Not only can cuttlefish change the texture of their bodies to blend in with the ocean floor, new research shows that they can put this camouflage power on autopilot to save energy.
Scientists have long known that the cuttlefish — a relative of squid and octopi that lives on the ocean floor — can contract its skin and change its 3D texture into little bumps called papillae. By cutting open the cuttlefish, scientists in today’s study discovered the nerve in the body responsible for regulating these skin contractions and monitoring the creature’s efforts at camouflage. Most interestingly, the nerve can go on autopilot and “lock” the camouflage for an hour without using any energy. The results were published today in iScience, a journal published by Cell Press.
Interestingly, the nerve system that controls this autopilot power is very similar to the system that makes squid iridescent, so the scientists think they might have evolved from the same system. Next, they’re trying to find the link between these two systems and better understand the location of the neurons to figure out more mysteries of these ocean creatures.