Chameleons change colour in or­der to hide

Mount Ever­est is the world’s high­est moun­tain. False. Sugar makes kids hy­per­ac­tive. False. Hard facts dis­prove old myths about records, food, chameleons, and more...

Science Illustrated - - BLACK HOLES -

Achameleon's skin can change colour from green to black, red, blue, pur­ple, or mul­ti­coloured, but the amaz­ing trick is not meant to help the an­i­mal hide – on the con­trary.

Just like nu­mer­ous other lizards, chameleons are well hid­den in their nat­u­ral sur­round­ings, as long as they keep their green colour. When they change colour, they of­ten be­come ex­tremely vis­i­ble, and that is the idea.

The beau­ti­ful colours are pri­mar­ily used for un­am­bigous com­mu­ni­ca­tion with peers. Brightly red males can make their ri­vals flee, and preg­nant fe­males can tell horny males that they are wast­ing their time.

The colour change of­ten takes place, as the an­i­mal gets ex­cited, such as at the sight of an­other male. Hor­mones and sig­nals from the brain make mi­cro­scopic crys­tals in the skin cells change struc­ture to re­flect the light dif­fer­ently and so ap­pear in a dif­fer­ent colour.

In other cases, chameleons use the colour change to con­trol their body tem­per­a­ture. When the an­i­mals are cold, they make their skin darker to ab­sorb more heat from the sun­light.

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