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ASU researchers discover chameleons use colorful language to communicate
Date:12/11/2013

ripes from a distance and followed that display with a "head-on" approach before combat, the important color signals on the striped parts of the body and head were accentuated.

"By using bright color signals and drastically changing their physical appearance, the chameleons' bodies become almost like a billboard the winner of a fight is often decided before they actually make physical contact," Ligon said. "The winner is the one that causes its opponent to retreat. While sometimes they do engage in physical combat, these contests are very short five to 15 seconds. More often than not, their color displays end the contest before they even get started."

This is the first study of its kind. The research team took pictures of color standards and estimated the sensitivity of different photoreceptors in their cameras. Then, they used information on the physiology and sensitivity of the photoreceptors of chameleons, and were able to measure the colors actually seen by the lizards. Though this method has previously been used to quantify static (unchanging) coloration, this study is the first to quantify rapid color change while incorporating the visual sensitivities of the animals under study.

There are approximately 160 species of chameleons in the world. Veiled chameleons (Chameleon calyptratus) are native to the Arabian Peninsula specifically Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They are omnivorous and live essentially solitary lives except when mating. Many chameleons are at great risk, as destruction of their habitats is occurring at alarming rates.


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Contact: Sandra Leander
sandra.leander@asu.edu
480-965-9865
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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