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Chameleons may be the mas­ters of dis­guise but their mo­ti­va­tion for chang­ing colour is of­ten more to do with tem­per­a­ture reg­u­la­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion than cam­ou­flage.

They pos­sess spe­cial cells in their skin called chro­matophores that re­flect light and con­tain sacs of dif­fer­ent coloured pig­ments. A change in body tem­per­a­ture or mood will re­sult in the ner­vous sys­tem trig­ger­ing the ex­pan­sion or con­trac­tion of par­tic­u­lar chro­matophores.

In­cred­i­bly, the chameleon can lit­er­ally

‘pick ’n’ mix’ the colours that are cre­ated dur­ing this mind-bog­gling process – all within sec­onds of re­spond­ing to an ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­men­tal change or the pres­ence of a po­ten­tial mate or en­emy.

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