Lizard disguised as autumn leaf [Telegraph 2009-10-14]
[Photo] The Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko Photo: ARDEA
A Satanic leaf-tailed gecko, a type of lizard that can camouflage itself to resemble a shrivelled autumn leaf, has been captured on camera in a stunning image.
By Alastair Jamieson
The gecko, perched on a branch, has blended itself into its surroundings so well that its coil-shaped body is hard to spot amid the foliage.
Its body is twisted into a corkscrew shape, disguising its remarkable leaf-shaped tail against the decaying brown leaves.
The picture was taken at the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park in Madagascar, off the eastern coast of Africa.
Satanic leaf-tailed geckos (Uroplatus phantasticus) can be between 8cm and 30cm long and are found on the central eastern side of the island.
They are named because of their apparent 'horns' and some specimens have red eyes. The skin can appear a variety of colours including brown, yellow, green or orange.
Inactive during the day, they hunt for insects during the night and are almost impossible to see when at rest on a mossy or lichen covered branch. They can flatten themselves to the branch, creating a perfect match to their surroundings and avoiding any shadow being cast.
Modified scales form an irregular edge to the body that blends in nearly seamlessly with the bark.
When disturbed, larger members of the species stand up open mouthed and let out a large hiss.
The geckos are adapted to life in a rainforest and their disguises are so good that species and sub-species are still being discovered.