One of the best bug control sources found in warm climates like South Florida are Geckos. There are about 900 known variants of this species which loves to eat sweet fruit like peaches, papaya and apricots. They are best known for eating locusts, crickets, grasshoppers and cockroaches or any other insects that are available in their environment.
These amazing lizards have been a focus for scientific study because of their unique way of sticking to various surfaces. For example, in September 2010, engineers using Gecko inspiration came up with a reversible adhesion method for printing electronics on a variety of tricky surfaces such as clothes, plastic and leather. In August 2010, a Stanford mechanical engineer modeled the Gecko’s “intricate designed” foot in his robot known as, Stickybot which can now climb up smooth surfaces!
Recently, Gecko research has been focused on improving human adhesives…Geckos can cling to walls and ceilings even when their feet are wet unlike human adhesives which get slippery when wet. How do they accomplish this?
Science daily reports…
“Graduate student Michael Prowse decided to take a closer look at the material properties of the reptile’s feet. Knowing that setae are composed of keratin and keratin is softened by high humidity, Autumn wondered whether having softer setae could improve the reptiles’ contact with surfaces and increase their van der Waals adhesion. The team decided to measure the setae’s softness and how it changed as the humidity rose.”
“Puthoff built a mathematical model to see if softer, more deformable, setae could explain the gecko’s improved attachment at high humidity and found that it did. Not only did increased softness strengthen the contact between the setae and the surface but also it made it easier for the reptile to peel its foot off. So instead of improving gecko’s attachment through microscopic bridges, higher humidity softens the setae that coat the reptile’s feet to help them hold fast and peel free with ease.”
Silkworms are another interesting focus for research. Man-made substances becomes weak when wet while silk becomes more concentrated when it wet. Researchers from Sweden working with other from Oxford found…
“At the native concentration the proteins form a compact helical structure with a radius of gyration of about 90nm; as they are diluted they unfold until they are 130nm in size. In the lab, the effect is a like a neat ball of string becoming unravelled into a big mess that ties itself in knots.”
“However, the silkworms are able to control this process so that the proteins are spun into highly ordered silk filaments as they unfold and begin to flow. This surprising observation is a vital step towards understanding the liquid precursor, which is essential to synthesise silk and develop new materials with silk’s desirable mechanical properties.”
Silkworms have exceeded the capabilities of the scientists to control this substance. It is refreshing to see many reports like these that attempt to mimic specialized complex properties of cells and plants without not going into the whole evolution story explanation. Although from time to time, the likes of MIT News gives evolution the credit for all the amazing designed work found in nature that came from God but Darwinian evolution doesn’t give any help in the progress of these discoveries.