Camuflaje del pulpo -Octopus Defence-
Published Wednesday, July 13, 2005 by Spyder | E-mail this post
Octopus Defence. The Master of Camouflage
Dr Mark Norman and Andy Dunstan
Being soft bodied (Lacking an external shell or internal skeleton), octopuses make a perfect meal for predators, particularly larger fishes, sharks or seals. Many octopuses take advantage of their lack of skeleton by squeezing themselves through tiny holes into crevices or burrows. An octopus with a 30-centimetre arm span can squeeze through a hole the size of a fivecent piece. Still octopuses have had to develop a wide range of other defences to escape predators.
The greatest array of defence strategies occurs in shallow-water, bottom-living (benthic) octopuses in the family Octopodidae. Diurnal octopuses such as the common Day Octopus (Octopus cyanea), which emerge and forage during daylight hours on coral reefs, have developed exceptional camouflage capacities. They produce elaborate colour patterns and highly complex skin textures capable of matching a wide range of backgrounds from sand and reef rubble, through to spiked corals and seaweeds. Their skin changes almost instantaneously as they move over different substrates on the sea floor. Colour changes are carried out by small, elastic, pigment-filled sacs, known as chromatophores. A square centimetre of skin may contain hundreds of chromatophores, in up to five colours in certain species. Each chromatophore is surrounded by a ring of muscle fibres, all of which are under the rapid and coordinated control of the large optic lobes of the brain. As a backup defence, most octopuses also have an ink sac that produces highly concentrated black, red or brown pigment. Small amounts of ink are squirted out the funnel to produce either a dummy decoy or, in some species, a full smoke screen that can mask a volume of water up to several cubic metres, leaving predators chasing their own tails. The ink is also thought to dull the senses of the predator.
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