Frog tongues work like scotch tape Frog tongues work like scotch tape – SOMETHING ABOUT SCIENCE

Frog tongues work like scotch tape


A new study reveals that a frog tongue acts like an adhesive tape.

Although frogs are well known for their sticky tongues that flick out of their mouths to capture the prey, the actual process of how the tongues stick to the target had been completely unknown, according to scientists at Kiel University in Germany, who conducted the study.

The scientists placed an illuminated glass between a frog and its prey and captured the frog’s tongue at work using a high-speed camera. (Video available below.) They found that, although adhesion takes place instantaneously, pulling the tongue off the surface of the glass takes much longer. Upon closer inspection, the scientists found that slimy muscle fibers form between the tongue and the target as the tongue detaches, essentially acting like a pressure-sensitive adhesive, such as Scotch tape, thus preventing peeling as the tongue retracts.

“[Our findings] may provide a new model system in the development of improved biomimetic and environment-friendly adhesive materials,” the scientists report.

The study, entitled Frog tongue acts as muscle-powered adhesive tape, appears in Royal Society Open Sciences and is open access (no subscription fee).

Watch the sticky tongue at work in the video below:

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Lynn Kimlicka

I am a scientist-turned writer and editor, who loves to read and write (more than doing experiments). I have a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology, with a specialization in structural biology. My interests range widely, from life sciences to pop culture and arts to music. I am bilingual in English and Japanese.

2 Responses

  1. Jett says:

    If the frog is thirsty, is its tongue sticker?

    • Lynn Kimlicka says:

      Here’s a fun fact: frogs don’t drink water! So, frog’s thirst probably won’t affect its tongue’s mucus.

      Quote from Burke Museum’s Frogs Q&As:
      “Do frogs drink water?
      Frogs do not drink like we do; they absorb water directly through their skin in an area known as the ‘drinking patch’ located on their belly and the underside of their thighs.”

      Check out more fun frog facts at 🙂

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