Today I’m so excited to talk about a fantastic creature who has a process that spans across other oceanic creatures and even insects but this one is truly the best at this! Now we’ve all heard of or seen some type of camouflage I’m sure. They sell camo clothes for humans, especially hunters, bird watchers and nature photographers who are looking to blend into their surroundings while observing a creature without disturbing them. There are also a lot of insects and marine creatures and even reptiles who are able to change their skin to blend with their surroundings. It’s like a “Where’s Waldo?” type of challenge to find them. One creature, however, stands out above the rest.
Cuttlefish are a type of cephlopod that roams deep ocean. A cephlopod is a predatory mollusk that is unique in that its body is very symmetrical; meaning if you cut one down the middle, both sides would be identical. The most common cephlopods that people are aware of are octopi and squids. The cuttlefish is kind of a mesh between the two because it’s back end is like that of a squid but its face is very octopus like with all it’s tentacles.
Now, octopi and squid are able to change their coloring to match their marine surroundings. It’s not an exact science and you can still spot them most times but what the cuttlefish does in comparison is quite extraordinary. Not only can it change its coloring, it can also change it’s coloring and pattern to match literally any of it’s surroundings. The article I read by NatGeo News expressed it best when they made the comparison to a high definition television. The cuttlefish has what amounts to electric skin but instead of pixels, cuttlefish have what are known as chromatophores in their muscles that are able to broadcast different colors depending on their surroundings.
The chromatophores are basically muscles the cuttlefish are able to bend and contract to form reds, yellows, browns and blacks. What’s super cool is they are able to do this even in the dark. The neurons in their brain are just that advanced. Funnily enough, cuttlefish are colorblind but their skin is like a rainbow when it comes to reflecting their surroundings because white light bounces off of them and is able to transmit any color because white is, after all, all the colors combined.
This amazing method of camouflage is literally the difference between life or death for the cuttlefish. Most mollusk species have a hard outer shell. The cuttlefish is completely squishy so not only does the color change help them capture unsuspecting prey, it keeps them from being prey themselves. One of the coolest things however is besides the color change, they can shape shift! Yep, you read that right.
The best example is when it’s mating season. Not all male cuttlefish are the same size and it’s always a huge competition to get to the female and inject her with their baby makers. One such incidence, which happened to be caught on video, shows a male cuttlefish on the smaller side trying to get his chance at the female and being barred and even attacked by the bigger males. This cunning little cuttlefish then does the genius thing and changes not only his coloring, but his body to make him look like a female! The males surrounding him can’t tell the difference and he’s able to get through them to the female. Success! Check it out below:
Have you heard of the cuttlefish? Would you agree that the cuttlefish is a master of disguise? Isn’t that male cuttlefish in the video a genius? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!