FlipFact of the Day: Despite their usual portrayal in pop culture, chameleons don’t change colors for camouflage. They also cannot copy every single detail of their environment to “blend in.” In fact, it’s more accurate to think of them as living, breathing “mood rings.”
When chameleons’ moods shift, their iridophores (the cells under their transparent outer skin) contract or expand. As a result, they reflect longer wavelengths of light (and thus, brighter hues such as red, yellow, and orange). Some researchers believe that body temperature regulation may also be a factor. However, there isn’t enough evidence to support this.
In other words, if you put a chameleon on your table, it won’t magically blend in with your tablecloth and become invisible all of a sudden. (Yes, those YouTube videos are fakes.)
Today’s Science History Milestone: On July 31, 1971, Apollo 15 astronaut Dave Scott became the first person to drive a vehicle on the Moon.
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