Chameleons in the Montagne des Français (Madagascar)

Chameleons in the Montagne des Français (Madagascar)

Verbreitung Science

The Montagne des Français is a limestone massif with dry forest in northern Madagascar. It reaches up to 425 m above sea level and is within sight of the largest coastal town in the north, Antsiranana (French Diego Suarez). It has been a protected area since 2007. Scientists from Madagascar and the USA conducted counts of reptiles and amphibians in the Montagne des Français in 2014 and 2020.

Counts were made in January and May, i.e. during and at the end of the rainy season. In 2014, the focus was on the region around Andavakoera, while in 2020 it was on Sahabedara, Ampitiliantsambo, and Andavakoera. In order to find animals, the search was conducted during the day and at night along predefined paths, partly in suitable habitats, and partly in pitfall pits.

A total of 20 amphibian and 50 reptile species were recorded. Four new amphibians and one reptile were found for the first time in the Montagne des Français. The snake Langaha pseudoalluaudi was discovered again for the first time since 2007. Among the chameleons, there were minor new discoveries. Brookesia stumpffi could only be found in 2014, but no longer in 2020 – however, due to the relatively wide distribution of the species, this should not be a problem for the entire population. Brookesia tristis, one of the smallest chameleons in the world, was also only seen in 2014. Here, the body size, which makes it very difficult to find, and the time of year (May is relatively late for this species) could play a role. Brookesia ebenaui was detected in Andavakoera in 2014 and in Sahabedara in 2020. The two tree dwellers Furcifer oustaleti and Furcifer pardalis were found in both years in Andavakoera and Ampitiliantsambo. Furcifer petteri, on the other hand, was present at all the sites surveyed in both years.

Amphibians and reptiles of the “Montagne des Français”: Update of the distribution and regional endemicity
Herizo Oninjatovo Radonirina, Bernard Randriamahatantsoa, Rabibisoa Harinelina Christian Nirhy, Christopher J. Raxworthy
DOI: 10.20944/preprints202306.1499.v1

Photo: Furcifer petteri on Madagascar, photographed by A. Laube

Comparison of pelvic girdles in chameleons

Comparison of pelvic girdles in chameleons


The anatomy of chameleons is strongly adapted to their way of life. Tree-dwellers differ in many aspects from ground-dwellers. The pelvic girdle has been little studied anatomically in chameleons so far – a publication from the USA now deals with it in more detail.

For the study, the pelvic girdles of 22 chameleons were isolated from existing microcomputer tomography scans and displayed in 3D. These were measured to 16 different lengths and angles using software. Archaius tigris, Bradypodion damaranum, Calumma gallus, Calumma parsonii parsonii, Chamaeleo zeylanicus, Furcifer balteatus, Kinyongia matschiei, Kinyongia tavetana, Nadzikambia mlanjense and Trioceros quadricornis gracilior were assigned to tree dwellers. Brookesia brygooi, Chamaeleo namaquensis, Palleon nasus nasus, Rhampholeon temporalis and Rieppeleon brachyurus were attributed to ground-dwelling species. The species Bradypodion occidentale, Brookesia ebenaui, Chamaeleo anchietae, Furcifer campani, Rhampholeon spinosus, Rieppeleon kerstenii kerstenii and Trioceros goetzei goetzei were classified as semiarboreal. Mainly males were examined.

As expected, the evaluation showed that tree-dwelling chameleons had narrower, shorter girdles than ground-dwelling ones. The narrower pelvic girdle makes it easier to hide behind branches and flatten the body to the maximum. It also ensures that the body’s centre of gravity is closer to the branch and thus increases stability when climbing. Ground-dwelling chameleons, on the other hand, had larger and wider pelvic girdles. These allow them to step more quickly and provide greater stability when walking on ground surfaces.

How phylogeny and arboreality affect pelvic girdle anatomy of chameleons
Dakota J. John
Honors Thesis 299, University of South Dakota, 2023
DOI: none