University of Bristol logo Fossil group banner, with title and coposite picture of fossils


Geckos


Geckos are small to moderately large lizards belonging to the family Gekkonidae and found in warm climates throughout the world. Geckos are unique among lizards in their vocalizations, making chirping sounds in social interactions with other geckos. Geckos are unusual in other respects as well. Many species have specialized toe pads that enable them to climb smooth vertical surfaces and even cross indoor ceilings with ease. Many are also capable of regeneration of lost limbs or tails.These antics are well-known to persons living in warm regions of the world where several species of geckos make their home inside human habitations. These species (for example the House gecko) become part of the indoor menagerie and are seldom really discouraged because they feed on insect pests.

Most geckos are tan to dark grey, subtly patterned, and somewhat rubbery looking. Some species can change color to blend in with their surroundings. However others can be brightly colored. Like most lizards, they eat insects. Some species are parthenogenic, the females capable of reproducing without copulating with a male. This improves the geckos' ability to spread to new islands.

The toes of the gecko have attracted a lot of attention, as they adhere to a wide variety of surfaces, without the use of liquids or surface tension. Recent studies of the setae on gecko footpads demonstrates that the attractive forces that hold geckos to surfaces are van der Waals interactions between the finely divided setae and the surfaces themselves.



Author: Koen Stein
Last updated: 21/11/2005
Return to Fossil groups home page


Websites produced by students on the MSc Palaeobiology programme in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol for academic year 2005-6