Chameleon is also known as chamaeleon and can be found in about 180 species that differ in their colors. Chameleon is widely known for its ability to quickly change its color, but how does this happen? Before knowing this, let’s discover more secrets about chameleon. Most of the chameleon species have the ability to change their colors and it is one of the most unique features that can be found in them, but not the only one. There are other unique features that you can find in the chameleon such as the horn, prehensile tail, zygodactylous feet and the extendable tongue which is long, highly modified and scary especially when you see it with your own eyes. Chameleons prefer to live in warm areas such as deserts and rain forests. The most important places in which you can find chameleons include Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Florida, California, Hawaii, Africa, southern Asia and southern Europe. Although the chameleons look scary, there are some people who like keeping them at their homes as pets.
♦ What about the story of changing colors?
It is thought that all the chameleons have the ability to change their colors, but in fact this is not true. Most of the chameleon species can change their colors, while the rest do not have the ability to do this. Chameleons change the colors and patterns of their skins to find a mixture of different colors such as yellow, orange, red, pink, green, blue, brown, black, purple and turquoise.
♦ What are the main reasons behind changing their colors?
It is commonly believed that the chameleons change the color and pattern of their skin to escape from their enemies or to hide to be able to catch their prey, but this is partly true as there are other factors that are responsible for changing the color of the chameleon’s skin. The chameleon changes its color to communicate with other chameleons through signals and this is kwon as social signaling, to cope with the surrounding conditions and changes in temperature and to hide or deceive which is called camouflage.
♦ When are the dark and light colors used?
Using the dark and light colors is chiefly based on the mood of the chameleon and the surrounding conditions. The chameleon changes into dark colors when it is angry or wants to scare others especially its enemies. On the contrary, the light colors and multicolored patterns are shown by the chameleon when the males try to court females. The black color is used in the cold morning by the chameleons which live in desert to absorb heat, while the light grey is used during the daytime to reflect light and avoid heat.
♦ How does the process of changing colors happens?
There are specialized cells in the body of the chameleon and these cells contain organelles which are known as chromatophores. There are pigments in the cytoplasm of the chromatophores that can be found in three layers. The first layer which is the upper one contains yellow and red pigments, the second layer contains guanine which is shown to be blue or white, while the third layer which is the deepest one contains melanin which is a dark pigment. Changing the color of the cell is determined by the location of the pigments.