Chameleon & Grad School

I’m excited to share that I’m flying out today to start my PhD studies at the University of Missouri, Columbia. I’ll be focused in behavioral ecology of lizards in Manuel Leal’s lab!

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Photographed after disturbance [4]

… and here is one of my longest-term friends from Mpala, a cryptic chameleon that stalked around on an acacia tree near my house and would migrate to nearby grasses to sleep at night. During the day he would be gray with lateral elliptical splotches, and at night he would lighten up to become caramel or white.

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Photographed in situ [1]

To navigate thin branches, chameleons are equipped with a prehensile tail and bifurcated feet. With a projectile tongue and turret eyes, to me they are the most alien of lizards. While walking, their tails are usually extended parallel to the substrate to act as a counterbalance. But when at rest or during sleep, the they are curiously coiled dorsoventrally to form a mesmerizing swirl. This posture might serve to retract vulnerable body parts and keep the lizard more compact, similar to a snake coiled in a refuge, but I’m not sure if it might have another adaptive significance.


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