Cephalopod Color and Skin discoveries

DWhatley

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A living display system resolved pixel by pixel Nature October 17, 2018
Pigmented cells in the skin of cuttlefish can contract or relax to produce different skin-colour patterns. Tracking the dynamics of these cells reveals how this display system develops, and how it is controlled.

The authors first investigated the emergence of local skin motifs in which dark chromatophores are surrounded by more-colourful ones. Observations over several weeks led to a surprising discovery: the difference in colour reflects a difference in age. The pigment of every chromatophore starts as yellow before turning red, then brown, and ending up as black. New chromatophores are generated throughout the life of the cuttlefish, and the group found that the ratio of black to coloured chromatophores is maintained by keeping a tight balance between the birth rate of new cells and the time it takes them to mature to a black colour.
 

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