Skip to main content

Cephalopod Camouflage

Cephalopods are soft bodied and have no external shells to protect them, so they are easy prey for hungry hunters like fish, sharks, and seals. Defense strategies used by cephalopods include techniques in camouflage that enable them to alter both the color and texture of their skin. As a cephalopod moves across the seafloor looking for food, the color of its skin changes almost instantly. This remarkable ability is mediated by the animal’s advanced nervous system.

If startled, a cephalopod’s eyes relay messages to the body telling it to go into a defensive mode. The eyes take in the color of the surroundings, then send nerve impulses to special skin cells called chromatophores that contain bags of pigment. When the bags expand, the color becomes intense; when they contract, the color fades to tiny dots. Camouflage is achieved by expansion of some chromatophores and contraction of others.
 
octopus Camouflage
Octopus Camouflage
 

If there was a contest to judge the most creative use of chromatophores, the mimic octopus would win. The repetoire of this master of camouflage includes sea snakes, lionfish, and other poisonous animals. To imitate a lionfish, the cephalopod turns blue and flares its legs to look like poisonous fins. To impersonate a sea snake, the octopus changes its colors to yellow and black bands, tucks its body and all but two legs into a hole, then waves the two exposed legs in snake-like fashion.

Popular posts from this blog

Advantages and Disadvantages of an Exoskeleton

More than 80 percent of the animal species are equipped with a hard, outer covering called an exoskeleton. The functions of exoskeletons are similar to those of other types of skeletal systems. Like the internal skeletons (endoskeletons) of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, exoskeletons support the tissues and give shape to the bodies of invertebrates. Exoskeletons offer some other advantages. Serving as a suit of armor, they are excellent protection against predators. Also, because they completely cover an animal’s tissues, exoskeletons prevent them from drying out. In addition, exoskeletons serve as points of attachment for muscles, providing animals with more leverage and mechanical advantage than an endoskeleton can offer. That is why a tiny shrimp can cut a fish in half with its claw or lift an object 50 times heavier than its own body.
Despite all their good points, exoskeletons have some drawbacks. They are heavy, so the only animals that have been successful with them …

Differences in Terrestrial and Aquatic Plants

Even though plants that live in water look dramatically different from terrestrial plants, the two groups have a lot in common. Both types of plants capture the Sun’s energy and use it to make food from raw materials. In each case, the raw materials required include carbon dioxide, water, and minerals. The differences in these two types of plants are adaptations to their specific environments.
Land plants are highly specialized for their lifestyles. They get their nutrients from two sources: soil and air. It is the job of roots to absorb water and minerals from the soil, as well as hold the plant in place. Essential materials are transported to cells in leaves by a system of tubes called vascular tissue. Leaves are in charge of taking in carbon dioxide gas from the atmosphere for photosynthesis. Once photosynthesis is complete, a second set of vascular tissue carries the food made by the leaves to the rest of the plant. Land plants are also equipped with woody stems and branches that …

Prokaryotic Cell Structure

Prokaryotic cells are about 10 times smaller than eukaryotic cells. A typical E. coli cell is about 1 μm wide and 2 to 3μm long. Structurally, prokaryotes are very simple cells when compared with eukaryotic cells, and yet they are able to perform the necessary processes of life. Reproduction of prokaryotic cells is by binary fission—the simple division of one cell into two cells, after DNA replication and the formation of a separating membrane and cell wall. All bacteria are prokaryotes, as are the archaea.

Embedded within the cytoplasm of prokaryotic cells are a chromosome, ribosomes, and other cytoplasmic particles (Fig. 1). Unlike eukaryotic cells, the cytoplasm of prokaryotic cells is not filled with internal membranes. The cytoplasm is surrounded by a cell membrane, a cell wall (usually), and sometimes a capsule or slime layer. These latter three structures make up the bacterial cell envelope. Depending on the particular species of bacterium, flagella, pili (description follows)…