A Country Rag

Birds and Bees, digitized acrylic by Jeannette Harris

Chameleon: An Interactive Exploration


"Let me glide noiselessly forth;/ With the key of softness unlock the locks -- with a whisper,/ Set ope the doors O soul,/ Tenderly -- be not impatient,/ (Strong is your hold O mortal flesh,/ Strong is your hold O love.)"
-- Walt Whitman, The Last Invocation

"Thoughts can heal your body. It has been demonstrated that when a patient believes something will relieve pain, the body actually releases endorphins that do so."
-- Robert Moss

From WordNet:
"1: (n) chameleon a changeable or inconstant person; 2: (n) Chamaeleon, Chameleon a faint constellation in the polar region of the southern hemisphere near Apus and Mensa; 3: (n) chameleon, chamaeleon lizard of Africa and Madagascar able to change skin color and having a projectile tongue"

From Wikipedia:
"Chameleons (family Chamaeleonidae) are squamates that belong to one of the best-known lizard families. The word is the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek χαμαιλέων (khamaileon), from χαμαί (khamai) 'on the earth, on the ground' + λέων (leon) 'lion', translating the Akkadian nēš qaqqari, 'ground lion'."
"Chameleons vary greatly in size and body structure, with total length from approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) in Brookesia minima, to 31 inches (79 cm) in the male Furcifer oustaleti. There is a species, thought to be unique to Malawi's Mount Mulanje, which is 0.6 in (1 cm) across when fully grown. Many have head or facial ornamentation, such as nasal protrusions, or horn-like projections in the case of Chamaeleo jacksonii, or large crests on top of their head, like Chamaeleo calyptratus. Many species are sexually dimorphic, and males are typically much more ornamented than the female chameleons.
"Their eyes are the most distinctive among the reptiles. The upper and lower eyelids are joined, with only a pinhole large enough for the pupil to see through. They can rotate and focus separately to observe two different objects simultaneously. It in effect gives them a full 360-degree arc of vision around their body. When prey is located, both eyes can be focused in the same direction, giving sharp stereoscopic vision and depth perception.
"They lack a vomeronasal organ. Also, like snakes, they do not have an outer or a middle ear. This suggests that chameleons might be deaf, although it should be noted that snakes can hear using a bone called the quadrate to transmit sound to the inner ear. Furthermore, some or maybe all chameleons, can communicate via vibrations that travel through solid material like branches.
"Chameleons have very long tongues (sometimes longer than their own body length) which they are capable of rapidly extending out of the mouth. The tongue extends out faster than human eyes can follow, at around 26 body lengths per second. The tongue hits the prey in about 30 thousandths of a second. The tongue has a sticky tip on the end, which serves to catch prey items. The tongue's tip is a bulbous ball of muscle, and as it hits its prey, it rapidly forms a small suction cup. Once the tongue sticks to a prey item, it is drawn quickly back into the mouth, where the chameleon's strong jaws crush it and it is consumed. Even a small chameleon is capable of eating a large locust or mantis. Chameleons also have no teeth.
"Ultraviolet light is part of the visible spectrum for chameleons. Chameleons exposed to ultraviolet light show increased social behavior and activity levels, are more inclined to bask and feed and are also more likely to reproduce as it has a positive effect on the pineal gland.
"More than 160 species of Chameleons are known, arranged in nine genera. The main distribution of Chameleons is in Africa and Madagascar, and other tropical regions, although some species are also found in parts of southern Europe and Asia. There are introduced, feral populations of veiled and Jackson's chameleons in Hawaii and isolated pockets of feral Jackson's chameleons have been reported in California and Florida.
"Chameleons inhabit all kinds of tropical and montane rain forests, savannas and sometimes semi-deserts and steppes. They are mostly arboreal and are often found in trees or occasionally on smaller bushes. Some smaller species live on the ground under foliage....
"All chameleon species are able to change their skin color. Changing color is an expression of the physical and physiological condition of the lizard. The color also plays a part in communication.
"Different chameleon species are able to change different colors which can include pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown and yellow. Chameleons are naturally coloured for their surroundings as a camouflage. However, recent research has indicated that Chameleons may use colour changes as a method of communication, including to make themselves more attractive to potential mates.
"Chameleons have specialized cells, collectively called chromatophores, that lie in layers under their transparent outer skin. The cells in the upper layer, called xanthophores and erythrophores, contain yellow and red pigments respectively. Below these is another layer of cells called iridophores or guanophores, and they contain the colourless crystalline substance guanine. These reflect, among others, the blue part of incident light. If the upper layer of chromatophores appears mainly yellow, the reflected light becomes green (blue plus yellow). A layer of dark melanin containing melanophores is situated even deeper under the reflective iridophores. The melanophores influence the 'lightness' of the reflected light. All these pigment cells can rapidly relocate their pigments, thereby influencing the colour of the chameleon." Video

From The Free Dictionary:
"[Middle English camelioun, from Latin chamaelen, from Greek khamailen : khamai, on the ground; see dhghem- in Indo-European roots + len, lion (loan translation of Akkadian n qaqqari, ground lion, lizard); see lion.]
"cha·mele·onic (-l-nk) adj. Word History: The words referring to the animal chameleon and the plant chamomile are related etymologically by a reference to the place one would expect to find them, that is, on the ground. The first part of both words goes back to the Greek form khamai, meaning 'on the ground.' What is found on the ground in each case is quite different, of course. The khamailen is a 'lion [len] on the ground,' a term translating the Akkadian phrase n qaqqari. The khamaimlon is "an apple [mlon] on the ground," so named because the blossoms of at least one variety of this creeping herb have an applelike scent. Both words are first found in Middle English, chameleon in a work composed before 1382 and chamomile in a work written in 1373."

From Spiritual Dream Dictionary:
"When a Chameleon shows up in a dream, it can be indication that you are learning how to adapt to your environment, perhaps even a new environment. Due to its ability to be unseen and unnoticed, there is a sense of clairvoyance, remote viewing and auric sensitivity. Being nearly invisible allows one to quietly watch, listen and learn, appearing to have greater knowledge than is actually possessed.
"The Chameleon has a third eye located on the back of the head and blending perfectly in with the rest of the body. This third eye does not see in the sense of the other two, but it is capable of distinguishing light from dark. As a dream symbol, this results in a new awareness of psychic ability and intuition and may even remark on the dreamer's third eye being opened.
"A Chameleon does not actually blend into its surroundings by changing its colors to match an area, rather, it is already the natural color of its normal habitat. Changing color in degrees according to temperature, humidity and even emotions, a frustrated or angry Chameleon turns brown, a happy and content one turns light green. Reflecting a sensitivity to its environment, the dreamer is likely to find that their own sensitivity to the environment and to other people is increasing.
"Auric fields are, in part, a combination of electromagnetic vibrations. Each of us is constantly giving off electrical energy and absorbing magnetic energy and largely, we are unaware of the process. Every individual you come into contact with exchanges energy with you; as a dream symbol, the Chameleon may be trying to help you understand such exchanges and how to deal with them."

Chameleon: [1] a broker or dealer who changes his position on an investment to what he thinks will cause an investor to enter into a transaction; [2] a poker player who changes his style often and may be aggressive on one hand and passive the next

Chameleons Online E-Zine, including past issues
Chameleon Care and Information Center
Panther Chameleon Photos
How Animal Camouflage Works
Chameleon: Fifth and most musically adventurous album, frequently referred to as progressive rock, by Helloween
Chameleon: An American rock band founded by Charlie Adams, who was renowned for his two-axis revolving, upside-down drum set
Chameleon: A PlayStation ninja character -- with partial or full transparency, turquoise eyes, clothes of changing colors to mimic those of whichever character he is impersonating and fighting, who flashes through all the available opponent colors on winning in the Mortal Kombat Trilogy, and who finally gains the ability to take on the features and moves of any other character in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
Chameleon: An episode of television series The New Twilight Zone
Chameleon: A list of prestige classes in the 3rd edition of the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game

"Housekeeping is like being caught in a revolving door."
-- Marcelene Cox

"I will clean house when Sears comes out with a riding vacuum cleaner."
-- Roseanne Barr

"I'm eighteen years behind in my ironing. There's no use doing it now; it doesn't fit anybody I know."
-- Phyllis Diller

"My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance."
-- Anonymous

Return to Chameleon: An Interactive Exploration

Flying Skull, Air Force insignia

Text and graphics c. A Country Rag, Inc. and Jeannette Harris, Jonesborough TN, April, 2008. All rights reserved.