Image of the Day: Glowing Chameleon

The lizards may be signaling one another using fluorescent cues that we can’t see.

Jan 23, 2018
The Scientist Staff

A male chameleon of the species Calumma globifer showing congruent tubercle/fluorescent patterns. Top row, from left to right: alive in the field under sunlight; micro-CT scan of head surface; micro-CT scan of the skull. Bottom row: alive in the field under UV light; ethanol-preserved under UV light.D. PRÖTZEL ET AL., SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-19070-7, 2018.

Herpetologists at the University of Munich discovered that many chameleon species have bony tubercles protruding from their skulls that glow blue under UV light. The researchers say this ornamentation could be driven by sexual selection.

D. Prötzel et al., “Widespread bone-based fluorescence in chameleons.” Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-19070-7, 2018.