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This Mummified Chameleon Was Hoping to Find Water

The sad end of a hopeful creature.

Janaki Lenin is a writer and wildlife filmmaker who lives on a farm in Tamil Nadu. Recently, she found a very sad specimen of a chameleon, who had died clutching the handle of a decommissioned water pump.

After the chameleon died, the dry heat quickly mummified its body. Lenin observed small holes on its dried skin and speculated that perhaps the soft tissues of the chameleon’s body had been eaten away by local ants.

She writes that, although the lizard’s mummification was fascinating on its own, she was more impressed by its memory of the water source that had long since disappeared.

As National Geographic explains, heat stress can kill even creatures that are adapted to live in hot places, and the creeping temperatures of climate change will adversely affect creatures like chameleons that control their body temperature by spending time in the sun or shade. A little bit more heat can spell the end, if there’s no shade or water to relieve it.

Update, 7/22/17: Lenin deleted her tweets and pictures from Twitter.