Many Chameleons Glow Under UV Light, Study Finds

Posted: Jan 19 2018, 7:48am CST | by , Updated: Jan 19 2018, 7:57am CST , in Latest Science News


This story may contain affiliate links.

Many Chameleons Glow Under UV Light, Study Finds
Credit: David Prötzel

Researchers have found that the bony tubercles on the heads of many chameleon species fluoresce under UV light and form impressive patterns

Chameleons are mostly known for their rapid color-changing and ability to adapt to their surroundings. But German researchers have observed another fascinating fact about this distinctive clade of lizards. They reveal that bony structures on the heads of many chameleon species fluoresce under ultraviolet light.

Fluorescence is an ability to emit light and it has been observed in a variety of ocean creatures, including sharks, corals and sea turtles. But researchers never expected to find it in a land vertebrate. The discovery came as a surprise to many in the field.

“We could hardly believe our eyes when we illuminated the chameleons in our collection with a UV lamp and almost all species showed blue, previously invisible patterns on the head, some even over the whole body.” Lead study author David Prötzel from Bavarian State Collection of Zoology said in a statement.

To understand the phenomenon, researchers looked at 160 specimens from 31 species in the Calumna genus, which is a group of chameleons endemic to Madagascar. Almost all the species revealed previously unseen distinct blue patterns on their skin under UV light.

When researchers used a number of modern techniques including Micro- CT scans, they found that the pattern of glow was consistent with the distribution of tubercles pattern on the skull, meaning these structures were the source of glow in the chameleons’ body.

In fluorescence, an animal absorbs light and reemit as a different color. It is different from luminescence, in which animals produce their own light through chemical reactions.

Researchers says that patches on chameleons’ skin allow UV light to reach the bone where it is absorbed and then emitted again as blue fluorescent light.

“Our histological 3-D reconstruction shows that the skin covering the tubercles on the skull is very thin and consists only of a transparent layer of epidermis.” Dr. Martin Heß from the BioCenter of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München explained.

Researchers also found that that males in most species of the genus Calumma have significantly more fluorescent tubercles than the females.

This story may contain affiliate links.


Find rare products online! Get the free Tracker App now.

Download the free Tracker app now to get in-stock alerts on Pomsies, Oculus Go, SNES Classic and more.

Latest News


The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




comments powered by Disqus