Everybody knows about chameleons’ amazing ability to change their color. However, not many people know that lizards also do the same thing. However, they act like this to communicate with others of their kind, not to hide from predators, as the general belief suggests. However, recently, scientists have discovered that lizards also have another type of coloration. They also possess fluorescent bones. According to the study, which the journal Scientific Reports published, a large number of marine species display either bioluminescence or fluorescence. However, when it comes to terrestrial creatures, this trait is not at all that common.
According to David Prötzel, the lead author of the study, after illuminating the chameleons with a UV lamp, they couldn’t believe their eyes. Almost all the species suddenly displayed some blue patterns on their heads which were previously unseen to the naked eye. Some of them even had those on their whole bodies. These bone projections are scientifically called tubercles and absorb the UV light. After that, they emit it back as fluorescence. Certain chameleon species have a very thin layer of skin on their head. Because of this, the UV light can easily go through.
Lizards and their amazing traits
A chameleon’s skin has a large number of layers. However, the uppermost one is completely transparent. This means that the cells that are responsible for changing the color are in the lower layers of the skin. Frank Glaw, a co-author of the study, said that it’s no secret that bones fluorescence, especially under UV light. However, nobody knew that certain animals can fluorescence themselves thanks to this ability.
According to the experts, most chameleons from Africa and Madagascar displayed this amazing trait. Because of the humid forest and the higher level of ambient UV light, the lizards’ fluorescence has a blue color. As to what this could mean, experts think that chameleons might use it to either attract mates or to recognize others of their kind.
Image source: flickr