(Mirror Daily, United States) – It’s been a long time since chameleons have been a mystery for scientists because of their color shifting and predatory abilities.
Even if they are not quite large like other lizards, such as crocodiles or alligators, chameleons have a broad range of prey including other chameleons, birds, flies, grasshoppers, and mice.
The secret of these predatory skills lies in the sticky tongue of the small lizard. Furthermore, its tongue is not just sticky but also very long, fast and highly flexible.
There have been many theories proposed by scientists over the years regarding the tongue mechanism related to suction and other factors.
Nevertheless, after experts understood that chameleons do not wrap their tongue around prey, they figured out that there must be something special about their saliva.
Therefore, a team of scientists from Belgium and France watched a captive chameleon until it hit a slab of glass with its tongue. Based on the analysis, they understood that the lizard’s saliva was between 400 and 1,000 times stickier and more viscous that human saliva.
This very thick mucus is the weapon that gives the chameleon the ability to catch a prey up to one-third of its weight with such a high accuracy. According to Pascal Damman, a physicist from the University of Mons in Belgium and co-author of the study, this is the first time someone ever studied the saliva of a chameleon.
Furthermore, after using mathematics to calculate the stickiness of the saliva, scientists also established that the saliva sample was as sticky and thick as honey. Then, the team of researchers covered a bead in the lizard’s saliva and rolled it on an oblique glass plate.
By doing this, they determined how much the acceleration of the bead was slowed by the saliva. It is also worth mentioning that the chameleon’s tongue is unique as its tip has the form of a cup which acts like a little suction device helping the animal ensnare its prey.
In addition to this, the faster the tongue bursts out of its mouth, the higher the adhesion becomes. In other words, the design of the tongue, its speed and the stickiness of the saliva combined are the ideal weapon that makes the chameleon worthy of the predator title.
Image Source:Kyoto Np