I wanted to visit to Madagascar, first, for the Lemurs (See Jeff’s post on Madagascar’s Got Talent ), and second, for the Chameleons. The Chameleons are amazing for several reasons, and none of these reasons were what I expected.
The amazing chameleon can change colorGrowing up, I learned that Chameleons were lizards that could change color. I assumed this meant if the chameleon was in the leaves he’d be green, and he’d turn brown if he was on the ground. He would do this to blend in with his environment. This is not necessarily the case. What I didn’t know was they may change to a darker color to absorb more heat from the sun (to warm up) or a lighter color to reflect more light (cool down). They may also change color depending on their mood or to attract a mate.
The amazing chameleon has hands and feet
It makes sense that a chameleon has hands and feet to grip the branches, but it is something I never thought about. It is especially cool to see them grasp the branches as they walk.
The amazing chameleon has two eyes
Yes, of course the chameleon has two eyes, but did you know they can move each eye independently?
When I first observed the chameleon, I didn’t notice the tiny eyeball in the middle of the conical protrusion. When the chameleon was looking forward or backward, I thought his eyes were closed. I did not realize the whole eye moved. They can rotate each eye almost 180 degees up an down and back and forth and they can focus on two different things. The people of Madagascar have a saying, “Like the chameleon, one eye on the future and one eye on the past.” (1)
The chameleon’s conical shaped eye that rotates is what separates them from other lizards, such as geckos.
The amazing chameleon has a fast tongue
The amazing chameleon has a tongue, and not just any tongue. It can accelerate 0-60mph in 1/100th of a second. Yes, you read this correcly. A chameleon’s tongue is faster than any sports car. This is another characteristic I never thought about, and if I hadn’t seen it, I would not have believed it. The tongue is also twice as long as his body. I wonder where he stores it?
The amazing chameleon comes in a variety of colors and shapes
When I was growing up, I assumed a chameleon was either green or brown depending on his or her environment. After all, there aren’t any chameleons in Massachusetts where I grew up. I never thought about there being dozens of types of chameleons, all different sizes, shapes and colors. I never imagined that there are over 150 different species with over half indigenous to Madagascar. I was amazed.
Some chameleons are beautiful in color.Some chameleons are less beautiful. I might go as far to say that some are downright ugly. If you were their mother, could you love these chameleons? Don’t you agree, chameleons are truly amazing!
- Additional notes from WildMadagascar.org