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date: 15 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Octopus, squid, and cuttlefish can change their appearance (phenotype) in 200–700 msec due to neural control of chromatophore organs, iridophore cells, and three-dimensional papillae in their elaborate skin. Great strides have been made in determining the primary visual background stimuli that guide camouflage skin patterning in cuttlefish, yet many key details remain unknown. The current behavioral/psychophysical experimental paradigm developed in cuttlefish needs to be expanded to octopus and squid, which will potentially elucidate general principles governing complex behaviors such as communication and camouflage. The neural underpinnings of this dynamic polyphenic system are poorly known. Peripheral control mechanisms of chromatophores and iridophores have been elucidated recently, but central nervous system experimentation has lagged far behind; both aspects require targeted neurobiological study, genomic approaches, and system modeling. The unusual neuroanatomy and complex behavior of these marine invertebrates provide an opportunity to discover novel mechanisms of visual perception, decision-making, and motor output.

Keywords: crypsis, camouflage, communication, octopus, cuttlefish, squid, defense, brain, neurophysiology, skin

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