Home Science Do you know how chameleons change color?

Do you know how chameleons change color?

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The chameleons color changing  process is quite magical and shall leave you amazed. Scientists have
finally determined how reptiles are capable of changing their colors in
such a magical way and that too so effectively. 
A
researchers team from Swiss has revealed that chameleons make use of nanotechnology for
changing color that is futuristic to the extent that humans do not
possess it yet.
Reptiles have crystals located inside specialized skin cells that cause
change in color. These color changes can be used for fending off a rival
or to attract another of same kind for mating purposes. 
The process
revolves around active tuning of a matrix of crystals that are known as
iridophores. These crystals, apart from allowing the reptile to switch
between colors, also offer protection from heat and keep it safe from
getting overheated. Before this research came out, it was considered
that the animal made use of colored pigments to change color.

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Chameleons display a variety of colors that are created as a result
of ‘optical interference’ between different wavelengths of light
reflecting from the crystals. The study was carried out on panther
chameleon that hails from Madagascar and it was concluded that the test
subject was able to actively control the iridophore crystals responsible
for color generation.

Jeremie Teyssier, a physicist at University
of Geneva in Switzerland, explained, “We discovered that the animal
changes its colors via the active tuning of a lattice of nanocrystals.
When the chameleon is calm, the latter are organized into a dense
network and reflect the blue wavelengths. In contrast, when excited, it
loosens its lattice of nanocrystals, which allows the reflection of
other colors, such as yellows or reds.”

The team further
experimented by changing the spacing of crystals and concluded that they
can simulate and explain the color changes. This conclusion further
strengthened the idea that crystals in skin cells are actually
responsible for the transformation of these animals.
Professor Michel Milinkovitch said, “Chameleons invented something
completely new in evolution. They split the iridophores into two layers,
one that is specialized for color change… and one to reduce the amount
of energy absorbed by the animal.”
“That’s an amazing toolkit that allows
them to choose between being hidden or displaying very spectacular
colors for communication – and on top of that they have this ability to
control their temperature because of the deep iridophores.” 
Watch the video below to further understand the concept. 

Source: Youtube

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