Chameleon-Like Lizards

Chameleon-like lizards possess characteristics resembling chameleons but are belonging to distinct lizard families, showcasing diverse adaptations for survival, like: 

Anoles (Reptilia: Squamata: Dactyloidae: genera Anolis, former Chamaeleolis)

Geckos (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae: Eurydactylodes agricolae, Carphodactylus laevis)

Agamids (Reptilia: Squamata: Agamidae: Gonocephalus chamaeleontinus, Calotes, Pseudocalotes, Agama, Acanthocercus),

American chameleons are called the Anoles in general, Anolis carolinensis in particular.

False Chameleons are called the representatives of the anole former genus Chamaeleolis.

Chamaesaura, commonly known as grass lizards, is a genus of legless lizards native to southern and eastern Africa. Their limbs are reduced to small spikes, resembling snakes in appearance and movement. These lizards propel themselves by pushing against surfaces like rocks, plants, and soil irregularities. They are viviparous and feed on small invertebrates. Five species of Chamaesaura are known: C.  aenea anguinamacrolepismiopropus and tenuior. They have nothing in common with Chameleons, just the first letters of their name.

Six species, often referred to as "false chameleons," are sometimes classified under their own genus Chamaeleolis or as part of the Cuban clade in Xiphosurus. Endemic to Cuba, these anoles are relatively large, sturdy heads and a dull gray-brown hue. They move slowly and possess blunt teeth for consuming snails – a staple in their natural diet. Unlike most anoles, they lack autotomy ability in their tails. Alongside Anolis landestoyi of Hispaniola, they form the twig-giant ecomorph group, sharing a similar appearance and microhabitat. These creatures, akin to other anoles, exhibit toe pads resembling those of geckos, facilitating their movement across various terrains. Research indicates that false chameleons predominantly remain still, except for feeding, evading threats, and engaging in courtship behavior. While they are generally sluggish like chameleons to evade predators, they showcase remarkable speed in predation and escape responses when needed.

Anolis landestoyi, a species native to Hispaniola, is distinct for its range, discovered characteristics, and its common moniker as a chameleon. Found exclusively in certain regions of Hispaniola, this lizard exhibits unique traits, including a chameleon-like ability to change color based on mood and environmental stimuli. Its name pays homage to its discoverer, Dr. Victor Landestoy, a renowned herpetologist. Anolis landestoyi is renowned for its remarkable adaptations, such as its subtle movements and agile behavior akin to chameleons. Despite being an anole, its behavior and appearance have led to its colloquial identification as a chimera of sorts with chameleons.

Anolis carolinensis, commonly known as the Green Anole or American Chameleon, is a species found across the southeastern United States. Contrary to its nickname, it is not a true chameleon but earns the title due to its color-changing abilities as a means of communication, camouflage, and thermal regulation. These lizards can shift between shades of green and brown, not the extensive color range of true chameleons. The misnomer persists as early settlers mistook their color-changing behavior for chameleon-like characteristics. Anolis carolinensis remains a popular choice for reptile enthusiasts for their vibrant hues and engaging behaviors.

Anolis equestris, commonly known as the Knight Anole or Cuban Knight Anole, originates from Cuba and has been dubbed the "chameleon" due to its color-changing abilities and resemblance to true chameleons. This large, arboreal lizard can alter its skin color to blend with its environment, aiding in communication, temperature regulation, and camouflage. While not a true chameleon, the Anolis equestris' color-changing behavior has led to its association with chameleons, captivating enthusiasts and researchers alike. The misnomer persists as observers marvel at its ability to shift hues, highlighting its adaptive prowess in its natural habitat.

Eurydactylodes agricolae, a gecko species endemic to New Caledonia, is referred to as the "Prehensile-Tailed Gecko, Chameleon Gecko or Buer's Chameleon Gecko." Despite its real identification, the nickname "chameleon" has been bestowed upon it for its shared traits with chameleons – its remarkable ability to change color and prehensility of its tail. This gecko's color-changing proficiency aids in camouflage, communication, and thermal regulation. Eurydactylodes agricolae's captivating trait of changing hues to blend with its surroundings has sparked fascination among herpetologists and enthusiasts, leading to its colloquial association with chameleons.

Carphodactylus laevis, commonly known as the "Smooth Knob-Tailed Gecko", is a species native to Australia's arid regions. Despite its actual classification, it is occasionally referred to as the "Chameleon Gecko" due to certain unique characteristics. This gecko exhibits an ability to adjust its skin color to a limited extent, resembling the color-changing trait of chameleons. Additionally, the knob-like structure at the end of its tail, which aids in camouflaging and deterring predators, may draw comparisons to the distinctive features of chameleons. These factors contribute to the misnomer and the occasional association with chameleons among enthusiasts and observers.

Gonocephalus chamaeleontinus, commonly known as the Forest Chameleon Agama, is a species of agamid lizard found in the humid forests of Southeast Asia. They typically inhabit the lowland rainforests of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. This species is characterized by their chameleon-like appearance, with the ability to change color for camouflage and display, along with a striking casque on their head. They have elongated bodies and prehensile tails, enabling them to navigate through the forest canopy with ease. The Forest Chameleon Agama primarily feeds on insects and other small invertebrates. Their name "Forest Chameleon Agama" is likely derived from their chameleon-like features and their arboreal nature in forest habitats.

Calotes versicolor, commonly known as the Oriental Garden Lizard or Changeable Lizard, is a species of agamid lizard native to South and Southeast Asia. They are widely distributed across regions like India, Sri Lanka, China, and parts of Southeast Asia. This lizard species displays remarkable color-changing abilities, especially during mating season and when displaying aggression or submission. They exhibit vibrant hues of green, brown, yellow, or red, blending in with their surroundings for camouflage. Oriental Garden Lizards are skilled climbers, often found basking on trees and walls. They primarily feed on insects, small vertebrates, and sometimes vegetation. The name "chameleon", assigned often to it, possibly refers to their chameleon-like color-changing capabilities and overal similar appearance and lifestyle reminding laymen on chameleons.

Pseudocalotes, commonly known as False Garden Lizards, are a genus of agamid lizards found in Southeast Asia, especially in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. These lizards inhabit forests, preferring humid and vegetated areas. Pseudocalotes species are known for their chameleon-like appearance due to their ability to change colors, although not to the extent of true chameleons. They have elongated bodies, long tails, and often possess ornate scales and crests, which aid in camouflaging among foliage and branches. False Garden Lizards are predominantly insectivores, preying on various invertebrates. Despite their chameleon-like traits, they belong to the agamid family, not chameleons. The common misnomer "chameleon" likely stems from their superficial resemblance to chameleons due to their color-changing ability and appearance. (Depicted animal is fakely colored and manipulated to resemble a chameleon.)

Agama, Acanthocercus, and Laudakia are genera of lizards that belong to the family Agamidae. They are commonly found in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. Agamas are known for their diverse range of habitats, including deserts, savannas, and rocky terrains. These lizards are characterized by their elongated bodies, long tails, and often colorful markings on their scales. They are diurnal and highly active, using their agility for hunting insects, small vertebrates, and sometimes plant matter. Despite their lizard classification, Agama, Acanthocercus, and Laudakia species are sometimes mistakenly referred to as chameleons due to their ability to change color for camouflage, mimicry, or communication, sometimes thanks to climbing trees too. This misnomer likely arises from their superficial resemblance to chameleons in terms of color adaptation and general appearance.