Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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According to my sources, the cuttlefish (which is closely related to squid and octopi) has exquisite control over its pigmentation, such that it can change its patterning on the fly (as you will see in the streaming video below the fold).

Basically, each pigment cell has a cluster of muscle cells around it that control whether it is contracted (invisible) or relaxed (visible). Pigment cells come in several colors, and by controlling each color at the cellular level, this amazing cephalopod is able to blend in with its environment, mimicking plants, other animals, and rocks as it chooses, or by parading around in threatening or seductive coloration it can warn off predators or attract a mate.

Also interesting; even though cuttlefish can change colors, they cannot see colors, although they can detect polarization of light. So through some mysterious process, they can match their own coloration to that of their environment even though they do not have cone photoreceptors.


  1. #1 biosparite
    April 30, 2007

    What a cool video, and very good choice of soundtrack. How can such a beautiful animal be fished for cuttlebones? I think of all the ones my parakeet consumed when I was a kid. then I think of religious Right wingnuts like Ann Coulter advocating SUV purchase and general waste from a short excerpt from Genbesis on how man would dominate the earth. Let’s govern our footprint on the earth in consonance with the fireside stories of Bronze-Age livestock-herders who lived in tents.

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