Squid camouflage: complexity and adaptability that amaze

Squid, octopus and cuttlefish have always been known for their ability to camouflage themselves in their environment. They are able to instantly change the color and texture of their skin to blend into the underwater environment. However, new research shows that octopus camouflage is much more complex and adaptive than previously thought.

Researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) and the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research conducted a detailed study of the squid's camouflage mechanisms. They found that cuttlefish use millions of chromatophore skin cells to create complex patterns. Each cell is surrounded by a network of muscles and controlled by neurons in the brain.

The muscles contract and relax to expose or conceal the pigment cell, and together they create the squid's skin patterns. It was previously thought that cuttlefish used only a few components of the pattern for camouflage, but new results show that their camouflage is much more complex and adaptive.

To conduct the study, scientists used an ultra-high-resolution camera to zoom in on the squid's skin. They recorded the expansion and contraction of tens and hundreds of thousands of chromatophores in real time. They then used a supercomputer to process the data and applied a neural network to analyze various features of the images.

The researchers also found that the squid's camouflage adapts in such a way that the human eye cannot detect differences in the patterns on the skin. Even when the same cuttlefish encountered the same background several times, the patterns on its skin differed slightly.

How squid receive feedback about their camouflage and how they use this information to adjust their camouflage patterns remains a mystery. However, these results open up new possibilities for studying and understanding camouflage mechanisms in nature.

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