Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cuttlefish Masters Of Disguise Despite Colorblindness

Date:
April 20, 2006
Source:
Marine Biological Laboratory
Summary:
Cuttlefish are wizards of camouflage. Adept at blending in with their surroundings, cuttlefish are known to have a diverse range of body patterns and can switch between them almost instantaneously. New research from MBL Marine Resources scientists, to appear in the May 2006 issue of the journal Vision Research, confirms that while these masters of disguise change their appearance based on visual cues, they do so while being completely colorblind.

Cuttlefish are wizards of camouflage. Adept at blending in with their surroundings, cuttlefish are known to have a diverse range of body patterns and can switch between them almost instantaneously.
Credit: Image courtesy of Lydia Mäthger, MBL

Cuttlefish are wizards of camouflage. Adept at blending in with their surroundings, cuttlefish are known to have a diverse range of body patterns and can switch between them almost instantaneously. New research from MBL Marine Resources scientists, to appear in the May 2006 issue of the journal Vision Research, confirms that while these masters of disguise change their appearance based on visual cues, they do so while being completely colorblind.

Related Articles


While previous research has reported cuttlefish colorblindness, MBL Research Associate Lydia Mäthger and her colleagues in Roger Hanlon’s laboratory approached the problem in more depth and with a new behavioral assay. The researchers tested cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) color perception through observing the animal’s behavioral response to a series of checkerboard patterned substrates of various colors and brightnesses.

They found that the animals did not respond to the checkerboard pattern when placed on substrates whose color intensities were matched to the Sepia visual system, suggesting that these checkerboards appeared to their eyes as uniform backgrounds. However, their results showed that cuttlefish were able to detect contrast differences of at least 15%, which Mäthger and her colleagues suspect might be a critical factor in uncovering what determines camouflage patterning in cuttlefish.

Despite these results, the vexing question of how cuttlefish master the task of camouflage in low-contrast, color-rich environments such as those found at shallow depths of water, remains to be answered. Mäthger and her colleagues are currently looking at cuttlefish contrast sensitivity in more detail. “Our result that cuttlefish are able to detect contrast differences of at least 15%, is only an upper limit,” says Mäthger. “It’s certainly not the contrast threshold, which we would like to know. It seems that cuttlefish camouflage themselves by matching intensities of objects in the environment and we’re collecting data to test see whether this is really the case.”

In addition to looking at contrast between different objects, Mäthger and her colleagues are testing a variety of other optical clues, in particular, cuttlefish perception of object edges, brightness, and sizes of objects.

Cuttlefish are cephalopods, relatives of octopuses and squid, and are found in all marine habitats worldwide; they are particularly abundant around coral reefs and temperate rock reefs in which the visual habitat is richly varied. Cephalopods can change their appearance with a speed and diversity unparalleled in the animal kingdom. Some squids, octopuses, and cuttlefish can show 30-50 different appearances. Their sophisticated neural control of the skin make cuttlefish an excellent model for studying camouflage.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Marine Biological Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Marine Biological Laboratory. "Cuttlefish Masters Of Disguise Despite Colorblindness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060419072340.htm>.
Marine Biological Laboratory. (2006, April 20). Cuttlefish Masters Of Disguise Despite Colorblindness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060419072340.htm
Marine Biological Laboratory. "Cuttlefish Masters Of Disguise Despite Colorblindness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060419072340.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins