The Design of a Chameleon

The Design of a Chameleon

Chameleons are lizards, and there are more than 200 species of them. The design of a chameleon displays impressive engineering. 

Chameleons can change their color to show their mood, communicate, or blend with their environment to hide from predators or prey. They achieve the color change by adjusting crystals on their skin to reflect different wavelengths of light. Some chameleons can adjust their color according to the color-vision of the specific predator they want to avoid. That requires knowledge of what colors the predator can and cannot see. 

Chameleons have eyes that move independently in ball sockets so they can look in two directions at once. They can also focus both eyes together for a 3-D view for accurately striking prey with their tongue. They have four toes on each foot, which they use to climb up or down with ease. Also, to help in climbing, most chameleons have prehensile tails to hang onto limbs. 

Various chameleon species have adapted to live in rainforests and deserts. Since cold-blooded animals move slowly in low temperatures, you would expect a chameleon’s tongue to move more slowly when it’s cold. In that case, it would not be able to catch fast-moving insects in cold weather. However, their tongues don’t uncoil by muscle strength but by spring tension. Reeling the tongue back in is slower in cold temperatures, but that doesn’t matter for catching the prey. 

The design of a chameleon speaks remarkably of a master Engineer-Designer.

— Roland Earnst © 2021