Cuttlefish camouflage

I’ve discovered science reporter Robert Krulwich’s National Public Radio website, “Krulwich wonders,” and it’s a buffet of toothsome sciencey tidbits. Here’s a nice video he posted (and narrated) about cuttlefish camouflage, and their physiological and behavioral attempts to hide in their environment.

Also, be sure to read Krulwich’s account of how the Nobel Prize medals of two German laureates—James Franck and Max von Laue—were dissolved in a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids (“aqua regia”) in Niels Bohr’s Copenhagen lab prevent them from being detected by the Nazis. It was a capital crime to take gold (and Nobel medals are 23-carat gold) out of Germany.  After the war the gold was re-precipitated and the medals re-cast.


  1. aryeh
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Astonishing. I could watch them for hours.

  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    They’re really Vorlon pets on temporary loan. Treat the Cephalopoda nice ’cause the First Ones will return. Word.

  3. sgo
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Krulwich is the co-host of the Radiolab show at NPR. The other host, Jad Abumrad, won a MacArthur fellowship this year! That show is highly recommended listening.

    I didn’t know he had a _website_. Thanks!

  4. Kevin
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    What’s next? Cats on Pharyngula?

    It’s WAR, I tell ya! WAR.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Nothing a little genetic engineering can’t fix.


      • Davros
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        Kittlehfish, now that’s a pet I’d be interested in.

      • Notagod
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        Can has fishburger????

  5. jeff j
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Colour blind camouflage? I SMELL A GAP! Therefore, CREATIONISM FTW!

  6. Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Superb video…nature is the ultimate science fiction.

  7. Martin Weiss
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Amazing but they did not “learn” to camouflage they evolved!

    • Matt G
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      I’m not crazy about Krulwich’s style. He tries to be too cutesy and it distracts from (or even misrepresents) the science.

  8. Dominic
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Well there’s a Nobel prize in finding the answer to that one! Incredible…

  9. Ichthyic
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink


    FWIW, it’s Oct. 21st here in Hobbiton.

    Harold Camping’s second prediction, that the world would end today, hasn’t come to pass.

    feel free to resume your lives as normal.


    • Davros
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      It’s not midnight yet, so I’ll still be chewing on my finger nails for a few more hours…

  10. Aidan Karley
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    /Sepia/ …. met one on a scuba dive off Tenerife. It looked me in the eye, and I thought “Yes, I’m your lunch”. The Sepia agreed.

  11. Posted October 21, 2011 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    I love cuttlefish!


  12. Strider
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I used to volunteer for the Shedd Aquarium in the invertebrate section. Behind the scenes they kept many inverts in quarantine, to make sure they didn’t die from being collected, before they put them on display. The aquarist once had cuttlefish there and I always marveled at their camouflage abilities; feeding them was also a treat!

  13. Diane G.
    Posted October 22, 2011 at 3:22 am | Permalink


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