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The primary use of colour change in chameleons isn't camouflage. What is it?What we were able to show is the species that do change colour the most actually have the most conspicuous social displays. We suggested that the ability to change colour evolved for that reason, rather than simply for camouflage.
Do bearded dragons use colour change in a similar way?Females use colour to signal whether they'll accept courtship or aggressively reject male advances, and the males use it in territorial displays and also in courtship displays to female.
Change of colourChameleon skin has a superficial layer which contains pigments, and under the layer are cells with guanine crystals. Chameleons change color by changing the space between the guanine crystals, which changes the wavelength of light reflected off the crystals which changes the color of the chameleon' skin.
It's interesting that the female dragons have developed a specific mechanism based on a colour signal to ward off the males.Usually it's the males that are a brighter version of the females, but in this species both sexes are really well matched to their backgrounds, and in the breeding season, the females develop really bright patches of orange on their bellies. But the females are only receptive for a very brief period of time, and the males will just continuously harass them. So to escape from that, the females will, as a last resort, flip onto their backs, [which means] they can't actually mate, and they show these bright orange belly patches.
How Chameleons Really Change Color
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Interesting factsAlmost half of the world’s chameleon species live on the island of Madagascar, with 59 different species existing nowhere outside of the island. There are approximately 160 species of chameleon.
Lake Eyre bearded dragon female