Some potential insight into chameleon eyes, brains and "handedness"

Discussion in 'Science And Conservation' started by Seeco, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. Seeco

    Seeco New Member

    If this leads to your PhD please give me some credit...

    I have a chameleon with his right eye scarred over and left eye fine. He has been this way for over a year and is healthy. The funny thing is that despite his right eye being blind he still favors the right side of his body. So he leads with his right hand but all he can really see to the right is what his LEFT eye can catch over his nose. The result is often him going in circles. For example, at his best, the way he climbs up a ficus is to corkscrew up in clockwise spirals. Also whenever he tries to mate he always crawls too far over the female and winds up past her and she "disappears" in his blind spot and he forgets but she is sitting right there like "come on"!

    I think this accidental experiment sheds some insight on to what chameleons really see -- my idea now is that they do not actively process 2 different images from each eyes but rather favor one particular eye and the other is just on standby until it perceives some movement or something important. In other words, the MIND is in just one eye until they are both brought together like they do before shooting prey.

    This case also suggest that chameleons favor one side of their bodies like how humans are right or left handed.

    I know one example is not sufficient to conclude anything but it would surely make a good lab experiment for someone to do -- just make sure you cover the eyes and don't poke them out or I will find you!
  2. kinyonga

    kinyonga Chameleon Enthusiast

    When they show defensive posture with the hand raised up close to the chin which hand do they raise?? Is it always the same one? Do they show handedness?

    One panther chameleon I had developed cancer in the eye and the eye was removed. He did circle for a day or two but then he was fine...and he also learned to shoot his tongue out (about 80% accurate) in spite of having only one eye.

    I'm looking for more information I had on both handedness and the eyes...hope I can find it.
    Hoj likes this.
  3. I have a veiled that is blind in his right eye. is there anyway I can add to this. Hes my baby so i spend a lot of time watching him and caring for him. He was a little unbalanced looking right after loosing this eye, but has since adjusted nicely. and now shoots with about 80-90 % accuracy. He favors his left side and always leads with the left hand. when he is defensive (which isn't often) he holds his left hand up.
  4. Seeco

    Seeco New Member

    See that makes "sense"! The fact that my guy does the opposite makes me think that he is a righty by habit and will always favor that side thus "proving" handedness.
  5. Seeco

    Seeco New Member

    Ya I think we are on the same page. Maybe there already is a study out there.
  6. kinyonga

    kinyonga Chameleon Enthusiast

    "Chameleons scan their environments by using saccadic (rapid, stop-go) movements of each eye independently. Only one eye at a time is in focus, however, alternating at 1 sec- intervals"..."apparently only one eye's image is processed at a time"... AND focussing AND eyes&f=false

    "the crystalline lens of the chameleon has negative refractive power"...

    "Chameleons seem almost as accurate measuring the distance with one eye as with two"... AND focussing AND eyes&f=false

    "These observations suggest the existence of two independent premotor neuronal circuits for left and right eye saccadic motor control in the chameleon"...
    #7 kinyonga, Mar 12, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2012
    jastate09 likes this.
  7. Seeco

    Seeco New Member

    That settles the vision thing!

    How about handedness?
  8. Trace

    Trace Captain Awesome

    My deremensis put both hands up when they see me; does that mean they are ambidextrous?
    Solid Snake likes this.
  9. ataraxia

    ataraxia Avid Member

    Kinyonga to the rescue!!
  10. Trace

    Trace Captain Awesome

    Don’t most chameleons put the hand up that is closest to the perceived predator? i.e.. If I approach from their right then the right hand goes up. Most chameleons in captivity are in large fixed cages with fixed basking areas so their choice of ways or how to sit (sideways or back to owner) in that basking spot are limited to how the cage is furnished. Because the cage itself doesn’t move or rotate, the owner (predator) will always approach from the same side – the front – see the chameleon in it’s same normal basking position and thus will always see the same hand go up. Is it true ‘handedness’ or just cage limitation on threat posture we are seeing?
    Hoj and laurie like this.
  11. Seeco

    Seeco New Member

    Well that makes perfect sense but re-read what my guy with one eye does in the first post...
  12. jannb

    jannb Chameleon Enthusiast

    I have a panther with only one eye. When Jr was 4 months old his right eye ball had to be removed due to an eye injury. Jr is 3.4 years old now. I have been watching him carefully since I first read this thread. Jr has a large free range in my living room and gets around in it quite well. When I bring him in from outside he will use either of his front legs to reach for the branch on his FR. I've seen him use both. Also when I put up my hand up for him to crawl on, to take him outside he has used the right front leg and the left front about equal amount of times for his first step. Jr will wildly shoot at his food if you allow him but I just always hand feed him. He probably could cup feed but I've just always hand feed him. He's such a sweet boy and it's a pleasure to take care of him.
    #13 jannb, Mar 22, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
    jastate09 likes this.
  13. Seeco

    Seeco New Member

    Hmmm. My guy still has the damaged eyeball but it is completely glazed over with what looks like a huge cataract or grey film. He actually aims and shoots fine. And acts like he is focusing with both eyes. Maybe the eyeball still being there in his head is why he continues to use that side even though the result is he just gropes blindly and spins around.
  14. jannb

    jannb Chameleon Enthusiast

    Jr still has the eye socket just no eye ball. He will move that eye around almost like he's looking at me. It doesn't look bad at all. Allot of people see him and most doen't even notice that his eye ball is missing unless I point it out. Here's a picture of him and the missing eye ball.

  15. Seeco

    Seeco New Member

    Hmm. There is no actual eyeball in there though? And he still tries to "look around" with it? What is in there that moves around? Just muscle?

    A side note -- this discussion makes me think that it is worse / sadder for a chameleon to lose an eye than other reptiles...
  16. Thezillaman21

    Thezillaman21 New Member

    they\ always\ raise\ the\ one\ closest\ to\ what\ they\ feel\ threatened\ of...\ if\ my\ guy\ is\ head\ on\ he\ raises\ both....
  17. My Veiled Zeus got a cricket spur stuck in his eye while feeding when he was about a year old. He never could see out of that eye well however he still managed to climb and eat. It has been a while since I had him and wish I could recall more. Even though he could not see out of that eye when ever he hunt his eye would act as though it where normal except he would miss occasionally.
  18. Seeco

    Seeco New Member

    The guy I had with one eye really never missed but like I said there was still something of an eyeball in there. Vet said it was useless though.
  19. phylicia

    phylicia New Member


    My Cham Rango Nosey be reaches for me with both his hands arms wide out like he wants to hug me..He does this action when he is insistant on going on my head..Fact..LOL

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