Panther chameleon in Amber Mountain National Park, Madagascar
© Christian Ziegler/Minden Picture
Hide-and-go-seek world champion. World Lizard Day
Do you hold a warm spot in your heart for these cold-blooded creatures? Lizard lovers celebrate the scaly squamates on this day each year. This camouflaged panther chameleon is one of a multitude of lizards that inhabit the island of Madagascar, many of which are found nowhere else. More than 50% of chameleon species are found only on the island, including the world's smallest known chameleon, the recently discovered Brookesia nana, which is smaller than your fingernail.
There are more than 5,000 species of lizards around the world, and they live on every continent except Antarctica. The individual species have developed adaptations for survival as varied as their environments. Chameleons and geckos camouflage themselves so well they can seem to almost disappear. Many lizards will detach their tails, a technique called tail autonomy, to distract predators while they escape. The frilled-neck lizard fools would-be predators by spreading out a large frill around its neck, making itself look large and scary. And the world's largest living lizards, Komodo dragons, can reach 10 feet long—they're so big that deer are their main prey.