Chameleons change their skin color thanks to tiny crystals

Nature arranged it so that the colors of the skin of chameleons change each other in a matter of minutes. How do they manage to do such tricks over and over again?

Nature Communications published an article exposing natural disguise specialists. It is reported that the chameleon owes its color variability to a special subcutaneous substrate in the form of a lattice of a huge number of microscopic crystals.

Remember the stories about the chameleon changing color to match the environment? It turns out that this is not entirely true. The objects surrounding the chameleon are reflected in literally built-in interconnected "displays". This is especially noticeable in the social interaction of animals, for example, when one male competes with another - they are colored in an identical range.

The mechanism that triggers the color change is nothing more than the stretching and relaxation of the animal's skin. At such moments, the subcutaneous lattice also stretches, which changes the angle of refraction of light; and also due to the displacement, the crystals begin to reflect light of a different wavelength.

But pedantic scientists did not stop at this find. Even deeper under the nano-crystalline layer, they discovered a second grating that reflects infrared light. Presumably, its function is to keep the body temperature of the chameleons pleasantly cool during the hot seasons. Here's some inspiration for the fantastic modern spy gadgets!