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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book of the Week: Highlighting the Australian Giant Cuttlefish


For this week's book of the week, we highlight another of EOL's featured species - Sepia apama, perhaps better-known as the Australian Giant Cuttlefish. With a maximum recorded mantle length of 520 mm and a weight of 6.2 kg, the Sepia apama is the largest species of cuttlefish in the world.

Australian Giant Cuttlefish are masters of camouflage. They are capable of altering their appearance in dozens of ways in order to mimic their surroundings. For instance, not only can they alter their skin patterns, but they are also capable of changing their skin texture as the need arises. Such ingenious texture alterations are achieved by either arm contortions, which allow the animal to mimic nearby algae, or through the "sprouting" of papillae, or "spiky skin projections," which mimic "the physical texture of the surrounding seaweed, rock or coral."

Take a few minutes to investigate this amazing critter on EOL, and dive a little deeper into the early development of cuttlefish at large (Sepia officinalis, the Common Cuttlefish) in this week's book of the week, Recherches sur les premières phases du développement de la seiche (Sepia officinalis), by Louis Marius Vialleton (1888). The plates located at the end of this book give a particularly detailed view of the development of these intelligent invertebrates.

This week's Book of the Week, Recherches sur les premières phases du développement de la seiche (Sepia officinalis), by Louis Marius Vialleton (1888), was contributed by the Smithsonian Institution.

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