Sources : Chameleon

Aristotle [ca. 350 BCE] (De animalibus Book 2, 7.1-5): [Book 2, 7.1] The chameleon has the whole of its body like that of a lizard, and the ribs, descending downwards, are joined together on the hypogastric region, like those of fish, and the back-bone stands up, like that of a fish; its face is like that of the ape. It has a very long tail; the extremity is very smooth, and rolled together like a thong. It is raised, upon longer legs than a lizard; the joints of the legs are bent in the same direction as the lizard's. [Book 2, 7.2] Each of its feet is divided into two parts, having the same relation to each other as our thumbs have to the rest of the hand: and, for a short distance, each of these is divided into toes; in the fore-feet the internal part has three, the external two toes; in the hind feet the internal part has two, and the external three toes; there is a claw upon each of its toes like that of birds of prey; its whole body is rough, like the crocodile. [Book 2, 7.3] Its eyes are placed in a hollow, and are very large and round; surrounded with skin like the rest of its body, and in the middle is left a small aperture through which it sees; this is never covered with skin. The eye is turned round in a circle, and it can direct its vision to any side, so that it can see where it will. The change in the color of its skin takes place when it is filled with air. It can acquire either a black color, like that of the crocodile, or ochreous, like that of the lizard, or spotted with black, like the panther; and this change takes place over the whole body, for the eyes also change like the rest of the body, and so does the tail. [Book 2, 7.4] Its movements are slow, like those of the tortoise; when dying, it becomes ochreous, and retains this color after death. The oesophagus and trachea of the chameleon are similar to the same parts in lizards; it has no flesh, except a little on the head and cheeks, and upon the appendage at the end of its tail. It has no blood, except about the heart, and eyes, and the parts above the heart, and the veins that extend from these: and even in these there is very little blood. [Book 2, 7.5] The brain lies a Little above the eyes, and is continuous with them; and when the outside skin of the eye is taken away, a bright object shines through it, like a bright ring of brass. Through the whole of its body many strong membranes are extended, which are much stronger than in other animals. It breathes strongly for some time after it has been dissected, and there are some slight movements of the heart; it also continues to contract its sides, but not the other parts of the body. It has no distinct spleen; and it hides itself in rocks like the lizard. - [Cresswell translation, 1887]

Ovid [1st century CE] (The Metamorphoses, Book 15, 391-417): ...that animal, the chameleon, fed by wind and air, instantly adopts the color of whatever it touches. - [Kline translation]

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 41; 8, 51): [Book 8, 41]] When a raven has killed a chameleon lizard, which is noxious even to its conqueror, it stanches the poisonous infection with bay-leaves. [Book 8, 51] Africa also has the chamaeleon, although India produces it in greater numbers. Its shape and size were those of a lizard, were not the legs straight and longer. The flanks are joined on to the belly as in fishes, and the spine projects in a similar manner. It has a snout not unlike a pigs, considering its small size, a very long tail that tapers towards the end and curls in coils like a viper, and crooked talons; it moves rather slowly like a tortoise and has a rough body like a crocodile's, and eyes in a hollow recess, close together and very large and of the same colors as its body. It never shuts its eyes, and looks round not by moving the pupil but by turning the whole eye. It holds itself erect with its mouth always wide open, and it is the only animal that does not live on food or drink or anything else but the nutriment that it derives from the air, with a gape that is almost terrifying, but otherwise it is harmless. And it is more remarkable for the nature of its coloring, since it constantly changes the hue of its eyes and tail and whole body and always makes it the color with which it is in closest contact, except red and white. When dead it is of a pallid color. It has flesh on the head and jaws and at the junction of the tail in a rather scanty amount, and nowhere else in the whole body; blood in the heart and around the eyes only; its vital parts contain no spleen. It hibernates like a lizard in the winter months. - [Rackham translation]

Aelianus [170-230 CE] (On the Characteristics of Animals, Book 2, chapter 14): The Chameleon is not disposed to remain of one and the same color for men to see and recognize, but it conceals itself by misleading and deceiving the eye of the beholder. Thus, if you come across one that appears black, it changes its semblance to green, as though it had changed its clothes; then again it assumes a bluish-gray tint and appears different, like an actor who puts on another mask or another garment. - [Scholfield translation]

Gaius Julius Solinus [3rd century CE] (De mirabilibus mundi / Polyhistor, Chapter 40.21-24): [Chapter 40.21] There are many chameleons in Asia. The chameleon is a four-footed creature which looks like a lizard, except it has longer, straight legs which are joined to its belly. It has a long twisty tail, and hooked claws with a subtle inward curvature. It moves slowly, having almost the same gait as a tortoise. The skin of its body is rough, as I have indicated is the case with crocodiles. [Chapter 40.22] Its eyes are withdrawn into sunken recesses, and it never obscures them by blinking. It sees not by moving its pupils around, but by directing the gaze of its rigid orbs. It gapes eternally, and without any reason, since it neither captures food nor is sustained by drink. It lives by no other nourishment than by draughts of the air. [Chapter 40.23] Its color is variable, and changes in a moment. It becomes the same color as whatever it joins itself to. There are two colors which it is not powerful enough to create: white and red. The rest it can easily imitate. Its body is almost without flesh, and the vitals without a spleen. It has little blood, except in its heart. It lies hidden during winter, and comes forth in the spring.[Chapter 40.24] It is poisonous to ravens. If it is killed by a raven, it destroys the very conqueror which has killed it, for if the bird consumes even a little of it, it immediately perishes. But the raven has a defense, as Nature has stretched forth its hand with a cure. When the raven understands itself to be afflicted, it eats a laurel leaf, and is restored to health. - [Arwen Apps translation, 2011]

Saint Ambrose [4th century CE] (Hexameron, Book 5, chapter 23.77): The chameleon is said also to assume new forms by a deceptive change of color. - [Savage translation, 1961]

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Serpents 8.8): A cameleon is called an animal having its name from the fact: for a camel, although a small animal, is in part similar: for it is hardly found to exceed two cubits. Solinus: It is a four-legged animal, which some, as Pliny says, call 'the lion of the earth'. It has the face of a lizard, or as AAristotle says, it has a face between the face of a pig and the face of an ape. Pliny: It has straight and long legs, joined to the belly. Its back is high like a camel and humped. It has a long and tortuous tail, thin at the end. Its claws are hooked. The body has a rough skin, like that of a crocodile. Solinus: It walks as slowly as a tortoise. Its eyes are sunk inward, and are never closed, but are moved around. Its body is almost empty inside, without of any signs of food: for it lives only by a breath of air. Its liver is on the left side, and this is unlike all other animals. There is a great variety in the contents of its entrails from other animals. As Aristotle says, it is very lean; and for this reason, because it has little blood; and therefore it is also a fearful animal, because the heat in it is lessened, which is an incentive to boldness. The reason for the fear of this animal is that its color is varied and changeable from moment to moment, so that whatever object it is in front of, it becomes the same color as it. But the more important reason is that this animal has a very airy body, and for this reason very easily receives changes of different colors from the object. Ambrose, however, says that there are two colors which this animal cannot imitate: white and red. Its body is almost without flesh, and only a little blood is found in its heart. It is without a spleen. It is hidden in winter, it is appears in spring. It is inimical to the raven, and if it is killed by one, the raven is also slain. For if the raven eats even a little of it, it dies immediately. But the raven has a cure, for nature stretches out its hand to heal. For when it feels afflicted, it eats a laurel leaf and recovers its health. There is a great abundance of these in Asia. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Book18.21): Camelion is a lyttle beast with diverse coulours, and his bodye chaungeth full soone to diverse coulours, as hée sayth. Also another beast there is founde, that taketh also chaunging of contrarye coulours, as Isidore sayth there. And Avicen[na] meaneth, that Camelion and Stellio the Lusard, is all one: for he shineth as a starre, and chaungeth coulours. For it is a fearefull beast, with lyttle bloud, and chaungeth therefore coulours. And is foure manner divers: he hath the face of the ewte, and sharpe clawes and crooked, and the bodye sharpe, and an harde skinne, as the Crocodile. And libro secundo Aristotle sayth, that the Camelion is a beast lyke to the Ewte in body, and his sides bée evenlong to the neather partes of his wombe, as it were a Fish: and his ridge boanes bounch upwarde, as it were a Fish: his face is as it were a beast compowned of a Swine & of an Ape: and his tayle is full long and small at the end: and his féete be crooked, as it were a little Ewte: and each of his féet is departed a twaine, and the comparison of one foot to another, is as in comparison of the thombe of a man to the other deale of the hand: and each of those two partes is divided in fingers: And his clawes be like to the claws of a bird: and all his bodye is rough and sharpe as the bodye of a Bardan: His eyen bée déepe, great, & round, and conteined with a skinne, lyke to the skinne of the body, and that skinne covereth the eyen. And he turneth and casteth oft his eien hether and thether. And chaungeth his coulour when his skinne is blowen, & his colour is somewhat blacke with black speckles therin: and this diversitie is in al his bodie, & namely in the eyen, and also in the tayle, and is full heavie in mooving and foule of colour in his death, and what is in his body is but of little flesh, and hath but little bloud, but in the head and in the ende of the taile where he hath little bloud, & also in the heart, & in the veines that come therefrom: and also hath bloud about the eien, though it be right little. And the braine is nighe the eyen, and if the bodye bée departed in two, it abideth in his working by spirite thereof: and a lyttle mooving abideth about the bodye, and is splenenesse, and dwelleth in dennes, as an Ewte. Huc usque Aristotle. And libro vicesimo octauo. Plinius sayth, that Camelion is a beast like to the Crocodile, and varyeth therefrom onely in crookednesse of the back; and in longnesse of the tayle. And no beast is accounted so fearefull, as the Camelion, & changeth therfore his colour. His most might and strength is against the kinde of Goshaukes: for hée draweth them, and they flie to him, and he taketh them wilfully to other beasts to be deuoured. And Democritus sayth, that if his head and his throate be set a fire with Oaken woode, it maketh both raine and thunder: but Plinius scorneth this saieng. But what beast so ever it be, it is accounted among clene beasts, Super Leui. 11. Isichius saith, that in sicknesse he feyneth himselfe soft and milde though he be cruell. And it is said, that the Camelion liveth onely by aire, and the Mole by earth, and the Hearring by water, & the Cricket by fire, as these vearses meane. Quatuor ex puris vitam ducunt elementis. / Camelion, Talpa, maris Halec, & Salamandra. / Terra cibat Talpam, flammae pascunt Salamandram, / Unda fit Halecis cibus, aer Cameleonti. - [Batman]