Something that the squishies can do better than arthropods

OK, I will admit it. There is one spectacular thing cephalopods can do that mantis shrimp simply don’t have an answer for. Squids, cuttlefish, and octos are the true masters of active camouflage. Through the use of muscle-controlled chromatophores, filled with colored pigment, cephalopods can rapidly and seamlessly blend in with their surroundings or communicate with others.

Today, a lab-mate was dissecting some Longfin Inshore Squid (Loligo pealeii). The chromatophores on these animals were still physiologically active, even though they were sacrificed over a day ago and shipped to us on ice. I was able to capture some video of these beautiful chromatophores in the skin rapidly expanding and contracting. Enjoy.


There will be more video content to come. Can you say mantis shrimp plus power metal? Oh, hell yeah!


  1. This is wonderful footage.

  2. Kind of awesome, I have to admit.

  3. This is amazing! I’m about to cry a lil … did I mention that I’m a huge sap/overly sentimental? (I just understand beauty better than other people??! That’s maybe giving myself too much credit)

    Sharing this with all my frienz

    Thanks for making/sharing this!

    1. Michael Bok says:

      Don’t feel too sappy, I am also pretty susceptible to getting misty-eyed over beautiful nature.

      I actually wish I had made this video a little sadder. When I was putting the video together I wanted to make it look like there was more and more activity in the chromatophores to go along with increasing complexity of the canon. Now, I wish I had gone the other way, making it look more like it was shutting down, which it unfotrunately was.

      But then again, that could have made it cross over into morbid territory, which was not my intention.

      1. Eowin says:

        Thanks for sharing so beautiful video and music. Just thanks.

  4. Debayan says:

    WOOOOOOO!!! Pachelbel and Biology!!! Gotta love science!!

  5. […] Something that the squishies can do better than arthropods […]

  6. Jason R says:

    Something squishies do better than crunchies? That was lovely. Thanks. Perhaps we may yet lure you to the winning side in the Invertebrate Wars after all. :)

  7. […] Finally, be sure to check out Mik Bok’s wonderful video of squid chromatophores over at Arthropoda. […]

  8. heather says:

    that was spectacular and sad at the same time. wonderful footage. thank you so very much.

  9. […] Bok, a graduate student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, filmed a video of a dead Longfin Inshore Squid (Loligo pealeii). Amazingly, the squid’s still-active chromatophores could be seen expanding […]