Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Luminescent lizards - Bone-based fluorescence in chameleons

15.01.2018

Chameleons are famous for their colour language. Using colour changes and colourful patterns they communicate with their conspecifics. A research team from Munich, Germany, has now found that many chameleons have bony tubercles on their head, which glow blue under UV light and form impressive patterns. The skin in this area is very thin and transparent, so that UV light passes through a 'window' directly onto the bone and is converted there into visible, blue light. The function of this fluorescence is still unclear, but the researchers suspect that they are private signals for species recognition. The work was published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

Biogenic fluorescence is mainly known from marine organisms, but is rare in terrestrial vertebrates. `So we could hardly be-lieve it when we illuminated the chameleons in our collection with a UV lamp, and almost all species showed blue, previously invisible patterns on the head, some even over the whole body, 'says David Prötzel, lead author of the new study and PhD student at the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology (ZSM).


Also the well-known panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) which is also popular as a pet shows fluorescent crests on the head.

Author: David Prötzel (ZSM/LMU)


In some chameleons, such as Brookesia superciliaris, fluorescence extends even all across the body.

Author: David Prötzel (ZSM/LMU)

To understand the phenomenon, the researchers used a variety of modern methods. Micro-CT scans showed that the pattern of fluorescence exactly matched the distribution of tubercles pattern on the skull. The tissue analyses yielded another sur-prise:

'Our histological 3D reconstruction shows that the skin covering the tubercles on the skull is very thin and consists only of a transparent layer of epidermis, 'explains Martin Heß from the BioCenter of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (LMU). These patches effectively act as windows that enable UV light to reach the bone, where it is absorbed and then emitted again as blue fluorescent light.

'It has long been known that bones fluoresce under UV light, but that animals use this phenomenon to fluoresce themselves has surprised us and was previously unknown,' says Frank Glaw, Curator of Herpetology at the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology (ZSM).

The tubercles fluoresce under UV light to form distinct patterns that represent certain species or species groups. In addition, the males in most species of the genus Calumma have significantly more fluorescent tubercles than the females.

Therefore, the researchers suspect that this fluorescence is not a mere coincidence, but helps the chameleons to recognize conspecifics, and presents a consistent pattern in addition to their skin-based colour language - especially as blue is a rare colour and easily recognisable in the forest. However, as so often happens with fluorescence phenomena, this biological function has not yet been proven. The impressive signals of the chameleons, however, show that there is still much to discover beyond human perception.

Publication:
Prötzel, D., M. Heß, M. D. Scherz, M. Schwager, A. van't Padje & F. Glaw (2018): Widespread bone-based fluorescence in cha-meleons. – Scientific Reports, DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-19070-7

Contact:
David Prötzel
SNSB – Zoologische Staatssammlung München
Münchhausenstraße 21, 81247 München
Tel.: 0176/63200513
E-Mail: david.proetzel@mail.de

Dr. Frank Glaw
SNSB – Zoologische Staatssammlung München
Münchhausenstraße 21, 81247 München
Tel.: +49 89 8107 114
E-Mail: frank.glaw@zsm.mwn.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.zsm.mwn.de - Zoologische Staatssammlung München
http://www.snsb.de - Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns

Dr. Eva-Maria Natzer | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Micro-CT scans UV lamp UV light Zoology fluorescence lizards phenomenon

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>