Despite multicolor camouflage, cuttlefish, squid and octopus are colorblind

September 21, 2016, University of Queensland
Despite multicolor camouflage, cuttlefish, squid and octopus are colorblind
Cephalopods – cuttlefish, squid and octopus – are colourblind, yet still can camouflage themselves in colourful surroundings. Credit: Dr Wensung Chung / QBI

Researchers at The University of Queensland have established that colourful coastal cephalopods are actually colourblind – but can still manage to blend beautifully with their surroundings.

Cephalopods – cuttlefish, squid and octopus – are renowned for their fast colour changes and remarkable camouflage abilities.

Professor Justin Marshall and Dr Wensung Chung from the Queensland Brain Institute also found that squid have the ability to adapt their vision depending on the colour and depth of the water they live in.

Octopus, squid and cuttlefish are colourblind, QBI researchers find

Professor Marshall said this latest research into provided fascinating insights into how the remarkably intelligent creatures interacted with their world.

"These engaging and charismatic animals can display complex, bright colour patterns on their skin, but our studies have reconfirmed beyond doubt that they are colourblind," Professor Marshall said.

"It is ironic then that humans still struggle to spot them in the natural habitat where their camouflage is perfectly matched with the surroundings."

Squid change patterns to match sea conditions

The research also found that squid have evolved spectral tuning, and can change their visual focus from green, in coastal waters, to blue, to match deep sea conditions.

"Everyone loves an octopus and finding out more about the way they and their cousins see their world is a treat and a privilege," Professor Marshall said.

The research, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, was funded by the Australian Research Council.

Explore further: Cuttlefish have high definition polarization vision, researchers discover

More information: Wen-Sung Chung et al. Comparative visual ecology of cephalopods from different habitats, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2016). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.1346

Related Stories

Studying 'squid skin' to create new camouflage patterns

May 19, 2011

As an octopus, a squid, or a cuttlefish moves around a reef in the ocean, it instantly camouflages itself against the background. Known as cephalopods, these animals have the extraordinary ability to conceal themselves from ...

Bizarre parasite may provide cuttlefish clues

April 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —University of Adelaide research into parasites of giant Australian cuttlefish, and other related species, has uncovered details of the parasites' astonishing life cycles, and shown how they may help in investigating ...

Recommended for you

The taming of the dog, cow, horse, pig and rabbit

November 20, 2018

Research at the Earlham Institute into one of the 'genetic orchestra conductors', microRNAs, sheds light on our selectively guided evolution of domestic pets and farmyard animals such as dogs and cows.

Discovery could neutralize West Nile virus

November 20, 2018

Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and colleagues have isolated a human monoclonal antibody that can "neutralize" the West Nile virus and potentially prevent a leading cause of viral encephalitis (brain inflammation) ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BrettC
not rated yet Sep 21, 2016
Well they don't need to hide from themselves, do they?
BrettC
1 / 5 (1) Sep 21, 2016
Well, they don't need to hide from themselves, do they?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.