Cryptic species

Cryptic species

Internationaler Chamäleontag

The chameleon world still has a lot to offer. Countless species have yet to be described – and sometimes species are hidden in places where none were expected. The increasing possibilities of genetics are providing taxonomists with ever more specialised species terms. And many new species!

Small chameleons can be found scattered all over the east coast of Madagascar, which could be attributed to Calumma radamanus or Calumma nasutum in purely visual terms, but whose populations are locally limited. Many of these populations have not yet been genetically analysed. This means that one or two new chameleon species are certainly still hiding here. On the African mainland, Chamaeleo dilepis could still be hiding some subspecies. It occurs in Tanzania and Rwanda, but also between Angola and Congo and from South Africa to Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. And in Tanzania, six new Rhampholeon species were just described a year and a half ago, which were identified within known species complexes using genetics. These are just three examples of species complexes that still contain hidden chameleon species – many more are still awaiting further research.

#showyourcolours #internationalchameleonday #chameleonday #chameleondayMay9 #agchamaeleons

Picture: Calumma cf. radamanus in Marojejy, north Madagascar, photographed by Alex Laube

Sechs neue Rhampholeon-Arten in Tansania

 

Versteckte Arten innerhalb der Gattung Chamaeleo

Where can you find chameleons?

Where can you find chameleons?

Internationaler Chamäleontag

Of the 228 chameleon species that exist worldwide, the vast majority live in Africa. Madagascar alone is home to 97 species – that’s over 40% of the world’s chameleon species! A second chameleon hot spot in Africa is Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya in Central Africa. And thirdly, South Africa is at the top of the list of chameleon countries. The other countries have far fewer different species, sometimes only one or two, but they are widespread or particularly common locally. There are even chameleons in Europe: the European chameleon can be found in the south of Spain and Portugal, in Italy and Greece.

#showyourcolours #internationalchameleonday #chameleonday #chameleondayMay9 #agchamaeleons

Grafik: Jan Stipala, Mountain Dragons – In search of chameleons in the highlands of Kenya, Download

Partner wanted

Partner wanted

Internationaler Chamäleontag

Even today, there are still species of chameleons for which an incredible amount of data is missing. For example, what the male or female of the species even looks like or whether there is a partner animal. Two examples of this lack of data are Calumma juliae and Furcifer monoceras.

Calumma juliae was only discovered in 2018. The species lives in a tiny forest remnant near Moramanga, a town in the eastern highlands of Madagascar. Despite an intensive search, no male of the species could be found. This raises the question of whether the species – which would be extremely unusual for chameleons – could possibly be capable of parthenogenesis (producing young). If so, these chameleons would not need males at all. However, this is not particularly likely.

In our second example, it is the other way round. Furcifer monoceras was last seen many, many years ago – namely before its description, in 1905 – near the coastal town of Mahajanga. However, only the male had been discovered, which is also hard to confuse due to its conspicuous, huge nose. The female, on the other hand, is unknown. To date, the species has not been found again and is considered lost. Initial efforts to find the species have unfortunately been unsuccessful. Many dry forests around Mahajanga no longer exist, so it could just as well be that the habitat of Furcifer monoceras has long since disappeared. With or without the chameleon, that is the big question. So it remains exciting!

#showyourcolours #internationalchameleonday #chameleonday #chameleondayMay9 #agchamaeleons

Photo: Calumma juliae female, photographed by Thorsten Negro

Longer in the egg than alive

Longer in the egg than alive

Internationaler Chamäleontag

A chameleon that’s been in the egg longer than it’s been alive? It does exist! Of course, not every Labord’s chameleon (Furcifer labordi) is like this. But this is probably the shortest-lived chameleon in the world. They live in western Madagascar, where it is very hot and dry most of the year. During the short, intense rainy season, the chameleons hatch, grow to adulthood at record speed, mate immediately and lay eggs quickly before most of them die in the same season. The average Labord’s chameleon therefore only lives for three to five months! In contrast, the eggs lie in the ground for between eight and ten months until the next rainy season. Depending on how a rainy season turns out in western Madagascar, the Labord’s chameleon’s entire population may only exist in eggs in the worst-case scenario. A fascinating, but also somewhat creepy idea.

#showyourcolours #internationalchameleonday #chameleonday #chameleondayMay9 #agchamaeleons

Picture: Furcifer labordi male, photographed by Lennart Hudel, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

Lost for more than 100 years

Lost for more than 100 years

Internationaler Chamäleontag

Did you know that there is a chameleon that was considered lost for over 100 years? Voeltzkow’s chameleon (Furcifer voeltzkowi) was last seen in 1913. Since then, it was considered lost because neither the exact location where it was found nor what the females looked like was known. In fact, the species lived completely undisturbed in western Madagascar on a peninsula directly opposite the large coastal town of Mahajanga. Until 2018, when a German-Madagascan research team set out to rediscover the long-lost species. They succeeded – in a hotel garden! The main reason why the species had not been observed for so long is probably due to the poor accessibility of the peninsula on which they live and the short lifespan of the animals. It is assumed that, like Furcifer labordi, a closely related species, they only live for a few months. They can therefore only be found at a certain time of year.

#showyourcolours #internationalchameleonday #chameleonday #chameleondayMay9 #agchamaeleons

Photos: Furcifer voeltzkowi, male and female, photographed by Alex Laube

Colouring chameleons

Colouring chameleons

Internationaler Chamäleontag

Time to colour! We’ve put together lots of colouring pictures that all kinds of websites have to offer for free. Just click on them and you’ll be redirected to the website offering them. Then print them out and off you go! Grab your coloured pencils, felt-tip pens or whatever else you use and get colouring! Incidentally, the colouring pictures are not just for children – there are also suitable, slightly more difficult templates for adults. A little time out on a holiday is certainly not a bad idea.

#show your colours #internationalchameleonday #chameleonday #chameleondayMay9 #agchamaeleons

 

 

 

Show your tongue!

Internationaler Chamäleontag

The tongue of chameleons is something very special: chameleons use it to catch their food in a spectacular way by shooting with it. For a long time, it was thought that one of the tongue muscles was responsible for the shooting power. Today we know that an apparatus consisting of many layers of collagen fibres provides the necessary shooting ability. Put simply, the chameleon tongue works like a kind of catapult with a rubber band, only in milliseconds. The structure of the tongue is explained in more detail here.

The chameleon’s tongue shoots out of its mouth with incredible acceleration, hits the food and is then slowly retracted again. The chameleon closes its eyes to prevent injury to these valuable sensory organs when the tongue and insect retract. When fully “extended”, the tongue of most chameleons is one and a half times as long as the body, and in very small species such as ground chameleons it can be up to two and a half times as long. A truly remarkable organ!

 

#showyourcolours #internationalchameleonday #chameleonday #chameleondayMay9 #agchamaeleons

Video: Madcham.de

Chameleon DAY? Chameleon WEEKEND!

Chameleon DAY? Chameleon WEEKEND!

AG Interna Internationaler Chamäleontag

And for those who have acquired a taste for chameleons and can’t get enough of them: There is not only an International Chameleon Day this year, but also a whole weekend dedicated to chameleons! Our 2024 conference is the right place for you. From 24 to 26 May 2024, chameleon friends from all over the world will meet in Fulda, Germany, to exchange experiences, learn tips and tricks and pursue their shared hobby, the world of chameleons. We have prepared a colourful series of lectures and a photo competition. Anyone who is interested can register without obligation via our website. We look forward to seeing “old friends”, but also new faces!

#showyourcolours #internationalchameleonday #chameleonday #chameleondayMay9 #agchamaeleons #chameleonweekend #chameleonconference