The ground lion with unique eyes

Chameleons are a unique type of lizard. We all know they can change colour but did you know it is not a type of camouflage but a form of communication? Many things about the 160 different types of chameleon are both bizarre and beautiful, I mean how many animals do you know that sleep upside down?
Chameleons have parrot-like feet with sharp claws on each toe, eyes like stereoscopes and long, fast moving tongues. They are found in warm places such as Africa, Spain and Asia where they can live in either the desrt orthe rainforest. They are good at climbing and hunting and have no ears.

Many types of chameleon have a prehensile tail and display a variety of horns on their distinctively shaped heads.  Each eye, has a scaly lid shaped like a cone, can rotate independently of the other, enabling them to see two different things at the same time in almost a 360 degree radius. They eat mainly insects by catching them with their tongues which are sticky at the end and they get water by licking dew from leaves.

Chameleon from G. A. Boulenger, Fauna of British India. 1890

Young Cape Dwarf Chameleon photographed in a garden in Tokai, Cape Province by Charles J Sharp.

How do they change into those amazing colours? They have four layers of skin with different colour pigments in each and their nerves and hormones cause the colours in the layers to change into the different colours and patterns.

Chameleons like to keep to themselves and can get very aggressive even towards other chameleons. This may be why the English word chameleon comes from the ancient greek words which mean ground lion.

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