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Discovery Magazine 6/1/2008

Cuttlefish: The Camouflage King

Its eyes are like something from a Batman movie. Its feeding tentacles shoot out of its mouth like a birthday party blower. Its blood is bluish green, and its “ink” is black. (Cuttlefish, like octopuses and squid, can eject a cloud of black ink into the water, which can distract attackers long enough for them to escape.) Making the cuttlefish even stranger is the fact that it is not even a fish, but a mollusk. (Who named this animal, anyway?) The cuttlefish has an internal shell called a cuttlebone, so scientists put them into the shell (mollusk) group.

The most amazing feature of cuttlefish has to be their ability to blend in to their surroundings. Cuttlefish have been said to have “the world’s best camouflage skills.” First, cuttlefish can change the texture of their skin to mimic the shape of certain rocks or corals. Second, these mollusks can move their entire bodies into a variety of positions. For example, while swimming next to large seaweed, a cuttlefish can mimic the grass’s motion by positioning and waving its eight arms in a similar way that the seaweed sways in the water. This makes it very difficult for both attackers and possible prey to know the precise location of a cuttlefish.

Finally, what must give other sea life more trouble than anything is the cuttlefish’s ability to change color—and to do it so quickly. A cuttlefish can change the color of its entire body in the blink of an eye. If this mollusk wants to change to red, it sends signals from its brain to its “pigment” (or color) sacs to change to red. Cuttlefish can hide from other sea life by changing to the color of sand or seaweed. It can  also appear as a strobe light, blinking “on and off” very quickly.

Cuttlefish are remarkable creatures. But how do they know they have changed to a particular color if they can’t see themselves? Also, if, as scientists believe, this animal is colorblind, how does it always choose the color that is most helpful (like changing to the color of sand when on the ocean floor)? Scientists do not have a “natural” answer for these questions. Why? Because the cuttlefish was created by a supernatural Creator. Yes, God made this amazing creature. God alone is the cause of the cuttlefish.



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