How do Chameleons change colors?

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In summary, chameleons and octopi can change their colors to match their surroundings. This is done by the use of chromatophores, which are pigment cells in the skin that contain different colors.
  • #1
T@P
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How do they change colors?

or more specifically, how do they know what color(s) are behind them? How does their skin actually change to that color?

and also, can people sort of use this 'technology' of chameleons to create an invisibility device? (a device that displays what's behind it on a screen to make it look like you arent there)
 
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  • #2
http://www.answers.com/chameleon

Go directly to the paragraph called 'Change of colour'.
 
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  • #3
T@P said:
How do they change colors?
This post makes me very sad. It reminds me of my favourite pet, a chameleon. I loved her dearly, and then she exploded trying to hide in a box of crayons.
 
  • #4
Very clever Danger, I love it.
 
  • #5
Mk said:
Very clever Danger, I love it.
Any joke worth laughing at is worth stealing. I'm pretty sure that this came from Johnny Hart in the 'BC' comics, before he became a raving Jesus freak. I'm not about to admit that I couldn't come up with something as clever and apropos, but it took a lot less effort this way.

edit: This sort of conversation is why I spend most of my time in General Discussion. I try to maintain decorum and dignity out here in the real world, but it's a struggle.
 
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  • #6
Thanks to T@P I have great idea how to become invisible . Do you guys know that flounders (flat fish living on bottom of ocean) is even more capable of comuflaging itself than chameleon ? ?
What you have to do is, you have to buy (they are v.cheap) dozens or so flounders and stick them to your jacket and presto !
But I guess live chameleons are the best solution.
 
  • #7
stoned said:
Thanks to T@P I have great idea how to become invisible . Do you guys know that flounders (flat fish living on bottom of ocean) is even more capable of comuflaging itself than chameleon ? ?
What you have to do is, you have to buy (they are v.cheap) dozens or so flounders and stick them to your jacket and presto !
But I guess live chameleons are the best solution.
The flounder thing is excellent, as long as you're very good at holding your breath.
 
  • #8
oh man that's a great idea! only ud stink from miles away...
we posted at the same time! oooh
 
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  • #9
wait so a chameleon doesn't actually change its color based on what's its standing next to? only based on mood etc? hmm that's fishy
 
  • #10
in winter time you can do that with flounders, no problem. but you right guys, when gets hot outside you have to switch to chameleons.
 
  • #11
T@P said:
wait so a chameleon doesn't actually change its color based on what's its standing next to? only based on mood etc? hmm that's fishy
I haven't read the associated threads, but we did have a 'class chameleon' in public school. It definitely changed its colour to match it's surroundings as closely as possible. What I did notice is that it had only one overall colour, with some variety of shading. An octopus, on the other hand, can vary every square mm of its surface, and even put on shows such as rippling colour bands, or burst patterns, in an apparently conversational manner.
 
  • #12
As far as I know, US Army has been going after Intelligent Camouflaging since 2000 and are supposed to finish it by 2010. The uniforms are made up of optic fibres and high resolutions cameras and processors are used to capture the surrounding colors and replicate them at the end of the fibres.

Another combating technique which is supposed to be finished by 2010 is air ionisation virtual 3D screens(a la Total Recal Way)
 
  • #13
quark said:
As far as I know, US Army has been going after Intelligent Camouflaging since 2000 and are supposed to finish it by 2010. The uniforms are made up of optic fibres and high resolutions cameras and processors are used to capture the surrounding colors and replicate them at the end of the fibres.

Another combating technique which is supposed to be finished by 2010 is air ionisation virtual 3D screens(a la Total Recal Way)
Yet another display of idiocy in action. Great idea for an SF novel; ****ty idea for practical combat.
 
  • #14
hmmm. so anyone know more than the typical kindergarden view of how they work? I am guessing they do change based on their background. but see chameleons and octopi would be really cool if you could like take some of their dna, and instead of making dumb glow in the dark bunnies make color changing bunnies. or people. then you wouldn't have to wear clothing...
 
  • #15
The color changing ability of chameleons and octopi are accomplished by specialized pigment cells in the skin collectively called chromatophores. These cells contain pigments of different color that are actuated by surrounding muscle cells to expand or contract depending on the desired effect. http://www.chameleonnews.com/colormechanism.html to chameleon color change describes in greater detail the types of chromatophores and other aspects of this behavior. The mechanism is much the same in the octopus and indeed they in general appear better at it, this may be a factor of the number of chromatophores (some 2 million in an adult) and the added feature of being able to alter its skin texture as well. However, the picture in the link is very impressive for a chameleon.

As mentioned, mood, temperature and other factors can determine skin color in these animals as much as background. The chameleons (old world type with sticky projectile tongues) I owned were more likely to change when presented with food or a mirror than when placed against a different background.
 
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Related to How do Chameleons change colors?

1. How do chameleons change colors?

Chameleons have specialized cells called chromatophores in their skin that contain pigment. These cells can expand and contract, causing the color of the chameleon's skin to change.

2. Why do chameleons change colors?

Chameleons change colors for a variety of reasons, including camouflage, communication, and regulating body temperature. They can also change colors in response to stress, illness, or mood.

3. How quickly can chameleons change colors?

Chameleons can change colors almost instantaneously, with some species being able to change within a matter of seconds. The speed of the color change depends on the chameleon's mood, environment, and the level of control it has over its color changing abilities.

4. Can chameleons change to any color?

While chameleons are known for their ability to change colors, they do have limitations. They are not able to change to any color, as their color-changing abilities are limited to certain color ranges depending on their species. Additionally, the color of their environment can also influence the colors they can display.

5. Do chameleons only change colors to blend in with their surroundings?

No, chameleons can also change colors to communicate with other chameleons, attract mates, or intimidate predators. They can also change colors for thermoregulation, as darker colors absorb more heat and lighter colors reflect more heat.

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