Humans with at least a vague awareness of pop culture can probably do recognizable impressions of Christopher Walken, Robert DeNiro, and the other go-to’s that struggling impressionists do. If you’re a cuttlefish (if you are and you’re reading this, we know some scientists who would love to meet you), we’ve recently discovered that you can do a pretty damn good impression of a crab, and it’s far more useful than our lame impressions ( via New Scientist).We imitate others for lame entertainment, but the cuttlefish does it for what scientists suspect are more practical reasons, as outlined in research recently published in the Journal of Ethology. The cuttlefish, which is actually a type of mollusk, is capable of changing its color and body shape in order to blend into its environment, but this whole crab impersonation thing is taking it to a new level.
This falsified appearance offers a couple significant benefits. For example, if predators think it has a hard crab-like shell, they may be less likely to attack the cuttlefish. On the flip side, if the cuttlefish’s prey thinks it’s a filter-feeding crab, they might be more at ease, making it easier for the predator to pounce and get itself a meal. The cuttlefish even makes its tentacles look jointed!
If this one of the most impressive animal transformations you’ve ever seen? Can you think of similar natural camouflages that offer similar benefits? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured image: New Scientist/YouTube