Species:

Brookesia stumpffi

Plated Leaf Chameleon

Ankarana Special Reserve, Antsiranana province, Madagascar
Plated Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia stumpffi)
Plated Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia stumpffi)
Plated Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia stumpffi)

Our naturalist guide John enjoyed playing the game of "Spot the Chameleon" with us. The game is played like this: One person (John), would see a chameleon, and then stop somewhere in the general area — usually after overshooting it a little. Then that person would tell the other people (me, my sister, and my wife) that a chameleon had been seen, and we would look for it. If we were failing for a long time we might ask for hints. In this case, John said "I see a chameleon, but I think it will take you until tomorrow to find it." And it probably would have, since the lizard was about two inches long and perfectly camouflaged in the leaf litter on the forest floor. The first two photos here are of that little chameleon. The third photo is another one that John spotted about twenty minutes later.

The leaf chameleons can't match the amazing color-changing tricks of their arboreal cousins, but they can rapidly change among different earth tones. Note that the little chameleon in the first photo is basically a uniform tan, but a few minutes later in the second photo it's almost white on top and black on the sides.