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This Paper Chameleon Robot Is Surprisingly Lifelike

At first glance, you might mistake this chameleon for the real thing. But this little green lady is made out of paper and gears.

At first glance, you might mistake the chameleon in the video above for a real, live lizard. But this little green lady is made out of paper and gears. Powered by a little music box, the reptile’s eyes dart around, and it wiggles back and forth in a surprisingly lifelike fashion. For reference, here’s what a real chameleon moves like:

Doug North, at The Automata Blog, explains why this particular paper robot is so neat:

The automaton is cleverly-built in many respects. First, the paper figure is just amazing. Next, the entire thing is a reflection. This allows the actual model to be oriented horizontally, providing some design advantage. Also, the linkage that makes the eye move is magnetism!

The piece is the work of Johan Scherft, a papercraft artist. He’s also made a whole bunch of other awesome moving models, like this hatching Deinonychus:

And this solar-powered hummingbird:

You can find instructions for how to make many of Scherft’s automata on his website, in case you want your very own hatching dino, or wobbly chameleon. And really, who doesn’t? 

About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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