Animals That Can Change Their Color (And How They Do It)

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Camouflage is pretty common in the animal kingdom, but animals that can change their colors are much less common. This list is full of animals that have the spectacular evolutionary gift of being able to change their colors. Some of them can change to blend into a new background in less than a second.

The reasons animals change their colors do vary, as do the methods they use to change colors, and scientists still do not completely understand the ways in which some animals change. But the mystery just makes them all the more awesome to look at.
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    Several species of octopuses can change color to camouflage themselves, but the best camouflager of them all is definitely the mimic octopus. Not only does it change its color by expanding and contracting pigment cells in its skin, it changes the shape of its body to mimic other animals.
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    Many species of squid also change color for camouflage, and they do so the same way an octopus does, by expanding or contracting their pigment cells.
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    The cuttlefish is closely related to octopus and squid, and it has the same color-changing ability. What's remarkable about the cuttlefish is that it can accurately change to match its background in complete darkness.
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    The seahorse changes color the same way octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish do. It changes color either for camouflage or to express emotions during courtship.
  5. Peacock Flounder

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    The peacock flounder changes colors to match its surroundings, in order to hide from predators and catch its prey. The flounder is able to release different pigments in certain skin cells, while repressing pigments in other cells, creating a pattern which resembles whatever surface it rests on.
  6. Sleek Unicornfish

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    The sleek unicornfish changes from dark blue to light blue when it is cleaned by smaller fish who feed on parasites. Scientists think the color change helps the smaller fish more easily see the parasites on the unicorn fish's scales. Some unicornfish species also change during mating behaviors.
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    We all know chameleons are great color-changers, but their color-changing abilities are actually not used for camouflage, as many people think. Chameleons change color to express their moods - if they're feeling territorial and aggressive, or if they want to mate. To change color, they use the same types of cells that octopuses and cuttlefish use.
  8. Tree Frog

    Tree frogs can change color the same way that chameleons do. Sometimes the color changes are to camouflage themselves, and sometimes they are to adjust to a change in temperature. If the frogs need to absorb more heat, they turn a darker color.
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