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Something new every day: Geckos see through their skin

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From National Geographic:

When Domenico Fulgione placed Moorish geckos on dark surfaces, he saw what he had seen for years. These spiny, hand-sized lizards changed colour. Within an hour, their typical creamy white complexions transformed into blacker hues that better matched their environment.

And then Fulgione blindfolded the geckos.

They still changed colour. How does an animal adjust its colour to match its environment, when it can’t see that environment at all?

Fulgione’s team found an important clue when they repeated their experiment and bandaged the geckos’ torsos, rather than their heads. This time, their camouflage failed. They could see perfectly well but with their flanks covered, they were less effective at matching their surroundings than their unrestrained or blindfolded peers. More.

Hey, it works. They don’t need to “notice” their surroundings, to react to them. But it’s still unclear why the back changes so quickly when most of the opsins (light sensors) are on the flanks.

Hat tip: Slawek Bioslawek

4 Replies to “Something new every day: Geckos see through their skin

  1. 1
    ppolish says:

    Plenty of experiments reveal colors affect peoples moods. Wonder if any of those experiments were done blind folded.

  2. 2
    Axel says:

    The weather is also, a favourite device of novelists to engender a particular mood, isn’t it? And as for those ‘made for TV’ films, with their peals of thunder and flashes of lightning, ‘hackneyed’ hardly begins to cover it.

    But I expect the attitude of geckos to the weather would be a trifle utilitarian.

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    AMEN. likewise , after passing thresholds, I say people did and can change their colours also.
    After the flood it was this ability that accounts for our different looks.
    its no big deal in nature. however threshold must be crossed as the body defines it.
    Geckos just do it too and more. That are not unique but us a common mechanism.

  4. 4
    Mung says:

    I’d be more impressed if they could see through my skin.

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