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Revealed: Secrets Of The Camouflage Masters
By Matt J. Weiss, February 23, 2008 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
Source: Nytimes.com
Dr. Hanlon inspected the squidlike animals as he walked past their shallow tubs, stopping from time to time to ask, “Whoa, did you see that?”

One cuttlefish added a pair of eye spots to its back, a strategy cuttlefish use to fool predators. The spots lingered a few seconds, then vanished.

When Dr. Hanlon stuck his finger into another tub, three squirrel-size cuttlefish turned to chocolate, and one streaked its back and arms with wavy white stripes.

“Look at the pattern on that guy,” he said with a smile as they lunged for his finger.

In other tubs, the cuttlefish put on subtler but no less sophisticated displays. Dr. Hanlon’s students had put sand in some tubs, and there the cuttlefish assumed a smooth beige. On top of gravel, their skins were busy fields of light and dark.

Dr. Hanlon likes to see how far he can push their powers of camouflage. He sometimes put black and white checkerboards in the tubs. The cuttlefish respond by forming astonishingly sharp-edged blocks of white.



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