Chameleons’ Craziest Color Changes Aren’t for Camouflage
Despite what a widespread myth and fake videos suggest, the creatures have an unexpected motivation to show their most brilliant colors.
Some people are like chameleons: They can blend into any environment with ease. But are chameleons, themselves, like... chameleons?
Yes, and no, scientists say. Contrary to a widely held belief—bolstered by the likes of Disney’s Tangled, which co-stars a chameleon named Pascal—these enigmatic lizards cannot transform the color of their skin to match any background.
“People believe that if you put a chameleon on chessboard it’s going to hide by taking the same pattern or color, but this is of course is not true,” says Michel Milinkovitch, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Geneva and an expert on animal skin color.
And videos on YouTube, he says, some of which show the lizards changing colors as they encounter different surfaces