Chameleons are amongst the most fascinating animals on the planet. Scientists have been studying it for years trying to make sense of their camouflage ability, their panoramic vision, and their incredibly long tongue that grabs prey from afar. The latter was recently figured out by researchers. It seems that the secret behind how chameleons eat stands in the mucus they secrete from the tip of their tongue.
A chameleon is the perfect example of evolution, especially the power of adaptability of reptiles. Some cold-blooded animals, like the crocodiles, have survived for millions of years due to the fact that they are on top of the food chain, not needing to change anything in their dinosaur-like appearance.
Other reptiles are not as lucky when it comes to brute size and force, so nature had to find other ways to make them adapt to the ever-changing environment. The chameleon is the best example of small reptiles that can flourish in a time when mass extinction is knocking on the door.
The small lizard is equipped with numerous features that allow it to overcome its predators, while not compromising on its daily insect feasts.
Nature has provided the chameleons with a rare ability to blend themselves with almost every environment. They are also capable of taking in a panoramic view of their surroundings without having to move (and thus blow their cover) thanks to their very mobile eyes that can move independently at a 360-degree angle.
When your only defense against predators is your ability to stay still and blend in with the environment, you must find a way to feed yourself without moving very much. This is where the long, whiplash tongue comes into effect.
The tongue of a chameleon is longer than its body. It’s also very muscular and able to secret a very viscous mucus that can trap the prey, holding it until it reaches the mouth of the chameleon.
The viscous material is approximately 1000 times stickier than human saliva. According to physics, when combined with the whiplash move of the chameleon’s tongue, the mucus sticks to the prey, creating a unyielding bond that allows the lizard to bring the insect into its mouth without moving an inch. That is how chameleons eat.
Image source: Pixabay