The science behind the incredible disappearing cuttlefish

A cloak of near invisibility in an underwater world.

Internet Culture

Published Apr 27, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 10:07 am CDT

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BY CASEY DUNN

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For many animals, being noticed can mean being eaten or scaring away a would-be meal. From the tiger’s stripes to the snowy owl’s downy white feathers, camouflage allows animals to hide in plain sight and avoid these perils. But camouflage is often about more than color. Some animals have skin texture that matches the texture of their environment. Other animals have shapes that make it hard to spot the outlines of their bodies.

Camouflage that matches one environment may stand out in another environment. This can be a big problem for animals that need to remain mobile. Cuttlefish, relatives of squid and octopi, handle this in an extraordinary way. They have changeable camouflage that adapts to new surroundings in a split second.

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Read the full story in the New York Times.

This episode of CreatureCast about Cuttlefish camouflage was made by Jacob Gindi, a student in my Invertebrate Zoology Course at Brown University. The music is by Akajules. Cuttlefish also use their dynamic colors for communication, as explained in a previous episode of CreatureCast. You can find even more CreatureCast episodes here.

Screengrab via NYTimes

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*First Published: Apr 27, 2014, 11:53 am CDT