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An Interesting Species
By Jenn Hardwick

Cuttlefish from the Loveland Living Planet


Class and Species

Class : Cephalopoda (Squid, Octopus, and Nautiluses)

Order : Sepiida
Phylum : Mollusca

Cuttlefish are the Most Intelligent Invertebrates

Structure - Body

Males have 8 arms and 2 tentacles where Females have 6 arms and 2
2 tentacles with denticulated suckers
Arms and tentacles have suckers
Cuttlebone (internal shell) is unique to cuttlefish, distinguishes them
from their squid relatives

Each cuttlebone has a distinct size, shape, and pattern of ridges.

Structure - Size

Size 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) long

Largest 20 inches (50 cm) long

Structure Brain Eyes

One of the largest brain - to - body size ratio of all invertebrates

Eyes fully developed before birth
Eyes have large W shaped pupils
No blind spot due to optic nerve positioned behind retina
No color vision

Structure - Blood

The blood of cuttlefish is green-blue (like Spock live long in


Based on copper unlike our blood that is based on iron

Cuttlefish blood is pumped by three separate hearts

Blood must flow more rapidly then most animals

Copper based blood doesnt hold as much oxygen

Structure Cells

Multiple types


Cuttlefish are thought to communicate through color patterns made

by these three cell types, working together

Structure - Chromatophores

A sac containing hundreds of thousands of pigment granules and a large membrane

that is folded when retracted

Three types:

Hundreds of muscles that are attached to each chromatophores membrane

When activated cuttlefish can expand surface area by 500%
This is why they our known as the Chameleons of the sea
Contain luminescent protein nanostructures that modify light
Beneath the Chromatophores are Iridophores and Leucophores

Yellow/orange (the uppermost layer)

Brown/ black (the deepest layer)

Structure - Iridophores

Produce iridescent colors that shine like metal

When light touches them it gets reflected back
Optical effect called Tyndall Scattering
Usually smaller then one millimeter
Polarize light
Create light displays that may be a way they communicate with each
Female cuttlefish have more light displays than males

Structure - Leucophores

Deepest layer of the skin

Use crystalline purines to reflect light
Will assist in camouflage, to help match backgrounds


Warm water creatures

Present along the coasts of east and south Asia, western Europe, and
the Mediterranean, and all coasts of Africa and Australia
Predators : Dolphins, sharks, fish, seals, seabirds, and other


Molluscs, crabs, shrimp, fish, octopods, worms and other cuttlefish

Three phases : Attention, positioning, and seizure
Attention : Changes color (moves to look at the prey with equal angels to the
two eyes)

Positioning : Getting close to the pray so ocular convergence increases

Cuttlefish rapidly change their colors to hypnotizes their pray so they dont move
When close to pray shoot out long feeding tentacles to grab

Seizure : Grabs and poisons the prey

Have 85-90% success rate when hunting


Cuttlefish have ink which they use to evade predators, stored in ink
Cuttlefish are known as Chameleons of the Sea
Use of camouflage to hide from prey and predators
Able to have different patterns of camouflage on each side of their
body at the same time


Male attempts to intimidate rival

If intimidation doesnt work then attack
Smaller males pretend to be female by color and hiding extra arms to
get past Protecting Male
One female for up to ten males

Communication Behavior

The complex color and texture patterns we discussed on slide 10,

help communication.
Splotch : Body pattern displayed when a female sees their mirror
image & other females, not to males, prey or inanimate objects.
Sending and receiving signals help females compete for resources
such as food, egg-laying sites and males.
Male cuttlefish signal aggressive intent with each other during male
male agonistic behavior
Interspecific Communication : Change in color (black and white) and
eyespots used to startle small fish.

Life Cycle

Cuttlefish reproduce in the Spring.

Female will lay several hundred eggs
over a period of a few days.
Reproduction occurs only once.
Hatching occurs up to two
months after eggs are laid.
(timing is dependent on water
Offspring hatch as miniature

Human Environmental Impact

Human activities at sea causing hearing impairment, causing

problems in balance and special orientation.

These problems then cause problems in hunting, reproducing, and

avoiding predators

Pesticides indirectly kill the cuttlefishes food supply

Humans hunt cuttlefish taking away a predator increasing the number
of crustaceans

Wikapedia. Cuttlefish. Retrieved from
Messenger,JB. The visual attack of the cuttlefish, sepia officinalis, animal behavior,
volume 16, issue 2-3, (1968): 342-357.
Science News Desk. Human Activities at sea causes severe hearing damage in
cuttlefish, squid, and octopus. Sciguru science news. (04.11.2011)
Sepia Officinalis: The Common Cuttlefish. Retrieved from http