Chromatophores Allow Animals To Change Color

Chromatophores sit just below the surface of the skin in squids, octopuses, and cephalopods. A bundle of nerves and muscles causes each chromatophore to expand and contract its sac of pigment. Cephalopods might change their colors to communicate, threaten, or hide—their ability to alter their body's color and texture makes them masters of camouflage.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Chromatophores expand with the help of small muscles. 00:34

  2. A squid's chromatophores can still swell and contract even after the nerves connecting them to the brain have been severed. 01:26

  3. Chromatophores seem to open just after the neighboring ones do, and require a refractory period before opening again. 04:01

Written by Curiosity Staff October 23, 2015

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