Have you ever wondered how chameleons change their color? Thanks to a new study released this year, we know exactly how they do that. Contrary to popular belief, chameleons don’t change color to blend in with their surroundings. Instead, the color of their skin depends on their mood, and they do this through a collection of crystals in their cells. By changing how spread out the crystals are, they can change what color of light reflects off their bodies.
But are chameleons the only ones with color-changing powers? Nope! In fact, there are numerous species that do color change better than the chameleon. Check ’em out below.
Cuttlefish owe their color-changing success to chromatophores in their skin. Chromatophores are pigment-changing cells that are surrounded by nerve and muscle cells. By changing the shape and size of the pigment-containing sac in the cell, they can change how light is reflected off their skin. With this unique superpower, cuttlefish can blend into their surroundings or send messages. They might, for instance, turn red or “flash” as a warning, or they can change their skin color to attract a mate. As a bonus, they have muscles that can help them change texture.
Strange fact: Cuttlefish are color blind!
2. Mimic Octopus
A mimic octopus is perhaps the most impressive shape-shifting wizard known to man. The octopus doesn’t only blend into the ocean floor, and it can do much more than change its color. The octopus has also been known to take shape of 15 other types of sea creatures. Among these, they can mimic flounder, sea snakes, lion fish, and even coral by changing their skin’s color, texture, and even shape. Like the cuttlefish, the mimic octopus also uses chromatophores in its skin.
3. Crab Spiders
Crab spiders are known to change their color within days based on the color of flower they’re sitting on. These spiders are so good at manipulating light that as humans, we may not notice them at all. However, the reason for their color change is unclear as many insects see light differently than we do, so they can spot the spider anyway.
4. Peacock Flounder
The peacock flounder has become so good at camouflage that through evolution, its eyes both migrated to one side of its head so it could lay sideways on the ocean floor while easily being able to see what’s above them. To make them even stealthier, they’ve adapted to blend in with their surroundings. Their color-changing power is attributed to their vision and hormones, which allows them to secrete pigments onto the surface of their skin cells.
In trials, they’ve been shown to change their color in eight seconds, and they can blend into the sand and rocks. When placed on a checkerboard, they can even match that! However, peacock flounders need to be able to see their surroundings to perform this color change well; otherwise, they’ll bury themselves in the sand to hide.
Fun fact: The peacock flounder’s eyes can move independent of each other, so it can check it its surroundings easier than most.
5. Peron’s Tree Frog
Found in Australia, Peron’s tree frog is tough to describe since it comes in so many different colors. This frog is known to be able to change color in under an hour. You’ll often find this frog in shades of brown and gray, but it can sometimes show up white. While the color change is intriguing, this frog is most well-known for its high-pitched cackle, which is where it gets it nick-names of the “laughing tree frog” and the “maniacal cackle frog” from.
Do you know of an animal that is able to change color? Let us know which one is your favorite in the comment section.
Featured Image via Flickr by Tambako the Jaguar