Last Year We Realized There Were Fluorescent Frogs, This Year We Find Fluorescent Chameleons!

in steemstem •  2 years ago  (edited)

It's time for me to take a step outside my comfort zone again. I prattle on about biochemistry all of the time and I am sure you are used to reading my blogs about enzymes and DNA, proteins and bacteria. Well today let's take a walk on the wild side, and talk about chameleons. More specifically chameleons that can glow under a black light.

The reason we do this is purely because I was reading an article recently published in Nature: Scientific Reports titled "Widespread bone-based fluorescence in chameleons." This article originally caught my eye from its title alone as I said to myself "What? Fluorescent Bones? In a land animal?" So on that small mind blowing of mine, lets dive in and learn a bit about what bones fluoresce in a chameleon and think about why this might be useful for the animal.

Image Reproduced from 1 Figure 4

Fluorescent Creatures

That glowing tree frog in question, Hypsiboas punctatus

Fluorescence in living things isn't particularly unusual, we know of many examples of animals, plants, insects and arthropods that are fluorescent (the article points out: Fish, Corals, Flowers, Spiders etc!). However, fluorescence in land a land animal is a pretty rare thing. Perhaps you recall last year when a tree frog was discovered to be fluorescent? If so you will remember that the news media went bonkers with the story, and really hyped up how neat it was [8], [9]. Rightfully so, this was an interesting observation! What's maybe more interesting is how little we know about what these glowing properties are for! Researchers postulate that it is for 'sexy time' reasons, or for helping the animals identify whos male and whose female. [10]

Some Squirrel Skulls, not all bones are equally fluorescent, one species skull glows pink, the other does not!

Well today we are discussing some interesting observations that were recently made about our favorite color changing animals, chameleons. Unlike the frogs discussed above and other animals using specific cellular bodies to express fluorescent proteins/compounds, chameleons employ something that is naturally fluorescent. Bones. [12]

Bones? Tell Me More!

Reproduced from [1] Figure 1

Wow, great enthusiasm! Okay, so chameleons have these 'bony ridges' that start at the top of their heads and travel down their bodies from there. It has been postulated that these bone structures are (not surprisingly) also used for mating purposes (in biology... everything is related to attracting that made to 'bone'... get it?). However much like everything else thats just a hypothesis and we don't really know. Well the researchers here found that if UV light (353 nm) is shined on either live (on top and bottom left in the image to the left) or preserved (top and bottom right in the image to the left) chameleons, that the bone structures glow BLUE!

Now it wasn't all of the bones of the chameleon that glowed! It was just these little outgrowths (or turbercles) that were responsible for the glowing! Even more interestingly is that the skin layer on top of these little outgrowths of bone is very very thin, so thin that you can actually see through it! (this makes sense as we can SEE the glowing even on the living chameleon). What this indicates to scientists is that SEEING these bone growths must actually be important for something!

Reproduced from [1] Figure 4

Further, the researchers found that the glowing bone growths had a sex dependence to them. Meaning that it was MALES that prominently had these while FEMALES did not! To the right are looking at a male Calumma crypticum (on the left side of the image) and a female Calumma crypticum (on the right side of the image). You can pretty clearly see that the male chameleon has LOT more fluorescent bone structures on its head then does the female! The researchers point out that these bones are concentrated around the eyes of the chameleon especially, and that this is an important signaling spot for the animal. (I will refrain from making another bone-ing joke here...or not!).

Are These Bone Structures Found In All Chameleons?

The main focus of this research article was Calumma crypticum and at first the authors looked into other calumma and found that these bones are present in almost all of them. So they expanded their search into other genera of chameleons and found that in 8 out of 12 currently known genera they also exist (to varying degrees, not all species of chameleons in these genera have the bones). Still, the coverage is pretty extensive.

What was interesting is that the bone coverage of the chameleon is most common among those who live in particularly shaded forest areas where light exposure is lowest. This supports the hypothesis that this fluorescence is actually a communication mechanism, as despite low levels of visible light (forest leaf cover blocks light!), UV light is still able to penetrate the forest (and remember these bones glow from UV light!) As the chameleons eyes are quite good at picking up light in the wavelengths that the bones emit, this could serve as an effective way for chameleons to find their mates while not being detected by predators.

The authors end with yet another interesting hypothesis in that perhaps many other animals with visible bone structures at the skin surface also use a fluorescence communication mechanism that was never before considered.

Future study on chameleons and other bone decorated animals will be necessary, for now at least we will have to settle with knowing that under the right light conditions. Chameleons don't just change colors, they also glow.


Image Sources

Glowing Frog
Squirrel Skulls

Text Sources



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in biology... everything is related to attracting that made to 'bone'... get it?

rofl! Just imagine what we could do with a fluorescent bone!

very nice post on a truly fascinating anomaly, thanks for sharing.

Thanks for reading glad you appreciated my silliness.

This is a super cool finding!! I often remember the glowing mushrooms that exist outside the psychedelic world!! ;)

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Hello @justtryme90, How are you doing... Very glad to meet you again.
Hello every one ...

The New Year, new program, new progress, new effort and new menus.
We call that a dynamic life... and with this menu you will enjoy couple minute. The Aceh Menus, Let try it.

Alright, refer to the point :
I do not really know the Chameleon animal (never had) but we are talking about Fluorescent Bones, for me also interesting. Incidentally I also plan to do the same after posting some series of articles about agriculture, maybe just refreshing but my topic about color in the fish in the sea water at night. (I like fishing on the night because my house is near the sea).

Back to your topic, basically "according to the theory" the chameleon will change color according to where he stands or walks (disguised). One day I tried to prove it by borrowing a few hours of my friend's chameleon. In fact the change is only less than 40%.

"Fluorescent Bones" has surprised me, it sounds to be of a rare kind, but here you mention it like "light bone" or "neon bone", am I mistranslating the sentence "Fluorescent Bones". My knowledge is that the skin of the chameleon is of a rough leather type, so if the title "Fluorescent Bones" is hard to understand. It should be from a transparent skin that we can observe directly that the bone is shining, But again the chameleon's skin is rough. And I have been trying to get information about transparent chameleons, none.

From the picture shown, I think it is not the color of the bones but the color of the skin that is found also in other animals. If the correct color of the bone, it will be drawn in its entirety but the image that looks is systematic (regularly according to his creation) no engineering. The rays are derived from the chemical makeup of the skin reflected off by the intake of light from the outside. I think this type of chameleon is an animal that only comes out at night to interact with the environment, and the color is a pseudonym of the skin instead of bone.

In the TV program of NatGio Channel, I have been informed about the meaning of color in animals, especially the animals that interact at night. And those colors are responses that are defined as warnings, resistance, invitation (sex), identity, and disguise. Animals that have high toxicity, responsive skin color contrasts strongly against the enemy "do not try me" ... Hehehe.

At Sea, I had an unforgettable experience, I was alone with a friend in a small motor boat the size of 15 mtr X 2 mtr. The state of the engine is dead, lights off, strong winds, big waves, at 2 am. We were caught in a collection of gigantic wooden pieces coming from the mountain. I tried to start the engine but failed because something was stuck in the propeller. Then we tried to install the manual light and it worked and it was time I had to go down in the water to clear up the mess. And what do I see in the water ..? Fish, snakes, plankton and other animals, they are all full of amazing colors, I know some of the fish I see and they are very different in the water. Starting from the tail to their colorful heads that are hard to explain. (you should try sometime)

Back to Fluorescent Bones and colors, I doubt the explanation from your source and I think the most correct answer is the result of your research on the platform of chemical reactions in color and light theory.

I think so. @ justtryme99, these few days I am a little busy fostering friends on our small farm. And I'm mixing some of the herbal toxins and the strength I test into my body first ... hehehe.

Greetings, for you and your family.

First off, don't come into other peoples posts and post a bunch of irrelevant nonsense about food. You are essentially making a post an piggybacking your comment off of mine for exposure. Completely uncool, and unacceptable.

But again the chameleon's skin is rough

The chameleon's skin IS rough, however the skin a top of these boney nubs that fluoresce under UV light is extremely thin, and transparent.

From the picture shown, I think it is not the color of the bones but the color of the skin that is found also in other animals

No, the bone fluoresces when exposed to UV light, not the skin, the bone. Some of the images are of a live chameleon, others are just of the bone, the fluorescence matches up.

The rays are derived from the chemical makeup of the skin reflected off by the intake of light from the outside.

No, they aren't.

I doubt the explanation from your source and I think the most correct answer is the result of your research on the platform of chemical reactions in color and light theory.

Then you are an Idiot. Because the data is what it is, you don't get to just throw around your wild speculation when you clearly don't have a clue about the experiments that were done.

Thank you for reminding me of the content mistake for putting the image that is not appropriate, I apologize for it and I have to remove it.

In my place there is almost no chameleon animal, some time ago I just borrowed from friends and the picture is indeed rare. Thanks for the information.

So, on the luminous part of the body the skin is thin and transparent, incredible. Incidentally I am currently living in the city (Lhokseumawe), I used to live in the village. Of course many of the night animals I encounter, such as fireflies (have lights), butterflies of angels (all wings are circled in a line light), silver lizards (above their bodies, from nose to tail tip there is silver thread)
I once had a bee honey farm, several times I've seen a strange snake in the farm. His body is the size of a thumb, his head as big as a ping pong ball, about 150 cm in length. During the day, the snake is very frightening to me because of its rough head like a dragon (more or less) but when the night part of the body is full of color and on the head there are 7 irregular spots glowing like in your chameleon picture. Then there is a geckos (a kind of big lizard) two upper eyelids there is also a light like the chameleon. So now I know about the light on the beast.

So it's not from chemicals on their body parts. I understand now.

Ha ha ha ha ha ... I have told you, I am a crazy man .... but not an idiot. It's about something I've worked on, except for snakes, I've peeled and split every strange animal I've come across to know who and how they are. I have read many books of biology, chemistry and physics beyond a college student in the department, even I have a private mini laboratory at that time. I am currently a Computer Technology Engineer, as an analyst and programming software. I love science so much more to share, that reason makes me join in Indo-STEM so that me and my friends want to invest to develop Indo-STEM (please ask @kharrazi and @ jamhuery) unfortunately indo-STEM is not There are more. For me, the truth I admit is true but the wrong one never becomes true to me. Please read my comments on @lemouth post, very exciting. So I'm NOT IDIOT just crazy learning. Hahahaha ... Claim you I am an idiot, hahaha not a problem, it is good because I have hobbi laugh .... hehehe. Thank you for your new information and knowledge. See you again.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

An incredible animal, right? one of the kings of camouflage.


Chameleons don't just change colors, they also glow.

And prettily at that! This reminds me of how the male peacocks have more vibrant colors than the female. But this is even more interesting in that there is a level of subterfuge employed during the mating season to avoid predators. Fascinating how two survival needs are met in one by the fluorescent mechanism - finding mates and avoiding predators.

Nature always seems to find very elegant solutions.

Really cool! :) (Sorry for that unscientific statement.)

It was my reaction as well. Not everything needs to be scientific!

I wonder if dinosaurs also employed florescence in their bones and plates.

That's a good question, I suppose good evidence for that now would be finding a bird that does.

It's little bit scaring to me . This is amazing work and i appreciate you for that you collect some good info . Nice collection overall. Keep it up like this kind of educational post @justtryme90

Will do, thanks!

Damn that's pretty sick, I wonder if it's in 8/12 of the chameleons if that might mean that it is actually an ancestral trait in the chameleons. Could be cool to see us find a bunch of reptiles with a common ancestor to chameleons also have the dormant genes for fluorescent growths, but possibly having evolved to not expressed them. Could lead to some interesting new discoveries

Could be cool to see us find a bunch of reptiles with a common ancestor to chameleons also have the dormant genes for fluorescent growths, but possibly having evolved to not expressed them.

Indeed, presumably there would be a gene pathway for development of these bone growths (and it shouldn't be all that hard to identify, especially considering the differences based on sex). Tracing things back through the evolutionary tree would indeed be pretty interesting.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

With all the research being invested into mimicking what animals do naturally, it is strange to think that someday, this might be the foundation for our new stealth technology for androids.

Stealth bones

Waoo really every day you learn something new, I must check the post frogs, but this is something crazy. I never would have imagined it. Do not observe, in what place can they be found?

The post on frogs is really old and not particularly informative. Was still learning how to make blogs at that stage :) (not that I've figured it out yet... but I think maybe getting a bit better)

It should contain a link to the article though!

We all started that way haha, anyway, thanks for the information.

Well, this is a new one. Nature is keeping the scientist busy as it continues to give one clue to the puzzle now and then. Glowing bones? Who would've thought, here I am assuming it is only the skin that changes colour as a sort of their survival strategies of blending into the environment to avoid detection by predators. Now bringing mating/ some kind of coded communication to the equation now adds more to the equation.

Now bringing mating/ some kind of coded communication to the equation now adds more to the equation.

Life is both simple and exceedingly complex. Often both at the same time. The more we understand the more complicated things become as the more strands of the web become visible.

And boom! You nailed it
"The more we understand the more complicated things become as the more strands of the web become visible"
A piece of great, much quoted, philosophy came from the lips an elder of the Duwamish tribe of native americans. Chief Seattle allegedly said;
"Humans did not weave the web of life. We are but a strand upon it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves"
In terms of science, and the arena of quantum science in particular, this is surely becoming more and more evident?
Loved, and learned, from the article, thanks muchly for sharing it⭐️

I'm glad you found it informative. I thought the concept of fluorescent bones was really cool. A very interesting ornamentation.

Cool??? It's just the darndest thing to know about! I have been cogitating on this all day (I do this a lot!) and maybe the reason they have amazing fluorescent bones is linked to the colourchanging exterior of the beast?

As without?

I also remembered reading about the regenerative properties that chameleons have. If their tail is lost to a predator, for example, they will often regrow a new one. Which has HUGE implcations for medical sceinces and is being investigated by several major companies and universities.
More on this in the link...

I am curious though about why nature, in all its seemingly random wisdom, would give fluorescent bones to chameleons, or if you prefer, why would they evolve a glow in the dark skeletal structure, if its only purpose is, as you suggest, ornamental?

Is it possible that a chameleon's inner glow will attract it a better mate for example?

If their tail is lost to a predator, for example, they will often regrow a new one.

There are a couple of creatures that can do this. For instance the Axolotl.

why would they evolve a glow in the dark skeletal structure

Fluorescence isn't glow in the dark per say, as in that case most people think of like a glow in the dark ball or sticker:

Like that one.

That is phosphorescence, not fluorescence.

Fluorescence is when a higher energy lights energy is used and released as a lower energy light. Its what happens when something glows under a black light (a UV light). This is what is happening with the chameleon, the bones get excited by UV light and glow. Its not an "inner glow" ... as if the animal were producing the light.

Is it possible that a chameleon's inner glow will attract it a better mate for example?

Might make it easier in the forest, where UV can permeate but normal light not so well.

The more we know, the more we realise how much we don't know. The great irony of life.

Wow, nature at its fullest. One day, we could have florescent humans..
Imagine if a human body part can be generically modified to emit light rays. Firstly, the need to go out at night with flashlight would be overruled :)
Now I'm sounding fictional.

Nice piece sir

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Thanks for the information sir,until now I used to believe that chameleon only changes colour to match their environment.I never knew that some specie glow.Any frequency at which they glow?

Very cool. I'm surprised this hasn't been found before if its so widespread in chameleons. I guess no one had a compelling enough reason to start shining UV light on different animals.

I guess no one had a compelling enough reason to start shining UV light on different animals.

It would appear not, yeah. Seems so simple, but .... who would do that?

This is awesome. Following for more.

i haven't thought about the glowing bones i believed it was something that had to do with skin. The part that from animals and plants we gain so much valuable info that then we use or merge it with our own ideas it fascinating. from the birth of plane to the thing that digs underground for the metro( i don't recall the name but the inspiration behind was the worm) is truly amazing!

Last years are full of unexpected researches about already well-familiar animals. This is the second amazing info about chameleons.

Last year I learned that chameleons use the ability to change the color in the first place not for camouflage. It is a way of social communication. By using colors they demonstrate the basic reactions: aggression, fear, obedience. Masking under the color of the leaves during hunting or rest is an additional function.

But the glowing bones is even cooler! Maybe we didn't notice that live on the planet Pandora from the movie Avatar :)

Interesante información, ahora fluorescente no creo que le sea fácil camuflarse, saludos excelente artículo.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Very cool that some creatures have discovered ways to apply fluorescence.
Sounds like an open field of research is to start checking every living thing with UV light and see which ones fluoresce and to try and figure out how and why.

Thanks for the interesting post. Resteemed

Indeed that is where I would be interested to see things go next. Then take that data and see what uses we believe the ornamentation in each case have and see if a broader evolutionary pattern exists, or if it's all related to mating.

Wow, I didn't even know there were fluorescent land animals! I guess anything to attract the ladies ey? :D

I love Chameleons, here's one of the many artworks I did on the subject.

Chameleon 2.jpg

Yep, we are finding fluorescence in interesting places. Definitely for the ladies.

now i read your post,a really interesting invention.Thanks for information ! @justtryme90

Interesting invention? What? An aspect of an animals body is an invention?

is it not an invention to research an animal?

An invention is generally a word used to imply the creation of something new. Like invention of the light bulb. :)

The word for this would be study, or research. Because the authors were trying to understand this aspect of the animal that they observed.

Cheers. Now I understand where you were coming from! I was confused!

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Researchers find this direction of the animal and get invented, my first job is to write to you my friend..I promise! :)))) @justtryme90

I was thinking about making a joke asking whether chameleons find people who bike at night attractive, or neon signs...but then neither of those things has anything to do with fluorescence.

I did know a girl though at school whose name was Floránce. Would they find her attractive?

No that's not right either.

How about toothpaste?

No, fluoride is probably not the same.

I will figure it out...

I would love to see one of this. I think it's so amazing.

A chameleon? Or the glowing bones? All you need for that is to find a chameleon and shine a black light at it.

wow.. Thank you

New species continue to be discovered every day in the world. These are very interesting species.
There are two different ways to make something colorful in nature o use pigments or to have light-reflecting crystal structure matrices

nature continues to amaze the son of man.

This isn't a new species, just information about species we already knew of.

I mean I misunderstood ..
My English is not very good so

Thats okay :)

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

thanks @justtryme90
I do not want to use your good intentions, please do not misunderstand me I want to raise the value of mvest I would be grateful if you were to follow me.

'sexy time' reasons :DD

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Hey @justtryme90 I love reading your posts. They are so interesting. Chemistry and bio chemistry have always been quite interesting to me. I am still new here and i am still building my followers list. I hope I can be as successful as you eventually! 😊

I just read your article. And I very enjoyed it! you know...due to lack of time, it's been a while since i have not read an article with this kind of informations. Beautiful nature and all the species living in it!! just Amazing! I forgot how big and exceptional this universe is. Thank you for reminding me that. Also, the infos are interesting. Have a nice day!

to uniquely uniquely in your post @justtryme90

Love this post. Wish there was more of it up on steemit.

wow...good post...thank for sharing..dear..@justtryme90

.....good post..& excellent writing...

I love chameleons and octopuses and the way they change colors. Thank you for the information.

this is awsome.... thanks for your post...

nice post g/m