Biology 342 Fall 2014
Emily Merfeld & Nicolette Tapia
Camouflage- the ability to match appearance to environment- is an art perfected by the cuttlefish.
Cuttlefish have the ability to change body pattern and color in response to external cues, such as the physical environment and social context (Figures 1 and 2). They are considered a model organism for the study of camouflage and the effect of environment on physiology. Their complex body patterns change according to environment (Figure 1) and social context (Figure 2). These molluscs are a model organism for the study of camouflage and the effect of environment on physiology.
Figure 1. Cuttlefish camouflaged amongst grayscale rocks. Image from J.K. Wickiser.
Figure 2. Zebra body patterning displayed by males during courting and mating. Image from Georgia Aquarium.
This website describes cuttlefish color-changing behavior through Nikolaas Tinbergen’s “Four Questions”: phylogeny, adaptation, mechanism, and ontogeny (Table 1). Cuttlefish were studied by Tinbergen himself- he was interested in the zebra pattern displayed by courting males (Figure 2; Tinbergen 1939).
Figure 3. Cuttlefish have become the inspiration for new flexible smartphone technology. Images courtesy of Shelley Eades, San Francisco Chronicle.
Table 1. Tinbergen's Four Questions.
Can cuttlefish blend in to a living room? Watch the video.