Chameleons of Madagascar —


Panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis)
More chameleon photos

How do chameleons change colors?
Chameleons have two layers of specialized cells that lie just beneath the lizard's transparent outer skin.
Wikipedia explains the structure as follows: "The cells in the upper layer, which are called chromatophores, contain yellow and red pigments. Below these chromatophores is a another cell layer. Cells of this layer are called guanophores and they contain the colorless crystalline substance guanin. These guanophores reflect among others the blue part of incident light. If the upper layer of chromatophores is yellow, the reflected light becomes green (blue plus yellow). A layer of dark melanin containing melanophores is situated even deeper under these blue and white light-reflecting guanophores. These melanophores influence the lightness of the reflected light. All these different pigment cells can relocate their pigments, thereby influencing the color of light which is reflected."
Madagascar is home to about half the world's 150 or so species of chameleons, including both subfamilies, typical chameleons (Chamaeleoninae) and dwarf chameleons (Brookesiinae).

Chameleons are small to mid-size reptiles that are famous for their ability to dramatically change colors (how?). Contrary to popular belief, a chameleon typically does not change colors to match its surroundings. Instead, color is usually used to convey emotions, defend territories, and communicate with mates.

Other easily noted characteristics of chameleons include bulging eyes that move independently of one another, feet fixed in a grasping position, and the existence of horns or crests on the heads of many species. Additionally, arboreal species have prehensile tails used for grasping objects when climbing and moving. Finally, some species have long extensile tongues for catching insects or small vertebrates at a distance sometimes greater than the length of the chameleon.

Chameleons are diurnal, solitary, and often aggressive towards members of their own species (marked by rapid color change and aggressive posturing). They are opportunistic hunters that wait for prey to pass within range of their long tongues. Chameleons have a bizarre way of moving in which they slowly rock back and forth between each step taken, often in time with the movement of nearby leaves being blown by the wind. Most chameleons lay eggs.

Other notes:
  • The name "Chameleon" is derived from the Greek words chamai (on the ground, on the earth) and leon (lion) so their name means "earth lion."
  • In some areas Malagasy fear chameleons. They are also the subject of some well-known local proverbs including “Manaova toy ny dian-tana jerena ny aloha, todihina ny afara,” which translates to "Like the chameleon, one eye on the future, one eye on the past"; "Ratsy karaha Kandrondro," meaning "ugly as a chameleon"; "Mahatsidia vokon' Anjava kely izy fa mafoaka," a warning to walk carefully so as not to step on a Brookesia, which would bring great misfortune.

    List of selected chameleons in Madagascar:
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma andringitraensis
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma boettgeri Boettger's Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma brevicornis Short-horned Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma capuroni
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma cucullata Hooded Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma fallax
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma furcifer Fork-nosed Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma gallus
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma gastrotaenia
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma glawi
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma globifer
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma guibei
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma guillaumeti
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma hilleniusi
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma linota
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma malthe
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma marojezensis
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma nasuta
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma oshaughnessyi O'Shaughnessy's Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma parsonii Parson's Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma peyrierasi
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma tigris
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma tsaratananensis
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma vatosoa
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / CalummaCalumma vencesi
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia ambreensis
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia antakarana
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia bekolosy
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia betschi
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia bonsi
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia brygooi
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia decaryi
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia dentata
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia ebenaui
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia exarmata
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia griveaudi
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia karchei
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia lambertoni
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia lineata
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia lolontany
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia minima Nosy Be Pygmy Leaf Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia nasus
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia perarmata Armored Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia peyrierasi Peyrieras's Dwarf Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia stumpffi
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia superciliaris Horned Leaf Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia therezieni
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia thieli Thiel's Pygmy Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia tuberculata
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia vadoni
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / BrookesiaBrookesia valerieae
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer angeliAngel's Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer antimena Spiny Desert Rhinoceros Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer balteatus
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer belalandaensis
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer bifidus
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer campani
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer labordi Labord's Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer lateralis Jeweled Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer minor Lesser Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer monoceras
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer nicosiai
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer oustaleti Oustalet's Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer pardalis Panther Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer petteri Petter's Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer polleni Pollen's Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer rhinoceratus Rhinoceros Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer tuzetae
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer verrucosus Warty Chameleon
    Lizards / Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons) / FurciferFurcifer willsiiWillsi's Chameleon





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