Microscopic observation of the skin of Plestiodon lizards, which have body stripes and blue tail coloration, identified epidermal melanophores and three types of dermal chromatophores: xanthophores, iridophores, and melanophores. There was a vertical combination of these pigment cells, with xanthophores in the uppermost layer, iridophores in the intermediate layer, and melanophores in the basal layer, which varied according to the skin coloration. Skin with yellowish-white or brown coloration had an identical vertical order of xanthophores, iridophores, and melanophores, but yellowish-white skin had a thicker layer of iridophores and a thinner layer of melanophores than did brown skin. The thickness of the iridophore layer was proportional to the number of reflecting platelets within each iridophore. Skin showing green coloration also had three layers of dermal chromatophores, but the vertical order of xanthophores and iridophores was frequently reversed. Skin showing blue color had iridophores above the melanophores. In addition, the thickness of reflecting platelets in the blue tail was less than in yellowish-white or brown areas of the body. Skin with black coloration had only melanophores.
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