Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Cephalopod Appreciation and Awareness Day
I was going to write a post about nudibranchs since we're covering mollusks in class this week, but it's much more timely to mention cephalopods today. October 8 is Cephalopod Appreciation and Awareness Day, and it's a day of celebration. Among the cephalopods, which include octopus, squids, cuttlefish, and nautiluses, the octopuses are most famous for their ability to camouflage themselves. Not only do they have chromatophores in their skin, which are under nervous control and can effect instantaneuos color change, they are able to change the texture of their skin to better match their surroundings as well. In addition to those tricks of color and texture, this Indonesian mimic octopus, only reported in the scientific literature in 1998, changes its behavior, not to match a background, but to mimic other organisms. I'm a bit skeptical about how much of this behavior would be effective as mimicry. However, even though some attempts may look a bit weak, the effectiveness of the flounder mimicry has been pretty well documented. Whether they're actually as adept at mimicking the diversity of models they're been credited for, they are certainly very handsome animals.