Information about: Chameleon

Index | Chameleon

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Chameleon. A genus of reptiles belonging to the order Lacertilia and native of Africa. The best-known species has a naked body six or seven inches long, with a prehensile tail of about five inches, and feet suitable for grasping branches. The skin is cold to the touch, and contains small grains or eminences of a bluish-gray color in the shade, but in the light of the sun all parts of the body become a grayish-brown or tawny color. It possesses the curious faculty, however, of changing its color, either in accordance with its environment, or with its temper when disturbed, the change being due to the presence of clear or pigment-bearing contractile cells placed at various depths in the skin, their contractions and dilatations being under the influence of the nervous system. Their power of fasting and habit of inflating themselves gave rise to the fable that they lived on air; but they are in reality insectivorous, taking their prey by rapid movements of a long viscid tongue. In general habit they are dull and torpid. The American chameleon, Anolis principalis, is a small iguanid lizard of southern United States and tropical America.