Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Camouflage in motion

Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) are masters of camouflage. Being able to mimic their surroundings helps them hide from predators. But how do they maintain their camouflage while moving through complex environments, such as coral reefs, sea grass, and varying light patterns? A new study published in Frontiers in Physiology examined this question. They wanted to know how small an object in the environment could be for the cuttlefish to still mimic it quickly enough while moving. What they found was that cuttlefish could match camouflage of objects as small as 10-19cm wide, or just enough to hide them as the mantle length of animals examined in the study averaged 7.2-12.3cm.

These kids could learn a thing or two about hide and seek from cuttlefish…


Josef N, Berenshtein I, Rousseau M, Scata G, Fiorito G, Shashar N. Size Matters: Observed and Modeled Camouflage Response of European Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) to Different Substrate Patch Sizes during Movement. Frontiers in Physiology. 17 January 2017.

Categories: Environment, Extreme Animals, Intelligence and Neuroscience, Ocean Life

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