Life in the Fast Lane

Researchers from Oklahoma State University have discovered the shortest living tetrapod (four limbed vertebrate) to date. The hard-livin' Labord's Chameleon spends 8-9 months incubating within the egg, only to hatch and die 4-5 months later. Published in the July issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the report states: "Remarkably, this chameleon spends more of its short annual life cycle inside the egg than outside of it. Our review of tetrapod longevity (>1,700 species) finds no others with such a short life span." Most tetrapods live between 2 and 10 years.

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8 going on 80

This finding sheds may new light on the question of why some species of chameleon die so quickly when held in captivity at zoos. It turns out taunting and knocking on the glass by bratty, under-supervised, 10 year olds was not to blame.

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I think it's interesting that this chameleon has opted to DIE rather than evolve a separate mechanism to live through the dry season. Interesting life cycle, though, although doesn't it mean that this species is unbelievably prone to extinction? If there aren't enough Labords around during the breeding season, they don't lay enough eggs, then they all DIE, and the next season's population is smaller. And the horrible decreasing cycle continues. I hope these guys lay a LOT of eggs.

That was actually one of the researchers observations. Seems like a risky move.

I love knowing about all these really strange little critters. It makes me appreciate all the more the skinks and geckos around my backyard. Very few this year (no rain).

YM, could you start a pond or puddle or fountain for them? You'd see more wildlife. I had a birdbath for about a week - but the raccoons knocked it over every night! So I gave up on it.

Pretty little thing. I wonder if it was moved to a damper climate, would it live longer? Or is the lifespan really built in?

I guess the flashy colours make it easier for them to find mates.

The 10-year-olds probably don't help.

I love knowing about all these really strange little critters. It makes me appreciate all the more the skinks and geckos around my backyard. Very few this year (no rain).