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
JUL 08, 2022
Plants & Animals
Oilseed Plant Camelina Has Potential as an Aviation Biofuel
JUL 08, 2022
Oilseed Plant Camelina Has Potential as an Aviation Biofuel
Camelina, an oilseed currently grown in what is now Ukraine, is a grain product that has been cultivated for thousands o ...
JUL 23, 2022
Plants & Animals
Potassium-Rich Foods Lower Blood Pressure in Women
JUL 23, 2022
Potassium-Rich Foods Lower Blood Pressure in Women
Cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, are increasingly common in the United States. In fact, it’s estimat ...
AUG 06, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Today in Science History: Most Complete Skeletal Remains of Neanderthal Still Tell a Story Today
AUG 06, 2022
Today in Science History: Most Complete Skeletal Remains of Neanderthal Still Tell a Story Today
114 years ago, the first and only nearly complete Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) skeleton was found in a cave in Fr ...
AUG 14, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Even near-term climate change effects could massively impact northernmost forests
AUG 14, 2022
Even near-term climate change effects could massively impact northernmost forests
In a recent study published in Nature, a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota (U-M) conducted a five-yea ...
SEP 16, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
What are sublinguals and how do they work?
SEP 16, 2022
What are sublinguals and how do they work?
Using sublingual cannabis has become a more popular way of consuming THC and CBD. Here's how it works.
SEP 18, 2022
Health & Medicine
The Best Posture to Swallow a Pill
SEP 18, 2022
The Best Posture to Swallow a Pill
Scientists say that lying on the right side is the quickest way to dissolve a pill. The research was published in Physic ...
Loading Comments...