Which Of These Animals Has The Fastest Tongue?
Supersonic tongues unseen, chameleons are already pretty neat little creatures. The family encompasses approximately 200 species that are distinct for their zygodactylous feet–a two forward/two back toe arrangement common among birds, but uncommon among most other species, their wide range of colors (including those that can outright change their colors at will), and, of course, their really cool independently moving eyes that can look in opposite directions to search for prey.
And that, the relentless search for prey, brings us to the really amazing thing about chameleons. They have the fastest tongues on Earth. If you’re an insect that the chameleon has trained one, or even worse, both eyes on, there’s a good chance you won’t even be able to process the event before you’re already in the chameleon’s mouth. So how fast is the fastest tongue?
Researchers put various chameleon species in front of high speed cameras and lured out their tongues by placing a cricket in front of them. Analysis of the footage revealed that their tongues exited their mouths accelerating at 264 times the force of gravity with a speed of 8,500 feet per second–that’s 7.5 times the speed of sound or approximately 5800 miles per hour. At that speed, if a chameleon has decided to eat you, you’re practically as good as eaten before he even opens his mouth.