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Leapin' Lizards—New Findings Highlight Color-change Mechanisms

November 28, 2016 | Contact Author | By: Rachel Grabenhofer
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Lizard850

Keywords: butterflies | lizard | cuttlefish | pigment | color-change | Zoology | platelets | reflecting

Abstract: Biomimcry is an approach to innovation that identifies "sustainable solutions...by emulating nature’s time-tested designs and processes.” Enter: the East Asian Takydromus lizard.

First, it was butterflies. Then, cuttlefish. Now, lizards? The animal kingdom has been perfecting light-refracting, bending camouflage effects since time immemorial. And as Thomas G. Polefka, Ph.D., of Life Science Solutions, LLC, taught us during the IFSCC, biomimcry is an approach to innovation that identifies "sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested designs and processes.” So yes, now it's lizards.

According to a new study published in Zoology, the reflection of light from crystal platelets in iridophores determines the green or brown skin coloration in Takydromus lizards. The researchers studied East Asian Takydromus lizards because their dorsal coloring has shifted a number of times as the genus has diversified. This provided an opportunity to study their color-changing mechanisms.

Brown and green skin differed with respect to the morphology of iridophores; i.e., different thicknesses of reflecting platelets and spacing between platelets, despite other similarities. Iridophores of brown skin reflected longer wavelengths than green skin, which may relate to the thicker platelets and longer distances between them. These findings could shine new light on ways to create interesting sensory effects in color cosmetics.