Thursday, 30 October 2008

European Chameleon

European chameleon
Chamaeleo chamaeleon Linnaeus, 1758
Chamaeleonidae; Squamata; Sauropsida; Chordata
near Famagusta, North Cyprus
October 2008 

Chameleons are (said very scientifically) a cool bunch of animals. They are an instantly recognisable group of lizards: they are most well known for their ability to change colour at will, and their loopy eyes that can face any direction independently of each other. They are also known for their super-elastic tongue and unusual grasping feet and curly prehensile tail. 

The hotspot for chameleon diversity is Madagascar, with about 70 species including the world’s smallest and the world’s largest. Elsewhere they are found in Africa, southern Europe and Asia. The European (or common) chameleon pictured is found in Greece, some Greek islands, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, North Africa and the Middle East as far as Iran, and is often split into four subspecies: the Cyprus population would belong to C. c. recticrista

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