Squid adjust their body color according to substrate

Ryuta Nakajima, Zdeněk Lajbner, Michael J. Kuba, Tamar Gutnick, Teresa L. Iglesias, Keishu Asada, Takahiro Nishibayashi, Jonathan Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Coleoid cephalopods camouflage on timescales of seconds to match their visual surroundings. To date, studies of cephalopod camouflage-to-substrate have been focused primarily on benthic cuttlefish and octopus, because they are readily found sitting on the substrate. In contrast to benthic cephalopods, oval squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana species complex) are semi-pelagic animals that spend most of their time in the water column. In this study, we demonstrate that in captivity, S. lessoniana Sp.2 (Shiro-ika, white-squid) from the Okinawa archipelago, Japan, adapts the coloration of their skin using their chromatophores according to the background substrate. We show that if the animal moves between substrates of different reflectivity, the body patterning is changed to match. Chromatophore matching to substrate has not been reported in any loliginid cephalopod under laboratory conditions. Adaptation of the chromatophore system to the bottom substrate in the laboratory is a novel experimental finding that establishes oval squid as laboratory model animals for further research on camouflage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5227
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank OMSS staff for their dedicated support, namely Koichi Toda, Nobuo Ueda, and Kosuke Mori. We would like to thank Giovanni Masucci for helpful comments and Yuan Liu for help with graphics. This work was supported by the Physics and Biology Unit of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Animals
  • Chromatophores
  • Decapodiformes
  • Japan
  • Octopodiformes

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Dive into the research topics of 'Squid adjust their body color according to substrate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this