Frog feet could solve a sticky problem

July 02, 2011

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

"Tree frog 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 adhesives," 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 frogs have tiny hexagonal patterns on their feet, which allow some parts of the pad to remain in contact with the surface and create friction, whilst the channels between allow the mucus to spread throughout the pad. This mucus 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.
-end-


Society for Experimental Biology

Related Frogs Articles from Brightsurf:

Primates aren't quite frogs
Researchers in Japan demonstrated for the first time the 'spinal motor module hypothesis' in the primate arm, wherein the brain recruits interneuronal modules in the spinal cord rather than individual muscles to create movement and different modules can be combined to create specific movements.

Lost frogs rediscovered with environmental DNA
Scientists have detected signs of a frog listed extinct and not seen since 1968, using an innovative technique to locate declining and missing species in two regions of Brazil.

'Social distancing' saves frogs: New approach to identify individual frogs noninvasively
Amphibians possess diverse colour patterns and body markings that can be used to identify individuals, just like fingerprints for humans.

Bristol scientists see through glass frogs' translucent camouflage
Glass frogs are well known for their see-through skin but, until now, the reason for this curious feature has received no experimental attention.

Earth Day alert to save our frogs
With climate action a theme of Earth Day 2020 (April 22, 2020), a new research paper highlights the plight of some of the most at-risk amphibian species - and shortfalls in most conservation efforts.

Skulls gone wild: How and why some frogs evolved extreme heads
Beneath slick skin, some frogs sport spines, spikes and other skeletal secrets.

When frogs die off, snake diversity plummets
A new study in the journal Science, shows that the snake community become more homogenized and the number of species declined dramatically after chytrid fungus decimated frog populations in a remote forest in Panama.

World's largest frogs build their own ponds for their young
The first example of 'nest'-building in an African amphibian, the Goliath frog, has been described in a new article in the Journal of Natural History, and could explain why they have grown to be giant.

Skin bacteria could save frogs from virus
Bacteria living on the skin of frogs could save them from a deadly virus, new research suggests.

Frogs find refuge in elephant tracks
Frogs need elephants. That's what a new WCS-led study says that looked at the role of water-filled elephant tracks in providing predator-free breeding grounds and pathways connecting frog populations.

Read More: Frogs News and Frogs Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.