A master of disguise, the incredible physical feats performed by the cuttlefish are advantageous both for evading predators and closing in on prey. But while many of these physiological characteristics are woven into the cuttlefish’s biology, their ability to assess a scenario and its outcome is what keeps researchers vigilant in trying to quantify the intelligence of this enigmatic cephalopod.
Cuttlefish are able to change their color and texture instantaneously due to cells in layers of skin that react to visual cues. These cells are surrounded by muscles that contract and relax to create different color patterns and shapes based on what is perceived by the brain. If a threat is detected, camouflage techniques will be deployed, whereas when prey is within sight, the cells go to work creating a hypnotic display that will confuse and stun the prey, making it an easy catch for the cuttlefish.
Multitudes of tests have been performed to determine the cuttlefish’s ability to learn and adapt to its environment beyond what is biologically engineered into their physical makeup. The results of these tests have shown the cuttlefish’s intelligence to be at least that of many vertebrate species, like birds and other fish, but the ratio of brain to body size suggests that their aptitude is even more acute than we know. This documentary is a fascinating look at how several species of cuttlefish survive in a variety of marine environments, and what conclusions scientists have been able to come to based on their studies.
One thing is for sure: the cuttlefish is one marine invertebrate that should not be underestimated!
Kings of Camouflage: The Cuttlefish
Image via wwarby