How chameleons change color revealed by scientists

How Chameleons Change Color Revealed By Scientists
How Chameleons Change Color Revealed By Scientists

Chameleons are perhaps the most well-known animals that have the ability to change color, but scientists didn't know exactly how it was done until now.

Unlike other creatures that disperse pigments in their skin, the lizards adjust a lattice of tiny guanine crystals found in their iridophore cells just underneath their skin, according to research from the University of Geneva in Switzerland.

Mostly seen in males, the crystals expand and contract depending on the animal's excitement level and reflect various wavelengths of light which correspond to different colors.

A male generally appears green when calm, indicating a dense crystal structure, then turns bright yellow or red as the crystals expand, when facing a male rival for example.

In the experiment, researchers used high-resolution filming to record the color changing behavior of five adult male, four adult female, and four younger panther chameleons.

They also exposed top layers of extracted skin to solutions that would change the size of the crystals, and they observed the same color changes.

During these experiments, the scientists also found that chameleons have a second, deeper layer of iridophores which may provide thermal regulation.

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