The Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko

The lizard named Uroplatus phantasticus is more commonly known as the Satanic leaf-tailed gecko. You can see why in this photograph, only because the background is gone. There’s a picture at Wired that challenges you to figure out what is gecko and what is real leaf. It’s an amazing camouflage adaptation for these creatures found only in Madagascar. Good luck finding one.

Reinforcing this camouflage for the satanic leaf-tailed geckos is their behavior: They’ll spend the day hanging motionless off of branches or snuggling among dead leaves, often twisting their leafy tails around their bodies. Other larger species in the satanic’s genus have still another strategy for sleeping safely during the day, flattening their bodies against tree trunks and limbs, making good use of those famously grippy feet (a magic power derived, by the way, from countless hair-like structures that allow some geckos to even stick to inverted glass panes, not that nature would ever ask them to). Fringes and flaps along the edges of their bodies help erase their outlines and shadows, dissolving the geckos into the bark.

We can see why they are called leafy-tailed, but what’s satanic about them? If you confront one, they’ll stare and scream at you, and local folks are afraid of them. They come in all colors, too, just as the leaves they hide among vary. You’ll see quite a few more pictures of this gecko and his camouflaged relatives at Wired. -via Not Exactly Rocket Science

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