Chameleons change skin color, thanks to tiny crystals

Science

Chameleon

Nature arranged so that the colors of the skin of chameleons change each other in a matter of minutes. How do they manage to turn these tricks over and over again?

The publication Nature Communications published an article exposing the natural masking experts. It is reported that the variability of the color gamut of its skin chameleon due to a special subcutaneous substrate in the form of a lattice of a huge number of microscopic crystals.

Remember stories that the chameleon changes color to the gamut of the environment? It turns out that this is not quite true. The surrounding chameleon objects are reflected in the “displays” literally built into it. This is especially noticeable in the social interaction of animals, for example, when one male competes with another – they are painted in an identical gamut.

The mechanism that triggers color change is nothing more than stretching and relaxing the animals skins. At such times, the subcutaneous lattice is also stretched, which changes the angle of refraction of light; and also because of the displacement, the crystals begin to reflect light having a different wavelength.

But on this find pedantic scientists did not stop. Even deeper beneath the nano-crystalline layer, they discovered a second lattice reflecting infrared light. Presumably, its function is to keep the chameleon body temperature pleasantly cool during periods of hot seasons. Here is the inspiration for the fantastic gadgets of modern spies!

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