Cephalopods are a group of sea creatures that include octopi, squid, and cuttlefish. These terrific tentacular creatures are masters of camouflage and are able to change their skin colour, pattern and texture to match the environment around them and protect themselves against predators.

Even though cephalods are colourblind, they’re able to create color patterns that match their surroundings. Only the firefly squid is known to have color vision, which sees three visual pigments just like we do. The rest have rhabdomeres, which are like the squid version of the rod and cone receptors in our eyes, that allow cephalopods to see polarized and unpolarized light and enhances their perception of contrast.

Chromatophores are tiny dots of red, yellow, and brown pigment in the skin of the cephalopods, and they are responsible for the changes in color. Reflectors under the skin produce the rest of the shorter-wavelength colors (blues and greens). When those chromatophores change shape and size, they change the predominant skin color of the cephalopod.

Roger Hanlon, the senior scientist at the Woods Hole Institute said “Camouflage is not looking exactly like the background. we’re behind the eight-ball, as it were, if we think the world looks exactly how we see it. There’s a bunch more information there, and other animals see it very differently.”

Source: Video: [Science Friday] Words: [Cat Viglienzoni]

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