Tiny chameleons have super-powered tongues to the point that scientists didn't realize.
The power of the chameleon tongue has long been known — but scientists didn’t quite realize just how powerful it was.
A new study finds that they are second only to the salamander in terms of how powerful its tongue is in terms of speed and strength, according to a Discovery News report.
The findings, which were published in the journal Scientific Reports, includes tests of even the smallest species of chameleon, which were found to have even more powerful tongues than the larger species.
A total of 20 species of chameleon were analyzed, and then they were filmed in front of a super slow motion camera that can film at speeds of 3,000 frames per second, allowing scientists to capture the super-fast tongue in all its glory. The researchers then put a cricket in front of the chameleon and captured the magic on film.
And the results were astonishing: one tiny species, Rhampholeon spinosus, had its tongue power measured at 14,040 watts per kilogram, meaning its tongue could go from zero to 60 miles per hour in a hundreds of a second.
And the tongue could stretch a full 2.5 times its body length.
The larger chameleons were impressive as well, but not quite as impressive. One species, Furcifer oustaleti, which can reach up to 2 feet in length, had 18 percent less acceleration than its smaller cousin.
There is a trade off in evolutionary terms: the smaller species consumer more energy per body weight and thus need to catch more food to survive.
A statement from Brown University, which produced the study, noted that the findings made evolutionary sense:
“All of the chameleons have the same catapult-like apparatus for launching the tongue, but proportional to their size, smaller chameleons have a bigger one than larger chameleons. They are like little sports cars with relatively powerful engines,” it reads.