Chromatophores are pigmented cells in the dermis. There are several types of chromatophores, each of which is responsible for a colour. The colour may be produced as a result of the presence of pigments which absorb all of the colours apart from one, or crystals which diffract light.
By deforming and changing the distribution of the pigments and crystals which contain, these cells can change the colour and patterns of the dermis of an animal.
It is the combination of different types of chromatophores and the spatial distribution of their pigments which gives the organism its final colour and patterns.
Chromatophores also allow organisms to use a visual method of communication or to camouflage themselves in their environment by mimicking their surroundings.
It is the chameleon's chromatophores which give it its amazing capacity for camouflage. © Today is a good day CC by-nc-nd 2.0