Fallacy: a chameleon changes colour to camouflage itself

Is it true that a chameleon changes colour to camouflage itself? This might be a fallacy – a fallacy means that it is not true.

The Chameleon is a reptile in the Chamaeleonidae family of lizards. It is arboreal because it lives in trees. The Chameleon is native to Africa, Madagascar, southern Europe, and southern Asia. It prefers to live in warm regions, such as rain forests and deserts. 

I have written in this website that the Chameleon can be a variety of colours, and “it can change colour to match its environment – this is called camouflage.” But it might be incorrect to say this.

Zoologists (animal scientists) think that, contrary to popular belief, the Chameleon does not change colour to blend in with its surroundings. They think that the Chameleion changes colour in response to its emotional state and is determined by hormones. The hormones might signal moods and emotions, including feelings towards another Chameleon, like stress, anger, fear, and competition. 

Therefore, zoologists say that the colours of a Chameleon are a form of visual communication rather than a camouflage technique. 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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