Deep Blue See Me Not
January 26, 2014 4:50 AM   Subscribe

Cuttlefish: Kings of Camouflage – (SLYT HD 53:26) PBS NOVA, April 2007. Wikipedia article, more images.
posted by cenoxo (9 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
If your mind isn't sufficiently blown by the video, read this (from the Wikipedia article):

"Cuttlefish, although color-blind, are able to rapidly change the color of their skin to match their surrounds and create chromatically complex patterns, apparently without the ability to perceive color, through some other mechanism which is not yet understood. They have been seen to have the ability to assess their surroundings and match the color, contrast and texture of the substrate even in total darkness."
posted by hat_eater at 6:33 AM on January 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I can't help but think of the South Park in which Apple copies the Human Centipede, and the head of the centipede eats cuttlefish and asparagus. But thanks for the post!
posted by mangasm at 7:43 AM on January 26, 2014

Cuttlefish eyes see polarized light:
Cuttlefish have the most acute polarization vision found in any animal.
For animals that can perceive polarized light in a more nuanced way than humans, it adds another dimension to vision. They can see the angle at which the light is reflected and polarized. The most acute polarized light perception in any animal was believed to be limited to differences of about 10 to 20 degrees. But the experiments from a team of researchers from the University of Bristol and the University of Queensland show that the mourning cuttlefish (Sepia plangon) responded to changes of polarized light orientation of just one degree.
Cuttlefish may use the polarization of light much like how we use color. This dimension of light could be essential in their underwater world. The researchers modeled how the world might look to a cuttlefish with high-resolution polarized vision by creating images that used colors to represent changes in polarization. These showed that there is a wealth of information available in the polarization dimension — if you have the right type of vision to see it.

This polarization acuity may have evolved because cuttlefish and other cephalopods don't see color very well, if they see it at all. This lack of color vision was puzzling to scientists trying to understand how these animals could be masters of camouflage, able to blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. These findings suggest that cuttlefish may use polarized light to create their camouflage.
Perception becomes reality.
posted by cenoxo at 8:08 AM on January 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

I registered "" long ago, after maybe too much to drink and a trip around youtube's cephelapod treasure trove.

If I have one lesson to impart to young people, it's put your credit card far away from your desk when you're drinking.
posted by DigDoug at 9:32 AM on January 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

And it's not even my birthday!
posted by Scientist at 2:37 PM on January 26, 2014

Thank you for posting this.
posted by 517 at 6:28 PM on January 26, 2014

Dang it Nature, why do the most flamboyant, adorable, and swaggering specimens come in the most toxic wrapping? I just want to pinch them or put them in my mouth because they are cute, not because I want to eat them, or do them harm. C'mon... just a little pinchy?
(also, the flamboyant cuttlefish is actually lame-buoyant, so a pun is gained in an evolutionary trade-off)
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:35 PM on January 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

"They have been seen [...] in total darkness."

...How? Maybe the cuttlefish figure it out the same way.
posted by NMcCoy at 4:42 AM on January 27, 2014

I suppose the crafty scientists use flashes to catch them in flagrantem colorem. Please forgive me for possibly mangling my Latin.
posted by hat_eater at 6:55 AM on January 27, 2014

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