Record-Breaking Chameleons Live Only a Few Months

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Jennifer B. Pramuk, curator of herpetology at New York's Bronx Zoo, said, "The lifespan and lifestyle of this small chameleon is more reminiscent of many insects than vertebrates.

"To put this in perspective, imagine living for only four months after being hatched from an egg. But during those few months of life, you grew quickly and reached sexual maturity," said Pramuk, who was not involved with the study.

"Even more bizarre, everyone in your species would be the same age. After mating and laying eggs, you and your peers would die en masse, and the cycle would begin again."

Cryptic and Elusive

It's not clear on why Labord's chameleons live such bizarre lives. It could be a response to the harsh environment of Madagascar.

"Most certainly it's the result of some evolutionary pressure. And it's worked for them up to this point, otherwise they would be extinct," study leader Karsten told National Geographic News.

There's one thing Karsten and company can be sure of: Their work is just beginning.

"We found this really cool thing that has now opened this whole myriad of questions we can explore," Karsten said.

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