Sunday, 2 March 2014

Lined Leaf-tail Gecko

Image: David d'O
Uroplatus lineatus
I'm no carpenter, but this looks like a fine piece of wood. Just perfect for carving a little model aeroplane or a few hundred thousand toothpicks.

You need a lot of toothpicks. Some to clean your teeth, because you won't allow disaster to interfere with personal hygiene. Some for Toothpick City, because you have to do something to while away the hours. And some so you can finish building your raft, get off this God-forsaken island and high-tail it to the Palace of Contented Apathy to tell the Benevolent Dictator of the World, Sally XXVII what the Horse People of Nashira told you:

They had no idea humans were so dreadfully allergic to cyanide. The previous ambassador's death was a tragic accident and in no way a declaration of everlasting war unto extinction.

You can only hope that no-one misinterprets your disappearance. And that your teeth are shiny and clean when you finally return home.

Image: David d'O
But when does a piece of wood hiss at you when you try to whittle it down into toothpicks?

When it's a gecko! Of course. Obvious when you think about it...

Image: David d'O
This is the expert camouflage of the Lined Leaf-tail Gecko. It's a member of the genus Uroplatus, which are the Leaf-tail (or Flat-tailed) Geckos, and which are found only on the island of Madagascar. The Lined variety doesn't have a particularly leaf-like tail, but that's the norm for larger species of this genus. At some 27 cm (11 inches) long, it certainly is among the largest ones.

Robbed of "leaf camouflage", they opt instead for "wood camouflage"...

Image: Leonora Enking
They spend the day resting head down and flattened against trees and bamboo in the forests of north-east Madagascar. They can even alter their colour for a better fit.

Image: Frank Vassen
At night, they awaken and seek out insects to cram into their slender belly.


They can get extremely cranky if you interfere with them. They open their mouth wide, hiss and bite as if outraged at the very idea of anyone seeing through their camouflage...

Image: Bernard DUPONT
But you have to forgive them because they're gorgeous!

10 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

he is just awesome!

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

Agreed!

Esther said...

Even their eyes are roughly wood-coloured! How do they DO that?

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

You can get some really fancy contact lenses these days!

Lear's Fool said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lear's Fool said...

Man, nature STILL photoshops better than us!

Crunchy said...

The one in the YouTube clip still looks like he's going, "HEY!" :D

I like how their little ear-holes look just like termite holes in wood!

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

@Lear's Fool: I wonder how many UFOs they do?

@Crunchy: Geckos always look very smiley!

Ethan Kranz said...

what the cow....

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

:P

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