Fish chameleons are able to reflect themselves through their skin

Fish chameleons are able to reflect themselves through their skin

Seeing each other but without a mirror: This is what some chameleon fish can do, as they are able to change the color of their skin to blend in with the environment or to communicate with their own kind. This amazing ability of ‘cutaneous vision’ was discovered by research led by Lori Schweckert, of Duke University in the US. published On Nature Communications. The discovery comes from a hunch he had a few years ago by observing the ability of some warfish, particularly the Bargo Gallo (Lachnolaimus maximus) which is very common in the Atlantic Ocean, to be able to change color and design on their skin even after several hours. being dead.

From this observation, the researchers in fact hypothesized that the transformation mechanism that evolved to blend in and communicate with like was directed by mechanisms that were at least partially independent of the eye and brain, a type of “skin vision,” that is, skin vision. The ability to see directly through the skin. The researchers hypothesize that sensitivity evolved, not to observe the outside but to see oneself. To investigate, the researchers analyzed Bargo Gallo’s skin in detail and discovered the presence of superimposed layers: an outer layer with cells capable of moving a series of pigments internally to modify the color of the fish, and a more inner layer with cells. Capable of capturing light differences through special structures called chromophores (somewhat similar to those in the retina). According to the researchers, the inner layer acts as a kind of photographic film, thanks to which the animals can take a kind of photographic image of their skin from the inside.

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Thus, it is not an eye that sees out, but rather a way of looking in a mirror without the need for an available mirror to check whether the pigmentation faithfully duplicates the environment in which the animal is or takes on the color needed to communicate with it. their own kind, for example during the mating period.

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