Color-Changing Cephalopods

Octopuses, along with several other molluscan members of the Cephalopoda class, are masters of camouflage.

Published October 04, 2017

There’s no shortage of fascinating facts about octopuses, but their ability to seamlessly blend in with their surroundings by shifting the color and texture of their skin may be the most mesmerizing.
octopus-camouflage-on-coral

Their camouflaging skills have a variety of benefits; in a split second, octopuses can become virtually invisible to predators, or can wait undetected for passing prey. These color-changing adaptations allow them to not only blend in, but also to stand out in order to startle or warn potential predators.

To change color, octopuses utilize thousands of specialized pigment-containing cells, called chromatophores, that are just under the surface of the skin. A complex network of nerves commands the muscles inside the chromatophores to expand or contract, making the color inside these cells more or less visible.

Octopuses can also manipulate their texture by controlling the size of projections on their skin—called papillae—to create bumps, ridges and horns.

Stay tuned all week as we share more amazing facts about octopuses and other cephalopods!

 
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