‘Chameleons of the Sea’ May Benefit Soldiers on Battlefields
On January 30, 2014, author Emily Tripp wrote an article about Sepia officinalis, more commonly known as the cuttlefish. These animals are known for their amazing camouflaging abilities. They have over time evolved to not even having a shell to protect them from predators because their camouflage is just that good. Cuttlefish are so advanced in this art that they are able to change not only their body color, but can also shift their body shape to imitate pretty much anything even by simply seeing a picture of it.
Researchers and scientists are working to figure out the biological, chemical, and optical functions that allow these cuttlefish to do what they do. So far, they have discovered the major players in this to be chromatophores, a leucophore, and and an iridophore. Chromatophores are cells of pigment and are attached to tiny muscles that give the cuttlefish the ability to change the colors and patterns on its skin. The leucophore, a light-scatterer, and the iridophore, a reflector, work as a team to regulate the color, changing the selection of colors absorbed and reflected.
As if this whole phenomena wasn’t cool enough already, this research is more relevant to humans than one may realize. Researchers believe that if they start to better understand the camouflage of the cuttlefish that they will be able to use this to help improve the development of the camouflage of soldiers’ uniforms. After this is achieve scientists hope to one day synthetically replicate this process, greatly improving the camouflage of soldiers on the battlefield. Is this realistic? Who knows, but it’s great to see how much we can learn from marine species and how they are far more interconnected with us than we realize.
For more information, check out the article on marinesciencetoday.com, where they also include a video of the cuttlefish in action!