This expertly hidden small lizard has a leafy appearance, complete with a tail that has missing portions to make it appear somewhat rotten.
This critter, scientifically known as Uroplatus phantasticus (meaning “fantastic flat tail”), sometimes known as the satanic leaf-tailed gecko, is one of 14 species in its genus, which also includes the famed mossy leaf-tailed gecko, which long ago abandoned Satan in favor of Mosses, according to Wired.
These geckos can only be found in Madagascar, and they only come out to hunt at night. Scientists believe they eat largely insects, although little is known about what they eat in the wild.
“Satanic leaf-tailed geckos dine on nearly everything they can overcome in captivity, including crickets, flies, spiders, cockroaches, and snails,” explains Bavarian State Collection of Zoology herpetologist Frank Glaw.
The wonderful (and no less devilish, as you’ll see below) leaf-tailed gecko, on the other hand, has plenty of predators to contend with. Birds, snakes, and rats all want to eat him. When these geckos decide to fight back, they “suddenly open their mouths wide, produce loud screams, reveal the reddish tongue and mucosa, and try to bite,” according to Glaw. It’s no surprise, however, that the gecko is feared by the natives.
They’ll also flash their tails to throw off any prospective predators, but if that doesn’t work, they may jump gracefully from branch to branch or straight down into the leaf litter. Scaaary!
Haha, I’m no leaf after all
Not only does the gecko’s tail resemble a dead leaf, but so does its entire body.
“A light line down the back, together with leaf-vein-like lines and skin structures on the body, can complete the ideal impression of a dead leaf,” Glaw explains.
And the colour may be quite variable (as shown below), with “all colors of beige, grey, and brown, frequently with a combination of lichen-like or even greenish specks that resemble moss.” This diversity guarantees that they have an outfit that is appropriate for the various structures in their environment.”
The fascinating animals’ behavior reinforces their camouflage: they’ll spend the day hanging motionless from trees or cuddling amid dead leaves, often winding their leafy tails around their bodies. Waiting for prey to appear.
The leaf gecko sometimes takes up other colors that indeed make it look satanic
And then just turns into a leaf to avoid detection
But then, it’s really up to leaf geckos to determine what they REALLY want to look like – TO YOU
But how did such a flawless concealment come to be in the first place? The satanic leaf-tailed gecko and its related species, according to experts, are some of the most remarkable instances of Darwin’s concept of natural selection.
Critters with these magical variants have a higher chance of surviving and passing on their genes.
It pays to be green.