No display stands out against the green forest backdrop like that of male dominance. Research has shown that some male chameleons will use color to impersonate females, which allows them to sneak by other males without the threat of competition, much like cuttlefish have been known to do. Chameleons will also use their displays to dazzle females during courtship. Stuart-Fox believes that changing color may serve yet another, albeit poorly-researched, function: Helping chameleons regulate their body temperature.
Instead, they have to warm up using the sun. Darker colors absorb more light, and chameleons have likely evolved to capitalize on this principle, she says.
In some cases, the talent satisfies multiple needs at once. In , Stuart-Fox came across Smith's dwarf chameleon basking on a dark-colored flower stalk while doing field work in South Africa. Read Caption. A well-camouflaged juvenile panther chameleon, Furcifer panthera , in its native habitat, in Amber Mountain National Park, Madagascar. The animals are experts at blending into natural backgrounds. By Benji Jones. A male and a female Decary's leaf chameleon, Brookesia decaryi.
Most chameleons have skin that already resembles their environment, but they can adjust the brightness of the hue in varioius ways. A Parson's chameleon, Calumma parsonii , in Madagascar.
Each species is capable of undergoing a particular range of colour change. The mechanism involves the dispersal or concentration of pigment granules melanophore cells in the cells that contain them. These cells are under the control of the autonomic nervous system. Colour change is determined by such environmental factors as light and temperature as well as by emotions—such as fright and those associated with victory or defeat in battle with another chameleon.
Many chameleons can assume a green, yellow, cream, or dark brown coloration. Frequently, this occurs with lighter or darker spots on the background colour of the body. Some of the most striking colours appear in males during mating. Some achieve colour patterns that are so vivid and complex that it is hard to imagine that they serve any natural purpose.
It is a popular misconception that the chameleon changes its colour to match that of the background. Although many other lizards also use the tongue to capture prey, most can expel it only a short distance. In contrast, chameleons can launch their tongues at great speed to a distance of more than twice their body length, and they can strike and capture their prey with great accuracy.
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Most species are egg layers. Typically, females descend from their shrub or tree to bury between 2 and 40 eggs in the soil or rotting logs, and incubation lasts about three months.
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In addition, the Madagascan chameleon, F. The eggs of F. After an intense competition for mates, eggs are laid in February, and the entire adult population perishes. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind.
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Still, true chameleons rely mainly on the tonglike arrangement of…. The chameleons, of those species studied thus far, have only a few sensory hair cells 40 to 50 in the auditory papilla. The geckos,…. Unlike other arboreal lizards, chameleons possess a prehensile grasping tail and zygodactylous feet—i. Although these adaptations are inferior for vertical climbing, they are superior for locomotion on vertical or inclined, slender branches. Arboreal snakes tend to have either prehensile tails or…. Lizard , suborder Sauria , any of more than 5, species of reptiles belonging in the order Squamata which also includes snakes, suborder Serpentes.
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Lizards are scaly-skinned reptiles that are usually distinguished from snakes by the possession of legs, movable eyelids, and external ear openings. However, some traditional that is, non-snake lizards…. History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice.
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Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. More About Chameleon 7 references found in Britannica articles Assorted References annotated classification In lizard: Annotated classification colour In lizard: Scales and colour change feeding behaviour In lizard: Feeding habits hearing In sound reception: Auditory structure limbs In lizard: Locomotion and limb adaptations locomotion In reptile: Clinging and climbing In locomotion: Arboreal amphibians and reptiles.
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