Animals and Insects

What Makes A Frog's Tongue So Sticky?

It has something to do with spit that transforms.

What Makes A Frog's Tongue So Sticky?
Theodore Scott / CC BY 2.0

Frogs can catch prey in a flash using a springlike tongue that sticks to food and recoils back into the mouth. But what makes a frog's tongue so sticky?

In a recent study, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology found the stickiness is a result of none other than the frog's spit, coupled with a super-soft tongue.

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A frog's saliva has a unique reversible capability. It's thick and sticky as the frog captures the prey, and then becomes thin and watery when the prey enters the frog's mouth. The combination of this reversible saliva and soft surface makes a frog's tongue 50 times more adhesive than your average sticky-hand toy. 

The researchers say they hope these findings will inspire better adhesives in everyday products, like bandages.