I’ve linked to Escher’s Stars before, in a blog post about its central polyhedral compound. But today I wanted to remark on a small connection with respect to a different detail from it.

The chameleon's tongue, detail from Escher's Stars

H. S. M. Coxeter, in his (paywalled, sorry) review of the book M. C. Escher: His life and complete graphic work, writes “One of these creatures is sticking out his tongue, which strangely has a spiral tip.” Real chameleons’ tongues aren’t shaped that way.

But it occurred to me that something else is shaped that way: a paper (Chinese) yo-yo, which also has a similar flicking extension and retraction motion to a chameleon tongue. I wonder whether Escher was thinking of these toys when he drew his chameleons?

Chinese yo-yo

If so, it wouldn’t be the only reptile he drew as if it were made out of paper: his later Dragon makes the connection more explicitly.