It's Friday, and we are back at it! Hope you have all the details sorted out for your hot date this weekend. After you learn what their favorite color is, hit them with this sweet knowledge about chromatophores:
The video of that poor octopus trapped on a fishing boat finally made its way to my Inbox this week. It's a little bit old news, but I re-watched anyway. It was just as fascinating to watch him squeeze through the second time as it was the first. If their eye can fit, the whole animal can fit. Crazy. During the second watch, I really noticed his bright burnt-orange coloration. The color of fury, this octopus was not having it. As the videographer notes, octopuses have the ability to rapidly change colors. Fiery red to snow white, these creatures can master the whole spectrum. Patterns no problem. Need to match the texture of this coral. Too easy. I vaguely remembered the word chromatophore. So off to Google I went:
Googled: what is a chromatophore
Bingo! (Must have been paying attention in biology class that day.) Chromatophores are pigment containing cells in the skin, and are found in a wide range of cold-blooded animals (reptiles, cephalopods, fish...). Our version of this cell would be the melanocyte. Sadly, we have a much smaller color spectrum. (Side note: melanoma is real, people. Wear the SPF.) Chromatophore cells can be tightly packed together, so much so, that 200 or more can be found in a space the size of a pencil eraser! Neat. But how do they work?
Octopuses have highly developed camera eyes, which have the ability to detect very distinct colors, patterns, and textures. Once the animal decides to display a perceived color range, specialized muscles expand the desired chromatophore cells while contracting the incorrect color cells. Additionally, a unique dermal layer can be manipulated to mimic the texture of its surroundings, such as coral. Voila! Now you see me now you don't. Or, as displayed in the video, I'm really not in the mood for this crap.
The octopus is extremely intelligent. Like I can escape from this jar with a twist-on top intelligent. MOTS is a fellow science and animal lover, so of course we had to discuss these sassy little creatures. We were both shocked to find these animals had such great problem solving capabilities. In fact, cephalopods are considered the most intelligent invertebrates. Many animals can be trained to exhibit particular behaviors, but this animal class displays some pretty advanced cognitive abilities. So I thought it best to give a small safety reminder, "MOTS, don't underestimate the cephalopod. It could really mess with you!" Because, you know, we come across a lot of these in Nebraska...
Whatever. Better to be safe than sorry! And, I know this knowledge just took your weekend to the next level. (#winning) Below are the videos referenced above, plus two others. (Highly recommend video #2.) Have fun out there - leave the cephalopods alone - I'll see you Monday!