Saturday, January 9, 2010

Unichrome reptile

It shouldn't take very long to spot the reptile in this photo. The little bit of time taken is also only because the chameleon has taken on the colour which predominates in its surroundings. But when you have six such creatures on a tree remaining almost motionless, it does take you quite a while to find them all.

The Indian Chameleon (Chameleo zeylanicus) is quite common in south India and Sri Lanka. There are very few species of the chameleon which can change a wide enough variety of colours as to blend with the background; this one restricts its spectrum mainly to green and brown. In the scrub jungle habitats around Chennai, those colours are good enough for it to remain unnoticed by a huge majority.

The power of the colouration can be seen in this exhibit at the Snake Park, Guindy. When the leaves dry up, the chameleons adopt their green-brown band and merge with the leaves, so that even then, it remains a challenge to spot all six of them in this enclosure. In fact, I was sure that there were only five until someone pointed out all six to me!

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