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Temporal range: Middle Paleocene-Holocene
Indian Chameleon (Chamaeleo zeylanicus) Photograph By Shantanu Kuveskar.jpg
Indian chameleon in Mangaon, Maharashtra, India
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Clade: Acrodonta
Family: Chamaeleonidae
Rafinesque, 1815

Chameleons are a family of lizards. Most can change the colo(u)r of their skins for camouflage, or to signal mood to other chameleons.

They are a distinct clade of lizards. They have parrot-like zygodactylous feet,[1] separately mobile and stereoscopic eyes,[2] very long tongues they can flick out, a swaying gait,[3] their prehensile tail,[4] crests or horns on their strange-shaped heads, and many can change colour.

There are about 160 species, living in Africa, Madagascar, Spain and Portugal, across south Asia, Sri Lanka. They have been introduced to Hawaii, California and Florida, and are found in warm habitats that vary from rain forest to desert conditions. Chameleons are often kept as household pets.

Chameleons have long sticky tongues that they can fire out in a fraction of a second. They stretch up to twice their body size. Their eyes can move independently. The largest species is about 1.5 feet when fully grown. They are mainly insectivores, but they do take occasional smaller lizards.

Tiny chameleon[change | change source]

The world's tiniest chameleon has been found on Madagascar. At 2.9 cm, it is one of the world's smallest lizards.[5]

Genetic analysis proved there are four different species of this tiny animal.[6]

Vision[change | change source]

Independent eye movement of the chameleon

Some scientists say that the vision of the chameleon is the most unusual of this planet. Chameleons have 360-degree eye-turning,[7] the ability to zoom in and out, and binocular vision.

Chameleon eye

Each of the chameleon's eyes can move separately,[8] allowing them to see all around them at all times.

Chameleons have two eyes which overlap.[9] This gives them 3D vision. This is especially helpful when they can switch with monocular vision, which is seeing with each eye independently.[10] This allows them to have a more detailed vision.

In popular fiction[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Zygodactyly: (birds) an arrangement with two toes facing forward (digits 2 and 3) and two back (digits 1 and 4); (chameleons) the feet are fused into a group of two and a group of three toes which oppose one another to grasp branches in a pincer-like arrangement. Zygodactyly is most common in arboreal species, particularly those that climb tree trunks or clamber through foliage.
  2. Eyes can focus and move independently.
  3. Their movement sways like leaves in the wind.
  4. Tail can hang onto branches
  5. Davies, Ella 2012. Tiny lizards found in Madagascar. BBC News: Science/Environment. [1]
  6. Glaw, Frank et al. 2012. Rivaling the world's smallest reptiles: discovery of miniaturized and microendemic new Species of leaf chameleons (Brookesia) from Northern Madagascar. PLoS. [2]
  7. Care, Natick Eye. "Unique Eyes Of The Animal Kingdom – Natick MA | Natick Eye Care". Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  8. "What Is Unusual About a Chameleon's Eyes?". Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  9. "binocular vision - Google Search". Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  10. "Eyes give 360° vision : Chameleon - AskNature". AskNature. Retrieved 2018-04-17.

Other websites[change | change source]