Sunday, 22 December 2013

Trippy! Chameleons Intimidate Rivals with Quick Color Change

Color-morphing may sound less intimidating than, say, baring teeth or dragging hooves, but male chameleons rely on such psychedelic intimidation to ward off male rivals, according to a new study.

Chameleons are popularly thought to use their color-changing abilities to blend into their environments, but, in recent years, researchers have found this shade-shifting may play a larger role in social interactions than in camouflage.

In particular, scientists have noted that many male chameleons make themselves more conspicuous to others by changing colors along the sides of their bodies and tops of their heads before and during competitions. Researchers have assumed these changes convey certain messages but, until now, had not measured how the speed or extent of the changes may influence the outcome of a competition.

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