Deep sea cephalopods can switch between transparent or opaque for better camouflage

Illustration for article titled Deep sea cephalopods can switch between transparent or opaque for better camouflage

Cephalopods continue to astound us on a daily basis. New research has shown that deep sea cephalopods not only have incredible camouflage powers, but can switch between being transparent and opaque at will.

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For sea creatures, the best type of camouflage depends greatly on the conditions and the depth. When it's comparatively light, transparency is the best defense, but in the deep ocean where predators provide their own light sources, being a less reflective, dark color protects better. The octopus Japetella heathi and the squid Onychoteuthis banksii both demonstrate the ability to do either switching according to changes in depth, visibility, light sources.

Illustration for article titled Deep sea cephalopods can switch between transparent or opaque for better camouflage
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This just adds to the already substantial collection of awesome camouflage stories about cephalopods.

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Photo by Sarah Zylinski/Duke University

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DISCUSSION

arthurwisco
Furtive Glance

As with other camouflage-using animals, I wonder if the phrase used — switching colors "at will"— is actually incorrect. I doubt the animal makes a conscious decision to change "color" so much as it experiences an involuntary and automatic reaction to visual or other stimuli.

But I am not trying to camouflage my own lack of knowledge in this area. My highest accomplishment in this area is a B in advanced biology in college earned (redacted) years ago. I am just curious as to whether studies have been done in this area.

Of course, then there is that guy who had "Perfect Hair Forever."