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Marvels that can change our per­cep­tion of the world

They change the color of their skin de­pend­ing on their tem­per­a­ture, sur­round­ings, and mood. Now re­searchers have dis­cov­ered what en­ables this phe­nom­e­non: In­side a chameleon’s skin there are tiny crys­tals that re­flect light (see graphic). The crys­tals ad­just the chameleon’s hue by al­ter­ing their prox­im­ity to one an­other. In this way a color spec­trum is formed that’s de­ter­mined by the dis­tance and rel­a­tive in­dex of re­frac­tion of the nanocrys­tals.

EX­CITED Bold col­ors can ex­press ag­gres­sion or a will­ing­ness to mate. The crys­tals in the spher­i­cal cells move away from one an­other to ex­press this and re­flect light in such a way that a yel­low, or­ange, or red hue is pro­duced.

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