The Common Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis)

Despite their appearances, many marine animals (such as octopi and dolphins) are very intelligent. And this can also be said about the cuttlefish as well. Cuttlefish, like octopi, are cephalopods, which begs the question as to why so many animals in this group have high intelligence. So let's find out more about this animal in particular.


Physical Description and Behavior


Cuttlefish have 8 regular tentacles, as well as 2 elongated ones that they use as arms. They use these arms as a means of "tasting" their food. Cuttlefish also have a sophisticated visual system, allowing them to determine depth, distance, and even shapes. It is believed that they start to use their eyes before hatching from their eggs. As far as size, they range from a few inches to almost 3 feet long, depending on the species and conditions.


Fun Fact: On the day of writing this, March 3rd, 2021, the cuttlefish joined the dog, corvids (the crow family), and primates when it comes to passing the Marshmallow Test. This test shows an animal's ability to delay gratification if it means the promise of a better reward later. According to the University of Cambridge's Alexandra Schnell who led the study:


"They break camouflage when they forage, so they are exposed to every predator in the ocean that wants to eat them. We speculate that delayed gratification may have evolved as a byproduct of this, so the cuttlefish can optimise foraging by waiting to choose better quality food."

This study was done on the common cuttlefish so it is not sure as of yet if this cognitive ability can extrapolate to all species.


On top of being smart, they are also really good at hiding from predators. Since they only have a lifespan of about 1-2 years, finding ways to prolong their short lives is always vital. They do this through camouflage, which is done through leucophores, or pigmented chromatophores on their body. These are able to scatter light, allowing them to blend into just about any background. They can also squirt ink to escape like other cephalopods.


Habitat and Location

These creatures can be found all over the east. These include the shores of Africa, India, Australia, China, Japan, Russia, and many parts of Europe. They don't appear to exist in the Mediterranean sea or the eastern shores of Africa. That said, there are over 100 species of cuttlefish globally.


While commercial fishing and habitat destruction can be a major issue for this cephalopod, their large numbers and habitat mean that they are not likely to be endangered anytime soon.


Check out the cuttlefish camouflaging themselves against different patterns below:


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