Tongue Mechanics


Established Member
Can anyone point me to some resources (Journal articles, visualizations, reputable websites etc) that explain the anatomy/mechanics behind the chameleon's tongue launching capability?

I have a basic understanding of it from a herpetology course I took in college, but that a was a couple years ago now, and I'm not sure the information we learned in class was updated.

If there are no good existing visualizations/animations, I may go ahead and make one.

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
There are unfortunately a lot of sources out there that are only partially correct and/or use incorrect terminology when talking about the structures of the tongue and how the system works. I did my PhD on chameleon feeding and recently wrote sections on their feeding mechanism for two chapters of the book "The Biology of Chameleons". These two sources are the most thorough explanation of the feeding mechanism and its function that are currently out there. Here are links to those chapters:

- Chameleon anatomy (the tongue is discussed on pages 16-24 and again on page 47): 2014.pdf
- Function and adaptation of chameleons (the feeding portion is pages 72-83): 2014.pdf

The second chapter is probably more along the lines of what you are looking for. The first is mostly detailed anatomy, while the second talks about who the system works, etc.



Established Member
Thanks guys!

Chris, this is great. I was trying to weed my way through pop science and third party articles that didn't list their citations.

Are there any decent animations of how the mechanism works?


The link you attached to The Biology of Chameleons is a wonderful resource. Thank you so much for posting this! :)


New Member
I'm sorry to hijack this thread but felt its a question the OP may gain from as well. Does anyone know if there are congenital tongue defects chams can pass onto their young?
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