This is an image of the intricate junction between the vertebrae of the backbone, tail and hindlimb of a veiled chameleon lizard embryo (Chamaeleo calyptratus). In this preparation, bone is stained yellow and cartilage is stained blue. These bones are forming by a process called endochondral ossification, in which a cartilage template is formed first and then is later partially replaced by bone. In regions of contact between the joints, cartilage can act as a smooth surface to allow easy movement. The chameleon has to move its limbs and tail independently; their prehensile tail acts as a fifth limb and helps the lizard with climbing trees. This image was prepared at the 2011 Woods Hole Embryology Course.
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