How sticky toepads evolved in geckos


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  • Dedicated to David Coppedge who sacrificed his career as the Head Systems Administrator for the Cassini Spacecraft in JPL to honor the Creator of the Universe. He also spent literally thousands of hours to make his excellent websites.

  • The contents of this presentation were taken from David Coppedge’s website http://crev.info. Pray for the results of his discrimination lawsuit against JPL.

  • Pastor Chui

  • http://ChristCenterGospel.org

  • ckchui1@yahoo.com


Biomimetics is all about design – intelligent design, mimicking the superb designs found in nature.  Why, then, are some scientists claiming evolutionary theory is where the biomimetic beef is?

  • Biomimetics is all about design – intelligent design, mimicking the superb designs found in nature.  Why, then, are some scientists claiming evolutionary theory is where the biomimetic beef is?

  • Gecko toes: the impossible dream.  PhysOrg titled an article in big, bold print: “How sticky toepads evolved in geckos and what that means for adhesive technologies.”  Based on a paper in PLoS ONE



PhysOrg filled its coverage with the e-word evolution or its derivatives no less than 15 times.  The amazing thing, though, is that believing the research paper requires accepting the authors’ claim that geckos “evolved” their intricate toe pads that allow them to walk on walls and ceilings multiple times: “Geckos have independently evolved their trademark sticky feet as many as 11 times, and lost them nine times, according to research published June 27 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.”  The lead author, Tony Gamble (U of Minnesota) seemed astonished himself at the gecko’s luck in the mutational lottery: “To discover that geckos evolved sticky toepads again and again is amazing,” he exclaimed.

  • PhysOrg filled its coverage with the e-word evolution or its derivatives no less than 15 times.  The amazing thing, though, is that believing the research paper requires accepting the authors’ claim that geckos “evolved” their intricate toe pads that allow them to walk on walls and ceilings multiple times: “Geckos have independently evolved their trademark sticky feet as many as 11 times, and lost them nine times, according to research published June 27 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.”  The lead author, Tony Gamble (U of Minnesota) seemed astonished himself at the gecko’s luck in the mutational lottery: “To discover that geckos evolved sticky toepads again and again is amazing,” he exclaimed.



What, exactly, does evolutionary theory contribute to the engineers who want to copy gecko technology?  It’s not apparent how speculating about gecko habitat changes in the unobservable past would help a design engineer, nor does this statement by a co-author of the paper: “The loss of adhesive pads in dune-dwelling species is an excellent example of natural selection in action.”  Where does he put that on the design specifications, if he is trying to use intelligent design? Maybe this statement about repeated evolution will help:

  • What, exactly, does evolutionary theory contribute to the engineers who want to copy gecko technology?  It’s not apparent how speculating about gecko habitat changes in the unobservable past would help a design engineer, nor does this statement by a co-author of the paper: “The loss of adhesive pads in dune-dwelling species is an excellent example of natural selection in action.”  Where does he put that on the design specifications, if he is trying to use intelligent design? Maybe this statement about repeated evolution will help:



Repeated evolution is a key phenomenon in the study of evolutionary biology. A classic example is the independent evolution of wings in birds, bats and pterosaurs. It represents a shared solution that organisms arrived at separately to overcome common problems.

  • Repeated evolution is a key phenomenon in the study of evolutionary biology. A classic example is the independent evolution of wings in birds, bats and pterosaurs. It represents a shared solution that organisms arrived at separately to overcome common problems.

  • Our representative engineer is still shaking his head.  The authors tell about how they studied the family trees of more than 100 gecko genera.  “The family tree will also allow the authors to revise gecko taxonomy to best reflect the group’s evolutionary history.”  The engineer is still wondering how this helps.



The best attempt to give evolution credit is at the end of the PhysOrg article.  Play engineer and see if it tells you how to design a sticky-foot robot any better than if you didn’t know anything about gecko evolution, but were just intrigued by the mechanism on living geckos:

  • The best attempt to give evolution credit is at the end of the PhysOrg article.  Play engineer and see if it tells you how to design a sticky-foot robot any better than if you didn’t know anything about gecko evolution, but were just intrigued by the mechanism on living geckos:

  • Gaining a better understanding of the complex evolutionary history of gecko toepads allows bio-inspired engineers to learn from these natural designs and develop new applications,” says co-author Anthony Russell, of the University of Calgary.



While scientists have a good understanding of how geckos stick at the microscopic level, they are just beginning to understand how geckos use their adhesive toepads to move around complex environments in the wild. Learning how gecko toepads have evolved to move in nature is an important step in developing robotic technologies that can do similar things. “It’s one thing to stick and unstick a piece of ‘gecko tape’ to a smooth surface in a lab, but something else altogether to get a robotic gecko to move across a complicated landscape in the real world and stick to all the different shapes and textures it will encounter,” says Gamble. Examining the repeated evolution of gecko toepads will let scientists find common ways natural selection solved these problems and focus on the characteristics shared across different gecko species.

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