Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



This research project seeks to study how chameleons generate low frequency vibrations, some audible and some not. The mechanism responsible for this 'hoot' is unknown. A modified tracheal appendage we termed “the resonator” has been hypothesized as the potential source of this sound. An anatomical survey was conducted on various chameleon species including, Chameleo melleri (Meller), Chamaeleo pardalis (Ambanja, Nosy Be, Panther, Sambava), Furcifer rhinoceratus, Chamaeleo dilepis (Flapneck), Chamaeleo rudis (Side-striped), Chamaeleo calyptratus (Veiled), Chamaeleo jacksonii (Jackson’s), Chamaeleo quadricornicus (4-horned), Chamaeleo quilensis (Flapneck), Chamaeleo senegalensis (Senegal), Chamaeleo jacksonii xantholophus (giant Jackson’s), and Rhampholean brevicaudatus (Pygmy). Each chameleon was dissected in order to examine its trachea and associated appendages. Sagittal-sections of resonators provided for gross anatomical descriptions. From this, it has been determined that, of the species known to hoot, a resonator is always present and is the likely source for sound production/modification. Chameleon species that have never been heard to hoot follow a pattern of possessing smaller, possibly vestigial, resonators or none at all. Such results will be useful in future studies of chameleon behavior and morphology to better understand this novel vocal structure and its functional significance.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Steve Huskey



Included in

Biology Commons