Chameleons are basically a distinctive and highly specialized clade of lizards. The approximately 160 species of chameleon come in a variety of colors, including pink, blue, red, orange, turquoise, yellow, and green. Continue reading to see more.
4. Happy Feet
The feet of chameleons are highly adapted to movement in trees (arboreal locomotion). On each foot there are five clearly distinguished toes that are grouped into a flattened section of either two or three toes, giving each foot a tongs-like appearance. On the front feet the outer group contains two toes, whereas the inner group contains three. On the rear feet this arrangement is reversed. These specialized feet allow chameleons to grip tightly onto narrow or rough branches. Each toe is also equipped with a sharp claw to help grip on surfaces when climbing.
Chameleons have the most distinctive eyes of any reptile. Their upper and lower eyelids are joined, with only a pinhole large enough for the pupil to see through. They can rotate and focus separately to observe two different objects simultaneously, which lets their eyes move independently from each other.
3. Ballistic Tongues
Ballistic tongues that are 1.5-2 times the length of their body. Chameleons feed by ballistically projecting their long tongue from their mouth to capture prey located some distance away. Tongue projection occurs at extremely high performance, reaching the prey in as little as 0.07 seconds, having been launched at accelerations exceeding 41 g. The chameleon tongue’s tip is a bulbous ball of muscle, and as it hits its prey it rapidly forms a small suction cup.
Chameleons can see in both visible and ultraviolet light. Chameleons exposed to ultraviolet light show increased social behavior and activity levels and are more inclined to bask and feed. They are also more likely to reproduce as it has a positive effect on the pineal gland.
Most chameleons change from brown to green and back, but some can turn almost any colour. A change can occur in as little as 20 seconds. Chameleons are born with special cells that have a colour or pigment in them. These cells lie in layers under the chameleon’s outer skin. They are called chromatophores. The top layers of chromatophores have red or yellow pigment. The lower layers have blue or white pigment. When these pigment cells change, the chameleon’s skin color changes.