Some animals we know have amazing abilities to change their form, especially when it comes to their color. Although, of course, these color-changing animals delight us, the power of camouflage plays an important role in their lives. It helps these animals to survive in the wild. When we think of color-changing creatures, the chameleon might come to mind, as well as the octopus and cuttlefish. But now, a third cephalopod joins the ranks of color-camouflaging creatures, the squid. For the first time, scientists caught the squid altering its color to match its environment or, more specifically, its substrate. This finding both delights us to witness and offers scientists new insights into the creature.
Take a look:
A release shares more about this colorful discovery. It shares, “At OIST’s Marine Science Station, the oval squid were, almost accidentally, observed camouflaging to the substrate for the first time. The researchers were cleaning their tank to remove the algal growth. They noticed that the animals were changing color depending on whether they were over the cleaned surface or the algae.”
Following this, the scientists ran a more controlled experiment. And they got the results they hoped to find. “When the squid were in the clean side of the tank, they were the light color. But when they were above the algae, they promptly became darker. Honestly, we wish we had the power to blend into our environments at will like these squids… Especially when we have something on our to-do list we don’t want to do.
As mentioned, this camouflage ability is a new discovery. No one has ever previously reported that squid can change colors. The researchers feel that “as well as opening up exciting avenues for exploring the visual capabilities of the animal, the study also showed that substrate is clearly useful for these squid to survive.”
Prof. Jonathan Miller, Principal Investigator of OIST’s Physics and Biology Unit and the senior author of the research article, shared, “We look forward to continuing to explore the camouflage capabilities of this species and cephalopods more generally.” And we look forward to seeing more color-changing animals doing cool things.