Micro Life Zone
Asked by xxdrunktinyturtlexx to Dustin, James on 24 May 2012.
Keywords: chameleon, colour, skin
Many lizards can change their colour, they will get darker when they are trying to heat up, and lighter when trying to cool or not absorb so much heat – bearded dragons are great at this.
Many lizards will also use this colour change ability for communication with other lizards.
The chameleon just takes it to the next level. The primary purpose of their colour change is communicating with other chameleons, with camouflage being a secondary function.
Reptiles have a number of types of colour cells beneath their skin. This is why an albino reptile has yellow and red patterns rather than just being white. By expanding and contracting these colour cells, they can create a number of different colour ranges. To add to this, chameleons, as with all reptiles have clear skin with the colour cells being beneath the skin. This is why when you look at a shed skin of a snake, it is not coloured like the snake. The transparent skin, then allows for further colours that the animal may not necessarily be able to produce otherwise.
Nice answer Dustin! I think the color cells are called chromataphores from memory.
By BRIDGE8 under license from Mangorolla CIC 2023