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Kings of Camouflage

Program Overview

Cuttlefish NOVA explores the behavior and intelligence of the cuttlefish.

The program:

  • explains that cuttlefish are not fish at all, but rather mollusks that, along with the octopus and squid, belong to the cephalopod group.

  • explains how specialized layers of pigmented skin cells allow the cuttlefish to produce colors and patterns in its skin.

  • follows researchers who dive in Indonesian waters to try to determine what triggers the broad-clubbed cuttlefish to display mesmerizing light changes.

  • reveals that while cuttlefish have one of the biggest brain-to-body ratios of any invertebrate, scientists are just beginning to discover how intelligent they are.

  • shows the mating behaviors of giant cuttlefish in southern Australian waters, in which smaller males trick larger males by transforming their skin and body shape so they look like females; disguised, they slip by big males and are able to mate—sometimes successfully—with the females.

  • features cuttlefish mating and egg-laying rituals.

  • presents how one researcher is using mazes to test cuttlefish intelligence.

  • follows researchers who discover that the flamboyant cuttlefish, the only walking cuttlefish known to exist, contains an unknown toxin.

  • notes that cuttlefish can swim because of an internal cuttlebone—hence their name—that has small air gaps to help the cuttlefish float.

  • speculates that the flamboyant cuttlefish could represent an evolutionary step for the cuttlefish species.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after the program is taped off the air.

Teacher's Guide
Kings of Camouflage