Posted by: Rob Lester | May 2, 2011

The unique chameleon [part 2]

The chameleon has many unique and amazing features, but is probably best known for its tongue (click picture for larger view). Jonathan Sarfati’s article in Creation magazine explains that a chameleon’s tongue can extend to 1½ times its body length. It shoots out from the lizard’s mouth at a force of 50g (50 times the acceleration force of gravity). Jet fighter pilots normally pass out from acceleration of more than 10g. Just before the tongue contacts the prey, muscles pull the middle of the tip backwards, forming a suction cup. This allows chameleons to catch smooth-bodied insects that other lizards with their sticky tongues cannot. The tongue itself has a bone at its base. The sheath muscles of the tongue are pushed forward over the end of the bone where they bunch up and store energy like the compressed coils of a spring. When the tongue is released, it extends out “like the tubes of a telescope” (Schilthuizen).  Man’s attempts to mimic this function require large amounts of energy to be released explosively all at once and the projectile is carried by the momentum of that initial release. The chameleon’s tongue releases energy in a controlled way (“sheath-by-sheath,” although still extremely fast) which is far more efficient. Once again we see man’s attempt to recreate what God created falling far short. We will never be able to do it better than the God of the Bible.

Sarfati, Jonathan, “A coat of many colours: Captivating chameleons.” Creation 26(4):28–33 Sep 2004.

Schilthuizen, M., Slip of the chameleon’s tongue, Science Now, <>, 8 March 2004.


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