With a narrow body, a taco-like humped back, legs with no muscle definition, funny-looking feet with fused toes, bulging eyes going in different directions at the same time, and a tongue that is twice as long as its body, chameleons are some of the most comical-looking animals on the planet. (One species of chameleon has a nose that would rival Pinocchio’s, while another looks like a baby triceratops, with three horns growing out of its head.) But don’t let their “weirdness” get in the way of seeing their complex design and baffling abilities, and especially the God Who made them.
A close look at tree-dwelling chameleons brings about visions of a tightrope walker, only better. One evolutionist called chameleons “expert tree climbers.” Why? Because they can easily climb up, down, and across trees. They can balance their bodies perfectly on thin branches, not just while sitting or walking, but while actively hunting, mating, and even fighting other chameleons.
These lizards have five tiny toes on each foot: three toes are fused on one side, while two are fused on the other. On its front feet the bundle of two toes is on the outside, while the bundle of three is on the inside. Interestingly, this is reversed on its back feet, where the chameleon has a bundle of three toes on the outside and two on the inside.
The chameleon’s fused toes function like tongs from your kitchen. Tongs often feel awkward and are used in somewhat of a clumsy manner, but the chameleon’s strong split feet are precisely what they need to grasp and balance on the tree branches they call home.
Speaking of balance, a chameleon’s tail may be as important as its feet when it comes to living in trees without fear of falling. You’ve probably seen cute pictures of chameleons with their tails curled up tightly in a circle, but have you observed how they use their tails? Like opossums and monkeys, chameleons have prehensile (pre-HEN-sul) tails, which means their tails are strong and extremely flexible, able to wrap around and hold things tightly. Their tails function almost like a fifth limb (leg and foot), which can securely anchor them to one tree branch even as they lift their feet to grasp for another branch, all in a perfectly balanced manner.
Consider also chameleons’ built-in camouflage abilities. First, their normal, natural colors of green and brown aid them greatly in blending in with their forested habitat of mostly greens and browns. Second, chameleons are often found crouching low and tightly against trunks, limbs, or leaves of trees so that at first glance (and perhaps second and third) you do not notice them. Third, chameleons’ bodies are sometimes shaped similar to various things seen in forests, whether a knotted limb or a leaf. One species is actually named brown leaf chameleon. Fourth, though you might think chameleons have a weird, nervous, rocking-back-and-forth walk, they often use this strategic shifting motion to mimic the swaying of leaves and branches, especially as they are hunting their prey and don’t want to be detected.
Whether locusts, termites, or praying mantises, the prey of chameleons are no match for the lizard’s lethal weapon: its tongue. Chameleons have the longest tongue-to-body size ratio of any animal on Earth, reaching lengths twice that of their bodies. Such a long tongue might sound awkward and clumsy. (Imagine seeing a 6-foot man walking around with a 12-foot tongue!) However, chameleon tongues are anything but clumsy.
When a chameleon sizes up its prey, it can launch its sticky tongue like a deadly weapon, similar to an archer releasing an arrow from his bow. Scientists have studied the tongue strikes of chameleons and measured them doing 0 to 62 miles per hour in 1/100th of a second. Their tongues are so fast they’re difficult for us to see at regular speed.
One evolutionist admitted that the tongue of the chameleon is “highly complex,” an “array of bone, elastic elements, and muscle,” the end of which looks like a suction cup. “Tongue-launch is initiated by the recoil of…elastic elements that were loaded by the muscle.” In short, a chameleon’s tongue functions like a catapult.
But what good is a catapult if it can’t strike its target? If left up to the blind chance processes of evolution, chameleons would have neither their “highly complex” tongue nor a way to launch it with deadly accuracy. Yet, evolutionists acknowledge the “pinpoint accuracy” of the chameleon’s tongue while also admitting chameleons are “supreme,” “specialized” predators that are “designed to hunt.”
Whereas professional baseball players have excellent hand-eye coordination, chameleons have great tongue-eye coordination. That’s right, among the many well-designed body parts of a chameleon are its eyes (as funny as they look).
A chameleon has the ability to move its eyes in different directions at the same time. It can focus on one thing with its left eye while looking at something totally different in the completely opposite direction with its other eye. A chameleon has nearly a 360-degree view of the world, which is quite helpful when it wants to keep one eye on watch for potential predators and another eye on watch for potential prey—all without having to move its head.
When chameleons see potential prey on a limb or leaf, they go into stealth mode and slowly make their way into striking distance. They then take their “crazy-looking” independent eyes (each with a monocular view) and move both to look in the same direction (with a perfect binocular view), focusing squarely on their target, and with excellent depth perception.
Last but not least, chameleons are probably best known for their ability to change colors. One moment a chameleon can be green, and then only a few seconds later, it can appear red, yellow, blue, orange, black, or all of the above (and more!). They occasionally change colors to blend into their surroundings or to regulate their body temperature. But most often, chameleons’ coloring-changing has more to do with communication with other chameleons. If they are defending their territory, trying to attract a mate, or telling a potential mate to “go away,” they’ll change colors—a number of different brilliant colors.
How do they do this? In short, under the first layer of pigmented skin, some chameleons (such as panther chameleons) have a thick layer of cells containing tiny crystals arranged in a three-dimensional framework. When chameleons want to change color, they increase or decrease the amount of space between the crystals, allowing for color differences (as different wavelengths of light are either absorbed or reflected)—the effect: an array of beautiful colors.
Evolutionists admit that chameleons have the abilities of “expert tree climbers.” With their “highly complex” tongues and amazing eyes, they are “designed to hunt.” What’s more, they have “the remarkable ability to exhibit complex and rapid color changes” when they choose to communicate with other chameleons.
In truth, the General Theory of Evolution cannot rationally explain the existence of complex chameleons and their many amazing built-in abilities. Highly functional design logically demands a designer, not millions of years of mindless mutations. Yes, chameleon complexity cries out for a creative Creator.
“For every house is built by someone, but He Who built all things is God.”
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