Eye Spy

Namaqua chameleon_01

Namaqua chameleon_02

Namaqua chameleon_03

It’s useful having a set of independently moving eyes.  Set in turret-like structures the chameleon can swivel one eye to detect prey and at the same time keep an eye out for predators / photographers creeping up from behind.   I was lucky to spot this perfectly camouflaged Namaqua chameleon against the desert sands near Walvis Bay, in Namibia.   The sun was blazing down and I happened to notice movement – it’s slow comical gait caught my eye.  It was hunting ants.  They have evolved ways to prevent overheating in this extreme environment and “stilting” – standing on straightened legs to keep it’s body off the hot sands and moving in extreme slow motion are actions to keep cool.  While most other chameleons are arboreal, the Namaqua is a ground dweller, digging holes in the desert sand to reach the cooler layers beneath or taking shelter from the sun in burrows built by other animals.

WPC: Eye


19 thoughts on “Eye Spy

  1. Excellent photos and natural history lesson! The adaptations of this lizard to thrive in such a harsh environment are a wonder of nature. It looks lean in the body – is this typical form?

    1. Thanks Nick. This was one critter I was chuffed to find! I read that they are able to ‘elongate’ to present less of a form to the midday sun, although i can’t find any scientific reference. Interesting thought though, opposite to a bird fluffing up it’s feathers for insulation.

    1. Isn’t it just! And built for purpose, so beautifully adapted to it’s harsh environment. On the geography and the terms – Namaqualand is that arid area just south of Namibia on the South African side of the border in the northern Cape (and named for the Nama people) while Namibia is what formerly was South West Africa. Named for the Namibia desert – also derived from a Nama word meaning ‘vast place’.

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