Chameleons Evolved to Change Color to Stand Out, Not to Blend In

We've always been told that chameleons change color to camouflage themselves and blend in with their background. Well, according to scientists at the University of Melbourne, Australia, that was wrong: chameleons evolved the ability to change colors to make themselves more noticeable to other chameleons.

As chameleons have a different visual system to humans, they have a fourth type of cone which is ultra-violet (UV) sensitive, the researchers had to first measure what the chameleons were actually seeing.

The Melbourne-based researcher explained: "We measured colour with a spectrometer, which measures both the UV and visual colour range, and combined this with information on the chameleon visual system to model chameleon colour perception." [...]

Co-author Dr Devi Stuart-Fox, from The University of Melbourne, Australia, told BBC News: "[Our research] suggests that chameleons evolved colour change for signalling, to fend off rivals or attract a mate, and not so they could match a greater variety of backgrounds."


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Ah, the curiosities of a beautiful. In the wild, male panther chameleons stand out vibrantly or less vibrantly, depending on their mood, but they almost always stand out. I'm sure there are other species of chameleon like that too, but I only have experience with panthers. :P They're amazing creatures.
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