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More slo-mo gecko video from Robert Full

080317171030.jpgRobert Full (watch his TEDTalk on gecko feet) and his team at UC Berkeley have uncovered more oddly-worth-knowing facts about geckos and how they move.

It turns out that, along with their amazing sticky paws, geckos use their tails as a kind of fifth limb to help them balance while they climb walls. The team also filmed geckos in free-fall inside a wind tunnel, and found out that falling geckos use their tails as a rudder to help them fall safely — along the way, capturing “the most rapid, zero-angular momentum air-righting response yet measured.” Watch this video report from New Scientist >>

In the abstract of the paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and online, the team, headed by lead author Ardian Jusufi, writes that these new facts about the gecko’s tail

… have provided biological inspiration for the design of an active tail on a climbing robot, and we anticipate their use in small, unmanned gliding vehicles and multisegment spacecraft.

Photos courtesy PNAS/NAS 2008.