Friday, January 9, 2009

Chameleon : Unbelievable body parts
Chameleons are reptiles and related to lizards. They live predominantly in trees and have several physical adaptations to suit this arboreal life. Most of the world's 135 or so chameleon species are found in Africa and Madagascar, with just one variety extending to India. The Parson's Chameleon can exceed 60cm in length and the Pygmy Stump-tailed Chameleon, which is only about twice the length of a human fingernail, at about 35mm.
Chameleon has two eyes that can work independently. One eye can be looking backward and the other eye forward at the same time. But when the chameleon spots something to eat, both eyes focus on the target. This gives the chameleon the stereoscopic vision it needs to judge distance before it strikes with its sticky tongue. Chameleon has prehensile tails, which they curl around trees like an extra leg to help then climb. Their toes are fused into two opposing groups, facing forwards and backwards for better grip. Of course due to this clamp like legs their movement is extremely slow. Chameleon has extremely long, slender tongues which they can propel at speed towards unsuspecting insects. They sticky tip of the tongue adheres to the insect which is then withdrawn to the mouth. They have seen to extend the tongue as much as 30 cm beyond the mouth.
Chameleons also have the ability to change color. Many believe this is to match a background in order to blend in and hide using camouflage. The truth, however, is that chameleons do not change color to match their background. Chameleon color change is controlled by the central nervous system and hormonal cues. These cues trigger changes in melanin arrangement and distribution and alter the overlapping effects of pigments in the skin. Such color change can be due to the external temperature, health, mood and reproductive condition of the animal or in territorial and display situations. Chameleons are able to undergo rapid and reversible color change in response to changes in their surroundings.
This particular chameleon was rescued near the Yeoor village and then subsequently released in deep forest. This chameleon was nearly full grown and quite aggressive with continuously hissing and ballooning its body.
Yuwaraj Gurjar.

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