Chameleons are able to quickly change the color (and pattern) of the body depending on the lighting, temperature or irritation. Most chameleons change color from brown to green and back, but some can accept almost any color. In just 20 seconds, a repainting can occur.
Chameleons are born with special cells that have color or pigment in them. These cells are in layers under the upper shell of the chameleon. They are called chromatophores. The upper layers of chromatophores have a red or yellow pigment. The lower layers have a blue or white pigment. When these pigment cells change, chameleon skin color changes occur.
Chromatophors change because they receive a message from the brain. The message tells the cells to grow or shrink. These actions cause the cell pigments to mix – just like the paint. Melanin also helps chameleons change color. Melanin fibers can spread like a web through the layers of cells, and their presence causes the skin to darken.
Many people think that the color of chameleons is in harmony with their surroundings. Scientists do not agree with this. Their research shows that light, temperature and mood also cause chameleons to change. Sometimes a discoloration can make a chameleon more calm. Sometimes it helps to communicate with your own kind.
So changing the color for masking is not the main goal of the chameleon: there are a lot of photos and video materials that show that the chameleons are not the color of the environment.
There is an opinion that the chameleon is able to reproduce any drawing of the surrounding background, up to the black and white squares of the chessboard. But in fact, the possibilities of the animal in this respect are limited and no new pattern or pattern, not peculiar to this species, can not appear from it.