The Panther Chameleon or Furcifer pardalis belongs to a species of chameleon, and is an endemic of Madagascar. It was first described by the French naturalist Georges Cuvier in 1829. The name of the kind Furcifer comes from the Latin “Furci”, which means “forked” and refers to the shape of the limbs. “Pardalis” refers to the color of the reptile, and can be translated as “Panther” or “spotted”.
In general, the Panther Chameleon is a large reptile with a tight body. The males reach a length with a tail up to 45 cm; the size of the females is less than 25-33 cm. The color of scaly integument of the males is diverse. There are specimens of yellow, green, orange, red color with transverse vertical pattern in the form of stripes of green, blue, orange hues. The coloring of the female individuals is pale, often of brownish – green, peach or pink shade. It varies depending on the habitat of reptiles.
The males have comb-shaped outgrowths. The limbs of the Panther Chameleons are adapted for movement on rough surfaces such as bark of a tree. The toes are merged into a group of 2 or 3, equipped with sharp claws, and they are similar to tongs. The eyes can rotate in different directions independently of each other, allowing the chameleon to observe two different objects simultaneously. At the same time, the visibility amounts a full rotation – 360 degrees. When the prey is near, both eyes can be directed at it, giving a sharp stereoscopic image. This kind of chameleon has a very sharp vision that allows to see small insects at a distance of 5-10 meters. Furthermore, the reptiles see ultraviolet light.
The tongue of the Panther Chameleon is very long, sometimes even longer than the body. It simply “shoots” out of the mouth with a speed of 0.0030 per second. The tongue is formed not only by the muscles and tendons; a special bone gives it strength and hardness. At the tip of the elastic tongue there is a muscular structure in the form of sucker, covered with thick mucus. This undergraduate paper discusses interesting details of the body structure and characteristics of habitats of the Panther Chameleon.