Study finds chameleons trap their prey with sticky mucus produced on the tip of their tongue.
Chameleons are famous for their ability of catching prey. They extend their tongues at lighting speed, snare their prey and whip it back just as fast. The incredible thing about chameleons is that they don’t wrap their tongue around the prey, but still the food remains glued to the tongue and never escapes. It means there must be something that keeps prey stuck to the tongue and doesn't allow it to drop.
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In new research, scientists show that chameleons produce extremely sticky mucus on the tip of their tongue and spit it on intended prey to grab it firmly. This is exactly the reason why prey stay attached to the tongue. Chameleon’s saliva is very gluey about 400 times more thicker than human saliva.
“It’s a very simple mechanism, and it shows things don’t have to be very complex to be very effective.” Physicist Pascal Damman from University of Mons in Belgium, who was one of the researchers involved in the study, told National Geographic.
The footage reveals that chameleons stay motionless and wait for their prey. As soon as something tasty cricket in this case comes within the distance on their tongue, they allow their tongue to spring forward and snag their prey. Chameleons can extend their tongue twice the length of their body in less than a second.
The gluey substance on their tongue is so strong that it can hold prey as much as 30 percent of the Chameleons’ own body weight.
“It’s the equivalent of a human eating a 25-pound hamburger and then having to transport that burger to your mouth using only your tongue. Kiisha Nishikawa from Northern Arizona University, who was not the part of the study, said.
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Chameleons are not the only animals that use sticky saliva to catch their prey. Frogs, toads and salamanders also trap their pray with their sticky tongues and these finding may be appilcable to these animals too.