Scientists have recently found that geckos may be the largest animal species capable of scaling vertical walls, which means that humans are out of the equation when it comes to climbing a wall like a spider, a new study suggests.
There are hundreds of animal species – from mites to geckos – that can scale a vertical wall thanks to their sticky footpads. A new study found that the bigger the animal, the larger the adhesive footpads must be.
For the study – published Monday (Jan. 18) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – the researchers looked at more than two hundred climbing animal species. The results of their analysis show that geckos are the largest animals able to move like Spiderman, because of their adhesive footpads to body size ratio. According to the new paper, humans would need to have about forty percent of their body covered in adhesive pads, to be able to climb a smooth, vertical wall.
Dr. Walter Federle, senior author of the study and professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, said that if humans wanted to scale walls like geckos, they would need extremely large feet that would require shoes in U.S. size 114 or European size 145. According to the Guinness World Records, the man holding the record for the world’s largest feet has a U.S. shoe size of twenty-six.
David Labonte, first author of the study and a doctoral student in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge, stated that the amount of body surface area per volume decreases as an animal increases in size. For instance, an ant has very little volume and a lot of surface area, whereas an elephant has little surface area but a lot of volume.
According to Christofer Clemente, co-author of the study and a lecturer who studies animal form and function at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, in some animals, the size of adhesive footpads did not increase fast enough to match their body size. Instead, the pads became stickier. Tree frogs have opted for the second option and made their footpads stickier rather than bigger, Clemente said.
It is very interesting to see how animals managed to find a solution to the problem of getting big and sticking to walls, he added. However, even without sticky pads, many larger animals have developed toes and claws that help them climb, researchers stated.
Image Source: iflscience
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