Squid Pro Glow
As if escaping a shark, this squid shows off its camouflage – playing with how light dances off its skin to ‘disappear’ in the eyes of predators. Its secret lies in light-changing organs beneath the skin – here chromatophores (yellow dots) are full of coloured pigments which can absorb certain colours of light. Recently researchers discovered that the same organs are also capable of structural colour – changing or diffracting the path of light rays. Along with other skin organs, the balance of these different talents helps to explain how squid skin shimmers to hide itself, or send signals to other squid. Bioengineers are hoping to mimic these natural designs as a human ‘smart skin’ – possibly as a form of camouflage for military defence or as wearable medical sensors to allow doctors to quickly assess at risk patients.
Written by John Ankers
- Video from work by Thomas L. Williams, Stephen L. Senft and Jingjie Yeo, and colleagues
- The Eugene Bell Center, The Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, and Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA
- Video originally published under a Creative Commons Licence (BY 4.0)
- Published in Nature Communications, March 2019