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Chameleon colours 'switched by crystals' [H/T Linc] (LINK)
Published in the journal Nature Communications, the study was a collaboration between quantum physicists and evolutionary biologists at the University of Geneva.
First of all, the team noticed there were no big, spidery cells containing yellow or red pigment that could explain the shifts in hue.
They hit upon the importance of the crystals when they looked inside a type of cell called an "iridophore" using an electron microscope. Whichever angle they looked at them from, the crystals formed an incredibly neat, regular pattern - just the sort of arrangement that creates structural colours.
"When you see this with the eye of a physicist, you know it will have an effect on light," said senior author Prof Michel Milinkovitch.
So Prof Milinkovitch and his colleagues set out to establish whether these crystals might explain not just the chameleon's bright colours, but its changes to those colours as well.