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Chameleon Changing Color

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A Chameleon changes color out in the wild of Madagascar. This lizard walks along a branch and sticks out his tongue, changing from red to pink to green to yellow and blue. A master of camouflage when it wants to be unseen and a bright beacon of showmanship when its courting a partner or fighting off a rival.

- The Animal Box Office

 

How Chameleon Change Color

For many years, scientists believed that chameleons change their color by manipulating specialized cells — called chromatophores — that contain different colors of pigment. For example, when a chameleon wants to convey a particular mood or message, its brain sends a message to its chromatophores, which then move pigments around to change the chameleon's color.

Today, researchers believe that pigments aren't the only mechanism chameleons use to change their colors. While pigments can account for warmer tones, such as greens, they can't explain brighter tones, such as reds and yellows.

Recent studies have shown that chameleons also have a special layer of cells — called iridophores — under their skin. These special cells, which contain pigment and reflect light, are made up of hundreds of thousands of guanine crystals. Chameleons can relax or excite their skin, causing these special cells to move and change structure. Researchers found that, when this happens, these cells act like prisms, reflecting different wavelengths of light to create the variety of tones we see.

- wonderopolis.org

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Fauna - Flora
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