Messenger, John B. Department of Zoology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:November 2019
- Colors produced
- Crustaceans and vertebrates
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A pigmented structure found in many animals, generally in the integument, containing color granules capable of being dispersed and concentrated. The term chromatophore is usually restricted to those structures that bring about changes in color or brightness. Most chromatophores are single cells that are highly branched and contain pigment granules that can disperse or aggregate within the cell. However, in coleoid cephalopod mollusks (all mollusks except Nautilus) [Fig. 1], the chromatophores function as miniature organs, and changes in the dispersion of pigment are brought about by muscles. Although the mode of action of the two chromatophore types is completely different, the effect is the same: pigment either is spread out over a large area of the body or is retracted into a small area. See also: Color; Pigmentation
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