Nature has already provided the adhesives industry with many new ideas. Now the substance that makes chameleon tongues sticky is under investigation and the results may provide insights that point towards powerful new adhesives technologies.
Scientists compared the chameleon’s eating habits to those of a human eating a giant 25 pound hamburger using only the tongue to get this monster snack into their mouth. But what makes a chameleon’s tongue so sticky? A special, sticky mucus coats the tip of the tongue. To test its adhesive properties, researchers coated a glass plate with chameleon tongue mucus and rolled a steel ball down the glass plate to see how much the natural glue would slow it down.
Interestingly, the mucus exhibited its strongest adhesion when the ball was moving very fast, and since that’s how chameleon tongues move, the strange phenomenon makes absolute sense. Just how this discovery will be used by humans is something the scientists couldn’t guess at, but they correctly conjectured that the adhesives industry would be the most likely to find an engineering use for sticky-at-speed glues.