Morphing in cephalopods works somewhat similarly to how it works in computer graphics. Two components are involved: a change in the image or texture visible on a shape's surface and a change in the underlying shape itself. The "pixels" in the skin of a cephalopod are organs called chromatophores. These can expand and contract quickly, and each is filled with a pigment of a particular color. When a nerve signal causes a red chromatophore to expand, the "pixel" turns red. A pattern of nerve firings causes a shifting image—an animation—to appear on the cephalopod's skin. As for shapes, an octopus can quickly arrange its arms to form a wide variety of them, like a fish or a piece of coral, and can even raise welts on its skin to add texture.This alone is extraordinary, and I encourage you to get access to the article one way or another. But in case you can't, or in case it's just not titillating enough, here's another article (no password needed) about transvestite cuttlefish using their cephalopodian ability to disguise as females:
With males outnumbering females by up to 10-1 on their spawning grounds, they're forced to go the extra mile. While the large males can simply guard a female and fight off small males, little guys have come up with their own little trick: They disguise themselves as females.
Spring 2006: Guest Bloggers!
Rishi | Scott | Emily
Echan | Robert | ToastyKen