Hey, squid brain


MRI scans provide clues to a crafty camouflage technique.


Despite being colour-blind, the reef squid Sepioteuthis lessoniana can camouflage itself to avoid predators.  

The University of Queensland

Australian scientists are one step closer to understanding the camouflage ability of squid, thanks to MRI-based mapping of their brain.

Research at the Queensland Brain Institute suggests 145 new connections and pathways, 60% of which are linked to vision and motor systems.

“We can see that a lot of neural circuits are dedicated to camouflage and visual communication, giving the squid a unique ability to evade predators, hunt and conspecific communicate with dynamic colour changes,” says researcher Wen-Sung Chung.

Modern cephalopods have famously complex brains, with more than 500 million neurons – nearly as many as a dog. Mice and rats have only 200 million, and a normal mollusc just 20,000.

The new study supports emerging hypotheses on convergent evolution – when organisms independently evolve similar traits – of cephalopod nervous systems with parts of the vertebrate central nervous system.

“Our findings will hopefully provide evidence to help us understand why these fascinating creatures display such diverse behaviour and very different interactions,” says Chung

The research is published in the journal iScience.

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  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2589004219305620
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