The shocking truth about the chameleon

The shocking truth about the chameleon

It's a big new discovery that totally changes how scientists understand this creature.

The chameleon is a creature unlike any other, and according to a new discovery, may be even more so than we thought.

Chameleons are known for their incredible powerful, sticky tongues that strike out at a moment’s notice and capture prey in a split second. But how does the prey stay stuck to the tongue? Scientists have been trying to figure that out, and they think they have the answer: the spit itself is incredibly sticky, according to a Univerite Libre De Bruxelles release.

While some scientists had hypothesized that perhaps the tongue used suction, or had a velcro-like effect, but the answer appears to be stickiness.

To come to their conclusions, researchers measured the viscosity of the music from veiled chameleon tongues to see how sticky it was. They found that the spit was strong enough to grab even larger prey.

“Despite their nonchalant appearance, chameleons are formidable predators, leaving little chance to their prey. During a capture, their tongue whips out with an acceleration up to 1500 m/s² and extends to reach a length twice that of the chameleon’s body. They are also able to capture preys weighing up to 30% of their own weight. Sufficient adhesion between the prey and the tongue is therefore necessary to catch such preys,” the release reads. “Under the leadership of Fabian Brau from the ULB Faculty of Science’s Nonlinear Physical Chemistry Unit, Pascal Damman from the UMONS Interfaces and Complex Fluids Laboratory, Faculty of Science researchers from the UMONS, ULB, and Vincent Bels from the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle de Paris have just demonstrated that the mucus secreted at the tip of a chameleon’s tongue has a viscosity 400 times larger than the one of human saliva. The tongue’s deformability during projection, producing a large contact area with the prey, together with this viscous liquid, form a particularly efficient adhesive weapon.”



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