They don’t change colour to match the background.
Never have; never will. Complete myth. Utter fabrication. Total lie.
They change colour as a result of different emotional states. If they happen to match the background it’s entirely coincidental.
Chameleons change colour when frightened or picked up or when they beat another chameleon in a
fight. They change colour when a member of the opposite sex steps into view and they sometimes
change colour due to fluctuations in either light or temperature.
A chameleon’s skin contains several layers of specialised cells called chromataphores (from
Greek chroma, colour, and pherein, to carry), each with different coloured pigments. Altering the
balance between these layers causes the skin to reflect different kinds of light, making chameleons a
kind of walking colour-wheel.
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‘background’ theory had, once again, been almost entirely abandoned. But it’s come back with a
vengeance since and to this day is perhaps the only thing most people think they ‘know’ about
Chameleons can remain completely motionless for several hours at a time. Because of this, and the
fact that they eat very little, they were, for many centuries, believed to live on air. This, of course,
isn’t true either.
The word chameleon is Greek for ‘ground-lion’. The smallest species is the Brookesia minima,
which is 25 mm (1 inch) long; the largest is the Chaemaeleo parsonnii, which is more than 610 mm
(2 feet) long. The Common Chameleon glories in the Latin name Chamaeleo chamaeleon, which
sounds like the opening to a song.
Chameleons can rotate and focus either eye independently to look in two completely different
directions at once, but they are stone deaf. The Bible forbids the eating of chameleons.
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