JUN 09, 2020 3:32 PM PDT

The Awesome Science Behind Chameleons

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Most people recognize the humble chameleon as a type of lizard that can change its body colors. But contrary to popular belief, chameleons don’t usually do this for the sake of camouflage alone, but rather to communicate with other chameleons, that is, except for a few documented exceptions. In fact, many chameleons are pre-color-matched to their surroundings from birth.

Given the stereotypical color-changing behavior that is often associated with chameleons, it’s worth mentioning that there are several different species around the world, and only a handful of those can change their body colors. But while not all species can change their body colors, they make up for this shortcoming with other types of incredible natural abilities.

While many chameleons are slow and sluggish, their tongues are not. They often hunt fast-moving prey, and to keep up, they launch their tongues at break-neck speeds, effectively capturing their prey from a distance and reeling it back into their mouths. Chameleon tongues can stretch up to twice the length of their bodies, and they’re sticky, allowing them to snag almost anything they want.

If you’ve ever watched a chameleon climb before, then you’ve probably noticed their peculiar feet. They sport two fingers the point forward, and two that point backward. When used together, they can grasp branches much like our own hands, and this give them incredible grip when they’re moving around complex obstacles.

Another interesting aspect of the chameleon are its eyes, which can move independently. This means that each eye can focus on something different at the same time, offering a nearly unparalleled 360-degree field of vision. Furthermore, their eyes can see in the ultraviolet light spectrum, which is a particularly useful trait given that their skins respond to ultraviolet light. That said, they can find each other pretty easily in the dark.

Chameleons sure are interesting animals, but they often don’t get the attention they deserve.

Related: Not all iguanas are herbivores, but why?

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAR 14, 2021
Plants & Animals
Habitat Recreation Coaxes Captive Lemurs Into Hibernation
MAR 14, 2021
Habitat Recreation Coaxes Captive Lemurs Into Hibernation
Many types of lemurs live in the forests of Madagascar, a large island off the coast of Africa. In the wild, the fat-tai ...
MAR 26, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Iconic Bald Eagles are Thriving
MAR 26, 2021
Iconic Bald Eagles are Thriving
Once dangerously on the brink of extinction, bald eagle populations are thriving throughout the lower 48 states of the U ...
MAR 26, 2021
Plants & Animals
Studies Confirm that Bottlenose Dolphins Vocalize to Synchronize Behaviors
MAR 26, 2021
Studies Confirm that Bottlenose Dolphins Vocalize to Synchronize Behaviors
The ability to communicate with one another to coordinate behaviors contributes to the success of social mammals, like b ...
MAR 30, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A Pest Hijacked a Plant Gene To Use as a Toxin Shield
MAR 30, 2021
A Pest Hijacked a Plant Gene To Use as a Toxin Shield
Bacteria can share genetic material in a process called horizontal gene transfer, and recent work has shown that in anim ...
APR 05, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Scientists Regenerate Missing Teeth in Mice
APR 05, 2021
Scientists Regenerate Missing Teeth in Mice
While most people have 32 teeth, around 1% of the population has more or fewer due to congenital reasons. Now, researche ...
APR 07, 2021
Plants & Animals
Scientists Discover a Crab-Dissolving Parasite
APR 07, 2021
Scientists Discover a Crab-Dissolving Parasite
Parasites abound throughout the natural world. While not all of them cause the host's death, this newly discovered p ...
Loading Comments...