• 09 DEC 14

    Evolution: The Cuttlefish

    Robert Gorter likes to say: “If God intended to make the perfect creature in his own image, then God is a cuttlefish.” 

    While some may call this a slight exaggeration—everyone knows that, by that criterion, God would be an octopus—it’s hard to deny that squids and their fellow cephalopods are among the ocean’s most remarkable citizens. Equally feared and respected for their prodigious intelligence, speed, and predatory zeal, cephalopods are also considered to be some of the planet’s most astute users of camouflage.

    Cuttlefish are marine animals of the order Sepiida. They belong to the class Cephalopoda, which also includes squid, octopi, and nautiluses. Cuttlefish have a unique internal shell, the cuttlebone. Despite their name, cuttlefish are not fish but mollusks. Cuttlefish have large, W-shaped pupils, eight arms, and two tentacles furnished with denticulated suckers, with which they secure their prey. They generally range in size from 15 to 25 cm, with the largest species, Sepia apama, reaching 50 cm in mantle length and over 10.5 kg in weight.

    Cuttlefish eat small mollusks, crabs, shrimp, fish, octopuses, worms, and other cuttlefish. Their predators include dolphins, sharks, fish, seals, seabirds, and other cuttlefish. Their life expectancy is about one to two years. Recent studies indicate cuttlefish are among the most intelligent invertebrates. Cuttlefish also have one of the largest brain-to-body size ratios of all invertebrates. The Greco-Roman world valued the cephalopod as a source of the unique brown pigment the creature releases from its siphon when it is alarmed. The word for it in both Greek and Latin, sepia, is now used to refer to a brown pigment in English

    Whether resting on a pile of rocks or drifting through a bed of sea grass, they possess an amazing ability to blend in with their surroundings by matching their skin texture and coloration to the underlying substrate. To do so, cephalopods use specialized pigmented, light-reflecting cells known as chromatophores that are embedded in their skin and controlled by neural and muscular activity. A well-timed color change can mean the difference between life and death when predators are involved. Octopuses, for instance, mix stealth and adaptive camouflage that matches their changing background as they move across the seafloor. Others use high-contrast dazzle markings, or “motion dazzle,” when spotted, which should be very visible, but disorient predators.

    If Darwinism would hold true it is difficult to explain why (still) millions and millions of animal species are around and not have been made extinct by their competitors according to the “survival of the fittest” principle? The cuttlefish is a master in deception but still, over the hundreds of millions of years of evolution it did not survive as the fittest and push aside millions of much less adapted fishes which it lives on.