The Most Famous Lizards

The Integumentary System

The chameleon is famous for their interesting outer layer. Chameleons have a transparent outer layer which provides protection known as the epidermis. Beneath the epidermis is the chromatophore layer that contains yellow and red pigments. Next is the melanophore layer which has the dark pigment known as melanin. The last layer is known as the nether layer, and it only reflects white. The color of the skin is changed when nerve impulses, or hormone changes cause the cells in each layer to grow or shrink. This causes a blending of the different layers to create different patterns. So, although commonly mistaken chameleons do not change colors based on their surroundings, but on their psychological, physical, and emotional conditions.

Works Cited

"Lizard." - New World Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

"Reptiles | Chameleon." Chameleon. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

The Skeletal System

Depending on the species, Chameleons can range from 1.1 inches to 27 inches. Chameleons have 4 legs, with 5 toes each fused into groups. Two toes are inwards, while three are outwards. The bones of the toes are not coadunate(joined together) , which allows the chameleon to grip objects very well. Chameleons also have a jaw used to crush their prey.

The Muscular System

The Chameleon has a tongue which is longer than the rest of it's body. The tongue contains a ballistic tongue projection mechanism, allowing it to extend out a great distance. The end of the tongue is sticky, which allows the chameleon to grab their prey and quickly contract it back into their mouth. This is a very complex muscle that is constantly being studied. Chameleons also have a tail which provides support, and allows for extra grip on branches while climbing trees.

Works Cited

"Chameleon." : Skeletal and Muscular System. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2015.

"Chameleon." (Chamaeleonidae). N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2015.

"Emergency Medicine & Critical Care: Reptiles & Amphibians: Basic Information Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo Calyptratus)." LafeberVetcom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2015.

Herrel, Anthony, Jay J. Meyers, Peter Aerts, and Kiisa C. Nishikawa. "Functional Implications of Super Contracting Muscle in the Chameleon Tongue Retractors." The Journal of Experimental Biology. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.

The Nervous System

The nervous system of a chameleon is very well developed. Their nervous system is made up of a brain, a spinal cord, nerves, and nerve sensors. The nerves work with hormones to carry information throughout the body, fostering communication between cells. The messages are sent to and from the brain which has both a left and right hemisphere which are very distinct from each other. The spinal cord of chameleons contains ganglions which the spinal nerves branch out to the rest of the body. Aside from all of that, the eyes of the chameleon are the most interesting part of their nervous system! There eyes can move independently from eachother in 180 degrees. This makes their visual field 360 degrees! The eyes are also telescopic allowing chameleons to have the ability to zoom in and out at will!

Works Cited

"The Chameleon Handbook." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

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The Circulatory System

Chameleons are air-breathing animals, making their blood oxygenated. Gas exchange happens in the alveoli of the lungs, and the exchange is fairly slow. Since chameleon's blood has a very limited amount of blood cells, they don't require oxygen to heat their bodies. Their blood is carried through a system of veins and arteries that connect organs to the lungs and heart. The heart of a chameleon has 3 chambers, two atria and a single ventricle. The heart mixes the arterial and venous blood, also limiting the amount of oxygenated blood reaching their other organs.

Works Cited

"The Chameleon Handbook." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2015.

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The Respiratory System

The respiratory system of chameleons is very complex for an animal of their size. Chameleons are air- breathing animals, and have lungs similar to those of humans. Their lungs take in oxygen, which is sent to the small blood vessel lined sacs within the lungs known as alveoli. Within the alveoli the exchange of gases occurs as oxygen enters the blood and carbon dioxide exits. While the lungs do have alveoli, there are very few making the exchange of gases slow paced, which is a factor in why chameleons tend to move so slowly. The most unique aspect of the chameleon respiratory system is that certain species have unilobed lungs which spread throughout a great amount of the body and have no separation. Species with such lungs are able to puff up their lungs to make themselves bigger when they feel threatened. Other species have bilobed lungs with a division into two, but still use the tactic of puffing up their lungs defensively.

Works Cited

"The Chameleon Handbook." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

"The Reptipage: Chameleon Bodyplans." The Reptipage: Chameleon Bodyplans. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

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The Digestive and Excretory Systems

Chameleons have fairly simple digestive systems. Once the food is within the mouth, it is chewed and pushed down the esophagus with the help of the tongue. This connects to the tubular stomach where acids and enzymes start a chemical reaction and begins to break down the ingested material. Nutrients and other molecules are absorbed in the intestinal tract which is rather short. The wastes are then excreted through the cloaca. The urinary passages lead to the cloaca as well. The urine and feces of chameleons are excreted together as a jelly like fluid.

Works Cited

"The Biology of Chameleons." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

"The Chameleon Handbook." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

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The Reproductive System

The reproductive system of the chameleon differs with the gender. While both male and female have paired gonads near the kidneys, from there on they differ greatly. Females have two oviducts that serve as a uterus. The males have to erectile hemipenes that are located in pouches at the ventral base of their tales behind the cloaca. Chameleons reproduce sexually, and the females lay eggs after a 3- 6 week period of pregnancy. Depending upon the species of chameleon, the egg will hatch 1- 18 months later. The amount of young birthed may differ from species but is usually within 1- 30 born. In rare cases chameleons will birth live young instead of eggs. This only happens if the chameleons live in an extremely cold environment where the eggs would be unable to survive.

Works Cited

"The Chameleon Handbook." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.

"Chameleons: Chamaeleonidae - Behavior And Reproduction." - Eggs, Males, Species, and Cold. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.