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Gecko
Fossil range: 50 Ma - Recent, putatively as early as 110 Ma[1]
Gold dust day gecko (also known as Madagascar day geckos)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Infraorder: Gekkota
Family: Gekkonidae
Gray, 1825
Subfamilies

Aeluroscalabotinae
Eublepharinae
Gekkoninae
Teratoscincinae
Diplodactylinae

Geckos are small to average sized lizards belonging to the family Gekkonidae, found in warm climates throughout the world. Geckos are unique among lizards in their vocalizations, making chirping sounds in social interactions with other geckos. An estimated 2,000 different species of geckos exist worldwide, with many likely yet to be discovered. The name stems from the Indonesian/Japanese word Tokek, inspired by the sound these animals make. The Malay word for gecko is cicak.

All geckos, excluding the Eublepharinae family, have no eyelids and instead have a transparent membrane which they lick to clean. Many species will, in defense, expel a foul-smelling material and feces onto their aggressors. There are also many species that will drop their tails in defense, a process called autotomy. Many species are well known for their specialized toe pads that enable them to climb smooth and vertical surfaces, and even cross indoor ceilings with ease (it is believed that the van der Waals force may contribute to this capability). These antics are well-known to people who live 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 often welcome guests, as they feed on insects, including mosquitoes.

The largest species, Delcourt's gecko, is only known from a single, stuffed specimen found in the basement of a museum in Marseille, France. This gecko was 60 cm (24 in) long and it was native to New Zealand. It was probably wiped out along with much of the native fauna of these islands at the end of the 19th century, when new predators were introduced there. The smallest gecko, the Jaragua Sphaero, is a mere 16 mm long and was discovered in 2001 on a small island off the coast of the Dominican Republic.[2]

Contents

Common traits

Geckos come in various colors and patterns such as purple, pink, and blue.

Some are subtly patterned and somewhat rubbery looking, while others are brightly colored. Some species can change color to blend in with their environment or with particular temperatures. Some species are parthenogenic, which means the female is capable of reproducing without copulating with a male. This improves the gecko's ability to spread to new islands. However, in a situation where a single female gecko populates an entire island, said island will suffer from a lack of genetic variation within the geckos that inhabit it. The Gecko's mating call sounds like a shortened bird chirping which attracts males when they are around so the female can create a baby with more genetic variation by using sexual reproduction instead of asexual. Geckos also make a quality pet for small households. They can live and breed in small tanks or terrariums. They must have proper living space to survive. The average temperature in the day should be between 78 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit (25 and 31 degrees Celsius) and at night temperatures should not go below 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) inside the tank. Proper foods for the geckos range from small baby crickets, roaches, phoenix worms and manufactured diets such as crested gecko diet. Many have a sweet tooth and like fresh fruits and honey.[3]

Gecko toes: setae and van der Waals forces

Close-up of the underside of a gecko's foot as it walks on vertical glass

The toes of the gecko have a special adaptation that allows them to adhere to most surfaces without the use of liquids or surface tension. Recent studies of the spatula tipped setae on gecko footpads demonstrate that the attractive forces that hold geckos to surfaces are van der Waals interactions between the finely divided setae and the surfaces themselves. Every square millimeter of a gecko's footpad contains about 14,000 hair-like setae. Each seta has a diameter of 5 micrometers. Human hair varies from 18 to 180 micrometers, so a human hair could hold between 3 and 36 setae. Each seta is in turn tipped with between 100 and 1,000 spatulae.[4] Each spatula is 0.2 micrometer long[4] (one five-millionth of a meter), or just below the wavelength of visible light.[5]

Uroplatus fimbriatus clinging to glass.

These van der Waals interactions involve no fluids; in theory, a boot made of synthetic setae would adhere as easily to the surface of the International Space Station as it would to a living room wall, although adhesion varies with humidity and is dramatically reduced under water, suggesting a contribution from capillarity.[6] The setae on the feet of geckos are also self cleaning and will usually remove any clogging dirt within a few steps.[4][7] Teflon, which has very low van der Waals forces,[8] is the only known surface to which a gecko cannot stick.[9] Geckos' toes seem to be "double jointed", but this is a misnomer. Their toes actually bend in the opposite direction from our fingers and toes. This allows them to overcome the van der Waals force by peeling their toes off surfaces from the tips inward. In essence, this peeling action alters the angle of incidence between millions of individual setae and the surface, reducing the Van der Waals force. Geckos' toes operate well below their full attractive capabilities for most of the time. This is because there is a great margin for error depending upon the roughness of the surface, and therefore the number of setae in contact with that surface. If a typical mature 70 g (2.5 oz) gecko had every one of its setae in contact with a surface, it would be capable of holding aloft a weight of 133 kg (290 lb):[10] each spatula can exert an adhesive force of 10 nanonewtons (0.0010 mgf).[6] Each seta can resist 10 milligrams-force (100 µN), which is equivalent to 10 atmospheres of pull.[4]. This means a gecko can support about eight times its weight hanging from just one toe on smooth glass. [4]

Nocturnal vision

A study from Lund University[11] proved that nocturnal geckos such as the helmet gecko, Tarentola chazaliaei, discriminate colors in dim moonlight when humans are color blind. The sensitivity of the helmet gecko eye was calculated to be 350 times higher than human cone vision at the color vision threshold. The optics in the gecko's eyes, having distinct concentric zones of different refractive powers that constitute a multifocal optical system, together with the large cones of the gecko, are important reasons why they can use color vision at low light intensities. Although the intraspecific variation is large, in most of the individuals studied the concentric zones differed by 15 diopters. This is of the same magnitude as needed to focus light of the wavelength range to which gecko photoreceptors are most sensitive. In contrast, the optical system of a different day gecko species showed no signs of distinct concentric zones and is thereby monofocal. Another feature of the nocturnal geckos—and other lizards—in which they differ from most other vertebrates is that they only have cones in their retina.

Taxonomy

The Family Gekkonidae is divided into five subfamilies, containing numerous genera of gecko species.

Classification

Gold dust day gecko licking nectar from the flower of a Strelitzia plant, also known as "bird of paradise."

Family Gekkonidae

Common species of geckos

Pores on the skin are often used in classification.
  • 'Pachydactylus, genus of geckos of which there are many species.
  • Bibron's gecko, Pachydactylus bibroni — Native to Southern Africa, this hardy arboreal gecko is considered a household pest.
  • Crocodile gecko or Moorish gecko, Tarentola mauritanica — very strong and heavily built for their size usually growing up to 15 cm (6 in). They are commonly found in the Mediterranean region from the Iberian Peninsula and southern France to Greece and northern Africa. Their most distinguishing characteristic is their pointed head and spiked skin with their tail resembling that of a crocodile's.
  • Cyrtopodion, genus of geckos of which there are many species.
  • Rhacodactylus, genus of Geckos of which there are a few species.
    • Suras Gecko belonging to the genus Rhacodactylus.
    • Crested gecko, Rhacodactylus ciliatus — Believed extinct until rediscovered in 1994. Gaining in popularity as a pet.
    • Gargoyle gecko, Rhacodactylus auriculatus — commonly known as the New Caledonian bumpy gecko or gargoyle gecko.
  • Gold dust day gecko (Phelsuma laticauda laticauda (Boettger, 1880) (syn. Pachydactylus laticauda Boettger, 1880)) is a diurnal subspecies of geckos. It lives in northern Madagascar and on the Comoros.
  • Golden Gecko, Gekko ulikovskii — native to the warm rainforests of Vietnam.
  • Hemidactylus, genus of geckos of which many varieties belong.
    • Common House Gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus — A species that thrives around man and human habitation structures in the tropics and subtropics world wide.
    • Indo-Pacific Gecko, Hemidactylus garnotii — Also known as a fox gecko because of its long, narrow snout. This species is found in houses throughout the tropics. This gecko may eat leafcutter ants.
  • New Caledonian giant gecko, Rhacodactylus leachianus — first described by Cuvier in 1829, is the largest of the Rhacodactylus geckos.
  • Leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius — The most common gecko kept as a pet is the leopard gecko, which does not have toe pads with setae, but rather claws. These enable it to more easily climb on rough surfaces like tree bark. This gecko cannot climb the glass of a terrarium. The leopard gecko tends to be docile and calm. This gecko can eat butterworms, cockroaches, crickets, mealworms, waxworms, superworms, and pink mice.
  • Mediterranean gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus — residential and wild, introduced species (USA).
  • Mourning gecko, originally an East Asian and Pacific species, Lepidodactylus lugubris is equally at home in the wild as in residential neighborhoods. Found in Hawaii, it may have been an early Polynesian introduction. A parthenogenic species. There is a report from Hawaii of someone having seen a larger gecko of this type eating a smaller one (or rather, running away from view with a smaller gecko halfway out of its mouth) on three or more occasions.[citation needed]
  • Ptychozoon, — a genus of arboreal gecko from Southeast Asia, known as Flying Geckos or Parachute Geckos, has wing-like flaps from the neck to the upper leg, to help it conceal itself on trees and provide lift while jumping.
  • Stump-toed gecko, Gehyra mutilata (Peropus mutilatus) — This gecko, commonly referred to as a gheckl, can vary its color from very light to very dark to blend into a background. At home in the wild as well as in residential neighborhoods.
  • Tree gecko, Hemiphyllodactylus typus — Tree geckos are forest dwellers.
  • Tokay gecko, Gekko gecko — a large, common, Southeast Asian gecko known for its aggressive temperament, loud mating calls, and bright markings.
  • Western banded gecko, Coleonyx variegatus — Native to southwestern United States and northwest Mexico.
  • Dwarf gecko, Sphaerodactylus ariasae — native to the Caribbean islands, and the world's smallest lizard

Geckos in popular culture

Corporate symbols

  • In the past few years, geckos have entered into the consciousness of the USA as the advertising icon for the insurance company GEICO, whose advertisements feature an animated anthropomorphic gecko (of the Phelsuma genus) that speaks with a Cockney accent.
  • The current mascot of SUSE Linux distributions is a Chameleon called Geeko, also known as the "SUSE Lizard".
  • The logo of the car builder Wiesmann is a gecko.
  • The beverage company SoBe uses a dancing gecko as a mascot.
  • The logo of the poker site PokerLizard.com features a gecko.

Video games

  • Gex is an anthropomorphic, wise-cracking gecko and the protagonist of the GEX series.
  • The Pokémon Treecko, and its evolved forms Grovile and Sceptile are based on the gecko.
  • Fallout 2 features mutated geckos as low-level enemies, with more powerful variants appearing later in the game. There is also a town called Gecko, and gecko skins can be harvested.
  • Demon's Souls includes several rare monsters called Crystal Geckos, which must be killed quickly in order to obtain valuable resources used later in the game.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 features armed walking tanks called Gekkos also nicknamed Lizards; similar to the gecko they drop a green liquid and produce a strong sound. They also appear climbing on walls and doing long jumps and are equipped with a special vision systems.

Literature

  • A gecko called Reed is featured in the book My Family and Other Animals by the celebrated naturalist Gerald Durrell.
  • Edgar, a character from the webcomic Pandect is an Ace of Blue and White geckos. He is possibly a piebald blue gecko.
  • In the book Spud, the narrator's friend (who dies of malaria) is named Gecko (due to the fact that he's always sick).

Film and television

  • The horror film Aberration featured mutated geckos.
  • In the animated film Madagascar, there is a dancing gecko used as King Julian's new crown
  • The design of the Malaysian superhero Cicak Man is based on the gecko; cicak is Malay for gecko.
  • In the sitcom Frasier episode "The First Temptation Of Daphne", Martin and Frasier use a gecko to catch a cricket in Frasier's apartment.

See also

References

  1. ^ Arnold, E.N., & Poinar, G. (2008). "A 100 million year old gecko with sophisticated adhesive toe pads, preserved in amber from Myanmar (abstract)". Zootaxa. http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2008/f/z01847p068f.pdf. Retrieved August 12, 2009. 
  2. ^ Piper, Ross (2007), Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals, Greenwood Press.
  3. ^ http://www.leopardgecko.co.uk/documents/leopard-gecko-morph.htm
  4. ^ a b c d e Hansen, W. R.; Autumn, K. (2005). "Evidence for self-cleaning in gecko setae". PNAS 102 (2): 385–389. doi:10.1073/pnas.0408304102. "Setae occur in uniform arrays on overlapping lamellar pads at a density of 14,400 per mm2". 
  5. ^ Autumn, Kellar; et al. (2002). "Evidence for van der Waals adhesion in gecko setae". PNAS 99 (19): 12252–12256. doi:10.1073/pnas.192252799. 
  6. ^ a b Lee, Haeshin; Lee, Bruce P.; Messersmith, Phillip B. (2007). "A reversible wet/dry adhesive inspired by mussels and geckos". Nature 448 (7151): 338–341. doi:10.1038/nature05968. 
  7. ^ How Geckos Stick to Walls
  8. ^ Why do the gecko's feet not stick to a teflon surface?
  9. ^ Adhesives, Anne Peattie, University of California-Berkeley.
  10. ^ Kellar Autumn, Scientific American: Ask the experts. Accessed 5 June 2007
  11. ^ Roth, Lina S. V.; Lundström, Linda; Kelber, Almut; Kröger, Ronald H. H.; Unsbo, Peter (March 30, 2009). "The pupils and optical systems of gecko eyes". Journal of Vision 9(3):27: 1–11. doi:10.1167/9.3.27. http://journalofvision.org/9/3/27/. 

Further reading

  • Forbes, Peter (4th Estate, London 2005) The Gecko's Foot—Bio Inspiration: Engineered from Nature ISBN 0-00-717990-1 in H/B

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GECKO, 1 the common name applied to all the species of the Geckones, one of the three sub-orders of the Lacertilia. The geckoes are small creatures, seldom exceeding 8 in. in length including the tail. With the head considerably flattened, the body short and thick, the legs not high enough to prevent the body dragging somewhat on the ground,the eyes large and almost destitute of eyelids, and the tail short and in some cases nearly as thick as the body, the geckoes altogether lack the litheness and grace characteristic of most lizards. Their colours also are dull, Leaf-tailed Gecko (Gymnodactylus platurus) of Australia.

and to the weird and forbidding aspect thus produced the general prejudice against those creatures in the countries where they occur, which has led to their being classed with toads and snakes, is no doubt to be attributed. Their bite was supposed to be venomous, and their saliva to produce painful cutaneous eruptions; even their touch was thought sufficient to convey a dangerous taint. It is needless to say that in this instance the popular mind was misled by appearances. The geckoes are not only harmless, but are exceedingly useful creatures, feeding on insects, which, owing to the great width of their oesophagus, they are enabled to swallow whole, and in pursuit of which they do not hesitate to enter human dwellings, where they are often killed on 1 The Malay name ge-koq imitates the animal's cry.

suspicion. The structure of the toes in these lizards forms one of their most characteristic anatomical features.

Most geckoes have adhesive digits and toes, by means of which they are enabled not only to climb absolutely smooth and vertical surfaces, for instance a window-pane, but to run along a whitewashed ceiling, back downwards. The adhesion is not produced by sticky matter but by numerous transverse lamellae, each of which is further beset with tiny hair-like excrescences. The arrangement of the lamellae and pads differs much in the various genera and is used for classificactory purposes. Those which live on sandy ground have narrow digits without the adhesive apparatus. Most species have sharp, curved claws, often retractile between some of the lamellae or into a special sheath. The tail is very brittle and can be quickly regenerated; it varies much in size and shape; the most extraordinary is that of the leaftailed gecko. Ptychozoon honaalocephalon of the Malay countries has membranous expansions on the sides of the head, body, limbs and tail, which' look like parachutes, but more probably they aid in concealing the creature when it is closely pressed to the similarly coloured bark of a tree. 1Iost geckoes are dull coloured, yellow to brown, and they soon change colour from lighter to dark tints. They are insectivorous and chiefly nocturnal, but are fond of basking in the sun, motionless on the bark of a tree, or on a rock the colour of which is then imitated to a nicety. Some species are more or less transparent.

Geckoes, of which about 270 species are known, subdivided into about 50 genera, are cosmopolitan within the warmer zones, including New Zealand, and even the remotest volcanic islands. This wide distribution is due partly to the great age of the suborder (although fossils are unknown), partly to their being able to exist for several months without food so that, concealed in hollow trunks of trees, they may float about for a very long time. Ships, also, act as distributors. In south Europe occur only Hemidactylus turcicus, Tarentola mauritanica (Platydactylus facetanus) and Phyllodactylus europaeus.


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also gecko

German

Noun

Gecko m. (genitive Geckos, plural Geckos)

  1. gecko

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

See Ferret; Lizard.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

Simple English

Geckos
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Family: Gekkonidae
Gray, 1825

Geckos are small to middle size lizards. Lizards are reptiles. There are 1196 different kinds of geckos. They live in many warm countries. Some kinds of geckos to go into people's houses. People are often happy to have them, because geckos eat many insects.

Unlike most lizards, geckos have voices. A gecko sounds a little like a bird or a frog. In some languages these lizards have names that sound like their calls, for example, both English and Indonesian call one kind gecko (gek KO) and tokay (to-KAY). Another kind of gecko, with a different sound, is called chicak (CHEE chak).

Geckos have no eyelids. Instead, they have a clear membrane (skin) over their eyes. They lick the membrane clean with their tongues. Like most lizards, they can regenerate their tail if they need to.

Many kinds of geckos can walk on walls, windows and ceilings. They can do this because they have special toe pads. A microscope can show that each toe pad is made of thousands of hair-like structures. Each of these structures branches into many smaller ends.[1]

References

File:Tokay
A gecko’s foot, showing toe pads

[[File:|thumb|left|300 px| Three microscopic views of a gecko’s toe pads, at higher and higher magnification.]]

Look up Gekkonidae in Wikispecies, a directory of species
  1. Autumn, Kellar; et al. 2002. Evidence for van der Waals adhesion in gecko setae. PNAS 99: 12252–12256








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