Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tribute to the Chameleon

The Chameleon, (family Chamaeleonidae) are squamates that belong to one of the best-known lizard families. The "ground lion".
All chameleon species are able to change their skin colors. Different chameleon species are able to change different colours which can include pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown and yellow. Recent research indicates that they do not typically change their colour for reasons of camouflage, but instead use colour changes as a method of communication, including to make themselves more attractive to potential mates.
Many have head or facial ornamentation, such as nasal protrusions, or horn-like projections in the case of Chamaeleo jacksonii, or large crests on top of their head, like Chamaeleo calyptratus. Many species are sexually dimorphic, and males are typically much more ornamented than the female chameleons.
Chameleons are didactyl: on each foot the five toes are fused into a group of two and a group of three, giving the foot a tongs-like appearance. These specialized feet allow chameleons to grip tightly to narrow branches.
Their eyes are the most distinctive among the reptiles. The 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. It in effect gives them a full 360-degree arc of vision around their body.

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