Trivia

Hard

The Color Changing Structures Found In Chameleons, Squids, And Other Creatures Are Called?

Melanocytes
Spectracones
Pigmentation Cysts
Chromatophores

Answer: Chromatophores

Of all the phenomena in the animal kingdom, very little has delighted humankind so consistently through the ages as the color changing and camouflaging abilities of creatures around the world—as far back as 400 BC, ancient scholars, like Aristotle, were already noting the ability of cephalopods, for example, to change color.

This ability stands in stark contrast to our rather boring human coloration. We, like other mammals and birds, have a coloration determined by the presence of cells known as melanocytes. However light-skinned or dark-skinned we appear, no matter the coloration of our canine and feline pets, or the coloration of animals we see outside our homes like squirrels and birds, it is all determined (and often permanently fixed) by melanocytes.

In the case of other species like amphibians, fish, reptiles, crustaceans, and cephalopods, however, their coloration is governed by a totally different set of cells called chromatophores. In the vast majority of cases, these chromatophores are inert and a fish that is blue today will be blue tomorrow, just like a cat that is black today will be black tomorrow. But in some special cases, like that of the chameleon and some cephalopods, the organism has complex mechanisms for controlling the display of chromatophores, thus allowing it to change coloration and patterns.

Interestingly enough, the mechanism of control is completely different in invertebrates (like the octopuses and squids) and vertebrates (like chameleons). Octopuses have complex multicellular organs that are manipulated via muscular contraction to change the translucency, reflectivity, or opacity of the pigment contained inside. This action is akin to opening or closing the shutters on colored stage lights to change the color on the stage.

It was long believed that chameleons used a similar mechanism and dispersed pigment-containing organelles within their skin to change color. We now know, however, that they change color by altering the density of a lattice of guanine nanocrystals in a specialized layer of skin in such a way that it affects which wavelengths of light are reflected and which are absorbed. This trick is less like the muscle “shutter” method octopuses use and more akin (in some ways) to the technology found in color-shifting prismatic paint sometimes used for high-end automotive paint jobs.

Trivia

Hard

The Appearance Of The “Big Daddies” In The Video Game BioShock Were Inspired By?

Trivia

Very Hard

What Early Cinema Technology Was The First To Perfectly Synchronize Sound?

Trivia

Hard

What Modern Use Have World War II-Era Swiss Bunkers Been Converted For?

Trivia

Hard

Clint Eastwood, Best Known For His Cowboy Roles, Got Into Film By Portraying A?

Trivia

Hard

The Largest Fresh Water Lake In The World Is Located in?

Trivia

Hard

Lisa Simpson Is A Vegetarian Due To The Influence Of?

Trivia

Hard

Fink-Mao Notation Is Used To Describe What?

Trivia

Hard

Which Iconic Video Game Character Was Created As A Result Of An Internal Company Contest?

Trivia

Easy

Which Chemical Element Is Named After The Sun?

Trivia

Easy

Which Widely Used Product’s Name Is An Anagram Of Its Function?