How does a chameleon change color?

Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev
February 18, 2013
How does a chameleon change color?

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How does a chameleon change color?

Probably everyone has ever heard of a chameleon, and more than once thought about how a chameleon changes color. Chameleons are very amazing animals whose roots will lead far into antiquity. The first chameleons lived 100 million years ago, at the same time as dinosaurs.

How the chameleon changes color

The most famous chameleons acquired due to its ability to change skin color. But not many know how this process happens. The color change of a chameleon is associated with the structure of its skin. In the deeper outer fibrous layer of the skin, there are special branched cells called chromatophores. Chromatophores are light reflecting cells that are present in reptiles, fish, amphibians, cephalopods, which contain grains of pigments of different colors:

  • the black
  • red
  • yellow
  • dark brown

With the reduction of the processes of these cells, the grains of pigments are distributed to the center of these same cells, and at the same time the skin of the chameleon acquires whitish,or even a yellow color. If the dark pigment is concentrated in the outer layer, then the skin becomes dark. A combination of pigments leads to the appearance of various color shades. For example, a green color appears when the rays of light in the surface layers of the skin containing guanine crystals refract. The color of the chameleon can change rapidly. From light, through yellow or green to purple, then completely to black and dark brown. Color changes occur not only on the whole body of the chameleon, but also in certain areas, which are accompanied by the appearance or disappearance of various kinds of stripes, spots of different colors.

Why does a chameleon change color

Why does the chameleon change color? Changes in the color of the chameleon’s body occur both under the influence of external stimuli - temperature, humidity and light, and as a result of thirst, hunger, irritation, fright, etc. masking the animal itself. The chameleon also uses its coloring changes to communicate with other chameleons.