If you’re a chameleon, camouflage isn’t always what you want to do with your color-changing abilities. Sometimes you want to stand out and look as bright and as threatening as possible, specifically in a fight with another chameleon. But where you are bright matters.
Behavioral ecologist Russell Ligon and his colleague Kevin McGraw captured skirmishes between 10 male veiled chameleons on a high-speed camera and found that their colors can predict who will win the fight. From New Scientist:
They found that males with the brightest side stripes were more likely to instigate a fight, whereas those with brighter heads that changed colour most rapidly were more likely to win. This suggests that different colours and patterns may signal different aspects of competitive behaviour – how motivated the chameleon is versus its strength.
Read more about chameleon color communication research at National Geographic: Chameleons Convey Different Info With Different Body Parts.