucus to spread throughout the pad. This at once allows the frog to stick and then, when they move, also carries away any dirt. If this can be translated into a man-made design it could provide a re-useable, effective adhesive.

Explore further: Bee-flies and false widow spiders top Museum enquiry

Provided by Society for Experimental Biology

5 /5 (1 vote)

Related Stories

Endangered gopher frogs bred in zoo

Apr 08, 2008

Tennessee's Memphis Zoo says it has successful started the first captive breeding program for endangered Mississippi gopher frogs.

Duct tape that never loses its stick

Jan 07, 2005

Gecko feet hold key to development of self-cleaning adhesives Duct tape that never loses its stick. Bandages that come off without sticky residue or an "ouch." Gecko feet may hold the key to the developmen ...

Recommended for you

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

4 hours ago

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

6 hours ago

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

6 hours ago

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

FroShow
not rated yet Jul 03, 2011
I could see the use of this. Similar R&D is being done on gecko's feet; which have similar characteristics, minus the mucus.
http://www.newsci...lue.html
But more interesting, are Robert Full's talks at TED:
http://www.ted.co...ail.html (one of several)

More news stories

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...