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Learning to communicate like a chameleon

27 July 2010

Communicating with colour

Contrary to what we always believed, chameleons don’t change colour simply to hide. It turns out that chameleons primarily evolved their ability to change the colours and patterns of their skin to communicate visually with one another (ref). This bit of reptilian knowledge makes me happy for several reasons. I was lucky to come across many chameleons while living in East Africa (this little guy was spotted in the West Usambara Mountains near Lushoto, Tanzania.) Sometimes one would cross my path outside my office. Each time, I was fascinated and charmed by their calculated calmness, and incredible anatomy, especially the swiveling eyes and their dexterous toes. Learning that these charismatic creatures don’t change colour just to hide, but also to share is pretty remarkable. They have evolved to be social communicators, and send quick and colourful messages to other chameleons. Let’s get inspired by the chameleon and find ways to share quickly, colourfully, and meaningfully!

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