Chameleons

68 species

Chameleons or chamaeleons are a distinctive and highly specialized clade of Old World lizards. This family is most known for their distinct range of colors as they are able to shift in different hues and brightness. Because of the large number of species in their family, there is a large variability in their ability to change color. For some, it is more of a shift of brightness (shades of brown) whereas for others it is a plethora of combinations of colors (reds, yellows, greens, and blues). Chameleons have zygodactylous feet, prehensile tails, laterally compressed bodies, head casques, projectile tongues, swaying gait, and crests or horns on their brow and snout. Their eyes are independently mobile, and because of this, there are two separate, individual images that the brain is analyzing of the chameleon’s environment. When hunting prey, they focus forward in coordination, affording the animal stereoscopic vision. The eyes are able to move laterally at 180° and vertically at 160°. Chameleons live in warm habitats of Africa, Madagascar, southern Europe, and across southern Asia as far as Sri Lanka. They are preyed upon by a variety of other animals. Since chameleons are unlikely to be able to flee from predators they rely on crypsis as their primary defense. They can change both their colors and their patterns (to varying extents) to resemble their surroundings or disrupt the body outline and remain hidden from a potential enemy\'s sight. Only if detected, chameleons will actively defend themselves.
Chameleons or chamaeleons are a distinctive and highly specialized clade of Old World lizards. This family is most known for their distinct range of colors as they are able to shift in different hues and brightness. Because of the large number of species in their family, there is a large variability in their ability to change color. For some, it is more of a shift of brightness (shades of brown) whereas for others it is a plethora of combinations of colors (reds, yellows, greens, and blues). Chameleons have zygodactylous feet, prehensile tails, laterally compressed bodies, head casques, projectile tongues, swaying gait, and crests or horns on their brow and snout. Their eyes are independently mobile, and because of this, there are two separate, individual images that the brain is analyzing of the chameleon’s environment. When hunting prey, they focus forward in coordination, affording the animal stereoscopic vision. The eyes are able to move laterally at 180° and vertically at 160°. Chameleons live in warm habitats of Africa, Madagascar, southern Europe, and across southern Asia as far as Sri Lanka. They are preyed upon by a variety of other animals. Since chameleons are unlikely to be able to flee from predators they rely on crypsis as their primary defense. They can change both their colors and their patterns (to varying extents) to resemble their surroundings or disrupt the body outline and remain hidden from a potential enemy\'s sight. Only if detected, chameleons will actively defend themselves.