Chameleons have a defense mechanism that relies solely on not being found. They have no armor shell, teeth worth mentioning, venom or even speed to help escape.
What they do have are two awesome eyes that each operate independently rotating 180 degrees, together this gives them all round observation of 360 degrees with the ability to watch two things at the same time!
In addition these eyes can detect small insects at 5 to 10 meters away plus see Ultra violet as well as normal vision.
Then we come onto the camouflage which most people know something about but recent studies have found that the color change capability has more to do with reproduction and emotion than hunting and survival.
The color function works very different to creatures like squid and octopus that basically have sacks of pigment and the muscles stretch them to reveal more pigment or relax to show less pigment resulting in a color change.
The Chameleon on the other hand has a layer of pigmentary cells under which is a layer of cells containing nanoscale crystals which the chameleon controls by controlling the space between them. As the space increases the colors move from blue to green to yellow to orange to red….
This is particularly noticeable with reproduction, a pale female is open to receiving a male but if she has already mated and has sperm in her reproductive tract she will be a lot darker warning the males to back off.
The males on the other hand use bright colors to intimidate the opposition, what happens is two males will display very bright colors and the smaller one would most likely back down turning his coloring to a paler color as a sign of submission.
Sometimes a male may put a false pale color to bypass males fighting for a female, in this was they sneak past. Octopus are also known to use this strategy in a similar scenario.
Furthermore there is evidence that chameleons use the dark pigment to absorb more solar heat when they are cold. This is currently being researched.
Next we find the tongue which is between one and a half to two times the length of the chameleons body! How does this work and how fast is it?
At rest, the tongue is coiled around at the hyoid (a bone in the mouth) and as the chameleon prepares to strike the , muscles contract and the tongue is launched. After the launch the retractor muscles pull the tongue back, as well as anything attached to it. The muscles reposition the tongue during the process and prepare for the next launch.
It has been calculated that the tongue accelerates to around 8000 (2,500 meters) feet per second according to a UK daily mail article on the subject.
This must be the fastest tongue on the planet !