An unexpected surprise to the scientific world was presented by microchameleons: it turned out that their tongue can accelerate to 100 km / h in just a hundredth of a second. Scientists have already called it a record.
The results of the study of small chameleons were published in Scientific Reports. It turned out that the language of these creatures is not only super-fast, but also capable of withstanding overloads of 260 accelerations of gravity. Moreover, its length is about 2.5 times the body length of the chameleon itself. The tongue is needed in order to catch potential prey.
According to scientist Christopher Anderson of Brown University in Providence, the results of past studies were not entirely accurate. “In the past, our colleagues measured the strength and speed of the tongue in large chameleons, which gave them rather modest results, ” he says. Now the attention of researchers has been directed to much smaller species, such as Rhampholeon spinosus. A high-speed camera was used: with its help, experts observed how the chameleon catches crickets. This camera is capable of shooting up to three thousand frames every second.
Interestingly, the speed of the tongue was directly related to the size of the animal. The smallest chameleons also turned out to be the champions in the speed of "alignment". So, the acceleration that the tongue develops in Rhampholeon spinosus is about five times higher than in representatives of Furcifer oustaleti - much larger creatures. From an evolutionary point of view, this phenomenon can be explained by the fact that, unlike large chameleons, the smallest of them have no room for error when attacking a victim.
But what is the secret of the agility of the chameleon's tongue? The thing is that before the "shot" this organ is specially "charged" with energy, which allows it to be extremely fast. Thus, the activation of the muscles of the tongue occurs before the moment of its use. In this case, special elastic fabrics come to the rescue.
The species Rhampholeon spinosus belongs to the genus Rhampholeon or African dwarf chameleons. There are fourteen species in total; these creatures live in tropical Africa. Outwardly, they are very similar to brookesia - small chameleons with a short, slightly curled tail.
Earlier, we recall, another group of researchers came to the conclusion that chameleons control their eyes separately. Before that, animal vision was considered chaotic. Now, as it turned out, the eyes are controlled by both hemispheres of the brain and are very fine-tuned to track potential victims.