Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Master of Camouflage

This week's show about the evolution of intelligence features a segment on the ability of cuttlefish to change the colors and patterns of their skin to match their surroundings. As Roger Hanlon, senior scientist at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts, describes in "Feather Knows Best", this helpful adaptation has been honed to the point that the cuttlefish can undergo this transformation in the blink of an eye. In the video above, a cuttlefish floats just above the ocean floor, its color ranging from purple to yellow. At about 27 seconds in, it suddenly takes on the colors and pattern of the ocean floor, and if you didn't see it happen, you'd probably swim right by without seeing the animal at all. At least, that's what it hopes.


Chris said...

is that a moving rock? No it's a fish. I never really understood why humans ever developed camouflage like that. It would be very useful when you are sneaking out for a pint behind the wife's back but probably more useful for sneaking back in!

If aliens were camouflaged on a distant planet they probably wouldn't reply to anything we sent them as it would break their protection, so contacting planet cuttlefish is not going to happen.

Ren said...

That would come in very handy when my boss walks by my desk.

Of course, my "nonchalant" whistling and shifty eyes will probably give me away.

Kathy Orlinsky said...

What's really amazing is that it seems to change not only its color, but it's size and texture as well.