Help: Chameleon colours

Sean Stevens stevens at
Sat Jul 29 07:34:21 EST 1995

mgk at darwin.clas.Virginia.EDU (Mahlon G. Kelly) wrote:
>tours at  writes:
>> I would really appreciate it if someone could explain to me exactly how
>> a chameleon changes it's colors.
>> Thanks.
>> Tony Brock       tours at
>If you are referring to old-world chamaleons, then the color is
>controlled by small organs called chromatophores. They expose
>colors by contracting covering tissue, sort of like the iris
>diaphragm in a camera. It is under nervous control, which is
>why (unlike New World Anolids) they can do it so quickly. If
>you have a specimen available you should be able to see the
>chromatophores under a hand lens.
>Associate Professor (Emeritus)
>University of Virginia
>mgk at

Okay-and now a followup. Does the color relate to the environment because the chameleon sees the colors and mimics them? In other words, will a blind chameleon change colors 'properly'?

Humor a poor reductionist molecular biologist.

Sean Stevens  The Rockefeller University
stevens at

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