Scientists Uncover Secret behind Gravity-Defying Chameleon

Scientists Uncover Secret behind Gravity-Defying Chameleon

A specific type of pygmy chameleon has the ability to fling its tongue till a length that is 2.5 times more as compared to its own body’s length. The speed of the fling varies from 0-60 miles per hour in a hundredth of a second. This is 300 times more than the speed achieved by a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette. The rosette-nosed chameleon, whose scientific name is Rhampholeon spinosus, is an endangered species of chameleon. These few-inches long lizard species only dwell in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania.

The scientists have finally been able to discover the secret behind this lizard’s extremely high tongue speed, which compensates for its small size. The research was undertaken by the team of Christopher Anderson, a biologist at the Brown University. The study involved assessment of 20 species of chameleon, which were of different length. The aim was to determine the maximum limit of speed that a chameleon tongue can achieve.

The reason behind this strength is that the chameleon is capable of storing huge amounts of energy in the elastic tissue of its tongue. Subsequently, this energy boosts the muscle power for launching the tongue. “Smaller species have higher performance than larger species”, said Anderson. Trioceros hoehnelii species generates the maximum speed and energy output per kilogram of muscle power. This chameleon can achieve a maximum speed that is 264 times faster than the force of gravity.

HuffingtonPost reported that, the endangered rosette-nosed chameleon, or Rhampholeon spinosus, is capable of flinging its tongue 2.5 times the length of its own body and from zero to 60 miles per hour in a hundredth of a second -- that's 300 times faster than a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette accelerates.

This tiny lizard species, which is found only in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania, measures just a couple of inches in length. But a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports on Monday reveals exactly how the small creature makes up in powerful tongue speed what it lacks in size.

WashingtonPost report said, Brown University postdoctoral researcher Christopher Anderson wanted to figure out just how powerful a chameleon's tongue can be. Second only to the tongue of a salamander, a chameleon tongue uses unique elastic tissues to produce an incredible amount of force and acceleration. According to Anderson's analysis of 20 different species of chameleon (which included 55 individuals and 279 individual feeding events recorded at 3,000 frames per second), the acceleration, relative length and relative force of the tongue may actually increase as the chameleon's size decreases.

According to the LiveScience, Small is mighty for these lizards, which can accelerate their tongues toward a cricket at up to 264 times the force of gravity, a new study shows. The top-performing tongues go from zero to 60 mph (nearly 100 km/h) in a mere hundredth of a second, according to new findings published today (Jan. 4) in the journal Scientific Reports.

To keep their metabolisms revving, small chameleons need relatively more food per ounce of body weight than their larger cousins. Having super-spring-loaded tongues lets them capture more prey, said study author Christopher Anderson, a postdoctoral researcher at Brown University.