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Chameleon Tongues Get Better With Decreasing Size

Update Date: Jan 06, 2016 09:02 AM EST

Size does not matter for the smallest of the chameleons. For, these tiny lizards can snag up prey faster and relatively bigger than their larger brethren.

Christian Science Monitor described a study of chameleons of varying sizes to determine which had the longest and most powerful lash of the tongue. The study was conducted by capturing high-speed 3,000 frames per second video of chameleons in action to reveal that the smallest lizard measuring 1.5 inch long could grasp prey from a distance of 2.5 times their body length. The bigger lizards had relative smaller tongue-lashes.

The Washington Post reports that the smallest lizard in the study also had the most powerful stroke of tongue that lashed out at 8,500 feet per second with a force 264 times that of gravity. The Post explained that smaller lizards may need more energy per gram of body mass which may have left them with highly efficient tongues.

"Smaller species have higher performance than larger species," said Brown University biologist Christopher Anderson.

Studies in the past have indicated that chameleons can stretch their tongues by just as much as their body length. That limit was arrived at by studying large chameleons. By studying chameleons across a range of body sizes, Anderson has now been able to show that the smaller lizards have more efficient tongues.

"What this study shows is that by using smaller species, we may be able to elucidate these higher performance values," he said.

The study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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