Chameleons are super cool because they can change the color of their skin when they need to blend into their surroundings, or freak the hell out of you when you least expect it. It takes about two minutes for the average panther chameleon to go from a moody green to a bright flashy red. How it manages to do it though, has been sort of unclear – until now.
According to Andy Coghlan, writing for The New Scientist, chameleons “rapidly rearrange tiny crystals in their skin so that they reflect different wavelengths of light. ‘Essentially, the crystals act as a selective mirror,’ says Michel Milinkovitch of the University of Geneva in Switzerland, whose team made the discovery.” So far, this sounds pretty epic.
There are millions of crystals on the chameleons skin! When the team examined the cells under a microscope – as scientists tend to do – it found that the crystals were made of “guanine – one of the four DNA bases – in highly regular grid-like arrangements.” So, when the chameleon is ready to change color, it rearranges the positioning of the crystals so that they reflect light with different wavelengths.
The researches have noted that by simply positioning the crystals closer or further apart, they can reflect any color the eye can see. For more information, check out the link to the article above, though the main point of my blog today is to simply say, it’s super cool how chameleons can change the color of their skin!
Information Source: The New Scientist
Written by: Liz Belilovskaya