Chameleon colors are WAY more complicated than we thought

September 15, 2015, 10:04 a.m.

Chameleons are known for their ability to change color. But amazingly, what we see isn't a change in pigment. What's actually going on is a change in millions of microscopic salt crystals just under the chameleon's skin. As KQED reported, "When light hits the crystals, some wavelengths are absorbed and some are reflected. The result, to our eyes, is the beautiful rainbow of colors on the chameleon’s skin. But what we’re actually seeing is light that is bouncing off of these tiny crystals."

And contrary to common belief, chameleons don't change color to blend in; they change color to communicate their mood!

We have much more information about the incredible color-changing abilities in this article, including an excellent video showing the science behind this fascinating animal's beautiful and complicated skin.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.