Tiny Chameleon Has Super-Powered Tongue
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Animals and insects see the world in unique ways. From fish, to dogs, to birds to shrimp, super-eyesight allows them to thrive in places others can't.
Dung beetles, for example, have internal compasses that are sensitive to the sun, Marie Dacke of Lund University and her colleagues have determined. In a paper published in the latest Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, she and her team explain that solar cues and skylight help guide where the beetles roll their coveted balls of poop.Video: 5 Incredible Insect Superpowers
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Siberian huskies evolved colorful, almond-shaped eyes to see in low light, desolate northern regions. A quirk of genetics is that an individual dog may have two differently colored eyes. A single eye may also feature two colors. It's known as a "parti" or "split" eye.Photos: Ugliest Dog Contenders
Chameleons can rotate and focus their eyes separately to look at two different objects at the same time, according to the San Diego Zoo. This gives chameleons a full 360-degree view around their body.Photos: Chameleon Colors Act Like a Mood Ring
Ants have vision "superpowers," interactive media designers and artists Chris Woebken and Kenichi Okada believe. Using their ant apparatus, humans can see as ants do by placing microscope antennas on their hands (ants have these on their heads) that transmit a 50-fold magnified view of wherever the person's hand is resting.33 Bizarre New Ant Species Discovered
Imagine if you spent most of the day looking up from below. That is what escolar, a large and mysterious deep-sea fish, do, according to a new study by Eric Warrant of the University of Lund and colleagues. Escolar use this technique to "sit and wait" for prey, hoping something tasty will swim over them.
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Shrimps have some of the most complex visual systems in the animal kingdom. Justin Marshall of the University of Queensland and his team found that some shrimp stare down prey before attacking with a movement that is so swift that it actually boils water in front of the shrimp. (The other temperate water surrounding the shrimp prevents it from cooking itself to death!)
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Most animals, including humans, have round pupils, but the eyes of goats (toads, octopi and a few others too) tend to be horizontal and rectangular with rounded corners. This broadens the horizon that they see, enabling them to better spot predators.
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Bird eyes, such as those of the eagle seen here, feature oil droplets located in the front, Doekele Stavenga of the University of Groningen and colleagues have discovered. The droplets serve as "microlenses" that help to filter and direct light.On the Hunt for Bald Eagles
The eyes of certain animals, such as raccoons and cats, glow in the dark. Their eyes have a light-reflecting surface, known as the tapetum lucidum, which makes this possible. Depending on the animal, the glow takes on certain colors. Cats tend to have eyes that glow green. Miniature schnauzer eyes will sometimes glow turquoise, according to Colorado State University ophthalmologist Cynthia Powell.
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Cuttlefish, a type of mollusk, are the transformer visionaries of the animal kingdom. They reshape their entire eyes to adjust to what they see. Humans and many other species, in contrast, usually just reshape their eye lenses to get a better look at something.
Giant squid have the largest eyes in the world, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. At up to 10 inches in diameter, the human head-sized eyes help giant squid to see in deep water. It's believed that they can detect a moving sperm whale from 394 feet away.Giant Squid Photos
Fernando Mafra, Fotopedia
We create a mental map of our surroundings in our brain. As Michael Land of the University of Sussex explains, "To interact with objects in the world we need to know where they are, whether they are in our field of view or outside it. Objects in memory have to move in the brain as we move through the world, otherwise they would be not be in the right place."
Tiny chameleons have just made the animal record books, because a new study finds they have the world’s second most powerful tongues among all reptiles, birds and mammals.
Only salamanders can beat chameleons in terms of tongue speed and strength among such a competitive field according to the study, which is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
It’s been known for a while that chameleons stuck out their tongues fast and far, but the true extent of their abilities was not known. The smallest species hadn’t been measured, until now.
“Smaller species have higher performance than larger species,” study author Christopher Anderson, a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University, said in a press release.
Here’s what it looks like when a small chameleon catches a cricket. The footage is in slow motion, as the moment would otherwise appear as an instantaneous tongue flick.
Anderson analyzed 20 species of chameleons of varying sizes. He perched each individual in front of a camera that shoots 3,000 frames per second. Anderson then dangled a cricket off of a mesh in front of each chameleon to trigger the tongue action.
For a tiny species like Rhampholeon spinosus, the total tongue power was measured to be 14,040 watts per kilogram. Put into automotive terms, the chameleon’s tongue could go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a hundredth of a second. It only needed about 20 milliseconds, though, to snag a cricket.
What’s more, the tiny chameleon could stick out its tongue to 2.5 times its body length. Most of the tongue motion is pre-loaded into elastic tissues.
Larger chameleons produced impressive motions as well, but not when compared to their smaller cousins. For example, a roughly 2-foot-long species, Furcifer oustaleti, managed a peak acceleration less than 18 percent than that of the tiny title holder.
Anderson explained that the smaller chameleons need to consume more energy per body weight to survive. They therefore must be especially good at catching their insect meals.