In an experiment that could only have come out of California, UC Berkeley researchers decided to see what would happen if they chucked a gecko into a wind tunnel. Who says science can't be fun?
Looking for inspiration for building more maneuverable robots, the researchers pointed a powerful fan straight up to simulate freefall conditions and used a high-speed camera to watch the gecko's in-flight acrobatics. What they discovered is that the gecko hardly moves its feet at all in the air. Instead, it uses its fat-filled tail to control its pitch and yaw, which leaves its bulbous toes to act as drag shoots, letting it precisely navigate its way to a perch at the bottom.