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Squid May Alter Body Coloration to Communicate with Others

Many squid are able to change the appearance of their skin in order to camouflage themselves when they encounter predators. It’s been suggested that the polarization of light on the skin of squid may be a form of communication. Now, for the first time, researchers have uncovered evidence for this property among the longfin inshore squid:

While the notion that a few animals produce polarization signals and use them in communication is not new, Mäthger and Hanlon’s findings present the first anatomical evidence for a “hidden communication channel” that can remain masked by typical camouflage patterns. Their results suggest that it might be possible for squid to send concealed polarized signals to one another while staying camouflaged to fish or mammalian predators, most of which do not have polarization vision.

Mäthger notes that these messages could contain information regarding the whereabouts of other squid, for example. “Whether signals could also contain information regarding the presence of predators (i.e., a warning signal) is speculation, but it may be possible,” she adds.

Link via Make | Photo (unrelated) via Flickr user Sharife used under Creative Commons license

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November 11th, 2010

Stranger to the World


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